“We celebrate the independent comic creators that come to Melksham” Melksham Comic Con 2015 organiser Hayley Spencer on this year’s event

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 14.11.10It’s not long to go before our friends at the Melksham Comic Con 2015 open their doors for another year. One of the best local conventions in the UK, we catch up with Conventions organiser to find out about their plans for this year’s events and what’s been happening with her and her team.

Melksham Comic-Con 2015

“We have aimed to maintain the great standard we set last year. We have had the opportunity to introduce a number of new elements, but with everything else, we felt it best to keep to what we know, and make sure we do a great job of it!”

How have things been over the last 12 months? How are the Brians [aka MCC volunteers]?

HS: It’s been a super busy 12 months! As many fans of Melksham Comic Con know, we’re a group of friends who volunteer our time to plan and deliver the convention each year, and we do that among our day jobs and other community commitments. It’s tough to balance it all but we make it work….sort of!

This February though, a few of us threw a couple of spanners into the works. By a few, I mean four, and by spanners, I mean babies! Myself and my partner, who is also one of our lead designers welcomed our daughter Robyn into the fold on Valentine’s Day, and exactly a week later, our other lead designer and his partner, who is our Face Painter, welcomed their son Dexter! So that was four of us with suddenly a lot less available time!

We’ve also had a couple of our team take the next step in their careers, so they’ve had less free time, or have had to relocate and help us remotely – but we’ve made it work, we’re here, Melksham Comic Con is happening, and we’re all still just about in one piece!

As a result of all this madness, we have aimed to maintain the great standard we set last year. We have had the opportunity to introduce a number of new elements, but with everything else, we felt it best to keep to what we know, and make sure we do a great job of it!

Any exciting guests you can reveal and events that you are looking forward to? What is the main buzz about this year’s show?

HS: We’re really pleased that we have so many guests year on year that want to attend, or return – and our constant challenge is that we are only limited by our space!

This year we have a great mix of guests, including Mike Collins, Sonia Leong, Emma Vieceli, Dylan Teague, John-Paul Bove, Lee Townsend and Cavan Scott!

Cavan is new to Melksham Comic Con, and he’s bringing his Doctor Who and Beano enthusiasm to us which he’ll be around to chat about from his table and in panels across the weekend!

Cavan Scott Dr Who

“Writer Cavan Scott is bringing his Doctor Who and Beano enthusiasm to us and he’ll be around to chat from his table and in panels across the weekend!”

We’re excited to bring a couple of new things to Melksham this year! Firstly we are introducing The DropZone – a Comic-Con cloakroom, if you will! We will have a setup outside the venue, which will be staffed at all times, where you can check you jackets, bags, and cosplay equipment that’s too bulky to carry with you the whole time – we’ll even accept pushchairs to help you work through the crowds a bit better! All items will be taken with a donation into the bucket at the check-in desk, helping us to provide future events for all!

We’ve also got The Games Room this year! While we will always strive to keep Melksham Comic-Con very comics oriented, many attendees are big fans of tabletop and card gaming, so this year we’re giving people the opportunity to play, learn and meet other locals who share their interests! Saturday will be all about Magic: The Gathering and Sunday will be assorted Tabletop Gaming!

Looking back, how was last year’s event? Did extending it to two days make it a great way to expand the scale of it, or was it twice the headache to arrange? 

HS: Last year’s event was great – it was of course much longer working hours for our volunteers as we were spread across the whole weekend, and it didn’t feel as busy as previous years at times, but that was actually what we were hoping for. Those who have attended in the past know the size of our hall – it really is quite small compared to the big city shows, but it’s the biggest venue we have, and we like it like that!

By giving attendees the opportunity to attend both days, it spread the crowds out, making it a little less claustrophobic, more enjoyable, and also meant that if it got a bit much for some, they could pop out, have a walk around the town centre, and return, knowing there was plenty of time to do it all!

We also moved our panels across to the Town Hall, and while this cost us more in hire costs, it helped again with crowding and queuing for panels. We’re doing the same again this year, giving people more seats in panels, and more airflow on a hot weekend!

Melskham Comic Convention 2015

Have you been getting on social media and crowd sourcing this one again or is it now self supporting? 

HS: This is the first year where we haven’t had additional funding to help us, we’ve relied solely on our team’s own fundraising efforts. It’s been tough, but it has also felt more rewarding and has really allowed individual volunteers the opportunity to shine and use their special skills!

We received a small amount of capital funding from Wiltshire Council’s Area Board, which has allowed us to purchase some more professional security equipment and the event shelter that we’ll be using for The DropZone!

We raised all other funding through our Quiz and Pudding Night in February, which was a roaring success, and also we held our very first “Secret Cinema” style event in April – The Enchantment Under the Sea Dance from Back to the Future. An absolutely incredible night that was enjoyed by everyone, and we’ve decided we’ll be doing a similar event again next year, so watch this space!

MCC Under The Sea dance

“We held our very first “Secret Cinema” style event in April – The Enchantment Under the Sea Dance from Back to the Future – an absolutely incredible night that was enjoyed by everyone, and we’ve decided we’ll be doing a similar event again next year.” Image courtesy of MCC Facebook.

There seem to be a lot more local focused events now, how do you keep Melksham fresh and exciting?

HS: We pride ourselves on our main focus being Comics – many local events also have a heavy element of Sci-Fi, or movies and television, which is brilliant, and we attend and enjoy them thoroughly, but there is still quite a lack of conventions that market as a “Comic Con”, and then don’t really shine the light on the comic aspect of it!

We celebrate the independent creators that come to Melksham, and our attendees love it too – we see many people engrossed in conversations with creators that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to meet, and that’s what we’ll always strive to achieve every year!

And finally, if you could have brought any event or guest to Melksham 2015, who or what would it be and why?

HS: Where do we start?! Skottie Young, Gail Simone, Charlie Adlard, Scott Snyder, Dan Slott, Brian K. Vaughan – we could go on and on!

Our biggest desire is to have some international guests, and hopefully one year we’ll manage it! Unfortunately though, money is always a factor, and the further a guest has to come, the more it’s going to cost us as a convention, and our bank balance just won’t allow it. So, if there’s anyone out there who would like to be a financial sponsor in any way and help us take things to the next level, we’d love to hear from you!

Melksham Comic Convention 2015 will be held At the Melksham Assembly Hall on August 29th and 30th. You can find out more about this year’s Melksham Comic-Convention 2015 via their website, where tickets are still on sale!

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.