Do you live in Kent? Come hang out with us tomorrow!

It’s Demoncon 6 tomorrow! If you’ve not been to Kent’s loveliest comic con (I think it’s Kent’s only comic con but that’s besides the point) then you really should give it a go. This will be our fourth appearance at the event and it honestly gets more fun every time. A relaxed, family atmosphere; a wide range of enjoyable ways to spend a Sunday afternoon and, due to the shocking number of professional writers/artists that live in Kent, a surprisingly top end guest list.

This year will feature the likes of Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy), Cy Dethan (various books that give you nightmares) and a couple of idiots who do a book about the Moon. There are also several new indy book launches, demo games, a raffle where you can win comics and original artwork and an appearance by the mighty 501st legion. In case you need any more persuading, here are three things that we got up to last time out:

1) One of the other artists left early so we stole his table and created the largest Moon booth we’ve ever had which Steve had to staff by himself because I had to play Dr Who with some kids. 

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2)  Somebody asked Steve to draw a sketch of one of the 7 deadly sins so we put our heads together and came up with this interpretation of “Pride” (the look on the lion’s face still cracks me up whenever I look at it).

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3) Peter Mason learned the price of lending pens to the Bunker clan as Steve promptly made off with his sharpies, leading to this poster being circulated.

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So come on. It’s a Sunday, it’s raining and you’re probably hung over. What else are you going to do today? Housework? Forget that! Your house hates you. Show it who’s boss and come hang out with us in Maidstone.

Demoncon runs from 11am – 5pm at the Royal Star Arcade in Maidstone. Full details here!

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(Oh and did I mention that Steve and Timaree did the poster)

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Thought Bubble 2013 Announcement

Thought Bubble 2013

We love Thought Bubble. For about a million reasons it is one of the finest convention experiences you can have in the UK both as a fan and a creator. You can imagine how disappointed we were then when tables for this year’s TB sold out in an astonishing two hours leaving many indy creators suddenly out in the cold.

In retrospect, this is entirely surprising. The UK indy scene has exploded in the last couple of years as print costs come down, self publishers get more serious and a lot of incredible people go out of their way to support UK creators. With even the likes of the might MCM struggling to find space for the growing comic village it stands to reason that competition for tables is going to start heating up. Even so, TB 2012 sold out in a matter of weeks rather than hours so to open twitter on the first day of sales and see that we’d already missed out was something of a shock.

New MOON FEATUREFortunately for us (and fans of all of the nearly absent creators), Thought Bubble have once again stepped up to prove why they are every creator’s favourite place to hang a table cloth. Through some careful negotiating they have managed to secure the use of a third exhibition hall! It’s right next to the existing halls so you won’t have to walk far and it’s going to be packed to the rafters with talented yet tardy artists like us!

We shall be there with a whole table of big Moony goodness. So if you were worried that you would get through the whole event without Steve accosting you in the street like a sexy caveman or laughing at my Sunday face as I once again fail to cope with how cheap beer is outside of London, you may now set your fears aside.

Huge thanks must go to the entire Thought Bubble team for pulling this off. If any of you pay for a drink all weekend, it will be a crime.

Moon is coming back to Leeds and we couldn’t be more excited!

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Dan’s Blog: London Super Comic Con Debrief (Photos)

Well the convention season is back on with a vengeance and the second London Super Comic Con more than lived up to expectations. After two months off, it was great to get back into the game and put some copies of Moon #2 in people’s hands.

012Even without the draw of Stan Lee the Excel had a great buzz about it for the event and while it’s still not MCM, LSCC is more than managing to pull in the crowds. We met plenty of new fans as well as some familiar faces and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was especially good to catch up with other creators and see some of the awesome work they’ve been putting out since we last crossed paths (read Lightning Strike yet? You should). The impromptu pub trip on Saturday night added a nice social element to the event but it was a bit of a shame that there wasn’t an official after party like at Thought Bubble. It would be cruel to hammer this point too much in the cons second year, but with plenty of hotels and bars next to the convention hall it’s certainly something for the organisers to think about in the future.

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There’s no rest for the wicked however. As we’re off on the road again this coming weekend (I say “we”) to attend the Cardiff International Comic Expo. Following a last minute booking, Steve will be grabbing a couple of boxes of Moons and heading to Wales in order to bring you more comics and more cool sketches like this:

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After that we’ve only got one weekend off before we’re off to Demoncon 5 in Maidstone (f you’ve not checked out the wonderful posters for the event then have a look now)! It’s not all good news however. In something of a shocker, Thought Bubble sold out in under two hours this year, leaving us somewhat out in the cold. It’s a big disappointment for us as we were hoping to launch some new material and maybe even get in on a panel or two at the event but TB is the best con in the country so you can’t blame them for being popular. We’re working on solutions at the moment and hopefully we can still find a way for Moon to head north in 2013.

019On a final note, Barry Nugent showed me some new artwork from Peter Mason and I’s upcoming comic “Ashfall” during a quiet moment at the event and good lord this is going to be a great book. I swear Peter’s work gets better with every stroke of the pen.

Thought Bubble or not, 2013 is going to be a busy year and I for one cannot wait.

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London Super Comic Con Is Almost Here!

LSCC Event HeaderLast year’s inaugural London Super Comic Convention proved to be one of the great surprise hits of last year’s con season. In the face of doubts over whether the capital could sustain yet another large con the event confounded expectations and emerged as something genuinely unique and well deserving of any fan’s attention.

The great thing about LSCC is that it is entirely focused on comics. You won’t find big games companies running demos or  panels packed with film and tv stars here, instead LSCC have assembled the largest gathering of comic book creators that you’ll find anywhere in the UK. On top of this you’ll find a plethora of dealers and indy publishers ready to introduce you to your new favourite book. It’s like walking around one gigantic comic book shop; unpretentious, low-fi and a lot of fun.

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We shall be there this weekend with an arsenal of big Moony wares for you to wrap your mitts around. If you missed the Moon launch then this will be your first chance to pick up Moon #2 and if you want to introduce a friend to the book then we’ll be running a special bundle deal on both issues for new readers. In addition we’ve got a few of the ever popular Moon prints (guaranteed to protect you from falling Russian asteroids) and a whole bundle of badges. Steve will be on hand to do sketches and discuss commissions and I will be doing whatever it is that writers do at conventions (handing you your change, doing coffee runs, rescuing Steve from security when he forgets his pass etc).

It’s been ages since we were last in London so please drop by and let us know how it’s going. You can find us at table C43 as shown on this fine annotated map produced by the lovely Michael Georgiou (be sure to check out his new graphic novel “Just Exhale” which launches at the show).

LSCC floor plan 2013You can pre-order tickets and see a full line up of guests at the LSCC website.

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Dan’s Blog: MCM Debrief

For my part, I spent Sunday cosplaying as white trash.

The very first year that Steve and I appeared at the MCM Expo the event fell upon the same day as a Millwall game. It’s not a detail that I would remember were it not for the fact that it meant that my first experience of the con was sitting on a packed tube full of confused skinheads and teenagers dressed as cats. There has probably never been a more perplexed railway carriage anywhere in the world and I found myself developing an instant fondness for this oddball of a con.

I mention this story first because really the teenagers dressed as cats (and Pokemon and cardboard boxes and pretty much anything else you can imagine) are the heart of MCM. That’s not to say they are the only audience there (in terms of floor space, it’s probably the biggest comic con in the UK) but at its very core the event is about people who say the word “random” a lot, cutting loose and having fun. As a result, MCM has always had a kind if energetic buzz about it that you just don’t find anywhere else and it’s this buzz that is the key to why this year’s event was so successful.

MCM has taken some flak over the years for its rather diverse (random, you might say) range of exhibits. While other cons focus on comics or movies or trading or whatever, MCM goes for a bit of everything but in times such as these it’s exactly that kind of diversity that you need. If you’re only going to go to one comic con then the obvious choice is the one that lets you see as much as possible. MCM is not so much a comic convention as a convention for the sort of people who like comics. It’s a subtle distinction but one that breeds the kind of extremely loyal fanbase that descended in droves upon the Excel Centre last weekend.

Shot of the convention floor. It’s very hard to convey the sheer scale of the event.

For our part, we were taken completely by surprise by just how busy the con was. We brought our usual hefty amount of stock, expecting it to last the entire event (especially given a slightly disappointing audience turn out at Kapow) but instead found ourselves completely sold out of copies of Moon by 5pm on Saturday. The result was that Steve had to scurry back to Essex on Sunday morning, while I tried to learn how you sell prints of characters from a book you don’t have (turns out, you generally don’t). By 11am we were back up and running however and went on to smash our all time sales record by some way.

Moon #1 completely sold out.

I should mention, in the interests of fairness, that we had a much better pitch than at Kapow, being as we were right next to the auditorium and the booth for ASDF (who I’d never heard of before the weekend but who I’m pretty sure most teenagers would readily kill for.) This naturally translated into better sales but the fact that we took more than twice what we made at Kapow and paid less than half for the table left me pondering whether we’ll keep Kapow on our calendar next year.

Organisation wise we’ve got no complaints. Comics Village (who run the comics side of the event) have gotten very good at pre-show communication this time around and having every table get a small blurb in the program was a nice touch. Despite the huge crowds, there was always a volunteer on hand when needed and they were (as has always been the case) extremely helpful and friendly.

The aftermath. Huge thanks to everybody who bought the book and to those who have sent us such kind feedback on it. You guys are awesome.

The one part where the organisation fell down slightly was in the execution of the Eagle Awards on Friday night. The Eagles themselves are probably a topic for another day but the very low audience turn out was a bit of a shame. Steve and I certainly appreciate being able to hog the free beer but I can’t help but think that if they were properly publicised and perhaps held on the Saturday night, the turn out would have been far better. We ran into only two non-comics industry people at the awards and they confessed that they’d only found the event by chance. Given the announcement about the demise of the Eagles, I wonder whether the lack of publicity was a deliberate move to send the awards off quietly with an eye to focusing on next year’s new “MCM Awards.”

The Eagles is but a small part of the overall event however and a low turnout for one small part is not enough to spoil the experience of what was in all regards a fantastic convention experience.

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If you picked up a copy of Moon #1 at MCM then we’d love to hear what you think. Send us an email at btbcomics@gmail.com or let us know on facebook or twitter!

Dan’s Blog: Kapow Debrief

I was pretty tired in this photo. If you have a chirpier one of me, please let me know!

Kapow’s something of a special convention for us. The con’s first outing last April was also the first time that Moon saw action at a major convention and Kapow 2011 remains one of my highlights from last year. In the end Kapow 2012 turned out to be something of a mixed bag, not awful by any stretch but certainly a very different to last year.

It was pretty hard to get a sense of the overall vibe of the con as we were kinda tucked away in the new Artist’s Alley on the upper level but on the whole the atmosphere definitely seemed somewhat muted compared to 2011. That’s not to say that people weren’t enjoying themselves but the electricity which permeated the air last time was lacking and the audience numbers certainly looked to be down (though this is pure speculation).

Ultimately I think you have to put this down to the decision to postpone the convention until May in order to allow Marvel Comics to attend (they were a little busy in April with a certain movie). This move placed Kapow exactly a week before one of London’s other Goliath cons, MCM and just 2 weeks after the Bristol expo. To be fair, all three cons have slightly different audiences but cramming them all into one month was always going to force fans to pick one or two and both Bristol and Kapow appear to have been hit by this (though, let me again stress that this observation isn’t based on concrete attendance figures).

The Kapow Floor begins to fill up.

One thing that wasn’t lacking was the work that the guests and exhibitors themselves put into the event. Of the few events I got to see the Lucha Britannia‘s wrestling shows remain the highlight for me. Wrestling shows at comic cons have become a pretty common sight but the Lucha Britannia guys put on by far the best show I’ve seen in this country and I heartily recommend that you catch one of their shows if you get the chance. Jonathan Ross also continued to carve out a reputation as the ultimate convention guest, at one point even diving into the ring to help the good guy wrestlers win the day.

Lucha Britannia

Reactions to the new Artist’s Alley seemed to be kinda mixed too. Some people enjoyed the quieter atmosphere as it allowed them to talk to fans without clogging up the isle and certainly for the fans who found their way up there it offered a lot of opportunities to spend time meeting creators. Of course the down side is that not all the fans found all their way up there and because the layout didn’t funnel people directly past tables, it was tough for exhibitors to strike up conversations and ultimately sell books.


 In all honesty, use of the upper levels of the business design centre was inevitable given how crowded the main floor got during the day. I take some issue with the price that was charged for the tables in the Alley, given that they were always going to be inferior to the main floor in terms of sales. Other cons justify the existence of these less desirable plots by renting them to small press publishers and creators for a reduced rate. It’s a deal that works for everyone as you essentially get what you pay for. Kapow’s stance has always been that they don’t do small press and everyone pays the same for a table. This was fine last year, we paid a premium sum but we got a premium table in a premium location. This year however I can’t help but feel that we paid way over the odds for a less desirable location. Die hard critics will leap on this as “another example of Kapow stiffing small press” but I’m not sure I see it in quite such extreme terms. The Artist’s Alley was a new venture and it takes a year or so to work the bugs out of things like that. Jumping to conspiracy theories serves nobody and it’s far better to offer organisers constructive feedback than jump down their throats. So here’s the feedback, Kapow: The Artist’s Alley works, it’s a good addition but it’s too expensive and you need to make it clearer during the booking process that it’s located on the upper level…oh and if you could book even more luchas, that’d be great too.

While we’re on the subject of feedback, I want to offer one additional thought. Kapow, your wristbands suck. They look like creepy, escaped hospital patient bracelets and they are scratchy as hell (my poor wife has the scars to prove it and that’s just from rolling onto my arm in her sleep during Saturday night). Give exhibitors lanyards. Lanyards are cool, you can take them off at night and they sound like the name of a family from Game of Thrones. There’s no reason not to use them.

Scratchy scratchy!

On the whole, the weekend was a lot of fun for us. Despite the disappointment of our table, we sold reasonably well, met a lot of incredible Moon fans (seriously, you guys are incredible) and had a lot of fun. I want to send out some congratulations to Band of Butchers artist Rob Carey who not only successfully launched his Lightning Strike project but (justifiably) had big name editors drooling over his artwork. Never get tired of seeing people I know get recognition they deserve. Also want to give some thanks to Stuart Gould from UKComics for coming through again with some amazing print work for us. If you make comics and you don’t use Stu for your printing then you’re possibly mad.

Kapow closes down for the night.

I now have four days to “relax” by doing my day job, meeting with my film writing partner Jim Eaton to work on our next big project and finalising the new Unseen Shadows comic I’m doing and then it’s off to MCM for three more days of madness. I’ll be live tweeting the Eagle awards from @danthompson2099 on Friday and given how much free beer they gave me last time, this should be something that’s worth tuning in for.

Well done, Kapow for pulling off the difficult second album. There were some logistical issues but every fan I spoke to had a cracking time. Here’s to another year of a very unique convention.

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Reminder About Demoncon This Sunday

Just wanted to remind you that if you fancy a bit of a warm up for the big conventions next month, there’s a 1 day comic con in Maidstone, Kent this Sunday. It’s called Demoncon and as well as featuring the very best indy talent in the UK it also boasts an impressive line up of pro creators as well.

We’ll be there as will the likes of Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men, Journey Into Mystery), Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Warhammer 40K) and many more.

We won’t have any copies of Moon #2 for sale I’m afraid, but if you come and ask Steve really nicely, he might show you some of the pencils for it. We will have copies of Moon #1 however as well as some sexy A4 Prints that you can take home and love forever.

Demoncon runs form 11am til 4pm at the EXCHANGE STUDIO, MAIDSTONE, on April the 22nd and it costs a mere £5 to get in. How can you refuse?

For a full guest list, check out their website.

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Time Lapse Footage of a Comic Con

This is a bit of an old vid but as we’re approaching the UK convention season I thought it’d be fun to throw it up for anyone who has never been to an event. Back in 2010 the organisers of the MCM Expo decided to film the entire 4 days of their convention (2 days of set up, 2 days of con) and speed it up so that it all fitted into 6 minutes. While you’ll probably end up skipping ahead a few times, it is fascinating to see just how much work goes on behind the scenes at these mega-events and the sheer number of people that fill up the venue when the doors finally open is worth a look in itself.

If this has whetted your appetite for checking out a comic con then remember that you can catch Steve and I at the following conventions this year:

Demoncon, Maidstone, Kent
Kapow, London
MCM Expo, London
London Film & Comic Con, London
Thought Bubble, Leeds

There’s bound to be a few more to announce as we go, so keep an eye on the site for updates.

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Beyond The Bunker hits Demoncon

Next month Beyond the Bunker will be heading to Maidstone in Kent for the third Demoncon event. Founded by Maidstone’s own Grinning Demon comic shop, Demoncon is a chance for fans an creators to get together and share their love of comics. We’ll be joining the likes of Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men, Journey Into Mystery) as well as the duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Warhammer 40K).

Demoncon is a great chance to come and meet creators in a less hectic environment than that offered by the mega-cons. As always, you’ll be able to come chat to Steve and I about pretty much anything as well as picking up signed copies of Moon and other such goodies.

Demoncon runs form 11am til 4pm at the EXCHANGE STUDIO, MAIDSTONE, on April the 22nd and it costs a mere £5 to get in. How can you refuse?

For a full guest list, check out their website.

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BTB Awards: Best Convention

This was, in all honesty, about the toughest category that we’ve had to face in the process of putting these awards together. Before launching Moon earlier this year, Steve and I’s experience with comic cons could at best be described as “limited” and the past 12 months have been something of a culture shock. We’ve had some great experiences and some not-so-great ones (though it should be said that on the whole it has been almost entirely positive). The UK convention scene is incredibly varied and knowing how to go about ranking these events has proven to be something of a challenge. The two events that we’ve chosen to recognise are about as far apart as its possible to get but in their own ways I think they both demonstrate some of the best aspects of what conventions have to offer.

Winner – Thought Bubble

Thought Bubble is a week long sequential art festival which is held in Leeds every year. The comic con portion of the event runs for two days across two convention halls. Very much a fan run convention rather than a commercial venture, Thought Bubble focuses on the artistic aspects of comic books and tends to lean more towards Indy books and UK publishers. That isn’t to say that TB lacks big name creators, this year saw appearances from the likes of Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six), Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men) and Adam Hughes (Catwoman).

The odd thing about our love for Thought Bubble is that we very nearly didn’t go. Beyond The Bunker is London based and while that’s great most of the time (I can actually see the Excel Centre from my window) it means that trekking up to Leeds for a weekend is quite an expensive venture. They say that publishing Indy comics isn’t about the money and, while that’s true to an extent, it’s also true that you only get to print your next comic if you make a profit on the last one. Blowing a chunk of our summer’s profits on an adventure up north seemed like a risky play so close to the print bill for Moon #2.

In the end what convinced us to take the plunge was the astounding amount of goodwill towards the con that flowed from almost every creator we met. At every con we visited we bumped into people who raved about Thought Bubble at every opportunity and, having now attended it ourselves, I can see that they were exactly right to do so.

Me holding down the fort in between sprinting into town for more change

What makes Thought Bubble so good is the way it flawlessly balances scale with intimacy. At two days in length and two halls in size, Thought Bubble is just as big as its London counterparts and its guest list is easily as impressive (more so in many cases as the London cons tend to focus on film and tv guests). You could quite happily skip every other con and walk away from TB with a comprehensive convention experience. At the same time though, the event still feels like an intimate social experience where you share a pint with the creators, attend panels on niche subjects and discover a range of incredible Indy books. It is this combination of size and soul that make Thought Bubble such a joy to attend both as an exhibitor and a fan and it’s a worthy winner for this award.

Runner Up – Kapow!

At the other end of the scale lies our runner up, Kapow! The Mark Millar backed mega-con held its debut event this past April at the Business Design Centre and promised to bring the San Diego experience to the UK.

Kapow certainly lacks the intimacy of Thought Bubble. It is (by its own admission) entirely focused on big names and big companies with small creators offered almost nothing in the way of incentives to attend. But what it lacks in small town charm it makes up for in raw star power and polish. With the likes of John Romita Jr, Frank Quitely and Jonathan Ross in attendance as well as booths for several major publishers and studios, Kapow absolutely delivered on its promise to provide something new. While many cons this year had a great atmosphere, nothing could match the sheer excitement and electricity that permitted the air at Kapow.

Kapow 2011 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London

Sure, there were teething troubles – a somewhat unbalanced guest and badly managed queues succeeded in putting a few noses out of joint – but given how ambitious the project was, these are perhaps acceptable niggles for a first show.The thing that Kapow really shares with Thought Bubble is in how vocal its supporters are. While there seems to be no shortage of people who were happy to write off the con in absentia, I have yet to meet somebody who attended it and didn’t have a great time. Much like its surrogate father, Mark Millar’s convention isn’t subtle but it sure as hell kicks ass.

Check back tomorrow for another BTB award!

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