Preview: International Comic Expo 2016 (ICE) comes to Birmingham with Star Wars, The Walking Dead, Suicide Squad and more!

ICE logoComic fans in the Midlands are to be treated to an epic weekend as the International Comics Expo 2016 (ICE) arrives in town with guests that include Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz, The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard and Suicide Squad’s Rob Williams – plus many more! Our intrepid reporter Olly MacNamee finds out what’s going down in Brum this weekend…

The big news coming out ahead of this year’s International Comic Expo (ICE) has to be the appearance of Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz, who will be there to announce his new comic book venture, Chimera. It’s all a bit hush-hush at the moment, but to think that Mr Kurtz – who also produced The Empire Strikes Back – is in Birmingham in just a few days time, is enough to make any bonafide Star Wars fan twist in the wind with excitement. I’m already having fevered dreams in anticipation. That, or the hot weather we are currently enjoying at the time of writing, is messing with my sleep patterns.

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Add to that the recent news that Suicide Squad scribe Rob Williams will also be attending and you have the makings of a comic con for real fans of the medium.

Rob is a last minute announcement and whatever you thought of the film, there are a lot of fans of the comic who will lap this up. I’m already scrambling to dig out my issue as soon as I finish writing this. And, I believe, there are still copies available ahead of the comic con form Nostalgia and Comics and Forbidden Planet.

Alongside their appearances, you can also find the likes of The Walking Dead’s Charlie AdlardAll-Star Batman’s Declan Shavley and InSEXTs writer, Marguerite Bennet. Of course, you can read the full line-up for yourselves here and get tickets through the same site, here. As you’ll see, there are a fair few guests as you would hope for a comic-con.

There will also be many panels and talks across the Saturday too, so do look out for them, or check out the timings here, so you can better plan your day.

This is ICE’s third year, but it very nearly didn’t happen thanks to the ever decreasing funding for the Arts in this country, that has shrunk so quickly over the last few years. Since 2010 actually. Can’t think what happened then that would have scrapped supporting the Arts, can you? After all, who would want to limit an area of our cultural life that encourages you to be creative and think freely and express yourself freely?

ICE PosterThankfully, Shane Chebsey, the organiser, was helped out by some last minute sponsorship courtesy of comic slabbing firm CBCS UK.

“When we at CBCS heard that funding for ICE 2016 was pulled, we were extremely disappointed,” stated Michael Bornstein, CBCS CEO. “Comics are such a great hobby with so many wonderful fans, we knew CBCS had to help out.” 

And, like previous years, while Saturday’s comic con is very much that and that alone, for a few extra bucks aspiring comic book creators can opt in for the Comics Uncovered events that run throughout the Sunday, which offers tips from the likes of Joe Pruett – Creative Director at Aftershock Comics, surely this year’s comic book success story as they grow from strength to strength having launched with a mere four titles man the mantra of quality over quantity (are you listening, Marvel?), writer, artist, editor, Carl Potts and other alumni from the world of comics. If you have the desire to get into comics, there’s no better start the to hear form the professionals themselves.

And to prove that many smaller comic cons, organised by fans of the medium themselves, are about monetising pop culture, Shane and the gang have teamed up with the charity Beanstalk, which aims to offer support in the development of literacy amongst underprivileged pupils in their early years of schooling. An appropriate cause for an event centred around an art form many ‘reluctant readers’ can relate to , me included. As a child who barley ever read anything except comics, I can vouch for their part in my own development as a reader. Fast forward several more years than I care to remember and I find myself as a Head of an English Team in a school right here in Birmingham and serving a community that could very well be considered under privileged. For more on this worthy charitable organisation, simple click here.

Both ICE and Comics Uncovered take place at The Studio Venue Company, 7 Cannon Street, Birmingham.

Price of admission: ICE, £12 with kids in for free, while the Comics Uncovered events cost either a tenner a session or £65 for a full delegate’s pass.