Kapow 2011: A Round Up

Venue Inside - Kapow Comic Con 2011 London
Kapow ComicCon. Photo: Stereo @rtist. See Original on flickr

(with thanks to Dave Stokes for letting us re-publish his Round Up – original version, with swearing, on his blog here; and Stero @rtist Ketan Majmudar for permission to use some of his super pictures of the event)

Mark Millar’s first Kapow event, which included comics, film and TV panels, signings and the presentation of the first Stan Lee Awards (winners below). took place in London at the weekend. It seems to have gone well, judging from the many positive comments on Twitter and initial reports, although there has been some criticism of the amount of queuing and a lack of information on what was on in the run up to the event.

Here’s a personal account of Saturday’s proceedings by artist Dave Stokes, plus web links to other reports and news items that sprang from the event. We’ll add to that list as more get posted.

Our thanks to everyone who offered their take on proceedings for this site.  

So after falling in from the first annual Kapow Comic Con I promptly blacked out. Only to wake just now! So I guess this is as good a time as any to do a bit of a write up.

I’ll get the negative out of the way first. I’m not proclaiming to be some sort of convention expert – this was only my second big comic convention – but I felt the information available prior to the con was a little lacklustre. The last con I attended had their panel schedule, floor plans (with a list of who every table was allocated too), and signing schedule all emailed to me ahead of leaving for the con.

Dredd Man - Kapow Comic Con 2011
Judge Dredd – aka 2000AD archivist Wakefield Carter
Photo: Stereo @rtist

I knew what books I could take to get signed, knew which artists were going to be in artists alley so I could go look up their sketch prices to help me plan my budget, etc.

I’m not the most organised person but I don’t think going to a con without some vague gameplan is a great idea. All the books I took to get signed today, every single one, the creators aren’t signing till tomorrow. I took a couple of movie posters for the new Thor movie to see if I could get those signed only to find when I got there that the Thor movie guests weren’t on any signing schedule.

So I spent the day carrying a quite a bit of dead weight.

That’s probably my only major gripe with the convention.

Now the postive. The turnout was great, at the busiest time of the day the show floor was rammed. There were some queuing snafus with the incredibly popular signing guests (John Romita Jr, Mark Millar etc) at times. Fortunately, most of the more popular panels were during “peak” times so the queues for those (on a balcony above the show floor) really helped the congestion a bit.

Stormtrooper and Black Cat - Kapow Comic Con - 2011
Stormtrooper and Black Cat. Photo: Stereo @rtist. See original on Flicker

The cosplayers looked awesome! Although every single time I walked passed a cosplayer who was stopping to get a photo taken, I could hear someone  just out of my eyeline make some snide comment about them. I’m not exaggerating either, literally everytime. The queue to get in first thing in the morning was the worst, pretty much 2-3 people deep either side of me in the queue were tearing into every cosplayer in the line that “dared” show off their costume on the streets.

Phoenix & Chsotbuster - Kapow Comic Con 2011 - London
Phoenix and Ghostbuster. Photo: Stereo @Artist
Original on Flickr here

RANT INCOMING! What the f*** is people’s problem? You don’t want to dress up? Fine, no one is asking you to. That Harley Quinn doesn’t have that quite leggy, big boobed comic book figure so you want to spout some quite hurtful comments (not loud enough for her to hear though, thankfully) when you look like a passable Clayface even without make-up.

It’s not like there were any Hawkmen with eight foot wingspans choking up already narrow aisles. If you’re at a comic convention, you’re a geek. There’s no cool geeks, jock geeks whatever, that person you think you’re entitled to rip the piss out of is just the same as you, so if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to your fucking self. How are you people 30+ years old and still have yet to learn this very basic life lesson?

Costume Competition Line up - Kapow Comic Con 2011
Costume Competition Line up – Kapow Comic Con 2011. Photo: Stereo @rtist.

I think the cosplayers all looked awesome! Some of the costumes were top notch and really detailed. The Penguin especially was a real standout for me personally. he looked like he literally stepped out of the Batman Animated Series. I certainly don’t have the balls to do it so who am I to criticise.

I only actually made it into one panel: the DC Comics Creators panel with Paul Cornell, Pete Milligan and Frank Quietly which was a lot of fun, but didn’t really break any news that hasn’t been seen elsewhere. Paul Cornell was a standout as he’s such an enthusiastic and genuinely funny guy that he had the audience rolling in the aisles.

I do regret not getting into a couple more panels, especially the Green Lantern one, as I’m really looking forward to Emerald Knights and, obviously, the movie. But even getting to the queue 45 minutes before the panel starts and being faced with a huge line was a bit off putting. The Thor movie panel were even asking people to surrender their phones and cameras before being seated, which is fair I guess, but I wasn’t prepared to part with my phone (anyone who knows me that my luck would have worked against me and I’d never see the phone again) so I skipped that panel also.

Early on the day I had a great chat with fantasy artist Manon who had the most gorgeous, incredible work on display in her portfolio. Her high end prints look amazing, and I was sorely tempted to grab one, but that would have decimated my weekend budget in one fell swoop. I was gutted, I’m going to start saving my pennies again and grab a print through her website eventually.

Despite being under the weather with what seemed like the start of a failing voice she was really open and informative about her process and her transition over to painting digitally in the last few years. Her work’s very diverse with great humour pieces side by side with thoughtful portraits and stunning fantasy heroines. Really inspiring stuff, if you get a chance to see her at an event and you can afford it, please hurl large amounts of cash at her.

I eventually met up with good twitter buddy and fellow wannabe comicker Kev Levell, and we had a great chat about the trials and tribulations of being a full-time illustrator (which I’m not, but still), and how difficult it is to get into the comics biz, and the pro’s and cons of twitter in general.

Unlike me, Kev was organised enough to get his portfolio submitted in time for the Marvel review at the convention, but still didn’t get selected for a review slot. For shame Marvel, for shame, your loss.

So we made a pact I had to go stick my portfolio under someone’s nose before the end of the day and so did he. I like to think I’m a man of my word so no excuses, no time for shyness, just do it.

I have this absolute hang-up about approaching someones table with the goal of getting them to look at my work, and not buying anything, especially another artist. So I spent way more than I’d planned to because of this, but ultimately got some really cool swag.

I got some great feedback from Terry Martin of Murky Depths and the cover artist of their latest issue, Neil Roberts. Really positive, I grabbed a Murky Depths card and Terry Martin took my email address (because of course I had forgotten to bring my business cards!) so fingers crossed something might come of that. Maybe once I’ve got a solid story arc finished of Blackfriars that might be an avenue to see it actually in print?

And after that the weight of self-doubt was lifted, and I was showing stuff to anyone who would look.

Stephen Downey really took a lot of time looking through my stuff and gave me some great feedback to improve my sequential work and seemed genuinely impressed with my portfolio, so much so he put it under the nose of one of his friends who walked passed his table. I’d already got an awesome Nightcrawler sketch in my sketchbook earlier (which were stupidly cheap for how awesome they are. Seriously go get a sketch from this guy!)

The stand out, hands down highlight for me though was Kev Crossley. Just after 5pm I think so funds had dwindled to my last £20, I’d hoped to get a sketch but his sketch list was heaving so I settled for some awesome fantasy themed greetings cards, and asked if he would be willing to look at my portfolio.

He was really busy but agreed, and the feedback was insane! He seemed genuinely surprised and was so taken with a couple of pieces he asked if he could snap a picture or two, particularly of my Abe Sapien sketch from a few months back, as he wanted to have a stab at his own interpretation.

I was so flattered I just about burst on the spot and insisted he take the sketch. Kev said I should look him up on facebook so I can see his version when he gets around to it, which I’m looking forward too immensely. He jotted down my webcomic address on the back of the sketch too so let’s hope he likes it!

So all in all, it was a great day. I do have a ticket for Sunday but I’m not sure I’m going to go. I’m already over my budget for the weekend (by a lot), and I will end up spending more money if I go. That and the absolutely obnxious, horrific closures/delays/diversion on the London Underground made travelling to and from the venue an arduous affair.

There’s a few kinks to work out with the convention if it returns next year, but I don’t feel like it was a wasted trip. I only took a few snaps at the con. I’m neither a great or prolific photographer and once I’d discarded the ones with my finger intruding into frame there wasn’t very many left, but if you’re interested you can go see them here.

About the contributors to this post

• Dave Stokes is a a full time projectionist, and part time illustrator and currently accepting commissions. Please email stokesbookATgmail DOT com for rates. Check out his blog at http://stokesbook.blogspot.com

• Stereo @artist Ketan Majmudar is a freelance Web Designer/Developer (spiritquest.co.uk), Bassist and Photographer (stereoscopic & 2d) for art an fun. Check out his twitter event app: www.twical.net and his blog at www.stereoartist.com/blog 

Mark Millar pushed into phone box by fans at Kapow Comic Con 2011 London
Mark Millar pushed into phone box by fans at Kapow. Photo: Stereo @rtist.

More Kapow Links

Stan Lee Award Winners

Best Writer – Grant Morrison
Best Artist – John Romita Jr
Best Series – The Walking Dead
Best Superhero or Sci-Fi Movie – Inception
Best Trade – Blackest Night
Best Limited Series or Story Arc – Batman & Robin: Batman & Robin Must Die
Best Comic Hero – Batman
Best Newcomer – Jonathan Ross
Best Publisher – Marvel
Best TV Show – The Walking Dead
Best Game or Toy – Red Dead Redemption
Man or Woman of the Year – Stan Lee

News Items

ComicBookMovie.com: Green Lanetern Footage Report
After being shown the previously released trailer for the Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters video game and animated movie, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights  those of us in attendance were lucky enough to see the footage which was shown at WonderCon a couple of weeks ago… The footage was very well received by the audience…”

• ComicBooked: Thor Screening Report
It was the end of day one of Kapow!, and with all recording devices checked in prior to entering the auditorium, security was tight for the panel for upcoming Marvel movie Thor – but what would you expect when the security team included a gentleman who looked exactly like Odin, the God of Thunder’s father?”

• IGN Comics: Hit Girl gets Spin Off – Mark Millar announces four new projects
Hit Girl, the pint-sized dervish of death and destruction from Kick Ass, is to star in her own eponymous spin-off book, with work on it already well under way.
• IGN Comics: Kapow! 11: How to Break Into Comics
Marvel’s top drawer on how to catch a break in the comics’ business.

Geek Syndicate: Stan Lee Award Winners

Geek Syndicate: The IGN Arena at Kapow Comic Con

Pro and Creator Reports

• Comic Journal writer David Robertson: I Just Came Back from Kapow
“It was a good event, I’d like to see another. But Mark Millar did mention that he’d lost a fortune today, so I wouldn’t count on it.”

• Keiron Gillen: Notes on Kapow
“In short, they pulled it off. For a first time con, it was spectacularly together. It also served its purpose, in terms of justifying its existence.”

Photo © Joel Meadows

• Joel Meadows, Edior of Tripwire: Windy Millar
 “So after months of hype and bluster, Kapow Comic Con 2011 came to London at the weekend. Promising San Diego in London (overpriced hotels, restaurants you can’t get into and panels you can’t get near), at last there was the chance to see what all of the fuss was about…”

(Joel’s report includes some brilliant photographs from the event, including this one of the two cos-players having a break)

• Steve Penfold and Dan Thompson: Diary – Day 1
“Talking about it now we’re pretty sure – given the success of the weekend – it’ll likely upgrade to Excel at some stage but this was the best venue I’ve stood inside for a long old time.”

Fan Reports

• The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (Matthew Hyde): Day One, blow by blow
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (Matthew Hyde): Day Two, blow by blow

Growler’s World: Saturday
I went to the Saturday part of this brand new, major comic convention in London and was blown away by the awesomeness!”

Heather Taylor: My First Ever Comic Convention
“Mark Millar ended the panel Q&A with a comment about those who’ve said he’s sold out. His response? “If I get given free money, I’m going to take it. I’m Scottish.” If John Romita Jr. is anything to go by, taking money isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can still lead to even better things i.e. the work you love to do.”


Stereo @Artist at Kapow: Flickr Set
Hit Girl Promo Cover Revealed
• London Comic Club: http://www.londoncomicleague.co.uk/Kapow!/
• Jock: Frank Quitely, John Romita Jr., Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar

Twitter Comments

I do think they maybe need more volunteers to ensure that the 45minute rule on queuing is enforced” – MCE 

This year I think VIP was not worth it due to a number of things, but I will buy it next year if they guarantee  a few BIG panels like the Thor panel, and hopefully they’ll get a decent VIP goody bag too!… Jonathan Ross was a true gent at his signing, best signing of the day.” – SasariHurley

“Getting good reports about #kapow from creators – amused that they all seem focused around the after con pub…” – Tony Lee 

IMHO it was the best Comic Con I’ve been to. Well done to all at #Kapow!!” –  Gary Seaward

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