Now entering its fourth year, the London Super Comic Convention is, for many true comic fans, the ‘go-to’ convention on the calendar. Often pitched against the smaller but more indie-friendly Thought Bubble, LSCC has carved out a bit of a niche for attracting the international guests that smaller conventions can’t manage. Events of a similar size still can’t get over the film and TV attractions that take precedent over the comic con aspect, often tagging comics on as a last minute thought, leaving LSCC as the main capital attraction for comic aficionados.
This year, LSCC expanded. Perhaps it needed to to make up some middle ground of its competitors. There are after all, a finite amount of true comic fans to draw from, so the only real way to expand is to bring in some of the attractions that draw in the larger crowds of the MCM and Showmasters events. Something that was played at last year, was highlighted this year as a major attraction. The cosplay element was not merely tolerated, it was encouraged by naming cosplayers alongside comic creators as major attractions. You got John Romita Jr? I raise you Yaha Han. The cosplay was wide, varied and interesting and did brighten up the event.
There can be no questioning the quality of creators though. JR JR, Ed McGuiness, Brian Bolland, Lee Bermejo, Simone Bianchi, Mark Brooks…the list went on. A great list for comic fans for sure, particularly the fans of the big two powerhouses. The presence of Avatar was reinforced by the legendary Garth Ennis. Charlie Adlard was present again, although a frequent addition to the UK comic convention scene doesn’t seem to diminish his popularity any. Management of the signings and queues in general has improved hugely over the years too, you can tell real thought and planning has been put into every detail. It’s refreshing and something Thought Bubble could definitely learn something from.
The return of Neal Adams again was an odd choice. Starting out at £20 a signature and going upwards meant that many simply didn’t want to bother. The money invested in bringing his machine over would have been far more wisely spent on three or so more top creators in the line-up. Stan Lee will be ingrained the memory of many a punter, Adams just doesn’t have the same universal pull that Lee has.
Sketches are proving more and more controversial. What started out as tapping up some of the artists for freebies or a quick £20 head sketch has become anything up to a £600, one a day commission for some of the artists. Many punters are starting to not bother with something they have enjoyed chasing for years, either because they can’t afford them or simply cannot beat the ultra-committed to the front of the queue. One comment directly to myself from the event was “[we] just can’t compete with the guys wanting to pay the money, we’ve been priced out of something we’ve enjoyed for many years” which is a shame. Another comment highlighted the fact that these artists were so involved in commissions, that they simply had no time to stop and chat with the average punter, something again enjoyed for a long time by lots of regulars.
Exhibitors in general reported a drop in sales and some lean times during the two days. One suggested that a one-day event would be more than enough, something I was inclined to agree with but then you wouldn’t get the guests so it’s double-edged.
This event was, for sure, the ultimate comic fan event. You can argue Thought Bubble back at me, possibly the Lakes event, maybe even the ambitious NICE for punching well above its weight, but I do believe for sheer numbers, quality and diversity, the guest list for LSCC is very tough to beat. There were times when it felt really vibrant and exciting. There were times when it just died. There were more people less inclined to spend overall and more retailers wanting your cash.
It was a real mixture of some real highs and lows this year and I think that LSCC 2016, should it happen, will be prove to be their difficult second album.