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Monday, 28 May 2012

A fitting introduction.

I am afraid to admit that this was my first comic book convention. But what better way to pop my comic-con cherry, than by going to my local Melksham Comic-Con 2012. I honestly had little idea of what to expect and I was expecting the worst. That's sounds awful, sorry. What I mean is I expected a room full of clique-y people sneering at my lack of knowledge of Doctor Who, or the fact that I have no idea what the whole DC New 52 is all about (I know, you'll probably stop reading this now.) Luckily and perhaps surprisingly, these topics never came up in conversation; suprising because everybody was chatty.

It was a very relaxed and jovial atmosphere. All the exhibitors and guests were more than happy to spend a few minutes chatting about what they do and it was clear to see that everybody was very comfortable in the close environment, which I believe was a testament to the organisation and the staff at the event (all wearing very professional “staff” t-shirts and inexplicably wearing nametags emblazoned “Hello my name is Brian”).

As well as the main hall in which the various stalls were selling everything from Sony Playstation 3, to marshmallow daleks, there was a neat little side room set-up for the various panels and guest talks of the day. Alas, I missed the first, but was so glad I didn't miss the second. Sonia Leong's “What is Manga?” talk and demo was an absolute whirlwind of one crazy artist, very opinionated and very successful, running through the basics and intricacies of a misunderstood art-form, which I had previously dismissed as “not for me.” Shame on me. I can honestly say that due to Sonia Leong, I now desperately want to buy a manga book about wine tasting, something I had no idea I would ever be saying.

Next up was the delight that was Paul Cornell. This highly successful writer of comic books is the most affable, likeable and self-deprecating man. His honesty about how he got into comic book writing (basically Grant Morrison called him and asked him to write a comic book after seeing an episode of Doctor Who he had written) gave an insight into the amount of sheer luck that it takes to make it big in the comic book industry. It was an odd talk because even though Cornell pulled no punches when saying it was near impossible to get your comic book published by the big companies, he also instilled a sense of hope in describing publishing your own comic book as a “noble” endeavour (which is not as sarcastic as it sounds). He definitely inspired me to get on and write that one good idea I had for that comic book that one time...

I had the pleasure, during the course of the day, of chatting to both Nich Angell and John Lock, two independent comic book creators with very exciting and innovative ideas. So, when they stepped up for the next panel of the day, I had an idea of what to expect and was not disappointed – rather than just a shameless plug of their own comic books (which, of course, at times it was), it was more like watching a couple of friends talk about things they love doing. Seeing two creators talk about the thing they love doing, while they are doing it, was inspirational. They should definitely be booked for next year, if only to check out how they have progressed.

The final panel was thoroughly entertaining. Three delightful Star Wars actors relating anecdotes of their days on set on Star Wars and a myriad of other films seemed like a very fitting end to the day. At times it was like listening to your grandparents relate old stories of their life, instilling that fascination of a past which we would have loved to be a part of. The whole room was laughing at times and there was great feeling in the room as everyone was grateful to be there. Hats off to the staff of Brians that were very witty and professional during all the panels and did an excellent job of keeping the conversation alive and flowing!

It's going to be a hard act to top next year. But I have a feeling they'll manage it! Did I mention the free goodie bags – FREE GOODIE BAGS! Next year is a must.

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