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Comics Expo I: 5th November to 7th November 2004

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: James Redington

Friday 5th Nov 2004

PRO-CON
I arrived in Bristol nice and early, about 11AM to be exact. The traffic on the M25 and M4 was a dream, especially since we left about 7AM and stopped for almost an hour for breakfast.

I checked in the hotel nice and early at 11AM, met with Mike Allwood and found out what was going on with the talks that I would be filming.

After chilling out with the girlfriend for a couple of hours, I then headed back to the main room to set up for the talks. Dez Skin (editor of Comics International, and other stuff) interviewed on stage Mike Noble, John M. Burns and Mike Ploog. All three provided very interesting comments about their careers in comics – look out for an issue of Comics International coming soon in which Dez will have transcribed the interviews for your reading pleasure.

I packed up my camera and sound equipment and went to get food. I returned to set up the equipment once again for the Eagle Awards, only to be told that they will be presented the following night because of the poor attendance at the Pro-Con.

If you missed the Pro-Con, you actually missed quite a nice afternoon with a very friendly atmosphere. It was worth it alone to hear Mike Ploog talk about his little stop over in Washington while on the way to New York and turning up 2 days late for his 1st day at work, with the Police waiting for him as he arrived at his new offices.


Saturday 6th Nov 2004

I woke up early because of a hard bed, so I went down to the gym, spent about an hour there before heading to breakfast. I had set up the Silverbullets table the night before so there wasn’t much to do.

When the Expo opened at Midday, there was an initial flow of people into the hall, and in fact it was quite busy for the first two hours until the panels started and then most punters headed to the talk’s room. Everyone seemed very relaxed and happy to be there. It was probably one of the nicest events I have been to recently with everyone chilled out and glad to be talking about comics. I didn’t get to go to any of the panels as I spent pretty much all of the Expo behind the table, but I hear most of them were quite good fun.

I had a little chat with the Blink Twice team, the guys behind Malcolm Magic. I’ll tell you this for free; I have never seen guys with so much inexhaustible energy. They seemed on a high the whole weekend and were always talking and promoting their comic. They have a real love for what they are doing which is very evident in their work. They are currently working on a computer game tie-in to Malcolm Magic!!
They also held a raffle each day for a piece of original artwork in a lovely frame – full respect for having the word “RAFFLE” in big letters on their table. Let’s be honest: we’re British – we love raffles. Damn it, my Nan would have brought 10 tickets just because it was a raffle.

Moving on… AP Comics had a very big display at one end of the hall. I spent too much money there on Darkham Vale back issues, and I also picked up issues of Bin4ry which I had signed by Rich Emms and Jim Sutherns which was nice. AP Comics are really “going for it” with their projects and are doing their thing for The British Industry. They are a company to watch!!

The team from Pulp Theatre Entertainment were also present at the Expo, showing just as much energy as they did at Winterfest and they had issue #2 of Brodie’s Law!! We had a good chat, and Daley gave me some advice on Portent Comics as well. If you haven’t checked out Brodie’s Law yet, make sure you do. It’s pretty cool stuff.

The rest of Saturday was quiet, but no one was really moaning as we were chatting away and just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere that seemed to fill the whole weekend. Even when it was busy it was nice. I spent most of Saturday afternoon talking to Shane Chebsey, a real gent and promoter of “Small Press Comics” and the British comics industry.

Paul Scott of Solar Wind frame was in attendance and seemed to be having a good time, as was Paul Grist (creator/writer/artist) of Jack Staff fame. (I think Shane spent most of his earnings buying Jack Staff trades).

The time came to pack up for the evening and prepare for the Eagle awards,… but it was decided again they wouldn’t be happening. The organisers were disappointed by the little turnout of the pros who had won and been invited and not been able to make it down. It’s a shame because those of us in attendance were looking forward to the awards, which themselves looked very impressive and heavy and unbreakable unless you bang them down hard on a table during an interview on Friday. Eh Dez…?

Ahem.


Sunday 7th November 2004

Sunday started at 11AM. It was very quiet again for a few hours and then for a while in the afternoon it picked up… and then died off again. I spent some money at Al Davison’s table, buying a copy of The Spiral Cage which looks very interesting and compelling from the first few pages I have read so far. I brought some Superboy comics I might already own (I forgot my want lists) and a Supergirl Elseworlds comic I definitely didn’t have because it was only 50p.

Again, I couldn’t attend any panels because I was at the table, but the day was fun despite the lack of public. I spoke to Daley again from Brodie’s Law, took a picture of James Hodgkins, Charlie Adlard and Dave Windett (all nice fellas) who were signing all day on the Sunday. I got a Christmas present for my brother and got it signed by the writer (I won’t mention who and what, but it involves disguised robots), and that’s about it. I took a few pictures that you can see with this report and we packed up at about 16.30 along with everyone else.


Conclusion

I had fun this weekend. It was quiet, but I got the impression that everyone involved kinda enjoyed it. The low attendance was a real shame, but I feel this may be the result of the number of festivals that have already happened this year and being close to Christmas. But this expo did show a lot of potential, and the next one is going to be blinding I am sure (David Mack and Michael Avon Oeming confirmed already). Portent Comics is going to launch big at the Expo as well.

My only contact with the Comics world for now will be my weekly visit to Forbidden Planet in Cambridge (it’s a nice store, has the feel of a small comic shop with the Forbidden Planet prices) and the odd trip into London where I can visit a number of shops. So if you didn’t make it, you missed a friendly and fun festival (Expo, but I want 3 f’s). Whatever your reasons, make sure you come in May to the Comics Expo II and support the British Comics Industry!!


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