Filed under: Events | Tags: Accent UK, dc, image, KAPOW!, marvel, Self Made Hero
Comics Anonymous is just back from this year’s Kapow! – here is a rundown of the weekend by Linsay and Craig.
Last year’s inaugural Kapow! was essentially responsible for the genesis of Comics Anonymous. It was a mind blowing weekend which saw a group of friends turn a shared passion into this quality journalistic endeavour that you are reading now. Returning to Kapow! this year saw us working hard, having a lot of fun and being filled with enthusiasm to report upon the excellent comic happenings of the weekend.
Our weekend was a mixture of covering panels, carrying out interviews, meeting friends old and new and of course, finding out about and reading new comics. Bizarrely, this year I picked up more comics in the pub than I did from the convention itself. Obviously this was entirely down to working so hard during the day that I had little time for shopping.
There were two books I was really excited about picking up this weekend. Self Made Hero’s second Lovecraft Anthology and Accent Uk’s Zombies 2. I spent some time interviewing Dan Lockwood who edits the Lovecraft Anthology and couldn’t resist a couple of extra titles from both publishers. Other highlights include interviewing David Hine and finding out more about his upcoming project for Image with Dougie Braithwaite. They are two favourite creators of mine so I’m really looking forward to this book.
It’s well and truly con season again, where not a weekend goes by without a group of comics people somewhere gathering to celebrate the medium, but May is an especially busy month with 3 of the bigger ones back to back. Starting with the reportedly poorly attended Bristol Expo and this coming weekend’s MCM London Expo, Kapow! has wedged itself in between and has likely stolen most of the audience. With a few kinks to work out from last year, could the organisers ensure that we gambled on the right event?
At last year’s debut of Kapow we experienced a full-on show of comics and film megastars in typical US con style, only based here in our own back garden. It wasn’t perfect, with some difficulties in queue organisation, and the only real stand-out film and TV panel being Thor, but it still made for a good weekend – one we were keen to experience again this year. Announced back in November with the same venue and only a few (predictable) guests, we were slightly dubious wither this event had another successful year left in it. As time marched on, and with more and more high profile guests being announced, things started to look much better on the comics side, but not much more than a TBA against the film and TV sections of the line up. I’ll be honest and say that the line up that was eventually announced didn’t really spark much interest with me, only the possibility of some Spider-Man action being a potential draw, so I was glad that the comics side was strong enough to hold its own. Ideally I’d have loved to see the con solely focus on comics, but then I suppose there’s the argument that I’d be torn between what panels and which guests to go see, so having items I’m not interested in on the schedule only made my choices easier.
The panels had certainly raised their game from last year, helped by the appearance of some DC, Marvel and Image bigwigs, leading to more open discussion on titles and not just the usual “we can’t tell you” from the artists and writers. As well as the expected “current slate” panels on offer from the big three, there was some variety added with an Audience with Warren Ellis and a 2000 AD mastermind challenge. The halls hosting these panels are nice and big to house plenty of attendees, so there wasn’t much disappointment from people not getting into the panels. However, the layout of the panel guests was disappointingly similar to last year. The guests were at the same level as the audience, meaning if you were outside of the first few rows, you had less chance of being able to see them – elevation of the panel guests or video screens would help this out in future.
What seemed liked the biggest problem last year – queuing – had definitely improved. In fact even though there appeared to be more stalls on the floor this year, it didn’t feel any more cramped. The number of signing desks had increased also by two, providing a maximum of six guests signing at any one time, but some thought had been given into placement of each guest, knowing that some would have people queued round the venue, and so directing these downstairs and out of the way of other con-goers. Knowing too that certain film and tv panels like Spider-Man and Movie X would be popular for those that like to queue early, it was nice to see them starting these queues outside of the venue, and from much earlier than the standard 45 minutes-in-advance, which also helped to decrease the floor traffic inside.
Maximising the use of space meant that there was even more on display from artists, indie comics and vendors. This year gave way to a proper Artists Alley up on the top floor, using a space that was bare last time, and certainly helped give the creators the much deserved space they needed. There were some grumbles, however, about inadequate lighting hindering the artists’ work. If you had some spare time and didn’t fancy a wander round the stalls there was also plenty of entertainment at the front of the venue from either of the Lucha Britannia wrestling ring, or the live interviews with guests on the SFX stage.
Kapow certainly proved that it belongs on an already busy con calendar by not only providing big names and events, but by improving on what it did last year. While it seemed obvious to me to change the venue after last year’s experiences, the organisers learned from mistakes, made improvements and we’d rather it stayed exactly where it is now. There’s sure to be a lot of positive feedback from all that attended, meaning demand for next year will be high, however we only hope that some arrangements with other organisers to spread these events out throughout the year will help maximise the attendance of all of the events on the UK con calendar.
Check back later in the week for run downs on the panels and interviews with Scott Snyder, Nick Spencer and more.
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