Cardiff – Comic Con Style!

So for the first time in a very long time, the humble capital city of Wales gets it own slice of proper comic-book convention action.

A one day event organised by Mike Allwood and the team at FantasyEvents.org (who also run the Bristol International Comic Expo), it was a small but robust event that promises to move on to be even bigger and better in years to come!

There was a healthy attendance of between 700 – 800 people over the course of the day, and the queues that formed prior to door opening at 10am were very impressive. By a stroke of luck, one of the guests had pulled out so I was offered their table at the eleventh hour. I spent the day before running around like crazy trying to pull together some prints and whatnot to offer at the table, and I also settled on selling off some old copies of my Doctor who and Transformers comics. I also wasn’t sure that this would be enough, so I invited my pal Dan Harris along to occupy the rest of the table with promotional material for his tattoo studio, and his web-comic ‘Retail‘.

I got to meet up again with my fellow Transformer comic cohorts Lee Bradley, Jason Cardy, Kat Nicholson, and the ever-bubbly Simon Williams, who was grinning like a loon at the caricature of himself as The Hulk that fellow artist Simon Wyatt had drawn for him. It was a special moment for Kat and Jase as well, as their 20 month effort to illustrate Classical Comics ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ finally bore fruit with its launch at the weekend, and bloody good it looked too.

Another Expo launch was that of Stiffs & The Pride, by Joe Glass. A double issue, Stiffs is the newly reinvigorated form of Zombie Death Squad, detailing the tales of a team of Valleys based zombie hunters/full-time drinkers, and is rife with classy, clean art and dark comedy. The flip side of the book contains the Pride, Joe’s tale of a group of gay superheroes that I was happy to lend my Crayola’s too. I’d been involved with the early Zombie Death Squad stuff years ago, and sort of lost track of it, but it was great to finally see the comic come to life (un-life?). Maybe Thon, Dan and I will finish/develop the Death Squad North (set in Bangor, North Wales)  someday…

Of course the big book launch for this Welsh-con was the big collaborative Welsh book, Stu Tipples ‘10thology‘. A total and utter behemoth of a project, it culled together Welsh and Wales-based creators (old hands and newbies alike) for 10 short stories based around Wales and Welsh myths. A brilliantly eclectic mix of tones and styles, I was chuffed to be a part of it, and even more chuffed to end up colouring the story by Stu himself, with art by the fantastically talented Mike Collins. I’ve been a fan of Mike’s for years, ever since he illustrated and wrote  some of the early Transformers comics for Marvel UK back in the 80’s, and was lucky enough to be a guest alongside him at Auto Assembly ’09. A wonderful exception to the ‘never meet your heroes rule’! I’d recently worked with Mike on a Doctor Who comic as well, so it was great to carry that energy through to ‘The Sleeping Knights of Craig-y-Ddinas’. Another highlight for me at least was seeing my mate Dan Harris get his name in print with his contribution the multi-artist story ‘Devolution’, which certainly lived up to it’s title, pushing the medium of comic-book storytelling in a wacky way (presenting a book that can be read page by page or fully left to right as a double page spread. I know, I know, mind-fuck city!). Despite a last-minute dash that would have made Jack Bauer piss himself in fear, Stu got the book in on time and didn’t die of heart failure, which was mightily impressive!

The day flashed past with occasional breaks for some food, and to catch the second half of Wales shaky victory over the Italians in the Six Nations. I managed to shift a decent number of prints and my old comics, but sadly no-one gambled on a sketch from me (kinda understandable – I’m a fairly unknown quantity to the non-Transformers crowd, and there’s not a lot of crossover between Transformers comic buyers and ‘normal’ comic buyers).

I headed into town in the evening to meet up with my wife and friends who watched the rugby at a local Wetherspoons, and after watching our friend Jen storm through drunkenness and out the other side, Ceri and I head back to the hotel to finish up the evening at the chilled, low-key 10thology launch party. Got to catch up with some old college buddies and tutors, and Ceri was pleasantly surprised to find someone in Brian Fagence, my old contextual studies tutor, who hated James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ with the same blood curdling intensity as she did. After much discussion we decided t-shirts would need to be printed up that state on the front ‘Jim Cameron Sucks*’ and on the back read ‘*but his earlier films have merit.’, which seems reasonable enough if you ask me.

The night ended with a quick hit on Subway and a boring bus-ride home, slightly enlivened by a hugely stereotypical gay couple having a bit of a row at the bus-stop (seriously – it was like watching Hank Azaria in the Birdcage on steroids).

So all in all a good day was had I reckon. Roll on CICE 2011!

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