Now, while I do read comics from time to time, I’ve never really been a convention type of person (I refrain from calling them graphic novels for fear of sounding pretentious, but if you do make a distinction between comics and graphic novels, what I read generally falls into the latter category). But one of my friends who writes a wonderful webcomic called Martin Angry Owl that everyone should read had a table, and as it was the first event she’d attended as an exhibitor, we all went along to provide moral support.
I have to admit I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Hardcore fans, some in costume, nervously proffering treasured first editions to be signed by their heroes? Had that been the case, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The UK Web and Mini Comix thing showcases, well, web and mini comics, meaning that the people behind the stalls are no more famous and revered than the people in front of them – and, more often than not, are the same people; the event seemed to be as much about networking as about sales (although I did end up buying an awful lot!)
Comics, if you like, are the new Zines, but better produced, more colourful and (if I’m honest) more interesting to read. After all, would you want to read badly written poetry about someone’s failed relationship when you could settle down with Ninja Bunnies? And My Life In Cardboard beats recipes for vegan potato fritters any day.
The wide range of exhibits (from Fetishmen to Azimov to Cute But Sad) had attracted an equally wide range of people, and the atmosphere was vaguely reminiscent of a Fresher’s Fayre, or the slightly-less-trendy parts of Brick Lane on market day; lots of bustle and chatter, and evident enjoyment on the part of stall-holders and visitors alike.
And it wasn’t just about the comics either. Many stall holders were selling/giving away a whole range of things to help promote their work, including plushies, models, customised ping-pong balls, mugs, posters… Some had character sketches, some would do drawings while you waited, and almost everyone had flyers which they would eagerly press upon you.
In addition, Lizz (Sushi) and Timothy (People I Know) came up with the idea of running a sticker-collection game around the theme of this year’s event, which was dinosaurs. Passports were free to visitors, and the vast majority of the stalls had pre-ordered stickers based around their characters. Those who had missed the boat were given blank sticker sheets on the way in, and were hand-creating their own during the day. It was a fantastic idea which really encouraged people to circulate around the stalls. My only criticism would be that the passports weren’t quite big enough – by the end of my first circuit of the room I’d run out of room inside, and sadly had to resort to covering the wonderful artwork on the front and back of the booklet. All in all, the day was eclectic, fun and informative and – at only £4 entry – a very reasonable price for a fantastic day out. Roll on next year!
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