With 2016 now in full swing, the time has come for convention season to get underway and first out of the gate is the trip down to Cheltenham Racecourse as neither the heavy winds or torrential rain seemed enough to dampen the spirits of the fans, creators or agents alike making their pilgrimage to the new con on the block, True Believers Comic Festival 2016.
Event: True Believers Comic Festival
Date: February 5th 2016
Location: Cheltenham Race Course
After the success of its freshman year, The True Believers Comic Festival 2016 returned bigger, better and more popular than ever with the line to get in snaking around the building’s atrium and out of the door into the elements. However, this risk of a soaking didn’t seem to deter anyone, as fans, families and cosplayers alike turned out in their droves to attend the event.
Once through the doors to the main hall, True Believers was once again a sight to behold, with the sizeable hall packed with, what seemed like more tables than ever before, but without reducing the space for foot traffic. These additional tables allowed for more apparel sellers to display their wares, such as t-shirt seller Genki Gear and jewellery designer Hand Made By Me, as well a gaming area where, among others, indie comics powerhouse Big Punch Studios displayed their new card game, Sandwich Masters.
However, much like last year, this con was all about the comics and True Believers didn’t disappoint with an abundance small press comic creators ranging from circuit mainstays like Mike (Kill Screen) Garley, Vince (Red Mask From Mars) Hunt, Joe (Pride/Stiffs) Glass and Andy (Midnight Man) Bloor; to relative newcomers like the Swansea Comic Collective. They all displayed the same friendliness and enthusiasm as the con’s ‘name’ guests, which included big Doctor Who connected names like Mike Collins, Paul Cornell and Emma Vieceli as well as Marvel artist Lee Townsend and 2000 AD stalwart Rob Williams. Of course, the creators weren’t the only source of comic books with a large number of traders, including local comic shop Proud Lion and back issue trader comic connections, on hand to help fans find those missing floppies in their collections.
Finally, True Believers put on a wonderful array of that convention staple, the panels, with a streamlined programme of highly varied subjects, from Doctor Who to new comics, inspiring creativity to celebrating cosplay, which seemed to have exploded in popularity between years with a massive number of well made and intricate costumes.
Of course, this con is a giant machine to run and like other cons did have a couple of problems. These were the long queues to enter the main hall, which may be a testament to them underestimating their own popularity, as well as the con announcer having been in need of a megaphone. We also found a lack of adequate signage, both outside the venue and inside, which meant we sometimes struggled to find our way around. That said, these are only minor problems and we hope are just growing pains for a Con destined to only grow. Besides which they did nothing to take away from overall enjoyment of the event.