This October, Leamington Comic Convention 2015 returns to the Warwickshire Spa town with a great line-up featuring big names like David Lloyd and Simon Furman, and a new larger venue. After the huge success of it’s debut year in 2014, we caught up with founder Dan Mallier to find out how he’s been spending the last 12 months and what we can look forward to at this year’s event.
Tell us about what we can look forward to at this year’s Leamington Comic Con? What guests, panels and events can people look forward to?
DM: We are trying to build on the success of last year’s con, by taking it up a level, whilst sticking to supporting small press and local talent. We have added some bigger name guests this year such as David Lloyd, Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman to name a few.
Also, after feedback from last year, we have split the day into two halves, with the morning focusing on Cosplay, then in the afternoon focusing on panels.
Our first panel of the day will focus on David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly with David Leach and Neil McClements in support. We then have a Transformers panel with Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman, followed by Mike Garley and The Kill Screen and a local small press panel so it will be a packed afternoon.
We have set up a kid’s zone this year with a sweet shop and café, colouring tables and superhero balloon modelling as we want to create a great day out for comic fans and families.
A full breakdown of guests, exhibitors and panels can be found on our Facebook page.
What have you been up to over the last 12 months to try to get this year’s event up and running? Was it easier with the momentum of having the first event or was it just as hard getting guests and financing?
DM: Well after our first con, I took a break until March to recharge the batteries as a lot of work went into making the event a success. Since then it has been no-stop signing people up for this year’s event and slowly working away (pestering) to get guests over the line. I also put a lot of time and effort into visiting other cons to see what works and what doesn’t, whilst networking and building up my contacts.
I do think that the amazing feedback we received last year has helped us gain some credibility, which goes a long way when chatting to potential guests and the money made at last year’s con has been reinvested to go again this year.
I am also lucky that my girlfriend is meticulous and PR expert, which helps with the planning and press side of the promotion. I couldn’t pull this event off without her.
Looking back at last year’s event what were the biggest successes, were there any unexpected highs that you had which caught you by surprise?
DM: I think that there were a number of success stories during the preparation and execution of the event. We successfully crowd funded the event and smashed our target, we pre sold 600 tickets for our first con and nearly 1000 people turned up on the day, which is a crazy figure for a small convention with no star guests and only 23 exhibitors. A number of our exhibitors had their best ever sales.
I was surprised by how much praise the event actually received in the comic community for our promotional campaign, organisation and the free bacon butties, tea and coffee!
On the day, there were two things that stayed with me, the first was the huge queue before we opened the doors and the second was a young Cosplayer coming up to me, gave me a big hug and said “Thank you for bringing Comic Con to Leamington, this was one of the best days of my life”!
You cannot get much better feedback than that!
And on the flip side, were there any not-so-successes from that you were determined to fix and how have you looked to improve on those for this year?
DM: The obvious area to improve this year was to move venue. The Pump Rooms is an amazing building, but we needed more space. The Assembly gives us that space with areas to hold panels away from the main hall so that the sound does not disperse and room for a kid’s zone etc.
As a fan what are you looking forward to most from the event? A particular guest? A panel? Or just the whole event?
As a fan, I am looking forward to bringing the likes of David Lloyd and Simon Furman to Leamington Spa (and having a beer with them after the event). I am going to try to drop in to their panels, but that depends on how busy I am!
What’s a day like for you running the Con, do you get to enjoy any of it or is it all about ‘firefighting’ on the day (not literally of course!)
DM: Being honest I have no recollection of large parts of the day as I was busy doing radio shows, talking exhibitors, introducing panels, cosplay winners and chatting to visitors. This year I plan to take more of a back seat and enjoy the event. Thankfully there were no fires to put out on the day as everything ran like clockwork, or so I’m told!
Have you got plans for developing things going forward and how would you like to see the event develop in the next couple of years?
DM: I don’t like to tempt fate as we still rookies when it comes to event planning, but if we can grow on last year’s success and deliver the bigger, better comic con that we have promised, then we will look to grow again next year.
By grow, I don’t mean putting on more exhibitor tables, I mean involving the whole town to embrace Leamington Comic Con and create a festival with various events going on in the town, with the convention at its core. Watch this space!
Leamington Comic Convention 2015 takes place on the Assembly in Leamington Spa on October 17th tickets can be bought via the Leam Comic Con Facebook page and ticket holders get priority entry, however you can purchase tickets on the door. You find out more info by following them on Twitter @LeamComicCon
Author: Alex Thomas
Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.