“I really feel that we’ve taken it up another level this year and 2018 is our biggest convention yet” Dan Mallier on what to look forward to at this year’s Leamington Comic Con 2018

This weekend see the return of the fantastic Leamington Comic Con, one of the countries best small comic cons with an emphasis on comics and small press at it’s heart. With this year’s event seeing appearances from 2000 AD legend John Wagner and Marvel writer Al Ewing as well as the best of small press and Cosplay, we caught up with organiser Dan Mallier to find out what’s in store!
Leamington Comic Con returns this April and you have quite the big name guest in John Wagner appearing (and also launching the new volume of his series Rok of The Reds) – can you tell us a bit about how this came about? I imagine he will have been high on your ‘bucket list’ of comics guests to have appear?
Dan Mallier: Following the success of 2000AD 40th anniversary convention in London, I really wanted to have a 2000AD presence at Leamington Comic Con 2018 as it synonymous with British comics heritage and something that we hadn’t really covered at our previous shows.

My friend Glyn Smith who runs Oxfordshire’s longest standing comic book store Comic Connections in Banbury is a long-time friend of John’s, so I asked Glyn to give him a call and see if he’d be interested in being a guest at LCC2018. Being honest I didn’t think that John would agree to come, but it was very easy to set up as Glyn had nicely warmed John up, John was keen as Leamington is comics focused show and I did the rest.

For the pre-launch of Rok of The Reds trade, this was a result of me being proactive as I had seen the trade was launching on 16th April. I contact John that morning to see if he would have copies of the trade for our event and John contacted BHP Comics to confirm.

We’re chuffed that Rok of The Reds is launching at LCC2018 as it’s a bloody awesome comic!

You’ve also got Marvel writer Al Ewing, Jon Davis Hunt, The Etherington Brothers and more, it feels like you have a great mix of established mainstream talent and also up and comers, is that a priority for you guys?

DM: My vision for Leamington has always been to keep comic con about comics and I’ve always tried to mix small press comics alongside mainstream comics creators. I’ve convinced some great guests to attend Leamington in previous years, but I really feel that we’ve taken it up another level this year and 2018 is our biggest convention yet.

You’re in another new venue this year, how will this one be better/different to last years? Is there more room for creators and fans to interact? You had that amazing sunny mezzanine last year, will there be another similar space this year?

DM: I just like to keep myself and everyone else guessing and on their toes!

Joking aside, we’ve had to move over the years as the event has grown. Our 2017 event was held at the Royal Spa Centre, which was a great in terms of location, accessibility and set up, but I had two major issues with that show. Firstly, my original vision was to create a quirkier independent show so that not only do people have a great day buying bags of comics, but they also remember the environment. Exhibition centres and conference centres are great and easier to manage, but I just find them bland and generic. I want people to not only enjoy the convention, but also experience part of Leamington Spa, which is a beautiful town. Secondly, the cost of the previous two venues is just not sustainable for a small independent show like ours.

What events have you got going on during the day? Last year you had a brilliant kids drawing session with Darrell Thorpe? Will there be more of those kinds of things? And what about panels etc.?

DM: We’ve got a packed event schedule with Q&A’s, panels and Darrell Thorpe is once again hosting a kids creative workshop.

Full Event Schedule:

10:00AM   DOORS OPEN (ADVANCE TICKET HOLDERS ONLY)

10:00AM   COSPLAY COMPETITION REGISTRATION OPEN

11:00AM   DOORS OPEN TO GENERAL PUBLIC (PAY ON DOOR)

11:00AM  – 11:45AM   “I AM THE LAW” Q&A WITH JUDGE DREDD CO-CREATOR JOHN WAGNER (CHAPEL ROOM)

11:00AM – 12:00PM   KIDS CREATIVE COMICS WORKSHOP WITH DARRELL THORPE (CAFE)

12:45PM  – 1:30PM  THE AWESOME COMICS PODCAST LIVE (CHAPEL ROOM)

2:00PM – 2:45PM   AP2HYC PODCAPERS LIVE (CHAPEL ROOM)

3:00PM – 3:45PM   CROWD FUNDING YOUR COMIC PANEL (CHAPEL ROOM)

4:00PM – 4:30PM  ANNOUNCE COSPLAY COMPETITION WINNERS (CHAPEL ROOM)

5:00PM   EVENT CLOSES

The small press community is also being well represented this year, are there any books launching or new talents you are particularly exciting to having at Leamington for the first time this year?

DM: Supporting small press and giving independent creators a platform will always be one a focal point of our show.

We have some returning small press creators such as T Pub, Hell Bound Media, Darrell Thorpe, JP Kamath and Jon Laight, but we also have some new exciting exhibitors like Rachael Smith, Soaring Penguin Press, Jason Cobley, Lyndon White and Beyond The Bunker plus loads more.

I’ve really tried to mix it up again this year and roughly 60% of all exhibitors have never attended Leamington Comic Con before.

We also have a number of great books launching at Leamington Comic Con 2018, with the previously mentioned Rok of the Reds trade by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Dan Cornwell, the Freedom Realm Art Book by Darrell Thorpe, Good Comics Reader Charity Anthology and Crushing published by Good Comics, Hardline Comics are releasing The Guys #6 and The Guys Collected Edition and Richard Carrington is launching his first novel Of Hearts and Hitmen.

I do enjoy supporting book launches at my show and it’s great that so many chose Leamington Comic Con to do it.

This is your 4th year now isn’t it? So do you think you have the formula cracked for what makes a great small comics focused convention? Or are you still learning with every show?

DM: You’re right this is our 4th show and I do honestly believe that each show has got better and slicker as we’ve always receive fantastic feedback after the event. That said I still see things on the day that frustrate me and I learn and make changes every time to tweak here and make little adjustments there. The game is up when I sit back and believe I’ve cracked it as you can always learn.

And finally – any plans for how to follow up this years show and top it for next year?!

DM: Let’s see how this show goes and then I’ll answer that question!

Leamington Comic Con is being held on April 14th at the All Saints Parish Church, Leamington. You can purchase tickets online here.