Girls, You’re Both Pretty – Kapow Vs MCM London Expo

It was Mark Millar who started it. The spokesman for the Kapow comic convention, funded by Titan, publishers of CLiNT and owners of Forbidden Planet, and run by Millar’s PA Lucy Unwin. And Millar’s trademark exaggeration came into play, claiming that Kapow was what London needed, a comic convention like the old UKCACs but there was nothing like it. And somewhere to show film and TV stuff in advance, just like at San Diego Comic Con – and there was nothing like that either.

So the organisers of MCM London Expo, running for years, got a little annoyed by that.

When MCM London Expo was brought up, Mark Millar said that was more of an anime show. It didn’t count. And MCM London Expo bristled. While the show has an anime and cosplay focus, the Comics aspect has been growing year on year, with international and big name comics guests, panels, signings, publishers, a bar scene and basically recreating the UKCAC in the middle of the show. The convention also had TV and movie guests, panels and footage from the likes of Merlin, True Blood, Primeval, Warehouse 13, Fringe, Eureka as well as Paul, Scott Pilgrim and the like – the kind of content promised by Mark Millar as being something different.

And so in press releases, MCM London Expo started describing itself as London’s Comic Con. It started comparing itself to San Diego Comic Con. And it signed up Warner Bros and the Green Lantern movie to sponsor the show – a movie that Mark Millar had mentioned having a panel for in an interview about Kapow weeks earlier – though the interview was then removed, and the Green Lantern reference mention scrubbed when it was put back up. So you can expect footage and guest prescence at MCM for that one.

And now with Mark Millar hinting that there will be major Thor presence at Kapow, MCM London Expo issue a press release stating that Thor and  X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz will appear on the X-Men First Class panel.

One would expect that Kerpow would have Jane Goldman, another writer on X-Men First Class, writer on the Kick Ass movie, and husband to attending Jonathan Ross. And probably Matthew Vaughn too.

But here’s the thing. The MCM London Expo will probably get 60-80,000 attendees for the May show. Kapow, six weeks earlier, is in a venue with a maximum capacity of 5000, or 3000 when you have tables, booths and the like. So why are MCM getting so upset?

According to people close to Mark Millar, the purpose of the event for Mark is to share his Hollywood success with his friends. Bring the A&R men over and show them a mini-San Diego in London, and get them to sign up creators on their own turf. It is a completely and genuinely altrusistic move and it is at the heart of Kapow, even though it’s never been mentioned in PR or interviews. It’s a honey trap for Hollywood for all the people Millar feels close to, and wants them to do as well as he has.

And for the MCM London Expo, it has to be said that their May show looks on fire. Big names, big brands, and big guests, both comic and comic-movie related. Could it be that a little competition from Kapow and a few choice comments from Mark Millar have fired them up to do even better than before?

So the fans win, even if a few egos get bruised in the process. And I get to go to two great London comic conventions in a couple of months or so…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.