The insanely ambitious London Super Comic Convention fell on us quicker than we could say “Happy New Year”. An event almost six months in the announcing (and we’re sure a great deal more in the organising) aimed to take the successes of their inaugural event last year and build upon them. In short, bringing the US style convention feel to the shores of Blighty was the almost mission statement and the organisers at LSCC set out to do just that.
Now, let’s not mince words here: Stan Lee was going to take some topping. For a first event to be bold enough to bring one of the (if not the) biggest names in comics over to England was nothing short of a logistical miracle. Of course the beauty of Stan is that he does bring that wider appeal along with him. Normal people who would normally never attend such a focused convention actually did, and the numbers last year were absolutely fantastic. This year the attraction was in real comic legends rather than a popular culture phenomenon like Lee as the team brought over some amazing guests from around the world.
Of course, we have to talk about Neal Adams. A true comic book legend spanning decades within the industry. Short of bringing over Ditko (ahem…) or re-animating Kirby, or even getting that ‘I ain’t goin’ on no plane, fool’ Kirkman chappy over, there are few big names that are going to drag the people in like Stan did, yet Adams was a bold move in the right direction. It did turn out that the ‘Adams machine’ was all too familiar with the ‘Lee machine’ and exploited every opportunity possible to lever cash from the consumer. All’s fair in love and cons though and at least he was up front and seemed like a genuinely approachable and funny guy. You really did have to want something from him though, either that or use the official signing sessions to save a few quid.
Adams though, for many, was not necessarily the main attraction. J Scott Campbell and Lee Bermejo were fantastic draws. Herb Trimpe added to the nostalgia and provided many a Wolvie fan with an appropriate sketch. Even Bolland pulled out a sharpie and made a few people happier. Scalero and Mack were producing some amazing pieces for the fans and Bob ‘The Legend’ Layton ploughed on despite looking like he’d been through the mill and back again with his recent illness. David Finch was a lovely, chatty approachable guy and produced some excellent work, while Mike Choi produced some of the real bargains of the day. Klaus Janson proved somewhat elusive though and was difficult to pin down but was a thoroughly nice guy all said and done. The Dan Slott queue was simply amazing. I actually think he’s still there and the queue is still just as long as it was. He’ll be signing until 2014 at the rate he was going. His queue just refused to go down all day, both days. Kudos to him for that. There’s simply too many names to go through, such was the calibre and amount of creators in attendance.
If there was one gripe, it was the queue management at the entrance. The slightly odd (actually, make that abysmal) decision to make everyone form a huge scrum and then pile in almost as the whistle blows for the early entry tickets was entirely the wrong one. All it needed was someone to manage the queue, which given our natural predilection for queuing was always going to be a relatively easy task. Thought Bubble had a single chirpy volunteer Irishman managing twenty times as many people, yet this venue had ten or so supervisors and paid staff that couldn’t grasp a simple concept: One person turns up in front of another, hand out a pass to them in exchange for a ticket, rinse, repeat. There was no fairness or justice for some of the early birds who had beaten everyone to the front by getting up at sparrows fart only then to then be unceremoniously divided, split, moved here, moved there and eventually put on the same keel as others who’d simply sauntered up ten minutes beforehand. Fortunately, the majority of us took it as the comedic mis-happening it was rather than a major gripe but it did smack of dis-organisation, which made for a slightly odd and annoying experience before you even entered the hall.
If there was another gripe to me personally, it is the ever burgeoning prices of sketches by the artists. There were lots of people this year reduced to autograph hunting simply because a sketch would wipe out their entire budget for the weekend. For the dedicated and financially replete, this isn’t an issue, but I did speak with several people who wanted to pick up something nice but were put off by some of the costs the artists were charging. These people are perhaps the more casual fans, but truth be told they made up 75% of the convention guests. Of course, this is entirely outside the organisers hands and won’t just affect this convention but every one this year, and indeed to counter that there were some amazing bargains to be had too if you shopped around (Chris Weston was an absolute legend for instance and Bermejo was incredibly reasonable given the end product).
Once inside, it most definitely wasn’t dis-organised. Last year was managed well for a first event, this year better still. The organisers couldn’t be faulted for a great deal this time round, they seemed to have it all covered and made it a good experience for all. The merchandise stands were a million times better, more interesting and lots easier to get to. The small press was accessible and out in force with the quality just getting better and better all the time. No one seemed to be particularly stuck in a corner somewhere. The central hub was great, with Avatar, Markosia, Zenescope and Top Cow all present representing the best of the independent publishers with 2000AD looking on over the way. Having CGC so accessible was also a master stroke and they did a fantastic job covering the con. The Greek Comicworld contingent was in fine voice and provided some outstanding work and were, as ever, happy to laugh, joke and muck in with everyone around them.
Overall numbers though across the two days seemed to be lower than last year. Of course, only those on the door truly know what the numbers were but it did seem like there were less people. Recession, increasing sketch prices, no Stan Lee…all these things must surely have had an impact on the numbers, it remains to be seen if the organisers will share the information with us and are themselves happy with the event.
In short, it was a thoroughly enjoyable two days. The guests were amazing. The hall great. The merchandise spot on. We met with many friends and made may new ones and if it goes ahead again next year, we’ll be there.
Photos from the event