I had the pleasure last weekend to visit the second Portsmouth Comic Convention, part organised by a friend of Ace Comics, Joel Meadows (Tripwire Magazine). I say part organised as he is paid by Portsmouth Council to bring in American and UK writers and artists, arrange discussion panels, perform other tasks as necessary and host the Tripwire Comic Awards on the Saturday evening. There is a larger team arranging the tickets, programme, advertising, room space at the Guild Hall and more. I last saw Joel on Monday morning exhausted, but happy, having breakfast with Roy Thomas (yes, the Marvel Editor-In-Chief from 1972!), Sean Phillips (Criminal, Fatale) and a few other luminaries.
If you ever thought organising a convention was easy, talk to Joel, or Mike Allwood who used to run the Bristol Convention. For nearly 72 hours, you are at everyone’s beck and call. The event flies by and you can only spare a few minutes for your own enjoyment. However, he is already planning next year’s event, so it cannot be too bad.
The most impressive thing about the event is the way Portsmouth Council have backed it. Tina and I were busy most of the Saturday and Sunday, but when we turned on the TV to catch the news, there was the convention being covered by the BBC regional team! Three times we saw reports with each one different and each one positive.
The second most impressive thing was the variety of stalls, panels and costuming (Star Wars, Doctor Who and cosplay events), and whilst well attended – in the region of 6,000 – it was not so crowded you couldn’t stop, look and buy, or chat with creators or stall holders. It was a lovely, friendly show which still had comics (yes, comics!) and not just toys and TV stars. There were good comic creators in attendance and I’m sure fun was had by all ages.
I thoroughly recommend Portsmouth Comic Convention to people for next year. I will see you there, I hope!
Small postscript. Roy Thomas is, after Stan Lee, one of my comic writing legends. I cannot tell you how excited I was to actually meet him at the convention, get Avengers #65 signed in my usual manner – “To Biff at Ace Comics” – right across the centre of the comic. Another one for my Hall of Fame at home. I am still a big fan boy at heart.
War of the Realms
I am thoroughly enjoying the central War of the Realms miniseries. It has actually delivered a well drawn and gripping storyline. My only dislike is the large number of tie-in miniseries, which I am steering clear of, and the crossovers into well over half of the Marvel main titles. It’s not beacuse these are bad books, but, despite owning a comic shop, I cannot afford all of these extra titles. There will be some interesting changes to the Marvel Universe come the end of the series… some real changes.
DC’s Year of the Villains
Life on the DC Earth is going to be as bad, if not worse than it is for the mortals living on the Marvel Earth. Now that the Source Wall has been removed and an ancient Goddess is quickly gathering her strength and forces together, the future is looking grim for our DC Heroes. When Jack Kirby created his Fourth World series, and the Source Wall beyond which not even the New Gods could go beyond, little did he dream of how this idea could go forward. It looks to be a magnificent and epic tale with so many great events-within-events that, once again, I cannot afford all, but will try to read and collect as many as possible. This is going to be one hell of a year for the DC Universe. Certainly a case of “everyone will be talking about this for years to come”.
Mission for the month:
Vote in the European Elections. Make your opinion and feelings known. It is time for a political shake up. Then go home and read some classic comics. I think I will dig out my Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith Conans. They are due a re-read!