Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kapow Comic Convention 2012 Funtime Spectacular

This is a Trade Waiting special, regular programming will resume next week. With Superheroes.

I have lived in London all my life and love the city unconditionally. It truly is the greatest metropolis in the world (be quiet New York!) Honestly, where else can you stumble out of a club at three in the morning and have the choice of real, old style beigels, a curry, or some obscure Lebanese dish featuring eyeballs to soak up all that alcohol? (Ok, ok, maybe New York.) Despite being the best city in the world, in recent years London has been sorely missing a real comic convention. True, there was, and still is the London MCM expo, but that is primarily manga, with comics shunted to the corner like some ugly step child while teenagers with ‘free hugs’ placards invade your personal space. But evidently, real comic conventions are like girls, or buses, or jet skis; you wait your whole life for one and then there are three of them competing for your attention. Behind us is the London Super Comic Convention, a show that had an impressive line up of creators and great exhibitors yet suffered from the sterile location; and ahead of us we still have the first East London Comics and Arts festival held by the fantastic Nobrow Press and inevitably destined to become London’s Mocca. Sitting in the middle and now in its second year is the jewel in the London geeks calendar, Kapow Comic Convention, the comic book equivalent of Rick James screaming ‘unity’ before punching Charlie Murphy in the face. Held by industry superstar and Ricky Gervais of comic books Mark Millar, Kapow is held in the Business Design Centre in super hip Islington and is without a doubt the most media friendly of all three shows, due to Millar seemingly being friends with everyone. Was it any good? Find out after the jump.

Joe Q dropping some craft knowledge
I received a text at six am, something that on a weekend would usually leave people in a fit of rage. Luckily I was already awake (albeit hungover and sleep deprived) and ready to go, so I gave Mrs Pithers a kiss, picked up my already packed con bag and left her to sleep, taking the walk of shame to the tube to begin my day. (Con bag included hand sanitizer to stave off the con cooties, more bags to carry eventual purchases, an Art of Joe Quesada book, the essential bottle of water, and the even more essential, alcohol killing pure apple juice.) The queue was already pretty healthy by the time I arrived so I took my place and proceeded to listen to some loud music to wake up. Not long after, and the first of my ‘Con-bro’s’ arrived; thespian extraordinaire, font of all movie knowledge, and devilishly handsome Vern G. We talked Prometheus, Avengers, and the train wreck that was the Green Lantern film much to the chagrin of the Green Lantern cosplayer’s in front of us. (Who knew Kyle Rayner Green Lantern was dating the Asgardian Enchantress?) Not long after we were joined by one of my favourite humans in all of the animal kingdom, the equally handsome Matt Burden, who brought along possibly every Scott Snyder book in existence to get signed and a copy of Archaia’s free comic book day offering for me to keep, what a gent! Once nine am hit the queue started moving rapidly; the organisers excelled in getting people through the door and were well equipped for the large numbers, it wasn’t long before we were in.

The venue, once again, was perfect. The glass ceiling provided masses of natural light and there was a decent amount of aisle space to ensure it wouldn’t get too cramped. Plus, the venue is carpeted. A small thing but when you’ve been to conventions that feel like they’re being held in a hospital corridor the small things are the ones you come to appreciate. Like a child at Christmas I skipped straight to the retailers to get purchasing done early so the rest of the day could be dedicated to meeting people and socialising. The ever dependable A Place in Space, a great store from South London with a great Ebay store to boot, was my first port of call. If being a nice guy was currency, A Place in Space’s Dan would be a millionaire. I picked up a wad of comics from those guys. (the currently out of print Batman: Broken City by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, Sweets by Kody Chamberlain, Terry Moore’s sketchbook Girls, Vengeance by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta, the first Batman hardcover by Snyder and Capullo, and the highly questionable yet still amazing Our Love is Real by Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders.) Still in shopping mode, I managed to pick up the Marvel Graphic Novel: Silver Surfer by Lee and Buscema for an embarrassingly cheap seven pounds from a retailer that whose name escapes me and I probably wouldn’t mention anyway due to his obvious distain for comic geeks and oddly, ladies of a fuller figure; two things I have nothing but love for. After saying hello to the Nobrow Press guys and buying the beautifully presented Forming by Jesse Moynihan I went and said hello to the guys from my LCS, Gosh Comics. Gosh is an amazing shop in the heart of London’s West End that goes over and above the call of duty when it comes to promoting local and independent talent. They seemed to be doing great business. The last stop in my shopping spree was Turnaround press, their table was manned by a lady who, when I said I was a Fantagraphics super fan, literally squealed with delight. From there I picked up R.I.P. by Thomas Ott, Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, and 1800-MICE by Matthew Thurber, the last of which I picked up after the lady in question, I kid you not, proceeded to show me some goods ‘under the table.’ All three books look stunning, and like the other comics mentioned will be reviewed in the forthcoming weeks.

Shopping done, we headed over to the wrestling ring at the front of the convention where Lucha Britannia were holding matches on the hour, every hour. They have a fun product that is a healthy mix of great wrestling and pantomime tomfoolery, two things that are sorely missing from modern era, big wrestling shows. Vern loved the ludicrous nature of it all. From there, I met up with Colin Bell, writer of the charming mini/web/amazing comic Jonbot vs Martha and comic book journalist supreme. Colin is a top bloke and Jonbot vs Martha is a lovely little book that deserves your attention so Google search it now. I also bumped into basketball player tall Eric Stephenson, publisher of Image Comics, and thanked him for bringing King City back. I strongly suspect he didn’t understand my cockney accent though as he looked a little confused and then just said ‘thanks for supporting Image Comics’ and walked off.

Beautiful Dave Stokes Black Panther piece.
The final member of our quartet and my favourite person to judge others with, Heran, arrived just in time for a spot of lunch (Burger King, where we proceeded to shout lines from Anchorman at each other until we were crying,) and our foray into artists’ alley. This year, artists’ alley was on one of the mezzanine floors and evidently benefited from being a separate entity to the rest of the convention as the area always had traffic. First stop was David Hine and Shaky Kane’s table where I purchased the amazing Monster Truck by Kane. Matt Burden presented Kane with his nine year old son’s own version of Monster Truck. Kane was massively impressed with the frankly amazing presentation from the young Master Burden and it was touching to see him excited about new fans, going as far as to interrupt Hine from whatever conversation he was having at the time with a ‘David! David! Look at what this youngster drew for me!’ We then went to see the most underrated artist in the country and completely lovely guy, Mr Dave Stokes. If you haven’t seen his stuff before, I suggest you take a look at his blog and then be happy that you did. He has a style that is not too dissimilar to Gabriel Hardman and if he isn’t doing work for one of the big companies soon I’d be very surprised. I had a Ric Flair commissioned from him but when noticed that he was selling one off pin ups at a price that can only be described as a steal, I bought a Black Panther and an Emma Frost too. Just opposite Dave were Marc Ellerby and Adam Cadwell. Ellerby is the creator of the fantastic Chloe Noonan, Monster Hunter, (Buffy, but better, in East London,) and an incredibly charming chap. Adam is also a lovely guy and creator of vampire book Blood Blokes. I bought all the books on their table, no questions asked. They said it was the easiest sale they’ve had all day to which I replied ‘well, I am pretty easy.’ Freeze frame high fiving ensued. Lastly, I stopped by Becky Cloonan’s table to pick up the amazing The Mire and have a chat. Becky is thoroughly charming and was genuinely happy to see the amount of interest her self published books were getting. I wanted a page of her stuff but I need to pay the rent and justifiably, her work isn’t cheap. Just having a chance to look at some of her Conan pages was good enough though, they are beautiful. (I settled for some lovely postcards instead.) After that we went to get some books signed by man of the moment, Scott Snyder, a lovely guy who came across as incredibly appreciative of his new elevated status, and pleasantly surprised at the amount of American Vampire love there was in the U.K.

And then we were done. I said goodbye to my con-bro’s and started the journey home. There were many things that I didn’t get to do. No panels were attended. I didn’t get my Art of Joe Quesada signed, although I did tell him I loved him, which seemed to please him. I didn’t get to meet Barry Kitson, John McCrea, or Declan Shalvey as they were constantly mobbed by fans. What I did get to do was buy a boatload of comics, meet some great creators, and most importantly meet up with good friends and make some new ones, (shout out to P.J. McEvoy.) Surely, especially in such a solitary past time as reading comics, that is all you can ask for.
When artistic giants collide!!!

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Ash said...

It really was a great show. I went just for the Saturday but it was amazing. I did a recap of the day, including all the books I ended up buying, on my blog. Check it out if you get a chance: http://amongstthepanels.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/kapow-comic-con-2012.html

Love the blog man, keep it up!

Woburn said...

If you saw the guy dressed as a shitty Fantomex on the Sunday... that was me

Taylor Pithers said...

Ash- Great Column dude.

Woburn- Sorry man I was only there on the Saturday

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