While nowhere near Springtime yet, I find my winter hibernation now over and done with, as I dust myself off and I find myself looking ahead to the slate of upcoming comic cons here in the Midlands area. First up, on Saturday February 4th, the third True Believers comic con once again sets up shop at the Cheltenham Racecourse facilities. So what does this season starter have to offer?
True Believers offers locals the chance to meet creators such as Dylan Teague (2000AD, Aces Weekly), John-Paul Bove (Transformers), Jess Bradley (The Phoenix Weekly) and Dr Who artist, Mike Collins (always a pleasure to bump shoulders with all these guys) as well as over 150 exhibitors including small press creators, back issue specialist and other pop cultural arts and craft stalls. Including our very own editor Alex Thomas, who’ll be making Pipedream Comics’ convention debut with a new issue indie fanzine The Pull List!
I could go on as I haven’t even mentioned the appearance of The Etherington Brothers, and their never ending energy! (who also feature in our Indie Showcase Edition of the Pull List!). While they may not be available for Bar Mitzvahs, they are available for school bookings (something I cannot recommend highly enough, having booked them TWICE in the past), as well as many others too. But, you’re not that lazy that you can’t look for yourself by clicking here, right? But, special mention must go to the appliance of Des Taylor. Why? Well, several years ago while I was waiting in line for an Alan Davis sketch, Des noticed that my young daughter was standing alongside me, patiently, and for her efforts he rewarded her with an original sketch of Robin on A3 paper. Not only do I still have that up on my living room wall, but it’s a great reminder of not only his generosity, but a reminder that the guests here, as with other cons, are more than willing to give up their time and chat away. It makes for a great comic con experience, which is repeated across the year.
But, before I digress too far off the yellow brick road, let me also point to one of the highlights to many a comic con these days, and one that is very well organised at the True Believers con, is the cosplay parade. This parade is, once again, organised by the Celebrate Cosplay Catwalk gang and strategically placed away from the main traders’ tables in a separate part of the racecourse facilities so as not to cause interruptions or, dare I say it, fractures. The jury is still out on how much cosplay can bring in terms of commerce to creators, but I for one love it. It is something my 11 year old daughter is slowly and cautiously getting into and while I can see the argument that many cosplayers come to the bigger events like MCM to pose and be seen and not necessarily to spend, my experience, albeit through my daughter, is that cosplay can nurture a new generation of comic book fans if done correctly. And, at the True Believers con, the balance has been struck I reckon.
Of course, there are a plethora of panels across the day too. Last year’s Dr Who panel was a blast, and I imagine there will be a fair few shared laughs this time round too. For a second year, I have been asked to open my gob and let words and stuff pour out while keeping the Close 2 Immortality collective in line as we shine a spotlight on their new titles and discuss them with the audience. And, before this one is a great set of other panels, looking a comics in education (with the likes of Jessica Martin and Ben Oliver), looking at Transformers (with JP Bove, Andrew Wildman and Jack Lawrence). Again, take a look at the schedule right here.
Oh, and do look out for the Awesome Comics Podcast crew making their TB debut and talking to Rachael Smith and Chris Imber on how to make (awesome) comics and their very own panel.
The first of the year, and what a way to open up a packed comic con season here in the Midlands. Tickets can still be purchased via the TB site, so get you’re skates on, as it’s only a couple of weeks away now.
See you there!
Author: Olly MacNamee
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn’t know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don’t.