Birmingham had barely caught its breath from all the excitement of the International Comic Expo (read our review here) the day before when more comic enthusiasts and professionals descended on The Studio venue for Comics Uncovered 2015. Jon Laight reports…
The sister event of ICE, Comics Uncovered was an amazing opportunity for anyone considering making the transition from creating comics for fun to creating them professionally and working with some of the big boys in the industry. A non-profit making event, it is organised once again by Shane Chebsey who corralled some of the biggest publishers (including new US publishers such as Aftershock Comics), writers and artists into just a few rooms to pass on decades of experience and advice on what is needed to make the big push to becoming a pro.
With a suite of seminars and guest talks, delegates had the choice of purchasing a pass for all the events or just events that suited their discipline (writer or artist). Greeted by bacon baps and a cup of coffee, Shane was on hand to welcome everybody and give an inspiring talk about how the day was going to pan out and what we could all expect. A select few who had applied were also being given the chance to pitch to publishers and hope that their talent and potential would be recognised and be signed up for work.
First up was someone who every aspiring comic creator should know and admire. Writer and artist Dave Gibbons’ list of work could fill the pages of downthetubes. Dave is currently the first Comic Laureate for the UK and here he was giving not one but two master classes on how to draw comics… This sort of experience must be worth the price of a full day pass alone.
For those of you who have never had the chance to meet Dave he is an engaging, funny and intelligent gentleman who can produce comic art of the highest quality. The audience was transfixed by his lecture and seeing the images from on the giant screen was a privilege.
The rest of the seminars and lectures were staggered throughout the day so that writers and artists could catch the guests and workshops that would be most relevant to them. The timetable looked a little like this and yes, all of these fantastic comic superstars were there in person talking to small groups and passing on invaluable advice:
1200-1400: The Big Fat Writers Panels
This was one not to miss as a writer. Hosted by 2000AD writer (and indie artist) David Baillie, it was an informal and very funny talk about all the trials and tribulations a comic writer must go through to make it as a professional.
Joined by the vastly experienced writers Robbie Morrison, Andy Diggle and Ian Edginton, the subjects varied from anecdotes on how they broke into the business to what pubs it’s best to do pitches in!
I managed to make this one and as an aspiring writer, I took so much away from these guys.
1500-1700: How I made it as a Writer with Monty Nero
Artist and Inkers panels:
12.30 – 14.00 and 1500-1700 Colouring Master class 1 with Jordie Bellaire
12.30 – 14.00 and 100-1700 Inking Master Class with Joe Rubinstein
12.00 – 14.00 – Cartooning Workshop – with legendary artist Hunt Emerson
15.00 – 17.00 – Storytelling in Comics – With artist Mike Collins
15.00—16.00—Making A Splash, with Ian Churchill
16.00—17.30—“Walking Deadlines” with Charlie Adlard and Dan Berry
I sat in on this one and enjoyed every second of it. Dan Berry was a brilliant host and fielded some probing questioning that Charlie answered to the best of his ability as Dan is known for asking questions that definitely make you think (and sweat!). Both guys were really friendly and answered all questions from the attentive audience.
Panels for everyone:
12.30 – 14.00 – Editors: Friends or Foe?
13.00—14.00—Submitting to DC Comics
16.00 – 17.30 – “Breaking In: Advice On Starting A Comics Career” – with Jim Gibbons
7pm – 10.30pm – The Evening Networking Party
As you can see, an amazing day full of ultra-talented professionals passing on so much knowledge and information for some very lucky creators. Frustrating at times as omnipotence is not available to most of us to be able to attend every event, Shane did his best to spread them across the day so writers and artists could get the most out of the day.
If in future the seminars could be recorded and bought together on a DVD, I know I’d be first in the queue but being on film may curtail some of the more “risqué” tales from the guests.
For the portfolio reviews, there were some heavy hitters sparing a few hours of their busy schedules to meet, listen and hopefully give work to all the creators lucky enough to grab a time-slot. Representatives from DC, Titan Comics, Markosia, Aftershock, Dark Horse Comics, Diamond Comics and Humanoids all attended on the day and I hope that a few people walked away with big smiles and a spring in their step as a result.
A really well organised and packed out day, Shane and his volunteers did themselves proud as they had to deal with a couple of curveballs with some guests unable to attend and some of the normal problems that such a busy day present.
You can find out more about the day itself over at http://www.thecomicsshow.co.uk and I hear on the comic vine that next year’s event dates have been booked already – so if you want to break into the comic business or just find out more about comic creation, book your tickets as soon as they go on sale!
• For news on future ICE events visit: https://internationlcomicexpo.wordpress.com
Worcestershire-based Jon Laight is the writer and creator of Brethren Born – due to be released soon after a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. The comic is a collaboration with artist Phil Knibbs and follows the story of vengeance carried out by the mysterious hero Newton in a sci-fi/superhero adventure.
Jon has also launched Level 8 Comics (www.level8comics.com) to help promote and support Brethren Born, as it’s continuing story as well as provide a platform and source of information for small press creators. For any further info or to contact Jon head over to the following and he’ll get back to you as quick as you like!