This weekend we returned to the sleepy Wiltshire town of Melksham for one of our favourite events of the year – Melksham Comic Convention 2015. It may not be the biggest event or have the most high profile names, but it creates an opportunity for comic fans of all ages to get together and celebrate their passion with like-minded friends – and after all, isn’t that what events like this are supposed to be all about?!
Event: Melksham Comic Convention
Venue: Melksham Assembly Hall
Since we last attended in 2013, Melksham Comic Convention has expanded to 2 days and spread events out from the relatively small Melksham Assembly Hall and into the rest of the town. By doing this it creates much more space for fans to circulate in the main hall and also creates a far more relaxed atmosphere that allows attendees to stop and chat with creators or peruse merchandise without feeling like there is someone standing over your shoulder impatiently waiting in line.
When it comes to big names, MCC2015 may lack the star power of previous years, or other events, but with Marvel artist Lee Townsend, 2000AD stalwart Dylan Teague and Dr Who writer Cavan Scott among the guests this year there was a fantastic range of creators to meet from across the comics spectrum. This also allows indie creators a greater platform at the show, with Big Punch Studios’ Jon Lock and Nich Angell, displaying their books alongside Descending Outlands Shaun Dobie, Red Mask from Mars’ Vince Hunt, The Kill Screen’s Mike Garley, Silicon Heart’s Sam Roads and Kat Nicolson and many others. With many of these creators not only being independent, but also local to the south west, it was a fantastic showcase for UK comics and as we learned from talking to founder Hayley Spencer prior to the show, is becoming a calling card for the event and one which it rightly deserves.
As well as getting the chance to talk to creators at their stands, there was also a great range of panels put on this year. Unlike previous years, they have been moved out of the small room next to the main hall and into the town hall opposite which frees up space for popular panels like the Big Punch Studio event and makes the whole experience much less cramped and unpleasant. (You also get to see a giant mammoth skull on the wall, and at what other Con can you say that?!)
When it comes to this year’s range of panels, then credit should be given to the organisers for putting on some more heavyweight discussions alongside the usual ‘how to get into comics’ and ‘meet the writers’ events. In particular we wanted to highlight this years LGBT in Comics panel which saw Manga artist Emma Vieceli and Stiffs/Pride creator Joe Glass discuss issues of sexuality in comics and was both insightful and highly entertaining. Following in the footsteps of last year’s Mental Health in Comics and the previous year’s Women in Comics, it’s great to see these kinds of issues get discussed and for them to be so well received and attended.
In a way though, that’s what makes MCC work. It’s a small Con, in a small town, but that isn’t a bad thing it just allows for a more friendly and approachable atmosphere. The main hall isn’t crammed to the point you cannot move and panels are not giant anonymous events where people talk to half-filled rooms of people just getting a break from the main hall. Instead MCC allows fans to properly interact with the creators, and each other, and means that the whole event feels like a gathering of friends, not just a cosplay gallery and a chance to meet the bloke who once played a Stormtroper in a cut scene from Return of the Jedi. With the event now self-funding we hope it continues to go from strength to strength and can’t wait to go back next year.