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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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!

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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Welcome to Beyond The Bunker!

Hi chaps,

We’ve just returned from an incredibly successful weekend at the London Super Comic Convention. We met a tonne of lovely people and many of you bought a copy of Moon, so I thought I’d take a second to say hi to all our new followers and show you around the site a little bit.

I’m Dan, I wrote Moon. You can find my bio HERE!

Steve drew Moon (and lots of other stuff). You can read all about him HERE and hire him for commissions HERE!

If you want to find out what the Moon comic is all about you can find up to date news HERE and a trailer/blurb HERE!

If you want to buy any of our comics (either in print or digitally) then you can do so HERE!

Steve and I are heavily involved in the Unseen Shadows line of books and you can read about them HERE!

You might have noticed that we make films as well. You can find all of them on the menu at the top or by clicking HERE!

We try to update the site almost every day so we have a whole bumload of other features and articles for when we don’t have any Moon or FH news to tell you about. Here’s a few of them that you might want to check out:

THE PRACTITIONERS is a weekly blog by Steve which looks back over the careers of some of the most influential people in the comics industry. There are over 30 articles on there already so you’ve got plenty of reading to do. There will be a test at the end. I’d suggest using the menu at the top to navigate them so it doesn’t become too overwhelming! (hint: The Jeph Loeb one is very entertaining)

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MONSIEUR POPPALEUX is a weekly clipart webcomic which is honestly not written by me (honest) but rather by the famous 90′s children’s author and cat strangler, Dr Jean-François Bacharach. It’s about a maladjusted smiley face and a pie chart who lies. It’s finished now, but the archives are still there if you feel the need to never sleep well again.

On top of all this both STEVE and MYSELF both have blogs here and we often write articles about COMICSFILMSand GAMES.

Finally, you should follow ME, and BEYOND THE BUNKER on twitter and like us on facebook.

Given how many books we’ve sold to children as of late I should take a moment to say that we are trying to keep the site as kid friendly as we can, but bear in mind that certain parts of it (the films and Monsieur Poppaleux in particular) are intended for an older audience.

Phew! What a lot of links. Well that should give you plenty of stuff to keep you busy for a while. Please pop us on your bookmarks bar and check in every day to see what’s new and be sure to drop us a message and let us know what you think of the book and the site. You guys really are the backbone of this whole endeavour and it’s honestly very humbling to see how much interest you all take in what we do.

Welcome to Beyond The Bunker.

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Moon Wins GPO Editor’s Choice Award!

 

I got a tweet last night from Dave Probert over at Geek Planet Online telling me that I might want to check their recent awards listings. Just to be different, GPO holds its Editor’s Choice awards around Oscars season (or more specifically, around Kermode Awards season). I clicked on the link and was somewhat knocked sideways by what I saw within:

Comic of the Year – Moon”

That’s right. The Geek Planet Online Editor’s Choice award has gone to the adventures of a man with a Moon for a head and we couldn’t be more pleased. Here’s a little excerpt from the post:

“Dan Thompson and Steve Penfold balance comedy and action perfectly with a book that feels uniquely British. It takes huge courage to have the title character be not only mute but have a moon for a head. It’s ridiculous and shouldn’t work but Moon was the most fun I have had reading a comic last year. Like Stake Land it deserves to be seen by a wider audience.”

Huge thanks to GPO for their support, to Ivanna Matilla (without whom the book would be a shell of itself) and to everyone who has supported the comic up to this point…and to the academy.

You can read an interview that I did with GPO a while back by clicking here and if you’ve yet to join the fun then you can pick up a copy of the award winning action-comedy, Moon, at this weekend’s London Super Comic Convention or direct from this site.

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More Geek Interviews From PULP

 

We’ve talked about the upcoming comic movie, Pulp before and I’m pretty sure that we’ve showcased a few of their rather funny geek interviews. Well they uploaded a few new ones to their youtube channel this week so if you’ve been enjoying them so far it’s probably time to pop back over to their site and have another look.

The interviews are conducted at genuine comic cons and include a mix of fans and well known faces answering the burning questions that every comic fan needs answered.

You can see all of the videos here.

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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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Stan Lee is Coming to The UK!

UK conventions have been trying to secure an appearance by Stan Lee for longer than many of us have been alive but it seems one of them has finally pulled it off! London Super Comic Convention announced last night that the Fantastic Four creator will make his first UK convention appearance in 40 years at their show next year!

Lee joins an already star studded line-up of creators including the likes of Brian Bolland, Steve Epting and Duncan Fegredo. In LSCC’s own words:

“Organisers of The London Super Comic Convention 2012 are going all out to make the inaugural event unique and special for all attendees, by giving them a unique opportunity to interact with Stan, who recently celebrated his 89th birthday and created many of the most enduring comic book characters and pop culture icons of the last 50 years

Attendees can look forward to having their comics signed, their photo’s taken and watch Stan “The Man” in action on guest panels.”

In a year that will see no less than four mega comic cons taking place in London, the announcement of Stan Lee is a major coup for the newcomer of the bunch. A lot of cons can boast impressive guest lists, but Stan Lee is in another category all together.

London Super Comic Convention takes place at the Excel Centre on 25th & 26th February 2012. There will be no tickets on the door so if you want to meet The Man then you’ll need to book in advance on their website.

Needless to say, Beyond The Bunker will also be there.

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Thought Bubble 2011 In Pictures

Well it’s now a week on from Thought Bubble 2011 and I figured it was high time we got our pics up online. In all honesty I was sceptical about TB when we booked it. I was pretty certain that the social side would be fun but the cost of trekking up to Leeds for 2 days had me worried about whether it would prove to be a very expensive holiday rather than a smart venture for the book. I’m happy to say that my fears were unfounded. Not only was the social aspect of the show everything we’d hoped for, but the good people of Leeds took Moon into their hearts with as much relish as their Southern cousins. The event itself was incredibly well organised and the general vibe was amazing too. We returned smiling, exhausted and very happy to have not only helped launch Tales of the Fallen but to have brought Moon to a whole new audience.

But enough of that, on to the pictures!

One of the real highlights of the show was getting to walk around Leeds itself. It's a genuinely lovely city.

The full set of collectable Moon badges that we debuted at the con. These are only available at live shows.

One of several sketches that Steve drew for our awesome fans.

Unseen Shadows: Tales of the Fallen rolls off the press.

 

Me holding down the fort while Steve wandered the freezing streets, handing out flyers. (Photo by Jon Lock)

Gloriously under-dressed at the Casino on Saturday night.

Myself, Martin Conaghan and Peter Rogers during the Unseen Shadows panel. (photo by Vicky Stonebridge)

Band of Butchers being discussed in the Unseen Shadows panel. (photo by Vicky Stonebridge)

Picked up some great books at the event but my favourite take away was this gift from Rob Carey: an original page from Band of Butchers. It's going on my wall.

The local Roller Derby team gets their skates behind Moon.

The girls were a huge help in drumming up interest in the book over the weekend. We repaid them by ruining this perfectly good photo with the addition of our idiot faces.

Thought Bubble has without a doubt become one of our favourite experiences of the year and it’s a con we’ll definitely return to. Lovely city, lovely people, lovely comic con.

Now onwards to 2012!

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Moon Returns to Kapow Comic Con!

We’re very happy to announce that Beyond the Bunker will be returning to the Kapow Comic Con next May!

Launched by Kick Ass/Ultimates writer Mark Millar earlier this year, Kapow has already secured its status as one of the UKs top comic cons. It’s a grand day out and (unlike some other cons) is designed to appeal to both hardcore fans and casual fans alike. It’s a fantastic event and we’re really excited to be a part of it.

The Kapow website is in the process of being updated ready for the event but keep one eye right here on the bunker for updates on the guest list and other Kapow related news!

Kapow 2011 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London

See you there!

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