The Second Annual Lancaster Comics Day was a lavish and star studded event (smiley face). Full of eager comics buyers, readers, sellers, creators and cake, lots of cake (thanks, Katie White). Whilst not exactly a red carpet event, it evoked comics gatherings of years ago. Loads of comics, loads of art and a really friendly event that has also helped raise around £500 for library funds, despite competition from hot weather and the Morecambe Carnival to tempt people elsewhere.
I loaded up on coffee and vitamin C capsules to try my best to ignore a haunting hangover and headed into the Library.
Held again at the centrally situated Lancaster Library and organised by a bunch the Friends of Lancaster Library, library staff and our own John Freeman, this was a day celebrating comics in all its forms. This was a comics event that cut to what makes this such a great hobby and medium. No showboating comics professionals or bit part actors here. This was purely about a community that is built from comics.
First Age Comics is the local family owned comic shop based in Lancaster and Mark Braithwaite was on hand with boxes of back issues, trades and collectables for sale. Find more about the store on Twitter @FirstAgeComics | Facebook
That’s not to say that there weren’t some cracking guests present. Sean Phillips (Criminal, Hellblazer, The Fade Out and more) chatted to this fans about old Marvel Comics and the rush we used to face getting to the newsagent before our mates. There is no doubt that Sean is one of the great British comics art success stories and it is great to see him being so available for advice and encouragement to local comics fans young and old. Find more about Sean at www.theartofseanphillips.blogspot.com or on Twitter @seanphillips
Lew Stringer was there and was busy all day sketching and enjoying talking about all his creations but especially Combat Colin who is still much missed. I was lucky enough to talk comics history with him until the pub closed and he is hugely knowledgable in English and US Comics History. Find more about Lew at his fascinating blog Blimey! The Blog of British Comics www.lewstringer.blogspot.com | Follow him on Twitter @lewstringer
Andy Diggle (who is not the owner of the local baker’s shop, I later discovered) was more than happy talking about all his comics and (probably) the fact that his namesake bit the big one (spoilers) in a recent episode of the Arrow TV series. Andy is a local resident and huge promoter of the local comics scene. His latest project, Control, written with partner Angela, with art by Andrea Mutti, is out now from Dynamite Comics. Find more about Andy at www.andydiggle.com or on Twitter @andydiggle
Alex Paknadel, hot off his critically acclaimed writing duties on Turncoat for Boom Studios, appeared on a comics panel and was a ball of energy talking about comics in general and I even grabbed him for a sit down talk for the Awesome Comics Podcast. This is a guy who quotes Philip K. Dick and Grant Morrison as influences and is definitely going places in the world of comics. You can find Alex on Twitter @AlexPaknadel
Tim Quinn was there too, lending a hand on panels and selling his newly released memoir, Argh! (reviewed here by Ian Wheeler). It would be an understatement to say that he has had an eventful life. From the early days where he was a clown at the Blackpool Tower Circus to his job now working as a TV presenter at Bay TV Liverpool he’s also packed in a ton of comics creating, editing and journalism. Last year the audience was held spellbound by his tales and this year was no exception. Find Tim on Facebook or at his website www.mightyquinnmanagement.com
The Small Press was in attendance. Dan Charnley was there full of northern virility, a funny story, tales of dubious encounters in bookshops and some issues of his excellent series Hel Hunter: The Legend of Gunnar Hallbjorn. He kindly wrote something completely objectionable on a print and passed it to me with a big grin on his face. Dan is a cracking creator and well worth seeking out for both an insult and a copy of his work. Find Dan at www.dansmonsters.com or on Twitter @dansmonsters
Tom Ward (creator of Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman) and Chris Welsh (creator of the marvelous Wart) were also at their table full of sarcastic exuberence. Chris let me into a little secret (something that will get revealed in the upcoming months) and they chatted about the soon to be released on the world Doc Dino. Find more about Tom on Twitter @highbrowtrash, Chris can be found @C_W_Writes or www.cwelsh.co.uk and have a peek at that saucy surgeon dinosaur @DocDino_Comic
Local indie zines were on sale aplenty again thanks to Francis Zine, and other creators including Josh Moorby, Edwin Burrow (who recently launched the web comic The Irrational Thoughts of a Sales Assistant) and Lancaster Guardian cartoonist Jack Knight were also at the event, along with SF author JS Collyer, fantasy author AS Chambers (creator of the long-suffering Sam Spallucci, investigator of the paranormal and all things weird) and his book cover artist Wayne Ashworth, and Doctor Who author and comic writer Eddie Robson.
The local games community were also served by House Lancaster Gaming Group and an appearance by Ken Walton of locally-based role-playing games company Cakebread & Walton. And, for aspiring artists, local art suppliers Studio Arts were on hand with a wide range of items for sale.
While Graham Pearce again on hand with his REPAINTED fun for kids and local face painter Glowbug helped keep younger kids entertained, there were four panels included in the price of entry; once again a highlight of the event, they covered subjects such as ‘Humour Comics’, ‘Superheroes and the Unexpected’, ‘Worlds Beyond: SF, Fantasy and Games’ and ‘Celebrating Doctor Who Magazine‘. All held in the upstairs Sanctuary, away from the bustling sales area (but not a mysterious electronic whistling that it proved impossible to locate the source of).
Personally, I had a great day. John jokes that “It’s a local event for local people” but this visiting southerner was welcomed by everyone there. I also managed to pick up bundles of quality back issues, some art and some great small press.
This is well worth adding to your diary for next year. May I also add that any convention that closes and moves wholesale to the local pub is well worth your patronage.
Many thanks for reading.
• For news on the next Lancaster Comics Day and more about this year’s guests, visit www.lancastercomicsday.uk
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.