A glorious venue, a beautiful sunny day and a great selection of comics to check out – you couldn’t have asked for a better set of circumstances for the fourth Leamington Comic Con. Our roving reporter Alex Thomas heads up the M5 for weekend of small press comics in a truly unique setting.
This year’s event was located in the All Saints Parish Church in the centre of the city, and as organiser Dan Mallier greeted us at the door he told us of how he wanted to make LeamCon into a quirky and unique convention that stands out from the average exhibition centre fare. He has certainly managed that with this event taking place inside the grandiose location of the local Catholic church. It was a fantastic arena for comics, with a large open floor space for the exhibitors, plenty of room for punters to circulate around, but also side rooms for the workshops and panels. Much more quirky and accessible than last year’s conference centre but without the downsides of previous venues.
Although there was the odd cosplayer around giving the place some colour (especially the stormtroppers outside), this year’s show was all about the comics. Headlined by Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner (who was launching his new collected edition of Rok of the Reds), as well as Marvel writer Al Ewing and DC artist Jon Davis Hunt providing the mainstream interest. they were joined by indie stars like The Etherington Brothers, Rachel Smith, Sarah Graley and more.
As we did our first lap to take in in who was there, we were able to catch up with old friends like Jon Laight (our table neighbour from last year’s event) who had just launched his Kickstarter for the excellent sci-fi graphic novel Away (find out more here) as well as Hellbound Media and Lyndon White (who were feeling slightly twitchy about their horror focused work in this most holy of venues).
As we continued our lap we bumped into the likes of Chris Imber and Chris Jenkins from Reckless Hero (who we praised for their art book that we picked up at True Believers), the ever present Nick Prolix (another Kickstarter winner with Slang Pictorial #3), the always entertaining David Leach and tucked away in a corner the folk from Good Comics – Sam, Paddy and Rozi. We were able to chat about their new Good Comics Reader anthology and Good Zines title Crushing, as well as talking to them for the first time about the excellent The Times I Knew I Was Gay from Ellie Crewes which we think has the potential to be one of their flag ship books for this year and beyond.
Across from them was the always lively Darrell Thorpe and his new Freedoom art book, which looked incredible. As did the early work on his next title which he is aiming to launch at Thought Bubble. Next to him were the only people in the entire comics world who can equal Darrell for comics passion, the Etherington Brothers, who we were able to snatch a brief moment to chat to about their incredible Kickstarter success (the most successful comics Kickstarter ever, which had achieved near legendary status from everyone who spoke about it on the day!) But as always at these events they were soon inundated with kids and adults alike who were keen to talk comics and pick up their work, so we left them to their patter!
After a far too brief chat with the wonderful Susie Gander (whose Perrywinkle journey is winding down, but new work is keeping her very busy indeed), we also caught up with Neil from TPub (hot off the announcement of a team up with Stan Lee to produce a Lucky Man comic) and Dan and Vince from the Awesome Comics Podcast (still riding the wave of Awesome Comics #1).
Having caught up with the familiar faces, we decided to make some new friends, in particular John and Cheryl from Soaring Penguin, whose anthology Meanwhile we had discovered recently on Comichaus. It was great to hear them talk so passionately about their amazing books (their table was like a work of art!) and we will definitely be covering more of their work in future, as we picked up the excellent sounding Notes all about a struggling comic artist in Paris.
Other new friends we made on the day included CogLife Comics, Jason Cobley and the incredible Sarah Graley, from whom we picked up the excellent diary comic Our Comic Adventure – however we could have bought her whole stand!
At this point it was time to take a break from chatting to folk and take in a panel or two and so we entered the side room via a Star Trek style electric door to be part of the audience in Podcapers from A Place To Hang Your Cape. The latest team to join the live podcast revolution (The Awesome Comics Team had recorded one earlier in the day) it was great to experience their high energy brand of broadcasting. This was then followed by a panel about crowd funding featuring the aforementioned Susie Gander and Sarah Graley, as well as the brilliant Rachel Smith who discussed the highs and lows of Kickstarter, Patreon and more. Another fantastic panel with lots of great insights from people who have lived and breathed Kickstarters and well worth attending. (Also great to see an all female panel that wasn’t about ‘women in comics’!)
As the day drew to a close we took it as a chance to catch up with the final few friends and guests we had not seen up until that point. With news from Rachael Smith about a new project coming next year from Unbound featuring teenage witches we were excited to find out more. We were also able to catch up with her travel companions, Legend of La Mariposa‘s James Lawrence and Eimurian Tales’ MD Penman, all of whom had travelled down from way up north to be with us for the day.
We rounded off the day with a brief chat with the main guest of the day John Wagner, whose table was quiet for the first time all afternoon. He said he had done some great numbers on Rok of The Reds and we were also able to briefly chat about his upcoming collection of Button Man which is being released via Rebellion (and which we have just read for the first time and were blown away by).
Before heading home we caught up with organiser Dan and his wife Lisa to reflect on an incredibly successful day all round. A really uncomplicated and unfussy event (which is meant in the best way), with an emphasis on comics and family entertainment, you could not have asked for a better time. Our only negative about the day was the volume of the tannoy announcements (sorry Lisa!), which meant you had to stop a conversation mid-flow in order to hear the other person! But at least the had the announcements this year!
With the sun shining and stormtroopers on the church steps drawing the final few people in for the day, this was a perfect example of how a small con can offer a great line up and deliver to it’s fans without over promising or under delivering. This was our favourite Leamington show to date and we cannot wait to head up to the Midlands again next year!