Up until recently, Scotland has been a bit of a conundrum. Some of the greatest artists and creators in modern times belong to the country, yet from a convention standpoint, there has been very little to offer the denizens of the proud nation. Glasgow Comic Con is a great little event and has, considering it’s size, pulled way above its weight for the last two years. The MCM behemoth also now occupies a spot in the annals of Scottish popular culture history, although it’s argued that these events do little to bring in bigger creators. However, one of the most celebrated cultural cities on Earth, Edinburgh, has yet to really make a name for itself in comics. That is, until now.
We caught up with the organiser of the latest addition to the Scottish calendar, James Lundy, about his humorously titled, “Something Bloody Awesome” event happening on the 12th and 13th April of this year, to find out a bit about the man and the convention.
CC UK: Thanks for agreeing to the interview.
James Lundy: My absolute pleasure. Thanks a million for asking.
CC UK: First off, tell us a little bit about the person behind “Something Bloody Awesome”.
James Lundy: My story isn’t really all that unique, in that I’m a lifelong fanboy. I discovered my first comic book around 30+ years ago, and got my first memorable sci-fi experience when my dad rented Star Wars for me on VHS around the same time.
My first convention as an attendee was United Kingdom Comic Art Convention 1990 (UKCAC ’90), which I attended with the local comic shop in Dumfries called Warp Factor. The convention was an absolute blast, and I honestly can’t think of a better bunch of people to have visited my first convention with.
Over the years, I gathered a fairly impressive comic collection which I never for one second thought I would part with. However, a few years ago I found myself in a situation where I sold a good number of my books to finance my own online comic book store, and publish my own comic book.
Around the same time, I started investigating suitable venues in Edinburgh to hold comic marts and eventually conventions. Funny thing is, I physically visited a lot of venues before finding anything that was remotely suitable and now I have a number of marts under the belt, with ‘Something Bl**dy Awesome’ just around the corner.
CC UK: This must be the first event in Edinburgh of its ilk for some time. How does such a culturally strong city NOT already have a comic con?
James Lundy: Well, my initial thoughts were that there must be a good reason why Edinburgh doesn’t already have such an event, but the more I investigated it, I simply couldn’t find an answer. Indeed finding a suitable venue was a task unto itself, so I imagine that may have discouraged a number of people.
The city does have Edinburgh Book Festival though, which is professionally run, and has featured a number of talented comic guests in the past. However, if I’m voicing my own opinion in an honest manner, I’ve always kind of felt that the comic side was a bit of an afterthought.
What I like about conventions is that you tend to find everything under the one roof, and the cost of your ticket pretty much covers most of what you are after. This is what was missing from Edinburgh, and I seriously believe that we will be bringing it in April.
CC UK: You already have some great names lined up for a first time con, do you have many more in the pipeline we should look out for?
James Lundy: Like many other conventions, we’ve had a number of astounding guests fall through due to personal and work commitments. However, we also didn’t want to be in the same situation that a lot of other conventions have found themselves in, having to announce guest cancellations after confirming that they will attend. Therefore we made a concerned effort not to announce anyone until there was no doubt that they would be there.
Indeed there are more guests in the pipeline, but out of respect towards them and our attendees I’m choosing to stay tight lipped for the moment.
CC UK: Considering the strength of creators that hail from Scotland, what’s the comic scene like there?
James Lundy: The Scottish scene is something that we should be very proud of, but I would fail miserably if I were to attempt to encapsulate it within a few paragraphs.
However, I will go on record stating that not only are we home to great publishing houses such as DC Thomson, but we’ve also given the world some incredible talent over the years such as Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Alan Grant, Cam Kennedy, Grant Morrison, etc.
At the moment, there are loads of superb indie publishers (Rough Cut Comics, Planet Jimbot, BHP, etc) who are putting out some top notch stuff. Small press is also very healthy in Scotland, with many creators self-publishing their own stuff.
CC UK: Gotta ask…why the title “Something Bloody Awesome”?
James Lundy: Well, I was joking with my wife and the term ‘Something Bl**dy Awesome’ came out, which seems to have stuck for the moment………………who knows what the future will hold though, perhaps ‘Son of Awesome’, ‘The Awesome Crisis’ or ‘Awesome Strikes Back’.
CC UK: What particularly inspired you to get involved with a convention on top of your business? It’s a lot of hard work and organisation for just a couple of days a year.
James Lundy: First off, I’ve never been shy of hard work. You have to pay your dues in life, and have enough substance that it’s evident you know what you are talking about when conversing with others.
I also have over 20 years worth of experience working events, covering every role at some point over the years. Therefore it was more like getting in the swing of things rather than a having a massive learning curve in front of me. Organising this convention, and the marts before, I found myself drawing from everything I’ve learned over the years, right back to graduating back in the day.
That said though, I would not undertake all this work for any other form of convention other than comics or science fiction. Seriously, do not expect me to be involved in anything like organising wedding or zumba conventions.
CC UK: You’re almost single handedly giving comics an independent presence in Edinburgh with your marts and now the convention on top of that. What are your future plans?
James Lundy: Well, I’m on to a bit of a winner which I’ll let you in on. The other day when I was taking our cow to market, I managed to exchange him for a small bag of magic beans……………I mean what a stroke of luck, eh?
Back to reality though, I seriously want to continue what I’m doing with more of the same. Should related opportunities present themselves in the future, I might very well pursue them, but for the meantime………
CCUK: Before we bow out, tell us why, given the ever burgeoning convention calendar, we should choose “Something Bloody Awesome” this year as the one to hit.
James Lundy: Well, if you’re Scottish I can appeal to your sense of Nationality and ask that you support an event which is being held in Edinburgh. If you are from anywhere else in the world, geographically Edinburgh is very easy to travel to via trains, planes or automobiles. Also, due to things like the Edinburgh Festival, there are plenty of cheap hotels and guest houses, so finding somewhere suitable to stay won’t be expensive.
If you love comics and sci-fi, first glance will confirm that we already have an impressive array of comic, tv and film guests. Among our guests, we have a first time exclusive for a European convention with Leonardo Manco attending, and there will also be a Metal Hurlant presence at the show, but that’s enough about that for the moment.
In addition we have other activities going on, such as panels and cosplay competitions. Regarding cosplay, members from official costuming groups such as the Rebel Legion will be present throughout the weekend.
It’s a family friendly show, and as long as they’re accompanied with a paying adult, admission for children 12 and under is 100% FREE. This makes it a very affordable alternative day out, which I for one would have preferred over going to some castle or farm yard anyday.
CCUK: Many thanks for the interview.