Cardiff Debrief!!

New CARDIFF
Firstly, apologies on being so late on writing up my testimonial of events in Cardiff. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, working on a secret project to be revealed soon.

Following on from the preview posted two weeks ago, you could clearly see that my anticipation for this event was a little inclined towards dread. This wasn’t for any particular reason, including malice towards the Cardaffians (as I have decided to refer to them).

It was because this would be the first convention I attended on my own (sans Dan). He gets left on a regular basis at cons but when he does he tends to get interviewed or photographed by roaming middle-age women (as occurred at the Super Comic Con the week before in an incident that saw me framed out of a photo of Dan in spite of standing directly beside him behind a table only two feet wide) so I had little concern for him being left to his own devices. The fear came from the fact that 1) I’m effectively the ‘roamer’ of the pair who has never sat behind a table for a whole day without suffering the effects of mild alcohol poisoning, 2) the detailed figures maintained by Dan on a little pad would invariably go awry if he did leave the table for a minute as I’d get ‘sale fury’ and lose the capacity to remember how many books I’d sold if a) there was more than one person b) I sold one or c) nothing happened at all.

So that, and rain, on my mind as I made my way to Cardiff I figured that this was my opportunity to prove to Dan that I can run the table without his sense of organisation and calm. As it happened it didn’t rain and I had a great time. Booked into the ‘exclusive’ 9 bed dorm at Nomads Hostel around the corner, I made my way around to the Balmoral Suite of the hotel in which it is always held (can’t be bothered ti look it up) to discover that I was back to back with a bunch of ne’er do wells I never really got on with who created some backwater title known as Lou Scannon. I think it sold like 3 copies the whole weekend. I bought two and I think I saw one other person at the table at one point, but they might’ve been browsing…*

(*basically won the weekend)

For the uninitiated, Lou Scannon is Red Dwarf, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, only more colloquial and with significantly more cock and bum gags. I love it. It is my favourite title out right now, purely because of my love of cock and bum gags. If Carry On made Space Operas it’d look something like this. Even down to the Sid James Yuk yuk yuk. Frankly, from our perspective, they must be stopped – but Lou’s creators Bampfield, Carter and Harris sent a few of their (significant) number of customers my way so they’re off the hook – for now.

To my right I had Razarhawk – by Ian Matthews and Dani Abram – which rocks! Abram draws the most exciting (and prettiest) flight paths / missile impacts I’ve ever seen, like watching a doodle with a hollywood budget. Matthews hits my buttons too with the introduction of monkeys (for no reason which is how monkey’s should happen) as well as a surprisingly cheerful script filled with Manga style Apocalypse! I’m back for issue 2 and I recommend others do the same.

Another title I tripped over by knowing people on the table, Stiffs, written by Drew Davies, PJ Montgomery and Joseph Glass, and lettered and coloured by Adam Cadwell is awesome and smells like Image potential if you ask me! Gavin Mitchell, on the art, seems to be channelling Mignola and Charlie Adlard, which punches me in the eye sockets with zombie mittens. This also features a talking monkey.

Messrs Mitchell and Harris did some Moon sketches for us (which we may well make prints to buy at the shop). Mitchell’s looks like it’s on some scrap paper that’s been in his pocket but that’s just photoshop trickery….

Everyone was great. Dani Abram ‘watched’ my table for me while I was away – meaning that she carried on while no one turned up. Grabbed a batch of the Indy Top Trumps (for a lazy Sunday at Bristol?) which I spent half the trip home reading, there’s like 60 of them.

I’ve got to say thanks to the people who bought Moon. Genuine enthusiasm and humour, with pretty much everyone getting the joke. Long are the moments when a non-believer starts to question our awareness of the Gregorian Calendar or stand looking for typos, but there was none of that at Cardiff. Just like my first trip, the attendees were the best thing about it. While there were massive lulls there’s nothing the event can do about that. It attracts a great mix of die-hard, fun-lovers and those there to meet their mates. Both Scannon and Razarhawk teams can attest to the fact that I sold to anyone who made the mistake of slowing down.

We’ll be back next year for sure. Cardiff went down as a big success with Moon now in the hands of plenty more folks outside of London. Moon is of course, the protector of the British Isles, not just the capital city, so this may be the start of us venturing further from the beaten track (Thoughtbubble).

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What is The Super Comic Convention?

Ever since we got word that a non-MCM event would be taking up residence in the Excel Centre next February there’s been a lot of speculation about the identity of the newcomer (I say a LOT of speculation, in all honesty the topic has been mentioned once or twice and then dropped again because there was no new information to go on). We knew it was going to be comics focused, we knew Harry Markos (of UK publisher Markosia) was involved and that MCM were a bit peeved. Now though, with tickets on sale, the organisers have started to offer up a little more information. In an interview with Bleeding Cool the mysterious group of anonymous backers came clean on some of the events goals as well as tackling the question of why it exists in the first place.

“London Super Comic Convention is being organised by a number of people that have been brought together for the express purpose of providing what the UK has been lacking – a comic convention with not just 2 or 3 American guests, but with a substantial amount of American creators spanning the decades, from 60’s through to present day. As such and given the enormity of the task, the collective encompasses individuals from both the UK and US, who have both financial acumen and experience in different fields, with one common denominator – All are comic fans, who want nothing more than to have a UK show that can go toe to toe on a guest list basis with the larger American Shows, and have a show that truly rivals its American counterparts..”

If that statement sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost the exact same statement that Mark Millar made when he announced Kapow! back in 2010…it’s also very similar to some of the claims made by MCM in this year’s publicity. It seems that if you want to sell a comic con to a British audience then you better damn well make it as American as possible.

So how does the new kid rack up against it’s competitors? Well for all the similarities in marketing, there are some key differences between Kapow! and SCC. For a start the newbie is about 4 times the size of Kapow in terms of raw floor space (though anyone who’s been to the Excel will tell you that just because they have the space, doesn’t mean it’s actually filled with anything).Secondly, while Mark Millar revelled in the film and game aspects of Kapow, SCC’s organisers have promised 100% comics and nothing else. This of course raises the question, are there enough convention going comic fans to justify filling the entire Excel with them? I hope so, but I suspect that they’re going to have dip into the Manga market quite heavily in order to do the numbers they want. Finally, if the SCC cabal are to be believed, they have a budget at their disposal that would make other comic cons weep. For all it’s killer line up Kapow did suffer from having very few American creators (Leinil Yu and John Romita Jnr apparently paid for their own flights to attend the con) and while it’s perfectly possible to produce an A list line-up without going abroad, there’s a lot of people who would pay good money to meet the likes of Brian Bendis and Matt Fraction.

Oddly enough, despite sharing a venue, MCM may well suffer less than a lot of people think from the encroachment of the new dog. For a start MCM isn’t really a comic con (shock horror). Sure it has a comic section, a very nice comic section, but it’s far from the focus of the event. MCM is about Manga, Cosplay and gaming and the comics are there as an icing on the cake rather than any kind of major jammy filling. Secondly the MCM events take place in May and October, well clear of SCC’s February show. If anything we should be sparing a thought for the poor Cardiff Comic Con who have suddenly found themselves with a juggernaut of a con taking place on exactly the same day as them!

The MCM and the SCC target crowds do overlap, but I’m not sure it’s quite as big as some people are making out. Despite fears that Kapow would dilute the attendance rate for existing cons, 2011 is shaping up to be a bumper year for convention attendance across the board. With geek culture on the rise, I don’t see the market as being at saturation point just yet. If anything the addition of a major con in the normally bare spring may help to stir up interest for events throughout the year.

So what about SCC’s own merits? Well the lineup so far is solid (but the first names announced always are) however the continuous references to “stars of the silver age” sets of a few alarm bells for me. Getting in the guy who drew Superman 30 years ago is fine if those were landmark Superman comics, getting him in because you can’t afford the guy who draws Superman now, not so much.

But that’s speculation. Right now the presence of a major con with apparently bottomless pockets seems largely positive to me. If done right it will draw in new fans, offer another chance for creators to get their books noticed and force the other cons to stretch for new levels of success. If it fails, well there’s still a whole year of cons to enjoy.

As for whether we’ll be attending, that will have to wait and see. Exhibitor prices haven’t been released yet, but once we know those, we’ll have a better idea of whether we can expect to see Moon kicking in the doors and demanding the shady council of SCC unmask…or more likely, buying novelty T-Shirts.

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Steve Penfold is shitting himself

Dan has failed violently to post up his Friday Film. It is now 4.30am on Sunday. I tried to give him enough room to slap it all up before I started posting up again so I’m just going to blog and I have insomnia so am trying to fill the time before morning.

It could be said that I am shitting myself due to the fact that we have less than 11 weeks to complete Moon 1 before we know that we have missed the printing date for Cardiff and London conventions. This involves completing 22 pages of colour, 6 more pages of pencil and pen. Get them print ready, sent to Florida (at present) via Ka-blam printers, printed and sent back in time to start selling.

It could be that I am shitting myself as I will be responsible for the design of the cover, thereby causing me to be responsible for its success / failure in numbers of sales. Or that I won’t be able to put in for the banners in the background or the printing itself if I don’t get enough work between now and January- and that January is typically a seasonal dip for all industries I occupy.

Part of it is likely that I’m actually scared of the potential success of Moon. A life coach (or Guru as I like to call him) that I had a fear of success and that I taught myself in a classroom as a child that if I hid my intelligence I would be more popular, beginning a lifetime of very convincingly proving to the world that I am stupid by (but not limited to) trying to cut my own hair with a bic razor, eating a map needed to cover the final route on a 200 mile journey en route, losing a brown beach hut among three rows of brown beach huts because it had been repainted white,  putting contact details on a CV intended for a job my Dad had lined up in Australia as Happily_underachieving@yahoo.co.uk prompting the receiver to enquire if it was a joke, turning my back on Dan during a firefight and most recently throwing away the bin lid with the rubbish without realising. Another is of course, the length of the last sentence.

However, most likely its because I’m going paint balling with my girlfriend in just a couple of hours. I genuinely don’t know what to expect on this one.