Monday, 11 April 2011

Kapow Comic Con 2011

This past weekend so the inaugural Kapow Comic Con in Inslington, London, UK. The brainchild of Mark Millar, the living hype-machine-spin-god (imagine that Kirby design for a second, will you?), creator of such high-octane and lauded tales as Wanted and Kick-Ass; this con was supposed to be the UK’s San Diego Comic Con (something which caught the attention and ire of the MCM London Expo). Millar’s stated idea was to create something with importance on the UK con calendar that would see big announcements, previews etc, like the American cons. And from Saturday to Sunday, we got to see if he managed it. In a word: No. Now, I’m gonna get back to this later, but bear with me while I try to review a weekend which has seen a lot of booze in between. Now the con absolutely was a lot of fun. And yes, there were some major announcements indeed. In fact, Millar himself announced four new creator owned series’ each with a stellar artist, like Dave Gibbons, Frank Quitely or Leinil Yu, all of whom were in attendance. We also had Marvel announcing several new projects, and hint at a couple of things that made me personally squee (in fact, my friend and colleague PJ Montgomery was recording podcasts for the Sidekickcast guys, so there’s a good chance you will actually hear that). There was a fantastic turn out of people, and all seemed to be a good and enthusiastic crowd. The energy of the con was high, and it was amazingly well organised for a first time con, though there could stand to be a few improvements. Why doesn’t it match the aim of a UK SDCC? Simple: size. It was nowhere near as big. And the announcements would really need to be a lot bigger and more far reaching. Could this come in Kapow 2? Sure, I daresay in fact it will. But for the size part they’d need a new venue. It would be a shame to lose the Business Design Centre in Islington, as it was a beautiful venue and well-spaced for what was there. But if Millar really wants to hit SDCC sizes, he needs more room to breathe and grow. There were a couple major downsides that I hope will change for future iterations of this con, if it happens again. Firstly, it was terrible for new, small press or indie creators. There were a handful about, to be sure, but tables were incredibly expensive. Many creators from that area I spoke to felt that they weren’t being catered towards, in favour of bigger names and draws, and that’s a shame as the UK indie comic scene is awesome at the moment. So maybe next time something could be done about that. Also, there was no Artists Alley, and most artists at the big signings didn’t have tables. I left with no sketches. This has never happened after a con to me before, so that’s a terrible shame. Maybe halve the size of the IGN arena (which was really unnecessarily sprawling) to include one? Similarly, I only managed to get one signature. The big name signings had to be queued for for ages, and often the creator would only be there for an hour. So fans who wanted to try and see more of the show and not just stand in lines for two days were left in the cold. Giving each of the big name creators an option of their own table too could resolve this. Similarly, whilst queue times were listed on the timetable, they were not enforced. So if you played by the rules, you often found yourself unable to enter the panel you wanted. The Thor and Movie X panels were a sign of this. Finally, I’d argue that the ‘Movie X’ panel was a let down. That it was advertised as the premiere of a major superhero ‘summer blockbuster’ movie had most thinking Thor or X-Men: First Class, only to find on Sunday that the film had an 18 certificate (bye bye, kiddies) and was indeed Super. Whilst this may be a good film (I quite fancy it) it is by no means a ‘summer blockbuster’. Maybe Millar’s talent for hyperbole got away with him there, but the atmosphere at the con in concern of this movie was discernibly disappointed. Now, suggestions for improvements aside, it does not mean it was a bad show. Quite the opposite, it was a great show! It just could be better. And hopefully next year it will…and you can bet I’ll be there.

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