Lucy and Sarah Unwin, who have run London’s Kapow Comic-Con since 2011, have today announced that the convention will not be held in 2013 due to work commitments elsewhere. Heavily connected to Mark Millar’s ‘Millarworld’ production company, the convention last year saw Dan DiDio, Eric Stephenson and Joe Quesada all make the flight across the Atlantic, along with a number of frequent Millar collaborators such as Brian Hitch, Dave Gibbons and Frank Quitely.
Kapow Comics Convention took place over the last weekend, with several major publishers attending in semi-full force. Certainly at least, Dan DiDio, Joe Quesada and Eric Stephenson were all there, along with 2000AD and (I think!) IDW’s Chris Ryall. Here’s a little rundown of all the things people were treated to over the course of the two days, alphabetised for your viewing comfort.
A little empty! The artists’ alley was situated on the high balcony around one side of the event hall, and while superhero artists like Barry Kitson and Adi Granov enjoyed queues, there were several tables which were barely attended. I spoke a little to Al Davison about his current projects (cavaliers and roundheads and vampires and incredibly detailed artwork abound!), and noted that nobody on the surrounding tables had anybody talking to them. A little bit of a shame, but maybe I was just there at the wrong times.
Still on his never ending Bob Dylan-esque tour of the world, looking for promising new artists, a fun game to play from time to time was to walk past CB Cebulski’s review table, and see how tired he looked. That man suffers for art!
Cup O’ Joe:
With nothing to announce, Joe Quesada immediately turned his panel over to fan questions, which led to a very interesting trend – something which you could see throughout the convention, actually, as time went on. Rather than asking about Avengers Vs X-Men or Spider-Man or the comics, almost every question was about the movies, and their impact, and the future of Marvel properties in alternative media. The focus was strongly on movies and TV, although the audience did come to ask a few questions about The Ultimates towards the end. Kieron Gillen asked if Namor was still a Marvel property, or if he was classed as part of the Fantastic Four family – and therefore off-limits for any potential Marvel films. To his relief, Namor is still in the hands of Marvel studios.
Dan DiDio and Bob Wayne were present, and hosted a few panels and interviews. DiDio dropped a few hints, but seemed to be keeping most things up his sleeves for announcement at SDCC. Among the teases we did get were the hint that a classic DC character would return to the New 52 soon, and be outed as homosexual; that there were no plans whatsoever to bring Wally West back into monthly comics, at least for the long-term future; and an interesting bit of discussion about Wonder Woman. DiDio believes that the reason Wonder Woman has never been as defined as, say, Superman or Batman, is because every new relaunch of her book throws her in a radically different direction. She’s either a goddess or not a goddess, or a war hero, or a secret agent, or any number of different personas. “You don’t see a Batman series where suddenly he’s a taco waitress”, DiDio joked, and noted that the new direction for her was something they wanted to keep for as long as possible, and have that ground and define her for future creative teams.
After his last interview, DiDio then went and wandered around the small-press tables for a good few hours or so, chatting to creators and picking up a few comics, happily.
A lot of small-trade and self-published comics seemed to have already embraced the digital transfer, with many of the comics I picked up containing a code or scan-able symbol so readers could find the next issue and download it.
Has cut his hair short.
By complete coincidence, the very first thing to happen to me at the con was a chance meeting with Kieron Gillen, who, when I said hello, said “oh no, not again.” He told me about his experience writing Uncanny X-Men’s landmark HEPZIBAH issue, and a slight mix-up at the scripting stage. Without realising it, he’d spelt her name wrong on every appearance, and it was only when editorial said “Kieron, are you sure you want Hezbollah to join the X-Men?” that he realised his mistake. Pew pew magic space guns.
There was no Hepzibah cosplay, but there were two Squirrel Girls, and don’t think I wasn’t tempted to secretly paint them white while they weren’t looking.
Eric Stephenson was on-hand for the announcement that David Hine and Doug Braithwaite will be creating a new series for the company, called Storm Dogs. Image were very well represented at the convention, with Paul Grist, Jonathan Ross, Kieron Gillen and Nick Spencer all present, among others.
The team who previously made the film Electric Man were filming both days for a new documentary, following a series of new fans – and people with no idea what was going on in comics – as they wandered around the convention. The aim was to see how people react to the idea of a convention, and how accessible the experience would be for new readers.
I must have counted at least six different people dressed as Loki over the weekend, all of them with incredibly detailed outfits. Loki has somehow become Marvel’s breakout character of the last year, with his appearance in the film but especially his showings in Journey Into Mystery.
The figurehead of the convention was thoroughly enjoying himself wherever he went – at one point I saw him beaming between a Wonder Woman and (female) Thor, and later he gave an inadvertent shriek of glee when he saw a Scarlet Witch walking the floor. (That last sentence rhymes, so please repeat it out loud and delight at the fun you just caused). Millar appeared on several panels, and showed off a small snippet of new artwork from his collaboration with Frank Quietly, ‘Jupiter’s Children’.
He also judged the cosplay competition, and made out with Carnage.
Several independent comics were trying new experimental ideas out at Kapow. Mister Who, for example, is a comic which comes with a CD that readers are encouraged to play while they read. Elsewhere were part-digital comics, where readers alternate between their digital and physical comics to get two sides of a full story. There was also a man selling T-Shirts where a unicorn killed a bunny rabbit :(
A purposely divisive issue, Movie X was a mystery film screening held on Sunday. Nobody in the queue would know for sure what film they’d be seeing until they got in and it started, and the final reveal that they’d be watching Iron Sky led to some noticeable disappointment – there were walkouts, with reports suggesting perhaps a hundred people, who’d queued for over an hour, walked out partway through.
The comedian had a big announcement to make on Sunday, revealing that he’d not only be writing a new comic called Nelson, but that his collaborator on the series would be none other than… Jock!
The room where all the ‘indie’ writers and artists gathered on Sunday. This room remains an ambiguous mystery to me, as I walked up and down the corridor where it was meant to be held at least five times, and did not see sight nor hair or Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown, or any of the other people who were meant to be signing in this fabled area.
Was at the convention. I don’t have much to say about it, other than to post a picture of him. You’re welcome, Sewell-fans!
The man of the year (as announced at the Stan Lee awards) was rather taken aback by how much fans liked his work. Swamped with requests for interviews and signings and discussion throughout the two days, he still made the request that DC allow him some time back at his hotel that evening “so I can sign more comics for people”. He is very possibly the nicest man alive.
Kapow is very much a convention for fans of superheroes, which meant small-press creators struggled to sell some of their work which didn’t feature a cape on the front. I spoke to several writers and artists who said that, although they’d broken even on costs, it’d been a bit of a struggle for them to get even to that stage.
Simultaneously a guilty pleasure and a pain for everybody, Lucha Britannia put a show on approximately on the hour, every hour, for two days. From tag team to exhibition matches (to Jonathan Ross getting in the ring and clotheslining one of the other wrestlers), they were noisy, entertaining, and kept cropping up elsewhere around the hall to smack talk each other. At one point they even invaded the SFX interview stage after a Paul Cornell interview, to shout at each other.
Yelping in Pain:
The most fun thing ever is to go on twitter the morning after a convention, and watch as all your favourite writers and artists moan in unison about their hangovers.