Cardiff International Comic Expo 2012 – Wrap up

Cardiff and to a greater extent, Wales, became real for me this weekend after spending two days pimping comics down at the Cardiff International Comic Expo.

It’s a 138 mile journey to Cardiff from London, so preparation is key: Kettle Chips? Check. Two bottles of Diet Coke? Check. Jimi Hendrix and Breakbeat trance CDs to help whistle the journey? Check. Checked the tire pressure? No, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

After an eternity of endless straight road I hit the toll bridge that connects Cardiff to England. I never knew a bridge of this size existed in the UK. It was like a San-Francisco-style bridge: huge and impending.

While crossing the bridge and fingering the change tray for cash it suddenly struck me where Loki’s been going wrong all this time. Loki, brother of Thor, always hatches some scheme to take over Asgard. Instead, what he should do is charge a toll on the rainbow bridge. That way he becomes independently wealthy, extricates himself from what is the middle of a tempestuous family and finally finds happiness.

Anywhoo, the next sign that I wasn’t in London anymore was when I noticed all the signs were in Welsh and English. Having duel signs is funny because after a while of seeing Welsh even English words begin to look like Welsh and you find it hard to tell the difference between a stop and go sign.

Taking to my hotel room I flicked on the telly and noticed all the TV channels were suffixed with the word Wales. BBC 1 Wales, BBC 2 Wales, etc. I didn’t know why this was since all the programmes were the same as the ones running in London. What’s more, if you take a walk in the City centre, it’s filled with all the usual chains, apart from the odd sore thumb shop which was a Snooker, Darts and Tattoo parlour all wrapped into one.

Wales, it seems, is a region trying to preserve what’s unique about it, but that the homogenisation of culture and indifference of the incumbent generation seem to be making it more like every other place.

The few people I did speak to were very friendly. Again, it must surely be a London thing to make strangers feel unwelcome. In Wales it was relaxed and friendly throughout.

Back at the convention I had breakfast with Mike Allwood on the first day of the show. Mike is one of those guys who seems to have retained the buzz about hosting comics conventions, which is a rare thing. I’ve seen established creators who sit depressed and indifferent to being at a con, but Mike is an industry vet who seems to bring renewed zeal to his shows, which is always a good sign.

Trade was brisk on both days with Sunday outperforming the Saturday, I suspect, because the Rugby was on one Saturday.

The vibe at the convention was really friendly. People were out as much to dig the back issue bins as they were trying to find new stuff. The majority of the audience were youngsters, late teens, mostly travelling in groups. I got the sense that conventions like this were a big deal to them, especially in an area where not much comic-wise happens.

I got to speak to horror legend Mike Ploog briefly as well as admire some of the beautiful work of John Burns. I had great neighbours in the form of David Powell and Kat. It was their first convention so I tried to pass on a few pearls of wisdom I’ve managed to gather over the years. By the end of the first day however, they were naturals, understanding that the only thing you need to be is yourself at conventions.

Crowds petered out by about 16:30 which meant an early finish for me as I had to hit the long road to London.

The Cardiff show was excellent and I met some great people as well as conduct some healthy trade.

Definitely one for next year.

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