Saturday, 19 May 2012

Bristol Comic Expo 2012

Last weekend I was in Bristol, exhibiting at the annual Comic Expo. Look, I even managed to take a photo:

This was only my second ever Bristol as an exhibitor and my first ever convention spread over more than one day. I was accompanied at the Massacre For Boys table by Steven Denton (as you might expect) and Nikki Foxrobot. We were launching our new title, Massacre for Boys Action Special and thankfully it had arrived from the printers in plenty of time. This was actually not the printer I originally chose, having foolishly decided to go for a company I knew to have a bad reputation the first time around. All I can really say on this matter is that the guys at Ka-Blam stepped in late in the day and did a first rate job, and that if you ever see any claims regarding an Xpress service, take them with a massive pinch of very salty salt.

Bristol was a great occasion to catch up with friends and meet new comics people. The incomparable David Frankum was there throughout and legends Bolt-01 & Richmond Clements as well as the fantastic Owen Watts had their own tables, so we were pretty well covered for MFB contributors! Our stand was located at the back of the old engine shed (a massive hall, no old engines in sight) and next to the wares of the phenomonally talented Aneurin Wright. Over the weekend I got to see several more luminaries, including Steve Tanner of Time Bomb comics (love his Dick Turpin books), Jamie Lambert of Bearded Skull comics (a fellow purveyor of war action, great stuff), Garen Ewing of Rainbow Orchid (breath-takingly awesome) fame and many more.

The great attraction of Bristol is the comfortable inter-mingling of seasoned pros with fans and upstarts. I arrived on Friday night and found myself alone in the hotel lobby with D'Israeli (who vanished as soon as he realized I'd recognised him - don't worry, Matt, I'm a fan, but not a crazed fan!) and I have happy memories of super talented script droid Al Ewing joining in our conversations at the hotel bar. The number of times I clocked Paul Cornell in a 48-hour period was frankly frightening! Highlight of the weekend for the inner fanboy though, was when Simon Bisley bestowed on us some kind words about our work.

There was a major downside to this convention however, and that was that visitor numbers were sorely lacking. It did feel at times more like a social gathering of indepedent British comicdom then it did an actual opportunity to punt our wares to the comic-buying public. The lack of a big name headliner and the scheduling proximity to Kapow were both major factors here, and in this regard the organizers were unlucky. Denny O'Neil's late withdrawal no doubt had an effect and the refusal of Mark-Millar-con to schedule itself politely was bound to force many people to have to choose one or the other. I think this must be a lesson learned for the new team who took over organsising the Expo this year. Spread the risk by engaging three or four headliners, avoid a clash with Kapow or MCM (if that means moving from the traditional mid-May slot then so be it) and do a bit more to ensure the UK comics scene is fully represented. I was very disappointed, for example, not to see Self-Made Hero this year and they've since said that their absence wasn't due to Kapow so much as to not being invited!

However, overall I had a great time and came home feeling suitably energised and inspired. Roll on next year's show!

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