Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nine random thoughts about Kapow!

1. I had a great time at Kapow! on Saturday, only undermined by the fact I was utterly, utterly knackered. I'd just done three late shifts in a row at the day job (night job?) and badly needed to catch up on sleep. It would have been nice to stick around in north London for a drink or two after the con, but I was ready to drop by 4pm.

2. The Business & Design Centre in Islington is a terrific venue - probably the best I've come across for a comics-related event in the UK. It's big, well-lit, easy to find and just looks great inside and out. The rooms in which Kapow! held its panels were similarly impressive, and the fact there were lots of places to buy food on the premises - good food, not just sandwiches - made it pretty much perfect. The only criticism was the lack of air conditioning - I was sweating like an Amazon explorer by noon.

3. Actually, the lack of air conditioning isn't my only criticism. The ticketing arrangements for some of the bigger panels were a bit chaotic and venue - not convention - staff sent us to entirely the wrong place to queue for the Warren Ellis panel. No big deal, though, really.

4. Alas, I didn't take the Petal pitch document with me to show to publishers. There were a couple of art corrections that needed doing and I wanted to work a little more on the content of the pitch itself. Petal will be ready soon, though, very soon...

5. I spent a daft amount of money on comics and graphic novels, including The Slaughterman's Creed and White Knuckle (from Markosia); The Red Wing and The Strange Talent of Luther Strode (Image); Kronos City (Time Bomb Comics); Abasalom: Ghosts of London (Rebellion); Guts, Madam Samurai and Slumdroid (Scar Comics), and Westernoir (Accent UK). I may even review the ones I most enjoyed here over the coming weeks...

6. It was lovely to see my old friend and collaborator Declan Shalvey in such high demand for sketches and autographs from fans of his work on Thunderbolts, Northlanders and 28 Days Later. He also told me he's going to be drawing one of my favourite current books later in the year which is great news.

7. In the end, I only managed to catch a couple of panels. Warren Ellis's Q&A was great fun with a wide variety of questions from the floor about his work. I'm not a great fan of Ellis's online persona but mercifully there was no mention here of whisky, technology or obscure bands from Iceland. Best question of the session came right at the end from the guy who asked: "When your daughter goes off to college, who is going to look after her horse?" Brilliant.

8. Also enjoyed the Storage 24 panel with the film's writer/lead Noel Clarke and director Johannes Roberts. Basically, it's Alien, set not aboard a spaceship but in a London lock-up. The clips and trailer they showed made it all look like rollicking good fun and the only surprise was that they decided to completely give away the look of the alien. Talk about spoilers...

9. Just when I thought the number of comics conventions and related events held in this country had surely peaked, a leaflet I picked up at Kapow! brought news of yet another one. The Northants International Comics Expo (aka NICE) is taking place in Kettering, Northants over the weekend of September 22-23 and boasts Alan Moore as its guest of honour. I wonder how long it's been since Moore fetched up at a UK con? Probably not since that famous UKCAC in the '80s when he turned up wearing a gleaming white suit and complained about someone asking him for an autograph while he was trying to have a pee!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I'M going to be at the Kapow! comic convention in north London on Saturday and might even have the Petal pitch document with me to start showing publishers. It's pretty much finished and I'm really just waiting for artist Nicolas Armano and his team in Argentina to send over the final coloured cover and we're in business.

This is my first time at Kapow! (awful corny name, by the way) and I'm really looking forward to it. When I was self-publishing, I only very rarely got a chance to go to panels at cons so that's something I'm hoping to start remedying. I will definitely try to grab a seat for the Image Superstars panel, for Warren Ellis's Q&A and for Noel Clarke's Storage 24 movie preview.

I think Noel's a very underrated talent - he co-wrote Storage 24 and of course also acts (Doctor Who) and directs ( He has the kind of can-do attitude most of us mere mortals can only dream of. I met him a couple of years ago when he was briefly connected to the Blood Psi film (whatever happened to that?!), so I shall be taking a particular interest in his latest project.

* I WAS disappointed to see the kicking that last weekend's Bristol Comics Expo received over at the Bleeding Cool website and delighted that a few creators and punters have subsequently stood up to paint a rather more positive picture (after all, the allegedly poor organisation and lack of publicity didn't stop over a thousand visitors attending). I wasn't at this year's Expo, but it's an event that will always have a special place in my heart. It's where I launched Moonface Press with Devilchild in 2001, and where Hero Killers won its Eagle Award a few years later.

The Expo is clearly done on a much lower budget than the likes of Kapow!, the London Super con and the MCM events and so can't compete for big-name US stars and neither should it try to. Bristol has always served another purpose - namely as an incredibly fertile breeding ground for small press and indie creators, and long may it continue to do so. The fact it returned to its old 'Cowshed' venue (also known as the Bristol Empire & Commonwealth Museum) this year after four years away is a big step in the right direction and I sincerely hope it comes back next year bigger and better than ever.

I remember standing behind the Moonface Press table at the Bristol Expo back in 2008. The Cowshed was absolutely packed with fans, creators and cosplayers and I felt genuinely privileged to be part of a scene that was so vibrant, creative and friendly. Give it a couple of years and I have every confidence the Expo will have all its old magic back.

* I'M delighted to report that Michael Moreci and Keith Burns' Reincar(Nate) graphic novel smashed its Kickstarter pledge target by over $1,000 and will be published in August. Well done to them both! Of course, life being as it is, I ended up having to temporarily withdraw my $25 pledge when I became the victim of identity fraud a couple of weeks ago. The bank stopped my debit card, meaning payments I'd made for books, comics and DVDs online were immediately suspended, including the Reincar(Nate) pledge. It was all rather embarrassing but, thankfully, has now been sorted out.

* YOU should all check out Tommie Kelly's new webcomic, The Holy Numbers. This blurb I've just nicked from Tommie's website probably describes the story better than I could so...

It centres around a spiritual movement in Ireland, founded by a man who calls himself Ravensdale and claims that he is an advanced spiritual being from a higher dimension. This religion becomes the most popular new thought movement in the country and has its eyes set on becoming a worldwide belief system.

It asks the question: What if all the alternative New Age thought about how our universe works, its secret history and its mechanics, was all true? What would the world be like? How would it affect us socially, politically and socially? Would the world be a better place, a more magic place? Would people be happier?

What if you had to believe in it to see it? What if the New Age is already here?

It's easily the best thing I've seen from Tommie (yes, even better than Mongo: Music Critic!), so give it a little of your time. Check it out for free at www.theholynumbers.com