I visited a lot of Comic Cons last year, which I had planned to report on, sharing my experiences, but for various reasons I didn’t get a chance to at the time.
So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at the past year and a half.
If you live in the UK and are looking for Comic Cons to attend, you might want to take read of some of my personal experiences in deciding which ones to go to.
Dunfermline Comic Con 2017
My first Comic Con of the year. The Dunfermline Comic Con is a smaller convention, but it is great fun if you happen to be based in Scotland.
I had a lot of fun back in 2017, especially since it had been many, many months since I’d last attended a convention.
I had a nice chat with Gary Chudleigh from BHP Comics and picked up a copy of Plagued Vol. 1
Because of bad weather, there was no Dunfermline Comic Con in 2018, but it will be making a return in 2019.
Edinburgh Comic Con 2017/2018
I’m based in Edinburgh, and every year in April, the Edinburgh Comic Con is held. There is usually a mix of comic book, film and television events.
Since it is local, this is a fairly easy Comic Con for me to attend.
While there aren’t usually any industry events held at this Con, I do get the chance to meet up with fellow local creators who I haven’t seen in a while. It’s a nice opportunity to catch up with friends.
This year, the convention did manage to host some workshops for beginners, so if you’re looking to get a start in comics, you might want to consider going along to this.
Both years I had a lot of fun wandering around the stalls, before coming home, feeling inspired and ready to get back to writing.
Glasgow Comic Con 2017/2018
Held at the end of June/the beginning of July every year, the Glasgow Comic Con is the best convention that Scotland has to offer.
The Comic Con is now held over a single day, but it is preceded by a one day industry event called 9 Panels.
While I do enjoy the convention, it’s 9 Panels which is really useful to me, as someone who wants to write professionally.
The panels were really useful this year and last year, and for once I actually used the pitching sessions to meet people from various indie comic book companies.
Networking is an important part of the comic book industry and I feel I got some really useful advice.
I was hoping to meet some new artists this year as well, but alas, no collaborations have ever resulted from these networking events.
Still, I had a good time, and I was able to catch up with fellow writers and meet new editors, which should prove useful in the future.
London Super Comic Con 2017
Going down to London Super Comic Con was a big deal for me, in part, because it was held in the Business Design Centre which had been the home of the Kapow Comic Con which I had previously attended for the two years that it had run.
Kapow had really felt like an American-style Comic Con and I had heard much the same about the London Super Comic Con, and with the line up of guests they had in 2017, I just had to attend.
And you know what? It really did feel like something special. The Con took place over three days and the space was great. Lots of vendors and tables.
A couple of times, I wandered up to the upper gallery, and just sat down. I looked out over the convention, the bustle of fans and creators, and I took it all in.
At an event like this, it really feels like there is magic in the air.
Then, as I mentioned before, there were the guests. They had both Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Slott visiting from the States.
I took my copy of Words For Pictures up to be signed by Bendis, who like a total gent, decided to start the signings early when he saw a queue was building.
Now, I’m not really one for getting autographs, but it was an excuse to meet one of the most talented writers in the business, a man who actively encourages new talent. If you haven’t read his book Words For Pictures and you want to write comic books, then I recommend that you go pick it up.
I got to shake the man’s hand and he even remembered me from Twitter, which was beyond awesome.
Mister Bendis was also running a Masterclass for writing which I attended, that I think a lot of other people got a lot out of, but much of the advice he was giving wasn’t that useful to me. They were things that I did with my writing already, or techniques for things which I did in different ways.
Some of it I had of course picked up from reading Words For Pictures, but other stuff I had simply learned from years of actually writing.
Bottom line, the Masterclass probably wasn’t meant for me, but for people still developing their craft. And it was oddly reassuring to discover that maybe I’m doing this writing thing correctly. Maybe I actually do know what I’m doing.
Still, it was a terrific experience, getting to listen to a true pro discussing how he writes comic books.
I also brought down a writing portfolio to the Comic Con as the talented Erica Schultz and Kieron Gillen were doing Portfolio Reviews.
Erica Schultz actually gave me some excellent advice online about including completed work in my portfolio, because it’s really difficult for a reviewer to read through pages of script, so I included three comics that I had worked on, plus the scripts as extra reference material, for comparison.
It’s the reason you don’t see a lot of reviews for Writing Portfolios at Comic Cons. Most aspiring writers only have scripts, not published works, and it’s really is next to impossible for a reviewer to look through pages and pages of scripts.
The process is too time consuming.
The way it worked was that you submitted your portfolio and then you got a call later in the day telling you if you were going to get your portfolio reviewed.
I was actually the last person seen by Kieron Gillen.
He gave me the best compliment I think it’s possible to give a writer. Kieron had no writing advice to give me. We discussed my work and he said he might have approached things differently, but that was purely a matter of personal taste.
Kieron told me that I was the most advanced writer who he had reviewed over the course of the weekend.
He told me I was essentially doing everything right.
And to hear that from a writer I really respect, that was a big deal for me.
That helps give me faith that one day I might actually be able to do this writing thing as a career.
The only thing I lack, which is what he pointed out to me, are the connections with editors to actually get work.
He advised me to talk to a couple of editors at the Con and while I was unable to track one of them down (given that it was the last day of the Convention, people had begun to drift away), I did manage to start a conversation with one of them, which might result in future work.
Overall it was such an incredible weekend. And it really is a shame that the London Super Comic Con is not returning this year.
However, let us hope that it is held again, at some future date.
Thought Bubble 2017
Thought Bubble is an annual event that is held in Leeds every year. For the first time, I was able to head down with one of my best friends, who is also a comic book writer.
Now, if you are an aspiring writer, Thought Bubble is a big deal because 2000AD has an open pitching session for writers to earn a place writing a 2000AD Future Shock.
For those not in the know, a 2000AD Future Shock strip is a sci-fi short story, featuring a twist ending.
Now, the year before I had got there really early to queue up for the pitching session, as it was first come, first served, and I even ended up as first on stage.
This year, well, I still got there hours early, however there was already a queue, which was not a good thing.
My friend did really well pitching her story, although she didn’t win. I, on the other hand… I was just a mess. It was nearing the end of the pitching session and I was panicking in case I didn’t get to go up and pitch, so I just fell apart when I got up there.
Not that I think my pitch was good enough to win anyway, short strips with twist endings are tricky, I never know what someone is going to think is obvious or really clever. I’ve written a number in the small press that some editors have loved, and others they hated and those have never seen the light of day.
I did get to catch up with an artist who I hadn’t seen for years. Plus I saw a couple of fellow writers that I knew.
They had some great guests at the Con too. The biggest of Gerard Way talking about Young Animals. That was very cool.
So, I had fun, even if the Con was not as useful as I could have hoped.
Will I try pitching to 2000AD again this year? We’ll see. If I do, I’ll be sure to get there as early as I possibly can.