Well, there’s a thing.
MCM run a series of comic book conventions in the UK. They are usually focused on games, film and TV, full of cosplay, with comics often as an afterthought. In London, Emma Vieceli developed its Comics Village concept which has been repeated across multiple conventions which has reached out to the small press, concentrated them in an area and brought in a few big names to circle them. But compared to Kapow, Thought Bubble, Cardiff Comic Con and London Super Con, the big name comic creators don’t come in their numbers. So, despite some truly herculean efforts, the comics section does rather get pushed to the side as the purely comics fans don’t attend in big numbers, or keep their wallets closed.
However, in Scotland, they don’t seem to care. The MCM inaugural Scottish show in Glasgow had no big comics names at all. It was still film/TV/games concentrated. But something different happened at the Comics Village.
Scotland is a home of many great comics and comics creators, but its also more embedded in the national consciousness thanks to DC Thompson’s Beano, Dandy, and the Oor Wullia and The Broons full page strips, read almost as a matter of national pride. So, when Scottish folk went to MCM Scotland, they wanted to buy comics. And it didn’t matter than there was no Marvel or DC present, or no Brian Bendis, Scott Snyder or Robert Kirkman. They wanted comics. And they bought them.
Stephen Sutherland told me;
At the comics village, I launched my new series, Neverending. It’s an action thriller with a female lead, set in Glasgow. I’ve been despairing for years about the treatment of female and gay characters in comics, so I decided to do something about it. I created Olivia Olsen, the girl who never sleeps. She never gets tired and never has, and has used all her extra time and energy to perfect herself. She and get girlfriend get into trouble when the secrets of why she is the way she is start to come out.
We sold out in three hours.
I had women shaking my hand, just grateful that someone was trying to address the portrayal if women in comics. At least half my stock went to female buyers. Some people heard about I’d through twitter and tumblr and sought us out. It went down a storm.
This is not however an isolated example, I’m hearing thsi repeated across the Comics Village small pressers, claiming they have had their best sales day in their lives.
Our Senior Scottish Correspondent, Gary Gray wasn’t even there yesterday, he was at NICE in Bedford, which has lost of big names, including Garth Ennis, but attracted around 400 people. MCM Scotland attracted 20,000 in the one day it was running. When even the usual Glasgow Comic Con only managed a thousand in July. Queues lasted for up to several hours and the final few hundred queuing were let in for free as the convention came to a close. There have been lots of complaints expressed for poor management of people trying to get in to the show, but attendance was beyond anyone’s expectation.
The show will expands to two days next year. I think it will need it. And expect an expanded Comics Village as the news gets out…