Review: Bristol Comic Expo 2014

With a new venue and some top level guests, can the Bristol Comic Expo 2014 continue to be the West Country’s leading comics and sci-fi extravaganza?

Bristol Comics Expo 2014This year’s Bristol Comic Expo moved from it’s traditional venue of Brunel’s Old Station and into the centre of the city to the Future Inns hotel. On the plus side, this meant a more central location with modern facilities and ample car parking just around the corner. But on the negative it meant the Con was split across two floors making it difficult to go from one part to the next.

At first this might not seem too bad as the ground floor area was based in the reception and worked as a very welcoming area with several key guests like 2000 AD’s Rob Williams and Henry Flint easily accessible to fans. There was also access to the basement meeting room area where some of the panels were held and fans staying for both nights could easily check in to their rooms.

However, the majority of the con was then held on the SIXTH floor of the hotel and was only accessible via one of two elevators – which would inevitably get clogged up with Banes, X-Men and even the odd punter too! Signage to find this was pretty poor and required a lot of hunting and in our case following one of the aforementioned Banes! Once you finally got upstairs, the main exhibition area felt very cramped, especially on Saturday afternoon where getting up and down the aisles was painfully slow (and almost impossible for any attendees in wheelchairs.

This split of the convention into two sections was a major downer on an otherwise fun event. Guests for the show included Crow creator James O’Barr, Rogue creator Michael Golden and ‘Zombie King’ Arthur Suydam who had a great stall selling poster sized prints of his work. Elsewhere we caught up with indie creators like friends of the site Jon Lock (Afterlife) and Nich Angell (Cat and Meringue) as well as regular columnist Lizzie Boyle from Disconnected Press, however stopping for anything more than a quick chat was not easy thanks to the incredibly cramped show room.

Panels for the weekend were held in the basement meeting room and included an excellent talk on the Science of Superheroes from Karl Byrne on Saturday, a guide to the world of Small Press on Sunday and the always excellent Cosplay parade. Unfortunately, the microphones in this basement were hardly ever working and noise from upstairs carried downstairs which made the whole thing feel very amateurish. We also couldn’t even find the other panel room which meant we missed several talks on the the world of animation from some of Bristol’s world-class animators. Overall a very disappointing event.

pd_review2“Despite having some great guests, interesting panels (when we could find/hear them) and the goodwill of the fans beforehand, this years Bristol Expo was nothing short of a disaster and we can only hope they address some of these major issues before next year’s event, if indeed they even run in 2015! Step one would be a return to a more accessible venue for an event of this size.”