Filed under: Events | Tags: Andy Diggle, Ben McCool, CB Cebulski, D.I.C.E., Dave Johnson, Declan Shalvey, Doug Braithwaite, Dublin, Jeannine Schaeffer, Jeff Parker, John Layman, John McCrea, Jordie Bellaire, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kieron Gillen, Lauren Sankovitch, Mark Doyle, Matt Fraction, Nate Cosby, Nick Roche, Stephen Mooney, The Big Bang, Tommy Lee Edwards
We’re hurtling towards the end of 2012 but that doesn’t mean the Comics Anonymous gang can’t still make the last of their Comic Con’s for the year and so I made the trip to Dublin’s fair city to take in the Dublin International Comic Expo (D.I.C.E.) being run by the team behind The Big Bang comic shop.
With this being the first DICE con the big names appearing on their guest list were impressive with the likes of Matt Fraction, Tommy Lee Edwards, Nate Cosby, Ben McCool & Dave Johnson – and that was just to begin as the next few announcements would see this list grow to include some local Irish talent and some big name editors from Marvel AND DC. I was psyched for sure. That being said there was always an element of doubt as this was the first con but it turned out to be one of the most fun weekends I’ve had at a con. Previously we’ve been fortunate enough to attend Thought Bubble (arguably the best in the UK in the Comics Anonymous collective opinions) and somehow DICE managed to capture the same vibe with relative ease.
Now both Saturday and Sunday weren’t bursting at the seams with visitors but a steady stream of people would form probably the shortest queue’s I’ve seen at a con. That’s a win from the off and the laid back approach by the guests and the attendees made for a pretty chilled out experience over the 2-days. The layout at the venue was very open and we were actually able to breath while we meander from table to table which gave us a good chance to meet new creators, catch-up with some of the regular faces we’ve seen in the cons already this year…..and most importantly get to browse through the back issues that were on sale.
One stall of back issues, a stall of t-shirt linking to comics, a Harvey Nicks stall selling american sweets, some action figures on sale at another stall and some local indy comics made up the main dealer tables and while that may seem sparse, the mix of sale tables and guests were key to how accessible the entire event was. There was always The Big Bang shop itself on hand for a wander around too so were never stuck. Two days of panels were on offer too and I was able to plan around the catch-ups, the sketches, the back-issues and even some interviews.
Marvel and DC got their own panels too to highlight some of the up-and-coming releases for the coming months and into 2013. DC/Vertigo editor Mark Doyle headed up the DC panel as a solo effort – dropping hints about the excitement behind more Sandman and mainly looking to have a more interactive panel where questions would push the conversation and hopefully he’d be able to give as much information as he could. This turned out to be not that much but he was able to emphasize the successes they have had from within Vertigo and looking ahead to their new releases and more info on the New 52 storylines up ahead. His close work with Scott Snyder would give him the chance to hint at just how dark the new Batman arc would be as well as some of the hints he could give on the up and coming Sandman work being planned for 2013 – as well as a broader range of new/old creators appearing on their Vertigo line. He also mentioned that the “Arrow” TV show pilot got an early screening in the DC office with a hugely positive response – good news for fans with high hopes when the show hits screens this October. DC/Vertigo comics have several announcements due at this years NYCC – so we’ll keep an ear out for more of those finer details.
The Marvel side saw a clear outline of how the Marvel Now! project came about – as a number of creative teams reach a natural end on their respective titles and how this gave them a chance to shuffle the teams and take their characters in new directions. A strong emphasis on this NOT being a reboot though as it will still hold true to previous stories but will simply give a freshness to the titles and give a new starting point for old and new readers alike all following on from the AvsX event. Jet lag was starting to hit the distance travelled members of the panel so this panel had an air of the surreal as they poked fun at the some of the one-word promo posters for the Marvel Now teasers….”rousing” & “arousing” seemed to get a lot of attention as they were sure they were suggested but knocked back. Some random mentions of Ben Grimm in a Beatles wig from Matt Fraction got a lot of laughs and Fraction proved to be a lot of fun as he rambled through some stories/impressions. Tight-lipped given the gradual release of teasers on their projects (Marvel editor on hand to keep them in check) but a lot of fun was had.
The usual breaking into comics panel was given a twist by adding the editors to the panel and developing a much clearer idea of what creators can do to stay within the industry. A clear emphasis that breaking in is just the start and one of a number of steps to keep that comic industry career on track. Networking and self-promotion of a previous body of work were highlighted as one of the key aspects that you’d need.
Another panel on the creators working on some of the most recognized characters in comics would highlight the challenges, the limitations and the fun had from being able to take these characters in a new direction. Aiming for the most obscure and messed up things was seen as a sure fire way for getting the things they actually wanted to add in….something that backfired for John Layman when they loved his suggestions for Army of Darkness…..resulting in him having to create the messed up stuff he’d suggested. A good discussion with Kieron Gillen on his run on Journey into Mystery would highlight his ability to adapt the title to focus on Kid Loki and breathe life into it and take it in a new direction that had never really been looked into before. Some great stories again and all ending with the entire hall signing “Happy Birthday” to Kieron – much to his embarrassment.
All in all – the con just worked on so many levels….capturing the passion that every comic reader and comic creator has for the medium. Even more, the inclusion of the editors helped us all see that EVERYBODY involved in comics at EVERY level appreciates the content and work that goes into bringing a comic character and story into reality.
Keep up with the folks at The Big Bang at their website:
All the photos used in this post come from the wonderfully talented Fiona Watson – available for all events!
Check out her website here.
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