So, the second year of Glasgow Comic con in the Royal Concert Hall and the first with its new format: a weekend split into standard panel interviews, creator interaction and dealers; and a second day with tutorials and other events aimed at helping talented creators break into comics. Basically the same format successfully managed by ICE in Birmingham.
Last year’s GCC was marred by lacklustre crowds and missing creators on the Sunday. As you might expect when reducing the choice of fans to only one day, the Saturday footfall was vastly increased this year. In fact, so much so that I saw one online complaint about the difficulty of wheelchair use inside the concert hall’s foyer. Moreover, one day events avoid the risk of hungover creators rolling out of bed late or ending up having a naughty late breakfast in the pub with Mark Millar, like last year.
The guest list was strong. GCC has always had a commendably positive attitude to female creators and the rather excellent trio of Marguerite Sauvage (her first Scottish con appearance), Any Reeder and Else Charretier were great choices. Other guests included Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, both of whom had the longest lines I saw.
The main guest, of course, was the legendary Pat Mills. The father of 2000AD, and one of the main architects of British comics, his place in history is assured. For anyone who had watched him spit fire at his interviewer in the recent documentary on the galaxy’s greatest comic they were probably pleasantly surprised to find he was calm, friendly and cheery. A few other 2000AD creators were there, including that other legend, John Wagner.
The two panels I attended were very worthwhile and informative. The second of these was the most compelling one, with Pat Mills and old UKCAC organiser and all-round good guy Frank Plowright. It was only slightly spoiled by a noisy busker below the window, although that was hardly GCC’s fault.
Lastly, the Traders Hall was bustling and I spoke to two dealers, both of whom said they were much happier than they were at the same point last year.
Nicola Love appears to be at the forefront of the con now and this can only be a good thing. Her attitude and approach to fans is very open, friendly and professional. I spotted her at one point canvassing opinions of some regular con attendees and she was genuinely interested in their opinions.
Grumbles. Well, a few. Firstly, timekeeping. Opening the door twenty-five minutes late is not good enough. That needs sorted and shouldn’t be repeated.
There’s also the issue of information coming from GCC. Maybe I missed it but there was no floor plan posted online before the con. The first I saw of a floor plan was when I was handed a programme on the way in. This is not a massive factor as GCC is not on the scale of one of the big London cons, but when you’re trying to find someone quickly it can be the difference between a short and fairly long line. I would also appreciate a little heads-up about panels.
And, on the subject of information coming from GCC, there’s one other claim that needs to be discussed. A senior figure with GCC, not Nicola Love, posted on Facebook an attendance figure of 3500!
The reported attendance of GCC is an annual source of scepticism and sometimes even guffaws amongst older fans and I’d be amazed if it was anything like that number this year. The foyers were busy but I should emphasize that these are corridors that people use to go in and out of the main auditorium, it’s not designed for tables and queues. There was also the trader’s hall in the Strathclyde Suite, as well as a Comic Zone, but these are hardly enormous spaces. So, I am straining to get my head round how 3500 people were shoe- into the space available without access to Doctor Who technology.
There’s another reason for doubting the figure of 3500. Two days before GCC 2017 was held Facebook recorded 579 people had confirmed they were going, with 1939 interested. (By comparison, the day before ECC this year they had approximately – I forget the exact numbers – 4000 going and 8000 interested.) This is hardly exact science and not everyone uses FB but it does tend to back up my belief the figure is hundreds not thousands.
Long story short, ignoring the lousy timekeeping and probable fabrication about attendance, Nicola and the GCC team can consider 2017’s con a success. Most notably, I had been worried that a one day event would not attract decent guests and in that I was quite wrong.