London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011 – Review

London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011 – Review

Note: click here for pictures from London Comic Con MCM Expo 2011.

Bum cleavage — that’s the sight that welcomed me as I made my way to the Excel Centre to set up my stand.

For those that don’t know, a lot of preparation goes into setting up a stand.

There’s the journey to the centre, the wheeling of boxes, setting up and laying out of stock and arranging backing boards and images. What’s more, the whole process has to be done in reverse at the end of the show and with split second timing.

All of the above work invariably involves a lot of bending over, hoisting and lifting, so if you haven’t seen the crack of someone’s arse during the set-up they’re obviously not working hard enough.  

This was my first time at the London Comic Con, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’d heard from those in the know that there was a large cosplay element, but beyond that I walked into it with eyes wide shut.

The main hall resembled what I imagine Area 51 looks like; weird and wonderful sci-fi stuff all piled high in one big warehouse / aeroplane hanger.

The general vibe was one of an industrial bazaar—imagine a post apocalyptic society where comics and sci-fi merchandise were traded by an underground resistance in hushed tones and under the radar of totalitarian police force and you’re somewhere in the right ballpark.      

While all of this sounds intimidating, the process of exhibiting is made easier by your neighbouring exhibitors. Your neighbouring booth buddies can make the long weekend pleasant or painful. I was lucky in that the guys next to me were super-cool. When I made a rookie mistake of not turning up with a table cloth they turned up the next day with one for me –how decent is that?

My neighbours were selling a form of anime called Yaoi.

My knowledge of anime is limited in the extreme but I found out that Yaoi is a genre of fiction that focuses on male homo-erotic relationships and varies from the emotional to the explicit. The main customer base for Yaoi isn’t guys however, but teenage-plus girls. When my neighbour pointed this out, I didn’t fully appreciate it, but over the weekend I saw hordes of girls plucking £20 notes out of their plastic Oyster card wallets and walking away with slabs of books (all while screaming in heady joy at having secured their latest fix). It was the nearest thing I had seen to “Beetlemania” in comics.

It got me thinking: why don’t modern anglophile comics produce this sort of reaction?

 While people might queue for hours for a Grant Morrison or Mark Millar signing or pay over the odds for some CGC graded Spider-Man #1 or gobble up the latest crossover series, I’ve never seen people react to a piece of western work with such passion.

There is a lot to be said for anime. The first is that the form encompasses so many different genres that the chances of a reader finding something they like or that speaks to them is far greater than the chance of finding something they like in western books. The next is that anime tells complete stories: English volumes of serial Japanese works are collected in black and white books. For £6.99 you can walk away with a hefty 200 pages of anime. For approximately £2.10 you can walk away with 32 pages (coloured) of DC or Marvel action.  

But I digress.

Back to the convention and the footfall on the Friday was brisk, although it could have been brisker. Saturday was when most exhibitors, including myself, made the lion’s share of earnings with the usual last minute buying rush before the convention ended on the Sunday.

As with Kapow, the people that picked up the London Horror Comic for the first time were delighted to discover something a bit quirky and a bit different. As a creator, I can’t tell you what a buzz it truly is having people come up to you and saying how much they enjoyed your work.

Also, as with Kapow, the number of issues I managed to sell in a day of personal selling far exceeded the numbers that a physical shop would shift—at least not without a substantial marketing spend, and even then there’s no guarantee of the amount you’d sell. The best route for independent comics to sell does indeed seem to be online and at conventions.

Having your comic sold in a shop or carried with Diamond adds perceived legitimacy to your work, but whether it is as practical in reaching and establishing the audience you want through exhibiting at conventions is another thing.

posted by admin at 6:53 am  

2 Comments »

  1. Right back at ya man, pleasure to be next to you 😀

    Comment by Guy Culmer — May 30, 2011 @ 8:20 am

  2. Thank you for creating these comics. Tales from the modern day crypt indeed 😀 I enjoyed all three and look forward to future release.

    Comment by Pam — June 6, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

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