We managed to catch up with the organisers of Nerd Fest, a first time comic con for the East Midlands. Here’s what they had to say…
1. It’s an inevitable question for an inaugural comic convention, but people like to know and it can carry a lot of weight and persuade some to come who otherwise might not. Who exactly are you?
I’m just a man; a husband, dad and humble artist living in Nottingham. I create the webcomic The Monkey and the Mouse. I’ve been doing the comic strip for over 2 years now and really wanted to take my comic, plus my other work, sketch cards, t-shirts, prints etc on the road. I searched your site looking for some UK comic cons to attend and found some amazing stuff. I tried to apply for a table at Thought Bubble, but that con is amazingly popular (understandably) and I was put on the waiting list. I don’t have much patience, ask my wife and she’ll tell you, so decided one day, why not put one on in Nottingham? There aren’t any that are particularly local that I know of, bar Birmingham, and thought we may be able to fill a gap. We have a great arts culture and community in Nottingham and it’s something that we would love to bring together and celebrate, so here we are; me and the wife (and a lot of supportive friends!) organisers of Nerd Fest
2. Why do you feel the need to bring a comic convention to Nottingham? Is there really the demand?
Nottingham is such a big city and is surrounded by others, such as Leicester, Derby, that to NOT have a comic con in the area is tragic! I did look for one and couldn’t find one in the local area (that I could see)! Nottingham has some amazing comic shops, both independent and national chain stores, and there are lots of local comic book artists. The area is rich in art of many genres and with the universities/colleges in Nottingham and the surrounding cities – the demand for comic book art and original art is potentially huge!
3. We often debate that there are too many conventions on the calendar and it might lead to the watering down of potential guests (http://www.comicconventions.co.uk/comicconventions/). Our list currently has 25 events on it for this academic year and we are still not even halfway through. We cannot agree one way or another though and have the same discussion at almost every event without a real consensus. What’re your thoughts?
I can understand the point, but I feel that if you can make an event enjoyable and fun, that’s half the battle. I think it’s down to the event organisers to make their con be that bit different and interesting so that they don’t become stagnant and the same as every other event. There are so many up and comers that you’ll always get amazing new comics, artwork and stories at each show and as long as the guests/exhibitors are always producing new stuff, even the familiar faces will be fresh and exciting.
4. We know you’ve asked Lee Bradley cos he told us. Who else have you asked? Upcoming talent like Ben Oliver and Lee Garbett are always good draws we think (no pun intended).
We’ve asked a few guests and we’re waiting to hear back from a couple, but at the minute our first guest of honour is Steve Beckett. He works for the institutions that are the Beano and Dandy! Growing up in the UK with these comics as my personal favourites makes it all the more special to have him. He’s also self produced a number of comics as well, so should really be interesting to hear his thoughts on that side of the industry.
5. Other events, such as Melksham, have been small scale yet quite the success, in the main through clever planning and thinking outside the box (cliché!). What’s going to be your USP (even more cliché! This ain’t comics as we know it…)
I’ve seen Melksham, looks like an awesome event. Like you say, small but with some amazing guests! Would love to go along to that one. We’re trying to do something similar in the fact that we don’t just want something that people have seen before.
We are really focussing on Nerd Fest being a family event, so we are planning on having entertainment for the kids as well as us adults. We are trying to promote artistic talent as a whole, so have got some local bands playing on the day and it is a charity event too. There will be a raffle/auction to raise money for our chosen charities with some amazing prizes and artwork up for grabs.
We are hoping that people leave feeling like they have experienced Nerd Fest not just visited it!
One thing I keep getting reminded about by the wife (who’s co-organising) is that this is the first Nerd Fest and we can’t do EVERYTHING…gutted! But if this year goes well, we’ll see what we can build on.
6. Who’s your favourite comic character?
Superhero wise I like Batman (nothing ground breaking there), I like the human character that has flaws and is not indestructible like Superman. It’s the same with Green Arrow, some people don’t class these guys as superheroes, but for me that’s what makes them more so, because of their human vulnerabilities.
7. What are you reading regularly at the moment?
I love mainstream/superhero stuff, but tend to read more webcomics than anything else on a regular basis. I have a whole RSS feed full of some amazing comics, Pokeweed, Chim Chum and the Portly Samurai, Tales of the Checkered Man, My Sister the Freak, The Barn…the list goes on!! Doug TenNapel (Ghostopolis, Creator of Earthworm Jim) has some amazing comics. Recently he did his Ratfist comic online as well as starting one called Newts. When you’re a little strapped for cash the internet has some AMAZING free comics.
8. What comic series would you recommend to people as an absolute ‘must read’?
Hmmm, tricky stuff. All of the above, but one set of books I recently got was Stephen McCranie’s Mal and Chad set. It’s an all ages book that follows a genius boy and his talking dog as he invents amazing gadgets whilst battling with some common adolescence issues. Also I loved the Scott Pilgrim series (I know they’re fairly old now, but if you haven’t read them, you should!!). Also ALWAYS recommend Tintin and Asterix books! Also a big Star Wars fan, so anything in that universe.
9. What’re your future plans for the event?
For this year’s event we’re still working on getting the bands sorted and the guest artists as well as (hopefully) securing the 501st. Next year…we’ll see what works this year and go from there really. Hopefully if this year’s event is a success we can grow from that, maybe get a bigger venue that will open up opportunities for more entertainment and more partners! We’ll see what gives.
10. You have the floor now. What do you want to say to the people? Anything you like, fire away…
Come visit us at the VERY FIRST Nerd Fest Comic Con, Nottingham it’s gonna be awesome, and if you’d like to book a table, we still have some available! http://nerdfestcomiccon.com . We are very excited to see the awesome artists that are joining us, please do check them out and support them (http://nerdfestcomiccon.com/artists.php ). Please do follow our social media accounts too for announcements of the tickets very soon! We would love to see you there!