Show Report: International Comic Expo (ICE) Brighton 2017

What a weekend! And What a great venue too! A comic con within spitting distance of Brighton beach! After a rather chilling week, it was nice to see the sun coming out in all its glory especially for this first-time show on the south coast as our roving reporter (and panel moderator extraordinaire) Olly MacNamee packs his bags and heads for ICE Brighton

If only my best laid plans had not gone astray. First, the realisation that I didn’t have all the tickets I needed to get me from Birmingham to Brighton, regardless of the countless (and untrue) assurances from Trainline to the contrary. Online, on the phone and via Twitter (the latter responding only 24 hours later!). What a joke! Maybe if I hadn’t wasted a good hour of my life on that, I would have noticed my hotel booking had disappeared off my emails. Or, did I ever even book a room in the first place? Things were going from bad to worse and I hadn’t even got there.

Once Olly finally arrived he was able to enjoy all the joys of a comic con by the sea!

So, it’s with some thanks to Shane Chebsey, organiser of ICE, and his comic book commander-in-chief, James Fletcher, who took pity on my hapless ass and got me a bed for the weekend. Sorry for the snoring, guys.

A panel featuring Pat Mills and Olly was never going to have any quiet moments in!

Needless to say, with this news, and the beautiful location, I was ready to get stuck in, and stuck in I did, meeting up with some of the great creators ICE had on the Friday, for drinks in the wonderful, homely, friendly Victorian pub, The Victory. Top night, and top people too. It was a great way to start a weekend away and it continued the next day at this year’s venue, The Hilton Metropole on the seafront, with a steady flow of people across the day pursuing and purchasing the comics on sale, and the creators supporting this freshman show.

Creators such as the ever energetic Etherington Brothers, the gregarious Dave Gibbons, David Roach, Simon Myers (only one of a handful of con appearances to date) and Lew Stringer, to name but a few. Oh, and legendary Rank Xerox (Metal Hurlant) artist, Tanino Liberatore, who I think everyone – even the long established comic book creators in the room – admired from afar. Quite a haul of creators then. I heard even Jonathan Ross popped by, but by that time I was sitting in, or moderating, a number of panels across the day. Panels which saw Italian artist, and current Iceman illustrator, Alessandro Vitti – one of the most humble people I’ve met – who was greatly concerned that we wouldn’t understand him. But, trust me, Alessandro, we did!

Dave Gibbons joined big names and small pressers by the sea

Moderating for Pat Mills was a breeze, as I knew it would be, and he was, as ever, great value for money, regaling us all about the influences, from a life in publishing, he used to develop his book, Serial Killers: Read ‘Em and Weep (Book 1), while talking about his new book, Be Pure, Be Vigilant, Behave! Having read both ahead of interviewing Pat, I would highly recommend reading the latter if you’ve read Serial Killers, as a companion book which does indeed point the reader very firmly in the direction –  should anyone want to know for themselves – of Pat’s influences form the heady, dark days of the 1970s at Fleetway and beyond. Both a riveting reads.

By the time the auction was closing (and what a haul there was to be had there, and all for charity) so was the con and a retreat to the bar was the order of the day. A bite to eat, and then back again to find the likes of Matt Hollingsworth and Clint Langley happily whiling away the evening (and a good portion of the night too) with friends and fans. 3 am and with a train to hop onto tomorrow, it was finally time to hit the hay.

I was always going to treat this as a mini-break, and I did, as did some of the creators too, extending their stay to enjoy the local area. Brighton is a great, vibrant (expensive) place adorned here and there with some wonderful graffiti, and I for one look forward to a return journey there again next year. After all, there aren’t that many cons on the coast and this one can only go from strength to strength. I take my ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat off to you, Shane.

See you in September in for ICE Brum. You can find out more information here!

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.