Show Report: Nottingham Comic Convention 2017

With a line up that featured a veritable who’s who of the U.K. Small press comic book scene, along with some top name guests from the Big Two and beyond, Nottingham Comic Con has become one of the most anticipated events of the year. So for our last convention of the year, we made the trip up north for the first time, to enjoy a great day that not even a fire alarm could ruin!

Set in the very swanky Nottingham Conference centre, which is part of the University of Trent, we arrived to set up in a very sIick, modern and  airy conference centre. With lots of glass and concrete everywhere, it was a lovely place to hold a convention and by the time we arrived the place was bustling with activity. Split into an upstairs and downstairs area, the halls were large and well set out and we weren’t at all jammed in. As we arrived we were able to have a quick catch up with Susie Gander whose excellent Perrywinkle was debuting that day, as well as Matt Garvey who snuck in a quick lap around the downstairs area before it started, as did True Believers Stuart Mulrain who was clearly scoping out the opposition!

It was at this point our day took a slight downward turn, as we discovered we had left the key to our cash box at home! With only 5 minutes till opening time we dashed out of the Convention Centre in search of a cash point. With some help from the security guards of the adjacent conference centre, who were shepherding a bunch of body builders into their event, we found one and things went from bad to worse as the machine swallowed our card! In a state of considerable panic we found another machine, and another bank card, and managed to get some cash and some water and legged it back to the hall in time to start! As far as bad starts to a con are concerned we have not had much worse and this was definitely worse than getting lost in Gloucester and having a man split his nose open on the pavement in front of us just before the True Believers Summer Variant!

As we returned to our table we were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the hordes of punters we had expected didn’t arrive (at least not to our table!) and we were able to catch our breath and finish setting up. We were there to continue our attempt to bring indie comics fanzine The Pull List to a wider audience, and although we didn’t have a new issue on sale, we did have fresh back issues with a super limited print run of our Shaky Kane exclusive cover from issue 3 available in print for the first time.

Having caught our breath, we were able to introduce ourselves to our neighbour David Leach, who was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm all day, selling his Psycho Gran comics – especially his Psycho Gran Vs series which saw a lot of famous music film and comic franchises getting booted in the pom poms – clearly his sales patter influenced us more than we thought! There was a steady stream of punters being beckoned towards David’s stand and it was great to see how he wound people in and showcased his work. He was also great company throughout the day with loads of great stories about his time on Oink and breaking into the business!

As the morning progressed, we had a chance to catch up with organiser Kev Brett who dropped by our copy of the excellent Nottingham Comic Con anthology – Outlaws Wanted. A truly outstanding colleciton of stories from some of the best creators going (especially Nick Prolix and Gav and Emily Mitchell who’s respective stories were two of our favourites!). Kev has done a great job putting on such a fun event, and like the anthology, it is great that it is so family friendly and offers a real alternative to some of the other events out there!

We were also able to catch up with some other table neighbours, such as Luke and Ben from Hawk and Cleaver who were at only their second ever con and were selling the fantastic El Marvo along with their prose novels. While across from us was James Laurence whose Legends of La Mariposa webcomic we had heard all about via the Awesome Comics Podcast on the way up and so we popped over to chat wrestling and pick up his excellent print books which are a lot of fun!

Other guests who popped by in the morning included Alan Henderson who was there with his Penned Guin comics and an excellent moustache, Emily Owen/Mitchell who was having a great day with her Brain Shoodles (and we got to hear about her cutting a wedding cake with a sword!), as well as Gary Crutchley from Accent UK whose Western Noir we are fans of and he told us all about the new volumes which they had on sale that day.

After a fairly quiet morning sales wise and with lunch consumed (thanks to Sarah Harris for manning our table while we got some food!)  it was time for the biggest event of the day – as the fire alarm went off and a hall full of creators and guests reluctantly shuffled towards the entrance clutching their cash boxes and electrical equipment for a breif sojourn into the sunshine. It’s a good job it wasn’t a real emergency as there was no rush from anyone, especially the local Capoeira group who were not going to stop for anyone (but ultimately continued their demonstration outside) and at least we were able to catch up with a few folk from upstairs who we had not seen up until that point, such as Jon Laight (whose Late Knights was debuting) and Chris Sides (who was showcasing the excellent Impossible).

Having retuned to the hall after a brief half  hour in the sunshine, we were able to have a quick catch up with the other half of Accent UK Dave West, who gave us a run down on some more of his books. As well as seeing the other half of the Mitchell/Owen small press power couple, Gav Mitchell who was there with Trolltooth Wars, and who we spotted while having a brief glimpse upstairs to where all the cool kids were hanging out.

In the afternoon we were able to pick up a couple of exciting new titles to add to our review list for the coming weeks. Top of that list is James Boyle’s The Marionette Unit which he produced with Azhur Saleem and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell and was recommended to us by Dave West, and which is as fantastic piece of  Victoriana infused steam punk. We also got to meet Gary Maybury who Spacebabe 113 was a really interesting piece of adult space humour and was recommended to us by Mr Leach. We also got a chance to chat to Matt ‘d’Israeli’ Brooker whose book Ordinary, written by Rob Williams, we really enjoyed and who was also responsible for inking our all time favourite issues of The Sandman. We were also able to pass on a copy of our newly printed issue of The Pull List to Matt and Chris from Dead Canary Comics who were delighted with finally seeing it in print.

With time running down we were able to have a quick dash around on the top floor as the day wound down and we got the chance to pick up some of our essential purchases. Andy Bloor’s excellent Midnight Man: Gunspace was top of our list and it was great to hear about what a great day he had had! We were also able catch up with the Reckless Hero boys of Chris Imber and Chris Jenkins whose new issue of The Last Sheriff had not quite made it back from the printers in time – but trust us, is well worth checking out when it does get released!

But even then there were so many people upstairs we didn’t even get a chance to see the likes of Rachael Smith, Sam Webster or the Attic Studio boys Dan Harris, Kris Carter and Jim Bampfield (all of whom we would only see once we had left ththe building and had packed up), let alone Rachel Ball whose The Inflatable Woman we have heard great things about or Sally Jane Thompson, another contributor to the excellent anthology whose work we loved.

As we headed south and reflected on on our day, we had had a solid day in terms of personal sales, but as a chance to catch up with the great and the good of the UK comic scene we could not have asked for a better day. And we can’t wait to head back up to Nottingham next year for another day of fantastic comics in an amasing location – but we’ll definitely have to remember our cashbox keys next year!

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.