Show Report: True Believers Comic Festival 2018

A new year and new convention season is here again, and so it’s time for Stuart Mulrain and his team of agents to lead the charge as the True Believers Comic Festival (TBCF) kicks off 2018’s event season. Now into its fourth year, TBCF doesn’t look like it plans to go anywhere any time soon, but can they continue to impress as with prior events or is this a convention which has reached its peak?

From the outset, the True Believers Comic Festival, appeared to have stuck with what had worked so well last year. With stewards again visible to direct traffic towards the busy car park and the queuing set up perfectly to ensure visitors spent a minimal time queuing in the rain. Inside was also an almost exact replicate to the prior year’s festivities with the Cheltenham Racecourses’ main hall filled wall to wall with an impressive array of incredible talent and helpful sellers – some now veterans to this Gloucestershire con, while other, newer creators, were making the pilgrimage for the first time.

This years’ convention seemed to return to its original focus of small press with a great deal more than the previous year, and more of the guests originating from the aspect of the comic book community. While the creators in general appeared to make up a larger portion of the remaining tables, other creative outlets seemed a little more sparse in number. However, this didn’t mean that this TBCF had a more narrow focus as artists of many kinds, traders and even a cake stall filled with some truly gorgeous treats still made their presence known on the floor.

Of course, TBCF has never relied solely on the floor to entertain and this year was no exception as the event rooms upstairs were once again used to great effect throughout the day, filled from beginning to end with an interesting and eclectic series of panels and workshops offering something for almost everyone; from the discover something new panel for those unsure of what to read, to the zine making workshop, and even a live episode of the tremendous Awesome Comics Podcast to round out the day.

In fact, the day was so packed with panels, guests and traders, one would assume that Stuart and his team had consulted with Doctor Who, as this years TBCF felt like the most full yet of spectacle but still managed to offer plenty of space for those traversing it – with little examples of crowding (save for the back aisle, which did seem a tad cramped). This abundance, however, was the cause of TBCF 2018’s sole problem in that there was just too much to do in a single day (or less in fact, as was the case of this reporter). Of course, that is a good problem for a convention to have, as it speaks to the ability to draw so much talent. That said, it might give Stuart Mulrain incentive to move to a two day event in the near future.

Overall though, True Believers Comic Festival should be considered yet another rousing success in 2018, having overcome any and all obstacles in its first three years to reach what this reporter considers a true pinnacle of what the event can offer. The question now is, what can the organisers do to beat this fantastic year? There will only be one way to find out in the end but, for now, the True Believers Comic Festival should be proud of what it’s done for a fourth year running.

Don’t miss our round-up of the best new comics debuting at True Believers 2018