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To Con or Not to Con? 
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Its been bemoaned that if some comics creators stopped messing about with comic cons and put their all into 'storming new ground' in the UK comics industry, we could again see comics on the UK news stands.

On reflection, I would say that sometimes you have to take things where you can get them. Comics are still being produced across a fantastic spectrum in the UK, from straight-from-the-heart kitchen-sink slice-of-life autobiogs, to political agitation, to otherworldly superhero celestial wars and far more besides. Some get better exposure than others, but that's always be the case anyway.

Plus with the net, you now have far better access to a far wider range of material than ever before from all across the world, the UK is but a proverbial drop in the ocean, though if British material remains your thing, there's still more new stuff there than you could probably read in a life time.

I think what many of us are really trying to hold onto is not so much the exciting and unique storytelling offered by some comics, but rather the cozy glow we got as children when the world was seemingly more simple and less threatening place, and tragedy and mortality seemed abstract to the point of inconsequence.

The British news stand was once such place where there seemed - perhaps even more in hindsight- to be a sort of Mr Benn/Aladdin's Cave atmosphere with its spinner racks or display stands, and many other bygone confections.

Those days may be gone, but there a plenty of great people you can reminisce with at cons, or just on forums or blogs such as these, if it takes your fancy. In many ways, we have it too good (First World Problems, after all), and the overload of the social media age makes things almost too accessible, to the point where it can all seem like overload and white noise, our options for entertainment (not just comics but movies, TV, Netflix, music, You Tube) so far-reaching, so limitless than we just want to retreat to when just about any kind casual entertainment seemed a real treat.

The truth is, comics, TV and whatever weren't 'better' in the 'good old days', just different, because we were different also- more optimistic, wide-eyed, impressionable, naive, dependent - all of the good and bad that comes from being a child. Vintage comics are wonderful gateway back to that world, and cons are a great way to share in that enthusiasm, as well as to explore new possibilities for the medium. If it takes over you whole life, that can be a problem for some, for others, not so much. I recall Zammo's 'I thought I could handle it...!' Well, maybe it wasn't Zammo, but...

In regard to cons specifically, especially the large ones, I think their rising popularity with some and waning appeal to others can be attributed mainly to three things: the exploding presence of ancillary merchandise; the ubiquity of cos players hogging all the attention (a fun gawp for some; for others, pained over-proximity to apparent male narcissists / confused and frustrated arousal amidst the increasingly more scantily-clad yet supposedly proportionally more unapproachable females); and the (to some) overpriced opportunities to meet TV and movie celebs. But let's face it, the latter do need to make a living, and the acting income from average career of most of them aren't going to pay the rent forever.

What can I say, cons have never been for everyone, nor will ever be- but if you go with a good heart and a spring in your step, you'll meet plenty of others with the same disposition. You'll meet plenty of pains in the neck also, but these shows aren't generally meant to be monasteries. Not any more, at least!

I'd be interested to hear if others here have their own take on the purported modern commericalization of the 'themes' of comics in the UK, at the possible expense of the medium itself?

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Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:10 pm
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I went to one small con once that was free and therefore might lack proper understanding .
I have seen cons advertised at around £10 entrance fee (is that right?) and for that you get the chance to see artist's selling their wares and a few members of the public dressed in costumes.
Well similarly , would you pay to go and see a supermarket display?.
I wouldn't, but then again at cons I am not sure what you are actually paying for.


Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:26 am
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Realistically if you're going to a con to actually buy comics... you're gonna be SOL.

Its been well over two decades since cons were about comics. Anyone who says different is kidding themselves.

Such is life. We are going through a transitional phase in all printed medium atm and traditional comics are dead, books will ultimately follow.


Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:15 am
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abacus wrote:
I went to one small con once that was free and therefore might lack proper understanding .
I have seen cons advertised at around £10 entrance fee (is that right?) and for that you get the chance to see artist's selling their wares and a few members of the public dressed in costumes.
Well similarly , would you pay to go and see a supermarket display?.
I wouldn't, but then again at cons I am not sure what you are actually paying for.


Would you expect free admission to a concert too? It costs money to hire a venue, pay for staff and security, guest accommodation etc.

Having said that, some smaller comic cons are free admission, like the ones I did in Macclesfirld, Enniskillen, and Shrewsbury this year.

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Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:31 am
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koollectablz wrote:
Realistically if you're going to a con to actually buy comics... you're gonna be SOL.

Its been well over two decades since cons were about comics. Anyone who says different is kidding themselves.

Such is life. We are going through a transitional phase in all printed medium atm and traditional comics are dead, books will ultimately follow.


Absolutely not true. I've attended 10 conventions this year, 6 of which were all about comics, with not an actor in sight. The upcoming ICE (International Comic Expo) in Birmingham on 10th September is also solidly about comics.
https://internationlcomicexpo.wordpress.com/about/


Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:37 am
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I've been going to cons for well over 30 years, as have yourself. Comics are now an incredibly small facet of a Con. One that has been been relegated to a corner or shoved into an outerlying room.

I too will be attending ICE, here's a thing - we can both count up the floor space (via table numbers or whatever) given over to just comics as compared to everything else, that can be cards, artwork, gaming, props, cosplay, self publishing artists, films, imported food, whatever

If there's over 50% solid comics I'll buy you a pint and a copy of every new comic you have there.

If there's not 50% solid comics you can buy me a pint and I'll have a free commission.


Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:13 am
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koollectablz wrote:
Realistically if you're going to a con to actually buy comics... you're gonna be SOL.

Its been well over two decades since cons were about comics. Anyone who says different is kidding themselves.

Such is life. We are going through a transitional phase in all printed medium atm and traditional comics are dead, books will ultimately follow.


This is nonsense. Away from the many "Comic Cons" that, agreed, often sideline comics and creators in favour of film and TV guests (for example, London Film and Comic Con, despite having a dedicated team working on getting comics people to it, MCM Expo) there are numerous comic-oriented events across the UK through the year.

Coming up in terms of comics-oriented comic events soon you'll have

• nICE - 3rd - 4th September - http://nicecon.co.uk

• ICE - 10th September, in Birmingham: http://www.smallzone.co.uk. Shane Chebsey is stalwart of comics, very keen to promote the medium, and the event is followed the very next day by Comics Uncovered for comic creators to learn more about the craft

• Lakes International Comic Art Festival (14th - 16th October) - http://www.comicartfestival.com. Over 14,000 people descended on Kendal in the Lake District for this last year. Totally comics-focused and they had a pop up shop where I found some great classic British comics last year at bargain prices

• Thought Bubble - November - http://thoughtbubblefestival.com. Lots of indie comic creators there

2017

February 2017: True Believers, Cheltenham http://oktruebelievers.com/about-tbcf2017

March - Leamington Comic Con - https://www.facebook.com/LeamComicCon

June 11th - Lancaster Comics Day http://www.lancastercomicsday.uk. Definitely comics oriented because I run it

And let's not forget the Comic Marts in London, which I'd love to get down to. Plus, exhibitions like By Gum, currently running in Woking, also has a tie in events programme

These are just some of the events geared to comics not TV and film coming up, there are others, and those comic creators that go to the larger events often benefit from the crowds drawn (no pun intended)

I have a comics events listing on downthetubes and http://www.comicconventions.co.uk is great resource.

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Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:33 am
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koollectablz wrote:
I've been going to cons for well over 30 years, as have yourself. Comics are now an incredibly small facet of a Con. One that has been been relegated to a corner or shoved into an outerlying room.

I too will be attending ICE, here's a thing - we can both count up the floor space (via table numbers or whatever) given over to just comics as compared to everything else, that can be cards, artwork, gaming, props, cosplay, self publishing artists, films, imported food, whatever

If there's over 50% solid comics I'll buy you a pint and a copy of every new comic you have there.

If there's not 50% solid comics you can buy me a pint and I'll have a free commission.



Well, it sounds like you'd have to reveal who you are first. :lol:

Why are self-published artists and tables selling artwork exempt from being considered to be about comics? Sounds like you're moving the goalposts in your favour there a bit. :)

And why is cosplay not about comics in your opinion? There have been "fancy dress parades" (as they were called then) right back to the first UK comic con in 1968. Phil Clarke dressed as Captain Marvel. Nick Landau dressed as Captain Cold. I've seen the photographic evidence. Somewhere, someone has the negatives. :)

If a convention has guests that are all working in comics, and panel events that are about comics, then I think it's fair to say it's about comics, regardless of whether some tables are selling film posters, or snacks or whatever.

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Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:36 am
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It's a little-known fact that Phil Clarke has always dressed as Captain Marvel - he just wears ordinary clothes over the top! :)


Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:42 am
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Comic cons aren’t about comics? Even the beast that is SDCC is still about comics! I organised MACC-POW! in Macclesfield, Cheshire in June and we had the whole town buzzing about comics and comic art with guests such as Lew Stringer, Leah Moore, Paul Grist, Sean Phillips, Oliver East, Rick Eades, Emma Chinnery and many more! Comics and comic cons are alive and well in the UK and I’m looking forward to the one in the Lakes and Thought Bubble again this year. Nuff Said!!


Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:50 am
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Ah well! If entrance charges are not just to pay for sellers to set up their stalls and sell their merchandise and that other entertaining things are going on then I concede it's worth paying for.I had the wrong impression that I woulď be paying for the shopkeeper to open his shop and also pay towards his rent.:D
(Just for laughs no need for replies.)The rain has cleared up time for a spot of gardening.


Last edited by abacus on Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:31 pm, edited 5 times in total.



Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:37 am
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philcom55 wrote:
It's a little-known fact that Phil Clarke has always dressed as Captain Marvel - he just wears ordinary clothes over the top! :)

Or Photon as she is known by now :coat:

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Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:39 am
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starscape wrote:
philcom55 wrote:
It's a little-known fact that Phil Clarke has always dressed as Captain Marvel - he just wears ordinary clothes over the top! :)

Or Photon as she is known by now :coat:


Bwah hah hah! Hand Phil and Chris a No Prize each for making me spill me tea.

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Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:52 am
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I'd have thought Mr Clarke would have been the Big Red Cheese version. He was big, red and cheesy when running around L.A. in a limo with me along for the ride holding a list of comic shops in my grubby paws.
I have to agree with koollectablz and abacus and don't believe what they right is nonsense. I've been to many cons and marts over the decades and slowly but surely, comics - the physical bits of paper that fans like me want to collect - and the dealers selling them, have been disappearing. The recent Glasgow 2 dayer, right in the city centre had far fewer comics and comic dealers compared to toys, gifts, guys punting their drawings of copyrighted characters and images, fairy cakes, jewellery. There were panels and cosplay things, neither of which interest me and never have - I think I've only ever been to 2 panels at cons in my career as I prefer the finished work rather than listening to how it came about, and I'm scunnered with anecdotes.
The London mart at Russell Sq. is quite good but shrinking, although I could be wrong as I only get to it occasionally - 3 rooms down to 2? The most recent Glasgow mart had a preponderence of the stuff listed above with only a few dealers with real comics, but the fairy cakes and tablet looked good.
I bet the 2 dayer at Braehead in a couple of weeks will feature few comic dealers but will have dodgy dvd dealers, lots of cosplay, gifts, cards, trading cards, movie stuff, some small press and guests. Again, I want the finished product .
So for folk like me, cons aren't about comics as much as tv, movies, gifts and all the other paraphernalia that makes up the weekend. I have to own up that I haven't seen a small press book yet that I have enjoyed and that could well be my lack of taste.
Why do I go to marts and cons? Because I meet friends and fellow fans, chat about comics, have lunch, drink coffee and perhaps a wee swally, and if I'm lucky, find a comic to buy.


Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:13 pm
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I have to say that the answer is always to con. Admittedly knowing which con is going to give you the best return is a bit of a hard question to answer, but I honestly think that Moniaive 2016 has to have been one of the best that I have ever been to.

I picked up original art, small press comics, reference books, UK and US comics and it just does not get much better than that. Not to mention a sketch from the wonderful Frank Quitely.

I am currently trying to figure out if we can afford to visit the Lakes this year as it is one that I have yet to go to and I need to meet John Freeman in the flesh at least once!

Through the cons, I have made some great friends and been introduced to some great comics that I would never have read if they had not been recommended to me.

Paw Broon, you and Vince can take a bow there as when you two are there, the crack is always worth the travel.

I agree that some cons have a very high ticket price but if what you are looking for is in that con, then who cares about the entry price? That's like moaning about buying a ticket for Glastonbury and then going to every concert there.

For example, Moniaive was cheap as chips, but we had to pay for two nights in a hotel and meals, but chatting with Jim Stewart, Stref, Alan and Sue Grant, John McShane, John Wagner, Frank Quitely, Nigel Dobbyn, Mark Toner and other assorted nefarious members of the comic scene meant that it was a priceless experience for Karen and I.

If you want to go, then go. But research the event and be ready and willing to pay for what you get.

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Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:22 pm
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