The first ever Leamington Comic Convention was set up to be an antidote to the sci-fi heavy events which have taken over the UK convention scene, how did the first year of this new East Midlands extravaganza live up to it’s intentions?
The first ever Leamington Comic Convention was held in the picturesque Royal Pump Rooms of the quaint Midlands Spa town this past weekend. With cosplay fans and superheros mingling outside amongst the Georgian pillars, while confused tea room patrons looked on it was a great location to base this event and we were greeted by a healthy sized queue on our arrival. With tickets having sold out before the weekend and more available on the day, the Con was packed and had a great fun atmosphere. Even though we had been told it would be more of a comic show than a sci-fi extravaganza, the number of cosplayers at the event really helped make the event feel special and gave the whole thing a great buzz.
The show was spilt into two rooms, the first and largest was the exhibition room which was filled with small press creators on either side. With no central gangway the hall had plenty of room for people to move around and mingle, although it did feel a bit as if the artists were pushed out towards the edges. In attendance were some of our favourites like Verity Fair creator Terry Wiley and best-selling Kindle comic creator Neil Gibson with his book Twisted Dark alongside a host of other small press publishers from all over the Midlands. Although it was great to see so many small publishers selling their books, the whole event felt like it missed a ‘superstar’ guest which was a shame. Perhaps running it at the same time as the London Film and Comic Con and the Lakes Comic Festival affected availability, and we hope next year’s event will remedy this, but it was great to see the smaller publishers take centre stage for once.
Also in the main room was a stage set-up for Q and As and panels. This was great as it meant fans didn’t have to disappear off into a hidden back room to hear people talk and there was no risk of missing an essential panel. However the microphones were nowhere near powerful enough for us to hear what was happening, and the screen which presenters used was hard to see. Fortunately the talks were really interesting, especially Neil Gibson’s talk on using comics as an educational tool, however an itinerary of the talks in the program or on a wall would have been really useful to help us plan our day.
In the other smaller room were the retailers, which was our major disappointment of the event. With only a couple of comic retailers selling mainly current issues and not much merch, (plus some Manga and a horror mask seller), there was not really much to tempt us to part with our cash and the room was so full and hot it was not a pleasant space to be in so we didn’t linger long. On one hand it was good that the comic creators weren’t in there being ignored as well, however we hope that for future events more retailers can be tempted to come along and a more amenable space can be found for them.