Friday, May 18, 2007

The Massively Multi-Con Super Report!

Zak meets a Stormtrooper while Aaron cowers in fear in Cher's arms...

Well, I guess I should apologise once againfor not updating for so long. My non-comic life has gone a bit wonky recently, and my initial relief at walking straight into a new job after being made redundant three months ago has turned into a strange disbelieving bemusement as my new employers found that they didn't have enough work to justify an extra designer after all. So I'm jobless. I'm also PC-less as my trusty machine seems to have given up the ghost, so I'm having to use my dad's PC to write this.


But, I digress, back to business! I have lots of great pics to share of the last three conventions we've attended, starting with Memorabilia. As you can see above, Zak got to meet a stormtrooper, but Aaron wasn't entirely convinced that this was a good thing. It turns out that both my children are actually afraid of people dressed as stormtroopers, jedi, X-Men, aliens and daleks.

Even the presence of a certain brown-suited visitor from gallifrey couldn't persuade the boys that the Dalek posed no threat to them.

The convention overall was great fun, although the drive there and back proved a little too long for both boys (and me, to be honest). We met up with fellow OUC staff member Derek hartley though, which was good.

As always at these events there was so much STUFF that we wanted to buy, but we were very self controlled and just picked up a couple of Marvel Legends figures to add to our collection (which has recently been swelled by great special offers at both ASDA and Woolworths).

Zak got a couple of Power Rangers toys, as they are his ultimate heroes. He adores the Power Rangers. Aaron's Thomas The Tank Engine radar was fully operational and in the vast convention hall he managed to find a couple of engines to add to his vast collection.

The main purpose of our trip to Memorabilia though was so that Zak could meet these guys - the Power Rangers! Sadly there was no Pink Ranger present, but Zak was still very excited to meet his heroes.

We eventually arrived back in Medway much later than we should have (their mum wasn't hugely happy about that) but a great day had been had by all. I wouldn't hugely recommend Memorabilia as a family day out though, as the sheer size of the exhibition hall means that you'll be less than half way round before the children are asking to be carried, and the people in costume can be quite scary for the little ones.

Collectormania at Milton Keynes proved a lot more reasonable drive to and from than Birmingham's Memorabilia. However, Collectormania proved to eb even less child friendly. While the exhibition hall is a lot smaller, everything is a lot more cramped and there were vast numbers of people. Small children and crowds in enclosed spaces don't really mix well, and the boys were soon tired and irritable. Plus, there was a lot more cool stuff for the boys to look at at Memorabilia, whereas Collectormania is just about buying stuff. We ended up spending most of our time in Pizza Hut, so we still had a good time, but we could have done that locally and saved on petrol! Although Collectormania does score over Memorabilia by being free to get in! Considering there's little to do at Memorabilia other than buy stuff, charging to get in seems a little unreasonable. It's like having an entry fee at your local shopping centre!

We headed back the next day without the boys, although the crowds still made it very hard to look round all the stalls. The real highlight of the weekend was at the party on the Sunday night, where we got to bear witness to Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy) singing Sweet Transvestite, among other things.

I also got to meet Peter Mayhew, and got my photo taken with him with the intention of it aiding my campaign to win the "You Look Like A Wookie" award at the Two Drunk Guys In A Bar Golden Champagne Glass Awards, but due to them messing up I ended up without my picture. Still, the mess up did result in me walking through John Lewis with James Marsters. Something Cher still hasn't forgiven me for.

We left Collectormania early so that me could race to London for a screening of the classic animated Transformers: The Movie. Suffice it to say that Cher left the cinema transformed (sorry) into a rabid Transfan!

And now onto the big one - The Bristol International Comic Expo!

Pretty much everything that could go wrong in the week before BICE, did go wrong. I lost my job, my PC died, and our comics failed to arrive (and we're still waiting for them now, thank Ka-Blam!). I'd been working on a promo video for OUC for a few weeks, and the PC died as I clicked "Burn", leaving me a morning to redo it with images downloaded from our myspace page on my dad's PC.

As you can see from the picture, getting everything ready to take to the event took the form of organised chaos, with goodie bags and audio/video equipment spread all over the floor. For some reason we'd decided that it would be a good idea to organise the film night at BICE, for some reason the organisers of BICE had agreed, and God only knows what had possessed us to decide to make up goodie bags for the first fifty people through the door. As Derek kept pointing out, based on the attendance from rpevious years, fifty people coming through the door on the night was really wishful thinking.

We'd originally intended to leave early and get to Bristol at 2pm at the very latest. However, we had no comics and were clinging to the hope that they'd arrive at the eleventh hour (pun intended). That, combined with some other stuff going spectacularly wrong, meant that we didn't leave Medway until 2pm, and an accident on the M25, combined with roadworks on the M4, and hitting the outskirts of Bristol at rush hour, meant that we didn't get to the Ramada Plaza Hotel until around 7.30pm (and we still had to find our hotel!).

Still, from here on in things started to run smoothly. We set up our banner stands in the room where we were holding the Film Night and tested all the DVDs, which all worked perfectly. To our great relief, the DVD for Highlander: Search for Vengeance was indeed waiting for us when we arrived and as you can see from the photo, people actually turned up. Indeed, so many people turned up that we ran out of goodie bags. The film night was a huge success and we've been asked to host it again next year. We've already been brainstorming ideas to make the event even bigger and better.

Proceedings finally came to a close at 3am, and we had to be up at 7am to set up our stand in the main exhibition hall! Despite not having any comics out table was somehow overflowing with stuff, and I can't help but think that we'll need a bigger table next time. The convention got off to a fairly slow start for us, as people semeed to be wandering around looking at stuff before buying at first. Things picked up in the afternoon, however, and we sold over half of our preview copies of Eleventh Hour on the first day. People also gave generously to the Orang Utan Foundation. The 32" LCD HD TV was hugely successful at drawing people to our stand (even if the Tokyopop people opposite us did have a bigger TV!).

Throughout the day we showed a selection of fan films, including Star Wars: Revelations, a teaser trailer for forthcoming Firefly fanfilm Bellflower, Batman: Dead End, AMV Hell 3, and many more. We managed to completely block the aisle we were on while we showed World's Finest (a team up between Batman and Superman) and Batman: Dead End (Batman vs Alien vs Predator). AMV Hell 3 also drew big crowds, with people standing at our stall for the full hour and a half running time (during which we waved our products in their general direction and enticed them to buy our wares). The big screen TV will definitely continue to be a feature of our stand at future conventions.

While most of the Saturday was spent at the stand, I did manage to get away for the Markosia panel, which was much better attended than last year's. Markosia have got a lot of big things in the pipeline and I'm particularly looking forward to their adaptation of Beowulf.

Saturday night saw us head to the Ramada bar for the infamous Two Drunk Guys In A Bar Golden Champagne Awards where our evry own Derek Hartley picked up the "Most Likely To Commit Murder In Our Name" awards, Cher picked up the "Scariest Fan" award and I completed OUC's award winning hat-trick with tyhe "You Look Like A Wookie" award. The ceremony was great fun and I can't wait for next year's awards. While everyone else seemed determined to drink well into the wee small hours, Cher and myself knew our limits and headed back to our apartment for some much needed sleep.


The heaven's opened and created a much more subdued atmosphere on the Sunday (either that or everyone was really hung over). We sold less comics, saw less people, and there was generally an atmosphere of tired dampness about the whole convention. It rained so hard that one of the roads linking the main convention hall and the Ramada had to be closed due to a giant puddle (which I believe had developed its own tidal system).

The high point of Sunday was, of course, Hypotheticals, which went incredibly well, despite being moved to the Sunday. Cher somehow managed to get involved, being pulled from the audience by dave Gibbons to ask him a question (as he'd heard her interview with Budgie on Area-51 and knew she was good at that sort of thing). Budgie claims that it wasn't planned in advance and went to the lengths of producing the script in the bar later to prove this. I don't think Cher's 100% convinced that she wasn't set up. The panel wasn't quite as crazy as last years (mainly due to everyone being hung over rather than drunk, and the absence of Jamie Boardman), but it was still excellent.

After Hypotheticals we all headed back to the stand to find that everyone in the main hall was packing up, so, like the sheep we are, we joined in and packed up too! All that remained was to head back to the Ramada bar for a couple of hours to chill out and say goodbye to everyone. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to give the last two copies of the Eleventh Hour preview comic to Kurt Busiek and Alan Davis (who I gushed to about being such an inspiration to embarassing). Then we crawled back into the car and headed back home. Thanks to everyone who made it such a great weekend, we'll see you all at Brumcon!

And for those of you that missed it, here's the OUC promo video:


Peter Rogers said...

How cute/cool do the boys look in those pics!

Loving the pics from Bristol, thanks again for organising everything. Seeing SLAM in big letters on the TV screen is rather gratifying isn't it?

I will sort Brumcon over the weekend.

IanDSharman said...

1) Extremely cute.

2) Yes, it's extremely gratifying. Big thanks to Cher for capturing that so perfectly with the camera (and apologies for looking so grumpy in that pic...I was a tad tired..).

3) Brumcon's going to be awesome, assuming we actually have our comics by then!