Once upon a time, to go to a comic book convention was an expensive daydream for many UK fans due to them being exclusively an American event. However, thanks to events like the London Super Comic Convention, Thought Bubble and smaller shows like the Melksham and Leamington Cons, it has become a reality for UK comics fans. The latest to join this every growing roster is the True Believers Comic Festival held at Cheltenham Race Course, on February 7th. But was it a thoroughbred, or just a show pony?
Founded by comic book lovers for comic book lovers, True Believers Comics Festival started out as a Kickstarter project in March 2014 with the mission to put comic back into the comic book convention and this soon became a success after achieving 115% of its funding goal.
And so, less than a year later, the founders dreams became reality when, on the 7th February 2015 at the Cheltenham Racecourse, this newest of cons threw open its doors, first to the VIP ticket holders at 10.30am and then to all at 11, as Cheltenham was given its first comic book convention.
And boy, what a con!!! Taking full advantage of the racecourse’s large premises, TBCF spared no expense in utilising every square inch of the main hall and giving its attendees a truly amazing, expansive and authentic comic book con experience. Almost every table was filled with creators, artists and sellers all friendly and jovial towards anyone which came before them, more than happy to talk about the thing which had brought them all together; comics.
From the regulars of the convention circuit, such as Jon Lock, to relative newcomers, like Blood Tears’ Tom Coulter, small independent comics dominated the floor. But this wasn’t all TBCF had to offer as many niche craft tables, such Hand Made by Me’s gorgeous comic inspired jewellery, Happy Ghetto’s inventive, Munchkin-like card game and gorgeous frames by MJ Carter Designs, sat side by side with the comics to provide variety to the patrons. Meanwhile, an artist alley of sorts formed with many big name British artists, including Mike Collins, Lee Townsend and Emma Vieceli for art, commissions and autographs.
But the main floor wasn’t the only place where the action was happening. Upstairs, in the racecourse’s stunning business suite, TBCF held multiple panels from beginning to end, all with the express purpose of celebrating comics and comic culture. Beginning with ‘celebrate Cosplay, reaching the midway stage with the Big Punch Studios and their announcement of their new quarterly comic magazine, to finishing with the ‘celebrating comics’ panel, there was undoubtedly something for everyone throughout the day.