Alors, c’était comment ? Oops, sorry, switching back to English to narrate my tremendous londonian week-end, by the way it was sunny out there, no kidding people… But even if it had rained during four days, I wouldn’t have really cared, as I was either inside the con or travelling. Weather quota being reached for this post, we can now start with the real subject here : the very first edition of Kapow! Comic Con.
Quick reminder for those who have missed this - and honestly I don’t know how you could have with the crazy communication going around - this event was organized by Lucy and Sarah Unwin and sponsored by Mark Millar, as Lucy turns out to be the fellow’s girlfriend, yeah I know, it can help sometimes…
Warning just for you my nerdy friend
I have to tell you, I’m not a sketch hunter or a shop raider, my summary will obviously be biased, specially since I had little things that most of you don’t during con : boobs and press pass. I know, boobs really ? Well, according to my male sidekicks, it helps having them while attending a comic con, so…
And I can see you wondering : no sketch ? no shopping ? why on earth does she attend cons ? Well, for the websites I’m working with for a start, to record interviews and bring back sketches you’ll see online, and it takes a lot of time and organization to run from booth to booth, especially when you have to deal with really tight schedules.
On a more personal level, I also attend cons to see people I’m in touch with, people I’ve met during other cons or on internet, it’s always great to be able to spend some time together. And it brings me to another really important aspect : meeting people. I love discovering new faces and new projects, and conventions are really an ideal place to do so.
The ‘5 minutes sketches’ mission
I woke up really early - I mean like 4:30am - with my week-end sidekicks Julien and Hervé, and we arrived at the Business Design Center around 8 o’clock where some French people were already queuing in front of the gates. The French : first ones on conventions openings! Despite my press pass, I had to wait until 9:00 to enter the building, and once my badge around my neck, I went straight to the cafetaria : I desperately needed a coffee before doing anything else.
The first booth I visited was Gary Erskine’s, to have a chat and plan something for tonight with other artists. Then I’ve started my round to meet artists and explain the ‘5 minutes sketches’ principles. And I can see your sceptical eyes behind your screen… don’t worry, I’m gonna explain what’s all this, you can have a look at our previous gallery - Peanuts 60th anniversary at Angoulême - to give you an idea.
It’s fairly simple : during each convention, the Media Comics team chooses a subject, usually quite unexpected, and asks artists attending the event for their contribution, the sketch having to be done in more or less 5 minutes. A gallery is then created online, and other artists can play the game and send their contribution by mail afterwards, there’s no time limits.
New faces and old acquaintances
The Business Design Center is a rather strange building, but it really fits the needs fot this kind of event : two levels of balcony - with all the panel rooms upstairs -, a ground-floor - IGN corner - and a central space - almost 90% of all booths and shops. That’s not really easy to describe, so just take a look at the picture to have an idea.
So I walked the aisles of this central block almost all day, meeting numerous artists behind their tables or between two panels / interviews / signings. I jumped on Frank Quitely - holding a cucumber ? - right after his IGN interview in the afternoon, I haven’t seen him yet and so I invited him for a drink tonight with us. I did the same with Jock who was drawing his panel trying to break the Guinness World Records for the Fastest Production of a Comic-book and Most Contributors to a Comic-Book. And they succeeded!
Now, I see some of you wondering : okay so the lady just walked in there and ask Frank Quitely for a drink… Well, everything is explained in a podcast but it’s in French, so I doubt you’ll listen to it. To sum up, during another con - French Lille Comics Festival - I’ve spent an evening with several artists, including a fair amount of time chatting with Frank Quitely and R.M. Guera…
Panels, signings et queues
Kapow! offered numerous panels and signings, most of the communication done during the last months was based on these, and lots of foreign comic readers, including French ones, attended the event for the guests list. Unfortunately, to attend panels or signings - no sketches, only signings - there was a lot of queuing, and I mean a lot!
The two levels of balcony were really useful for all the panels and signings queues. But inside the aisles, some lines were preventing artists from showing their work and people from just walking around. I’ve filmed some queues so you could see what I mean.
The only panel I attended was the Stan Lee Awards, the results were consensual and only one artist - John Romita Jr - was actually here to pick his prize. At the end of the panel, I jumped on Mark Millar - yes, I jumped on a lot of people - to talk a bit with him. Well, each time I’ve seen him during these two days, I’ve done what we can call ‘1 minute chats’ as he spent the entire week-end running around.
Don’t forget to take a break!
For those of you who had never been to any convention, picture several days of craziness : walking - or running - around, eating junk food, sleeping 4 hours per night, the whole deal! That’s why I like having a booth, even if it requires more work, you still have a place to come back, chat with people and take a break.
As planned, we spent the Saturday night with Gary, which gave us the oportunity to meet the two women in charge of the London MCM Expo, really nice people. Jock and Quitely didn’t show up, but that’s quite usual during conventions, there’re always last minute changes. Actually, Jock told me he couldn’t be here when I met him at the hotel, and Quitely told me on Sunday that he was outside while Gary and us were inside…
On Sunday, I spent some time in the famous room nobody was aware of - the one with the free buffet. I took a 10 minutes break with Frank Quitely who was then heading to the charity meal - they all had a crazy schedule for the week-end - and two hours later, another quite long break with Olivier Coipel and some other French fellows working forLa Galerie Maghen and the TV show Un Monde de Bulles.
People and projects you should definitely check!
I came back home on Monday with lots of ‘5 minutes sketches’ - the gallery is over there - and I met numerous artists with great projects. I’ve only bought three books and an original art from a very nice and talented lady : Jenny Cragg
So, which comics have I bought? Well, Twisted Dark, a collected book written by Neil Gibson and pencilled by several artists, among them Jan Wijngaard. Another collected book, Rapid Fire, with once again several artists. I also took Eternal Descent, because my nerdy Metal listener side was really appealed by the concept. I’ll do reviews of these titles later on, in French first on Comixity and then in English right here.
I’ve also met other artists you should really checked : Michael Lee Graham, sorry for the harassment pal, Manon, huge talent here, guys from Aardman who spend their spare time doing comics like Tales of the Spiffing, Grant Perkins, nice chatting with you buddy, guys from Beyond the Bunker who may seem a bit nuts at first, and finally Will Pickering who should never have been left alone at this table.
So ultimately, did you like it or not ?
On a personal side, I really had a great week-end, this con allowed me to spend some time with artists I’m in touch with, meet new ones, and discover a lot of talented and lovely people. And I was able to speak English for four days so…
Now, I also know that comic fans, especially French ones, are not as enthusiast as I am about this week-end : very few sketches, and no time to speak with their favourite artists.
Kapow! wants to bring “the american style” convention to London, with lots of things, maybe a bit too much, as the schedule is really tight during these two days. Like every convention you’re about to attend, you have to plan things before actually being there, choose what you want to do and who you want to meet, otherwise you’ll always be disappointed.
I really enjoyed this first edition, and I’m already ready for next year, artists seem to have spend a great time too, so wait for the guests list, it should be quite interesting for this second edition.
Many thanks to Adrien for putting me up during these four days and to Julien and Hervé for sharing those moments with me.