Toby Johnston writes,
After looking at the National Videogame Arcade (R.I.P.) 5 months ago, something else happened in Nottingham. The yearly Notts Comic Con was on 20th October, and, as I did a few years back, I got to review it.
Since my first Comic Con, the place has stayed pretty much the same, with the same layout and similar discussions in the different Seminar Halls, but the market had changed. Almost every stallholder there said that the Notts Comic Con had some sort of different atmosphere to most of the other Cons they’d been to. Probably because Notts Comic Con is (nearly uniquely) a family-run con. The team behind Piddley Pix, Kev and Kelly Brett, run this Con and seem to have almost a wider acceptance to not only all-ages, but also indie creators, as well as featuring more major artists/writers.
One great example of this is the first stall that really caught my eye, Marc Jackson, the creator of “Grow a Pair”, a book about a 13-year old comic fan who is continuously beat up, but suddenly gains “Cosmic Punch-Powers”. He was inspired by Bleeding Cool to start creating comics, and was actually on here a few days ago, promoting said book. This was his first time at Notts Comic Con, because he usually goes to The Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
Next up, a return from 3 years ago, The Etherington Brothers were back, with all of their old Long Gone Don and Von Doogan from The Phoenix, as well as their new book, ‘How To Think When You Draw’, the first volume in their ambitious concept of a pseudo-wikipedia for drawing anything. This is all online for free, as well as the writing version. They want this to go down as a “free online learning resource, forever”, and the kickstarter for the second edition of ‘How To Think When You Draw’ will be up in February.
The creator of the comic Hilda, and subsequently, the recent Hilda Netflix Series, Luke Pearson, also appeared at the Con, and shared that the sixth volume of Hilda will be released next year, as well as the closely-adapted show’s continuation for the foreseeable future. As I passed his stall, I saw a bunch of cosplayers, a group of people I somehow hadn’t seen until then. Over the course of the Con, I saw people cosplaying as anything from Deadpool/Master Chief to The Mad Hatter to that one guy who can’t seem to get into Smash Bros Waluigi.
After looking at the array of cosplayers at the Con, I found Word For Word, a group of comic writers trying to adapt every single book in the Bible into comic form. Funded almost completely by kickstarters, with amazing art and pinpoint accuracy, the group have already covered 4 books, and are currently kickstarting their fifth, Esther.
After a bit of searching, I cam across Samuel George London, a “full-time Dad, spare-time comic-book writer”. After finding an artist on DeviantArt, Sam created Milford Green, a classic Victorian historical story… until the aliens get involved! He also has a live Kickstarter, (available until November 2nd) to fund a new book called S Factor, a 92 page one-shot superhero detective comic about an underappreciated sidekick called Greyfox, who joins a superhero dating show with an unknown twist…
Next to Sam was Zak Simmonds, who works in-house at The Phoenix, and is the artist behind the fantastic Legacy, Skydrifters and Monstrosity, an anime-style comic about a boy whose hand is possessed by a demon, and ends up between two factions. More Skydrifters is releasing next year, as well as the continuation of the first season of Legacy in The Phoenix.
Then, the stallholder next to Zak (I know, I found a decent row) was representing Little Heroes, a charity providing comic creation packs to hospitals and healthcare organisations across the UK. Little Heroes has been going for over a year now and has so far raised over £10,000, enabling them to send over 700 kits out. Fundraising for Little Heroes is a combination of donations from individuals and grants from the government, but Little Heroes have just released their own anthology, ‘Strength’, a combination of stories based around the titular theme, to support their cause.
After Little Heroes, I found Jason Cobley, an English teacher, who has adapted classic novels such as Dracula, Frankenstein and Dickens’ An Inspector Calls into comic books, as well as his own creations, Amnesia Agents, a comic about the place forgotten memories go when they’re lost, and The Adventures of Captain Bulldog, about two animals from an alternate universe fighting against villainous vegetables.
Finally, I went to the talk on ‘Creating For All Ages’, featuring Robin Etherington, Zak Simmonds and Laura Trinder. This talk was a whistle-stop tour through the history of the ‘genre’, as well as certain experiences of the featured artists. Much of all-age comics has changed in “just 15 years”, with the advent of mass-licensing and hypersensitivity, in that publishers, because of the tagline “all-age” are attempting to focus their comics on ‘not offending anyone’ rather than just making a quality comic. Because of this sort of stigma, many all-ages comics that do pop up are more fantasy-focused, despite many critically acclaimed Slice of Life comics crawling out of the woodwork and being “really quite good”.
Overall, as with last time (3 years ago), the Nottingham Comic Con was great, with solid stallholders, quality talks and a brilliant atmosphere, all held together with a feeling of enthusiasm and the togetherness that comes with a family-run event. I still haven’t been to any Con other than Notts though, so, you know, MCM London should be interesting next weekend!
Toby Johnston is a student in Nottingham who can only dream of being bitten by a radioactive spider. His exposure to comics, games and geek culture as a whole originated when he met his uncle during his first weeks on the planet. Now, most of his time is spent between trading card games, building some sort of competitive Pokemon team, and devouring as many comics as Uncle Rich can throw at him. He’s also finally catching up with Marvel, DC TV, Doctor Who and “classic” sci-fi films, which could take him a while.