London Super Comics Convention 2015

A few bits and pieces from across this weekend, which saw London Super Comics Convention take place for, I think, the third time.

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I went to the very first one, back when they were marketing themselves as having one giant guest at each year’s event, with Stan Lee being their first such guest. They’d booked out the ExCEL Centre (did I get the capitals right on that?) for the con, but the planning wasn’t quite in place in terms of layout back then. Stan Lee had a big panel area over in one corner, which this weekend had become panel area 2, and then across at the other end of the hall was artists’ alley. It was a bit of a hike between the two, and there was more focus on international guests than on UK creatives and studio comics, from what I remember. Also the food courts were mostly shut down and the International Zumba Expo was taking place next door.

This time round LSCC was the only event going on that weekend, it seems, and the food courts were open and selling their cheerily expensive wares to anyone. The event seemed to be much better in terms of layout this time round, in that they actually filled the hall with aisles and kept everything in a reasonably logical place. The first thing you walk into is the cosplay area, which took up a large corner of the hall. I think this was a pretty good idea, giving people in elaborate costumes a lot of space where they could walk around. I spent far less time almost getting stabbed out by people in spiky anime outfits than usual.

Cosplay was the big thing at the convention. Some professional cosplayers were in attendance and had a table for photos/autographs, and I’d say at least 15% of the crowd were wearing cosplay. On top of that, the big tournament at the end of the day was by far the most carefully planned-out part of the weekend, as sound and lasers and fog machines made their presence known to absolutely everybody in the hall. The big panel room was standing room only, and people were being turned away at the door. Cosplay is Big Business now, folks.

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I also finally got to meet a Pixie cosplayer, which ticks something else off my bucket list.

And in terms of business, the convention seemed to be making people back their money, at the very least, with some people doing even better. It seemed that everybody who had a stall near the end of their aisle did very well indeed, and perhaps a little further up people struggled more. I think this might be because LSCC is more about character than creatives, and I think many of those in attendance spent more time around the shopping aisles than the artists’ alley aisles. I say this only because there were active queues around the shops at all times, whilst creators sometimes had surprisingly short queues – Cameron Stewart would be expected to have a line of Batgirls on his table at all times, but it looked like you could talk to him with only a five minute wait or so.

Rachael Stott had sold out of most everything she had near the end of the first day, which is pretty promising. Last year she’d been attending as a fan, and this year was a VIP guest thanks to her work on the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover book over at IDW. Stephanie Hans also sold out of her sketchbooks – I know that because I bought the last one she had.

People seemed also to be wandering between tables quite freely, as the UK scene has become quite close over the last few years. Sam Read shared a table with DoGooder Comics, for example, whilst Mike Garley had seemingly a rotating door policy where Martin Simmonds, Andy Clift and Josh Sherwell all came and went across the weekend. It was a very romantic time.

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The artists were all rather mixed up amongst the alley, so people like Mahmud Asrar, Stephanie Hans and Christian Ward were amongst UK studio press people like Kate Ashwin, Marc Ellerby and others. That also seemed like a rather good arrangement, and hopefully meant everybody got a fairer share of the attention than when conventions just stick all the Marvel artists in one corner and the UK press in another. Art Heroes were a table down from Jonathan Ross, for example.

And speaking of them, this was their last convention – Daniel Clifford says ever, I say until he grudgingly comes back to comics in two months time – and they seemed to be picking up attention as ever. I’m a fan of them both, so loitered around their table on and off, and saw loads of kids drawn over to that table. There were, in fact, loads of kids around in general, which is always a promising sign.

After Zainab’s report back from the Lakes Arts Festival last year I’ve tried to keep a better eye on demographics at conventions. LSCC seemed to be roughly 55/45 male/female attendance, and there wasn’t a noticeable wave of white faces everywhere. There were people of all ethnicities wandering around, several in cosplay (including a hugely impressive Blade outfit), and lots and lots of families. I think this is likely due to the location being London – one of the “biggest melting pots in the world”, as Eddie Izzard maybe once said, where people from all round the world come to live. The guestlist was centred around American comics, but the crowd reminded that the readership aren’t just fortysomething men anymore.

Again, promising.

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Mack, Sienkiewicz and Janson

I got to see two panels during my time – the Doctor Who comics panel, hosted by Titan, where they announced Neil Edwards as the artist for their upcoming three-Doctor-crossover event thingy. The acoustics in the hall were terrible, so it was very hard to hear some of the panellists, sadly. This was corrected by Sunday, but it did make the panel hard to follow at times. Rachael Smith’s cat-focused artwork seemed to go over well with the crowd, and Marc Ellerby picked up laughs from the audience. The opening talk with Cavan Scott and Al Ewing seemed largely inaudible, except for the prompts from editor Andrew James – who came across as bright and invested in the comics he works on.

The Daredevil panel on the next day had recovered the technical issues, and Bill Sienkiewicz, Klaus Janson and David Mack talked animatedly about the character – unlike some spotlight panels, this was one where the panellists actually seemed to care about their work. I’ve been to ones before where the creatives seem to be there because they had to be, but these three radiated warmth for the Daredevil character and his stories. The Q&A session was somewhat hit-and-miss, but you’ll hopefully be able to read that for yourself later in the week, as I should be getting that recap onto CBR at some point.

I was mostly there for a wander with chum and artist Fionnuala Doran, who got giddy over Astral Gypsy’s art-supplies stand and kept gravitating back towards it. We also hung around near – but never daring to go up to – Clay Mann, who is super swoony you guys. Ahem. I did buy a few things, being Stephanie Hans’ sketchbook and Gary Erskine’s Roller Grrrls sketchbook. I’ve seen him at conventions before, but always busy, so this was my first chance to actually say hi and chat for a while. Really enjoyed that conversation in particular, and I’m looking forward to reading more into the Roller Grrrls project in general.

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I booked my train really poorly on Sunday, meaning I had to bolt off at lunchtime in order to head up North. But I enjoyed the convention a lot! It felt rather relaxed, with the big open space at all sides meaning people could stand aside and catch their breath whenever they wanted. Having been in 2013 and now 2015, it was nice to see the steps forwards that the convention-planners have made over the last few years, and it seems like a positive, supportive environment for comics fans of all ages.

So it was pretty good!

Comics Roundup 30/01/15

In a week where DC and Marvel are bottling up their universes and dropping them onto the concrete, BOOM! Studios are #pushingcomicsforward and Image released some more sci-fi comics, there’s been a lot going on in the World of Comics. Fortunately I’m here (I’m Steve!) with a look at some of the comic news, previews and, uh, other stuff you might’ve missed this week.

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Viz will be re-releasing Shotaro Ishinomori’s ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past’ comic this May. Link to the Past would be the story based on the third game, where our hero Link embarks on a quest which faces him up to dungeons, monsters,and intense levels of petty theft. Ishinomori, being the creator of immensely popular comics like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, proved to be an inspired choice to adapt the game for comics – choosing to go wildly off tangent at times, in some hugely enjoyable ways.

Mike Molcher’s set up a 2000AD podcast – first episode? The first episode is right here. Let’s keep an eye on this one, partly because it’s a very promising first episode, and also because you can’t trust those editorial droids for an inch.

Titan Comics have put out an ad looking for artists to join them for a series of different projects. Are you an artist? Looking to get paid and published? Well, here’s an opportunity, then, innit. They want interior artists, cover artists, colourists – all sorts of different talent.

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James Lawrence, whose “Dangerine” series has proven to be a frequent delight with each new issue I pick up, has started posting teasers for a new webcomic which’ll be starting next month. “The Legend of La Mariposa” seems to be something to do with wrestling…. I’m guessing?

Humanoids have joined ComiXology, headlined by a load of Moebius, a mass of Incal books, and the new translation of Barbarella with Kelly Sue DeConnick. Oh, and on that ComiXology lean – they revealed the top ComiXology Submit titles of 2014, headlined by Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore. Smut Peddler and Watson & Holmes also show up in the top twenty five, which you can find here.

Todd Allen’s been writing over at Mediashift, listing eight tips for digital comics success.

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Issue #8 of The Wicked and The Divine adds Brandon Graham to the list of cover artists who’ve entered the world of Gods, and he’s clearly enjoying the chance to draw some weird hairstyles.

Sean Murphy, fresh off The Wake and currently artist on the March-launching Chrononauts over at Image, has taken to the net to set up a “creator’s rights” guides at conventions.

While many of my pro friends are eternally grateful for their careers and for these generous invites, some of the shows are taking advantage of creators–ALL levels of creators–and not following through with what’s promised. Believe me, I love traveling and I want to visit all my readers in every country I can, but there’s nothing worse than getting to the “convention reserved” hotel room and finding out you wasted your money staying in some foreign ghetto.

Establishing a five-point proposal including “give us decent accomodation” and “check we’re okay with doing sketches for free or not in advance”, it seems a pretty fair list of demands for any convention guest to make.

Marvel are reaching the end for a load of their books, apparently, and are now looking to see if there’s a way they can make this into a promotional thing rather than a series getting cancelled. ‘Last Days’ is the branding that’ll be on Loki, Mighty Avengers and Magneto’s final few issues, as Secret Wars comes in to doom us all with alternate universes and whatever else might be going on.

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Thought Bubble held a sketching panel last year, featuring Emily Carroll, Boulet, Cliff Chiang, Jason Latour, and Babs Tarrall of which are now being auctioned on behalf of Bernardos. Go! Buy! Or, at the very least, go gawp in awe.

Angouleme’s Grand Prix Finalists 2015: Otomo, Hermann and Moore

Kevin Melrose has noted that the finalists for the Grand Prix Award at Angouleme this year have been whittled down to three final competitorsAlan Moore, Katsuhiro Otomo and Hermann. This is considered to be the highest prize in the comics industry, and only goes to veterans who have seriously changed the face of comics worldwide.

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Last year saw the verdict go to Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbs, who came out of his retirement to design a poster for the event – before heading back into his retirement of sorts. This year sees another comics recluse nominated, in the form of ol’ beardface Alan Moore. That’s interesting because, as Melrose notes, Moore prominently said he would decline such a prize when he was on the longlist last year.

Otomo, also, was an obvious choice for nomination. The creator of Akira, amongst other works, Otomo has been recognised with most of the other highest awards in comics already. He’s in the Eisner Hall of Fame, for one thing, and was given the Purple Medal of Honour by the Japanese Government in 2013.

Hermann, a name new to me because I’m a fairly awful person, is most well known for his series Jeremiah, a post-apocalyptic story which has now reached 32 volumes and counting. He seems to be very popular within mainland Europe, having been nominated for several audience awards by Angouleme over the years. His artwork is the one I’ve chosen for the top of this page, so I can start getting more of an understanding of his work.

The winner will be announced at the end of the month.

Image Expo: Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson on ‘Paper Girls’

Last seen commissioning a sketch of Pixie, many wondered what Cliff Chiang’s next move would be following the wrap-up of his long run on Wonder Woman. Well now we know – he and colourist Matt Wilson will be joining up with Brian K. Vaughan for a series called ‘Paper Girls’.

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The ongoing series follows four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls on the night after Halloween, “when something very strange happens.”

I know literally nothing more about it than that. That cover does make it look like it’ll be a landscape book rather than a portrait one though, right?

Image Expo: Darwyn Cooke Seeks ‘Revengeance’ yes seriously Darwyn Cooke is Coming to Image

One of the biggest surprises – and the biggest is yet to come over on The Spire, although literally everybody else is talking about it so I don’t know why you’re even reading this – was the news that Darwyn Cooke will be putting out a three-issue miniseries at Image later this year.

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A long-time writer/artist who is best known for his ‘Parker’ adaptations, Cooke’s story will come to print this Spring. As you might expect from him – this’ll be a noir-ish series, albeit one which is billed as being more comedic than anything else. Also, and this caught me by surprise…

Apparently this’ll be Darwyn Cooke’s first creator-owned comic ever.

Which! About time, then. Not many artists get by for so many years without ever dipping their toes into creator-owned work, especially not one who is also acclaimed as a writer. But, when you think about it, most of his work has been with pre-existing characters – New Frontier, Catwoman, Parker, and… y’know, Watchmen – so it’s going to be fascinating to see what he does with new characters.

He’s got an interview with Entertainment Weekly, which you can read here.

Image Expo: Emi Lenox Comes to Image for ‘Tadaima’

I think this’ll be the book nobody predicted would happen, but we’ll all turn out to really enjoy once it comes out. Not many would have expected Emi Lenox, best known for her autobiographical ‘Emitown’ comics, to come to Image. But now here we are! Facing a pretty exciting graphic novel she’ll both write and then paint in full watercolour.

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Tadaima roughly means ‘I’m Home’, as the story is an autobiographical work following Lenox as she returns to Japan after more than a decade living abroad, on a visit to the grave of her grandparents. Unlike her Emitown work, this’ll be fully painted work, done by hand, as her journal tells the story of her return home.

In the launch interview at The AV Club, she says:

I really wanted to capture all of the emotions that I had when I went to Japan. It felt like revisiting a dream but things were different. It’s hard for me to describe and I’m hoping I can get it across somehow in this comic.

I’m really interested in this one.

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