After attending smaller events like True Believers 2016 this year, going to London Super Comic Convention 2016 is a bit like watching your favorite band at Wembley Stadium after only seeing them in a nightclub the week before. Sure the scale is impressive, but does it lack a certain intimacy that you get with the smaller shows? We find out?
Event: London Super Comic Convention 2016
Location: London Excel Centre
Dates: 20th-21st February 2016
Our rating: [star rating =”4″]
Arriving at the London Excel Centre on the DLR for London Super Comic Convention 2016, you could be forgiven for assuming you are arriving at just another trade and inudstry show. With it’s sleak glass and steel exterior it’s a very classy venue, but there was a real lack of the colourful cavalcade of cosplayers and comic fans that you get at smaller shows, which in part is down to the day being shared with bany shows, branding events and classic car shows. (However the confused looks from attendees of those events are worth it!)
Once you arrive on the main concourse, things soon pick and the sight of a Predator in a suit soon made us appreciate we were in the right place. With a huge open area outside the main hall for fans to congregate and meet it creates a real carnival atmosphere and really gets you into the spirit of the day (although how many of those actually had tickets is a whole other issue!)
With a relatively brief queue to get in, the main hall for LSCC is seriously impressive, and absolutely massive. It’s packed full of hundreds of creators and vendors with brightly coloured banners helping you to navigate the rabbit warren of booths and tables and with retailers at the front and creators at the back there is a nice split so you can reasily find people – unless that is your favourite creator has a spot in with the vendors (like TPub or Aces Weekly) in which case trying to find them in amongst the POP vinyls and back issues was quite the challenge!
We started our journey by scouting around the edge to get our bearings. Lengthy queues were already forming for name guests like X-Men inker Scott Williams, Killing Joke legend Brian Bolland and Secret Wars Mike Zeck, however there were also some examples of their work on display for those who didn’t fancy joining the long queues of people weighed down with back issues they wanted scribbled on.
The ‘Big Names’ area was away from the main artists alley which meant it didn’t have a knock on effect on the smaller scale creators which was good, however it did make them feel a bit isolated and we didn’t even see tables for people like Hawkeye’s David Aja or Ultimate Spider-man’s Sara Pichelli, apart from a distance when they were featured in the dedicated signing booths.
Walking through artists alley, there was a fantastic range of talent on show, ranging from the smallest of small press, to Marvel legends like Alex Saviuk, to current Image superstars like Sean Philips. With the space around them relatively quiet it meant you could pop over to talk to them without feeling pressured by the people behind you. For someone high profile for Philips this was particularly refreshing as we got a chance to talk to him about his next project with Ed Brubaker (possibly a romance, or maybe some thing science-fictiony) as well as his up coming Criminal one-shot.
At the end of the hall, after artists alley was a separate area for the main panel room which did a great job of keeping them seperate from the main show, as well as a dedciated Cosplay area with more space for those looking to get photographed.
Having surveyed the whole of artists alley we began working our way back through the stalls to talk to the creators we had seen on route. We started by catching up with the Dudicorns from the Awesome Comics Podcast – Vince Hunt, Dan Butcher and Tony Esmond, who were at the show to shout the joys of small press, to publicize the new Vanguard collected edition and generally make a nuisance of themselves. It was great to see all three in the same place for the first time, and partciualry enjoyed hearing their fanboy tales of meeting Mike Zeck the day before!
Next up we popped by the Big Punch Studios table to catch up with Jon Lock and Nich Angell, and get some tips on their newly completed table-top game Sandwich Masters which had sold really well at True Believers and was front and centre here. Our conversation was somewhat stilted as they were in the midst of a game of Cosplay bingo, (with a separate Deadpool bingo side game!) and so the sight of a couple of Harley Quinns kept distracting them.
Leaving them to their various games we stopped by the table of Merrick and Wart creators Tom Ward and Chris Welsh who had travelled down from Liverpool the night before and struggled to be let in to the building in time. Still, their set up looked impressive as always and we hope their day improved as it went on.
Returning to the front of the hall we caught up with Andi Ewington who was on the Forbidden Planet stall and showing off the first printed copies of his excellent sci-fi video game comic Overrun which we have raved about here on the site. Although we are still very much a digital site at heart, the sight of the amazing colours and art from artist Paul Green printed on lush paper was absolutely jaw dropping and with a spot at the very front of the stall we hope they did well.
We then ventured on into retailer-land and bumped into the team from TPub comics who were having a great day selling the volumes of Twisted Dark as well as touring their new ‘learn to make comics program’ which will hope to have more on very soon. We were also lucky enough to bump into the tallest man in comics Ryan O’Sullivan, whose Turncoat webcomic has become a firm favourite here at Pipedream HQ and so it was great to talk up to him!
Following a quick stop off to the see Close 2 Immortality team (Chris Sides, Chris Travell, Jon Laight and co. who were debuting their new comics collective and the first issue of ALV this weekend – more of which on the site soon!), it was nearly lunch and the show seemed to hit it’s busiest with the majority of punters and cosplayers at the peak of their milling around. As always, the cosplayers were a necessary evil at LSCC as they created a fantastic atmosphere with the bright costumes – our highlights being the giant Lego Batman, the Galactus family, an Ironman/Stormttrooper mash-up and a father and son cosplaying as each other in grey tracksuits and handle bar moustaches! Inevitably there were dozens and dozens of Deadpools, Harley Quinns and Jokers, as well as the always impressive Warhammer super mechs and the myriad of anime charaters who we simple didn’t recognize, but thanks to the size of the venue there didn’t feel like too many moments where your path would be blocked by a snap happy family or the various websites videoing interviews, however this was still pretty common – and perhaps just a neccessary evil of the day.
Keen to check out a panel or two, we decicded to pop over to the main hall to check out an in-depth chat with Yannick Paquette, Jill Thompson and Marv Wolfman talking about the DC Multiverse, before heading over to panel room 3 to see Sean Philips, Christian Ward and Jeremy Bastian talk about publishing your own comic. The contrast between the two couldn’t have been more stark, as the well mic-ed and videoed main panel room was perfectly clear and very professional. While the smaller panel room 3 was tucked away in the corner with an open roof which let in all the floor noise and was poorly mic-ed so you couldn’t hear what was being said unless you really craned your neck to hear (or arrived first) which was a real shame as this should have been a great panel.
After enduring an hour of trying to hear people talk over the noise of a giant conention hall full of people, we returned to the artists alley to meet some new names and faces who we either hadn’t seen before or had been recommended to check out. First up was the lovely Sarah Milman of Heart of Time (which we reviewed after True Believers) and Sian Jefferson whose The Book Of Fey we reviewed way back when. Both were super nice and chatty and helped point us in the direction of who to see next.
These included the Lou Scannon team of Jim Bampfield and Dan Harris, who had just released a new book called Druid Investigations and were in the middle of giving out their Kickstarter rewards to their backers as well as sketching away madly trying to get a decent likeness of heavy metal guitarist Devin Townsend for a commission.
Opposite them was the table of Ryan Jenkyns whose book The Bold Tales of Whiskers McFadden was one of our favourite titles of the day (based purely on the name) and we also got a chance to have a chat (and be abused by) the wonderful Dean Beattie whose Random Trials will be appearing in a future indie-round-up and who was dishing out the insults on his new book Charlie Fights – which has a special blank area for creative swearing by Dean!
We also had a great chat to the guys from Orangutan Cmics about the merits of second days of conventions with hangovers, finally found time to catch up with the wonderful Brett Uren whose Torsobear had been our reading of choice on the train up, and then spent a ridiculously wonderful half an hour chatting to the ever charming John Allison – where he showed us sneak peaks of the greatest comic in the world (Mordawwa: Queen of Hell!), drew amazing sketches in our copy of Giant Days #3 and revealed the heartbreaking news about a beloved character who been written out of the series without us even noticing! Poor Erin!!!
As the day wound to a close we realized we had still not seen people like The Rabbit’s Rachael Smith and Blood Blokes’ Adam Cadwell, or the irrepressable David Lloyd whose Aces Weekly table was two or three people deep every time we passed by, let alone big names like Howard Chaykin, Duncan Fegredo or David Finch!
However it had been a fantastic day and despite some minor grumbles along the way, getting an event the size of this to run as smoothly as this one seemed to go is commendable and long may it continue!