Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Bristols Out All Over

Well doesn't time fly - its been over a week since Bristol Comics Expo 2012 already and just in the nick of too-flipping-late here's my post-Bristol review blog.  

Before I get onto my own experience of the weekend I must quickly say what a strange aftermath there's been to the con this year. Quite a few very negative reactions have been buzzing around which is weird to hear when you've had a great time yourself. Some of the criticisms seem very fair - a lack of signage*, absence of a programme**, poor promotion of the event locally*** and hard to track down staff are hard to defend against, but hopefully this feedback will be taken on-board for next year. 

* I did my traditional thing of queueing all by myself at the wrong entrance thinking "Sweet! I'm first in line!" only to get a text after 15 minutes to inform me of the massive long queue at the actual entrance. I also wonder how many first time attendees didn't even realise there was a whole other section to the event at the Ramada hotel, or how to get there even if they did know?

** I'm used to this now so I print off my own before I go, which I'm so used to I barely realise how ridiculous it is. 

*** I had to email the organisers personally to find out if there was entry allowed on the door this year. There was, but how many people knew that? The Rail Shed location is perfect for walk-in punters so that was a real wasted opportunity.

pic courtesy of ECBT2000AD
Some of the criticisms have been bizarre however - blaming BCE for the lack of star guests due to the proliferation of other cons seems weird and criticising them for a lack of talent from 2000AD is just surreal given there was actually a whopping great huge 2000AD panel

Anyhoo, enough of this lets talk about me. For the first time I attended both Saturday & Sunday - a massive thank you to Sara Dunkerton and Alex Beedie for letting me crash their sofa - which was a good thing because even with a whole extra day I came home having completely failed to buy so many comics off my shopping list and failed to meet so many people I wanted to meet. Had I only been there for the one day I'd've probably came home in tears.

I didn't even get to do a proper circuit of the dealer room this year - the first row of tables I got to was Valia Kapadai, Pavlos Pavlidis, Nic Wilkinson, Cy Dethan, Jennie Gyllblad, Corey Brotherson and Barry Nugent all pretty much in a row, so by the time I'd said hello, hugged, swapped gifts, hugged some more, signed some comics (get me!) it was time to head off to the first panel of the day...

Okay this post is going on longer than I expected and I've barely started to lets have a brief intermission cos I'm gasping for a cuppa. Back in 5 yeah?

***************** INTERMISSION 1: TEA BREAK *******************

Okay, so anyone who knows me knows I go to cons for the panels, and this year as always BCE had a fine line-up to thrill your brain and numb your bum. The day got off to a relaxed start with the launch of Kronos City from Time Bomb Comics, followed swiftly by the DC/Vertigo panel which featured a much more interesting than usual amount of back-and-forth between the audience and panel (I'm especially looking at you Jenni Newman). 

A rushed lunch with Serena Obhrai and then a dash back to the Ramada for the White Knuckle launch (part of the excellent Markosia & Friends showcase). Any panel with Cy Dethan is going to be good and this was no exception aided an abetted as he was by Valia Kapadai. What we learned from this panel - apart from the fact that WK is a must buy (we already knew that) was that if you want to guarantee being published by Markosia get Cy to pitch your book and Valia to draw it.

Next up was the Hypergirl & Hero 9 To 5 panel with Ian "Shaman" Sharman and Yel "Looks a bit like Veronica Mars" Zamor. The thinking behind both books - one reacting against modern superhero comics clichés and the other parodying them - was fascinating and Hypergirl in particular was in my To Buy list and still is unfortunately due to a rubbish shopping regime on my behalf. I'll get it though don't worry.

The Clockwork Watch panel was another corker - fascinating stuff from creator Yomi Ayeni and writer Corey Brotherson particularly in regard to the scope and multimedia aspect of the Clockwork Watch project but special mention to panel virgin Jennie Gyllblad who was just as funny and enthusiastic as she is in person.

pic courtesy of Caz Bennett
The final panel of the day was the epic Bayou Arcana launch featuring a cast of thousands (almost) which was a highlight of the weekend - not least because so many of my friends were involved in the book, and not just because I got a shout-out from Jimmy Pearson and a wee round of applause which actually made me blush. (The shout-out was for Stace too, but she wasn't there so sod her I say) 

Saturday concluded with beer and hugs with the lovely Dani Abram (who was giving away free previews of her brilliant-looking Razarhawk comic) and Kerry Dyer (who was there to add some class to proceedings); pizza, chips and The Rocketeer at Chez Dunkerton; and an early night.

Okay that cuppa's gone right through me so...

***************** INTERMISSION 2: WEE BREAK *******************

Hang on in there I'm nearly done, promise. Sunday kicked off with the Anthologies panel which was unexpectedly chocker with good advice on how to pitch and break into comics and the pitfalls to avoid (Note: no submitted scripts in screenplay format, capiche?) The following Tribute To Moebius panel was beautiful and inspirational stuff so hats off to Cheryl Morgan, Al Davison and Tim Maughan

I then made a break from the panel room in order to get at least some shopping done, have a lovely quick chat with Garen Ewing and have a crack at pitching a graphic novel alongside my yankee partner in crime Luke Foster. Pitching was nerve-wracking but provisionally fruitful so more on that at a later date with a bit of luck.

The penultimate panel of the weekend was another highlight - Strip For Action featured Mike Conroy in conversation with legendary artists John M Burns (George & Lynn, Jane, Nikolai Dante) and Sydney Jordan (Jeff Hawke). This was an absolute treasure trove of anecdotes from the two veterans of comics and one you wish had been recorded for posterity.

Finally, going from veterans to newbies, there was the Ones Two Watch panel in which David Hine chatted with Shaky Kane, Neil Gibson and Warwick J Cadwell which ended the con on a good few laughs. By this point though my arse was threatening to climb up my body and beat by head to death so it was off to the pub for a quiet drink in good company on comfy seats before heading off for my train home and my single photo of the weekend.

Buh-bye, Bristol xx

Huge thanks to everyone I met over the weekend and sincere apologies to everyone I didn't. Hope to catch you next year!

You can read Stace's much much much more concise con report at the SFX website HERE  


  1. I wish it was Bristol Expo every weekend!

  2. Me too, Dani x

    ...don't think Sara & Alex would be too pleased mind :-D