Show Report: Chester Comic Con 2016

chester-comic-conThe sun was out, as were the cosplayers and comic book fans, as Chester Racecourse welcomed the Chester Comic Con into its pastures. Where normally the patter of horses hooves can be heard over the guffawing and guzzling of the Chesire set and other equestrian minded punters, as it was the day before, Sunday 25th September saw the grounds taken over by a sell out crowd.

Clearly, Chester has been crying out for such an event and the fans, the families and the good people of Chester came out to enjoy this Indian summer’s day and the spectacle. What did surprise me, as a quick glance at their Facebook page would attest, was the somewhat naive comments once would be con-goers were informed that the event had sold out! The tickets had been available since May, so I can’t see what the problem was. Like any sold out event, you can’t just rock on up and hope for the best. It doesn’t take too much to plan ahead and avoids embarrassing yourself online for all to see.

Lesson learnt, I hope.

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Anyway, as for the con, it was wisely spread out across two main buildings, and across a few floors. The walk between the two areas gave the cosplayers a chance to strut their stuff as well as offer ample opportunity for photo opportunities. I am always fascinated by the camaraderie cosplayers have, and at one point my daughter – dressed to impress as someone from Attack on Titan (don’t ask me, I can’t read every comic published, right?) – was immediately welcomed with open arms by other Attack on Titan cosplayers. As her first cosplaying experience, she’s couldn’t have asked for a better entry into their gang. Great stuff!

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Amongst the guests were local artist, Neil Edwards – signing an exclusive variant cover of Suicide Squad No.1 – DC and Marvel’s Phil Winslade and 2000AD’s John Wagner, the co-creator of Judge Dredd. All seeming to enjoy themselves in amongst it all. And, as with any decent UK convention, there was an eye on the indie creators too, with a strong showing.

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While I tend to get distracted at these events these days (an 11 year old kid in tow and a big night out on the town the night before; Chester being my old stomping ground, doesn’t help) I did manage to speak to a number of indie creators and picked up the odd comic or two. As a teacher I was drawn to a wonderful new adaption of The Christmas Carol – an ideal teaching aide for less able students, methinks – told in rhyme as written by Dave McCluskey and illustrated by Joe Matthews, the latter interested to hear that The Christmas Carol was once more on a the English Literature GCSE. (I should know, I’m teaching it!)

chester_con_5As well as this great adaption (review to come at some point, promise) there was Madius Comics too. A local company who we’ve featured before on this site when we reviewed Griff Gristle: Here Be Monsters. I spoke with  Mike Sambrook, a great advocate for indie self publishing. Like so many of us, Mike juggles a full time job with the dream of creating comics and he was happy to hand over a copy of the aforementioned Griff Gristle as well as an interesting looking horror anthology, Tragic Tales of Horrere (sic).

But, whether you’re writing comics, drawing comics, or in many of my contemporary’s cases, writing about the scene, we don’t do it for the money, but for the love of the medium. A medium that, at least in Chester, is well loved.

With an on site pub (I don’t think many people found this out, but I did, trust me!) as well as plenty of opportunities to buy up lashings of pop and sweets throughout the day, everyone was happy. I have no doubt, from speaking to traders, artists and punters (with several of my buddies coming to their first comic con) that the Chester Comic Con will return – and I’m sure I will be there too!

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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 olly.macnamee@blogspot.co.uk. Or don’t.