At a time when people are looking round the comic convention landscape and seeing an ever crowded horizon with some weekends often having not one but two cons clashing, I can see why people were beginning to question the longevity of such cons, or even the ability to bring in the punters here in the UK. We’re a smaller island of folk than we would care to admit, I’m afraid, with only a finite of resources and money to go around, and to be spent at con after con. People, fans, newcomers have to be careful and plan accordingly.
Whether we get to a stage when the likes of MCM/Reed Pop and the Showmasters’ cons (such as the upcoming London Film and Comic Con at the end of July) dominate and become the favoured destination for the masses is yet to come to pass, but with this first Portsmouth Comic Con now over and done with, there is still hope for the indie cons and, even, new cons. But only if they are as well produced, curated and promoted as this one. A con that one and all felt was done really well and a resounding success. Hell, Shelly Bond (Black Crown Pub) even called it her most favourite first time con! And she’s been to a fair few in her time too. That’s one great endorsement. The whole weekend was full of sun, fun and meeting new chums. You can’t ask for anymore than that now can you?
Joel Meadows (Tripwire) has been a commentator and reporter on the comic book scene for over 25 years and his knowledge of the industry, as well as a wealth of contacts, brought in a slate of talent to be envied by many. Walter Simonson was a huge draw for many older fans with plenty of Thor comics and omnibuses on display this weekend, along with his wife, Louise Simonson, who was kept busy signing many a copy of X-Factor and Action Comics #1000. Including many of my own books I’d dragged out off my dad’s attic after a number of years (and decades).
Of course savvy support from both Portsmouth council, the local university and willing sponsors, such as Forbidden Planet, IDW and Image Comics, to name but a few, helped as did the sun. The latter being something of a rarity for us Brits so far this year.
A stunning and central location – The Guildhall – helped as did the magnificent council chambers which many of the panels were situated in. All that was missing from this very British of rooms were the ermine robes and judicial wigs. Next year perhaps?
And, as I write this – still soaking up the sun ij my back garden – next year’s con is already booked and being prepped. There’s even talk of expansion and even more legendary industry guests.
Hats of, then, to all involved and the many, many happy customers and traders who all made out like bandits all weekend long.
That’s all for now, but you can be sure that throughout this week I’ll be drip feeding you a rather copious amount of coverage with interviews from Frank Quitely, Shelly Bond and Walter Simonson as well as reports on many of the panels I both hosted and sat in on.
I’ll leave you with gem from Portmouth’s most famous son, Charles Dickens, and which sums up my feelings as I drove back home on the Monday morning. Take it away Chuck: ‘The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.’ So, same time, same place next year, right?
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