Melksham Comic Con proves there’s life in the smaller conventions yet

As a site, we’ve been tracking this one since it was first announced.  There’s a danger that we can be a bit biased towards the smaller conventions but this isn’t true, I think we all agree here that LSCC and Thought Bubble are top contenders for convention of the year and they certainly don’t come much bigger than LSCC.  Truth is though, we do like the smaller conventions, especially when so much time and effort has been put in place by the organisers to make the day a worthwhile visit.  For sure, the London MCM Expo was on the same weekend with an excellent lineup, but they didn’t need our support this time round, they have that event pretty sewn up and reports from friends said it was excellent so we trust in their judgement.

Barry Kitson Sketching

Barry Kitson drawing a Ms Marvel

The Bristol Expo was excellent in our opinion, but trade was down, thought by many anecdotally as the result of a lack of marketing, especially in a year where the Avengers (Assemble!) was released and interest is probably at something of a high.  Melksham in contrast to Bristol would have fit into Brunel’s Shed easily 10 times over, or perhaps about one half of artists alley at LSCC to give you an idea of the size of the event.  This though did little to deter the organisers who used the space exceptionally well.  They also got a really good balance of traders and guests, managing to entice the ever excellent Barry Kitson, John Watson and Mike Collins to the event as artists, the ever likeable and down-to-earth Paul Cornell and then crammed in some Star Wars actors to boot.  This was all interspersed nicely with independent small press and a good mixture of commercial traders selling everything from American candy to the latest comics to fancy cushions.  Imagine something along the lines of Bristol scaled down perfectly and you’ll get a good picture of what it was like.  There was of course the usual cosplay and some genius with R2-D2 type droids (and an R5 unit if memory serves me correctly from my youth) entertaining the crowd along with panels in a separate room, all well attended and all went down very well indeed.

R2 at the Melksham Comic Con

That astromech droid

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We got the distinct impression that lots of attendees were first timers to this sort of event, possibly spurred on by local curiousity and the previously mentioned Avengers doing well at the box office to come along and see what was going on.  A Stormtrooper out on the street may well also have piqued the curiousity of passers by.  This is of course a good thing though and good sales were reported by the likes of Stuart at UKComics (http://www.ukcomicscreative.co.uk/) who was promoting and selling independently produced small press books.  We love comics and the industry, any positive promotion that sustains the industry is a good thing in our opinion and it was heart warming to see so many youngsters in attendance.

Melksham Comic Con

The Melksham Comic Con

For a first time out, it felt really well organised and definitely seemed well attended.  The staff were all helpful and enthusiastic and seemed to want to do the best for the event.  The venue was easy to find, easy to park and suited the purpose really well.  Supplementing the comic based stuff was face painting and incredible balloon shaping going on keeping both the kids and the adults happy.  There’s not much in Melksham so how it sustains a comic shop is a pretty amazing feat too!  It was busy without being crammed, well laid out with a huge screen at one end and an easily navigable stall layout which made trying to negotiate the venue with a buggy or a young child in tow a breeze.  It was comfortable, friendly, focussed and rewarded the hard work put in by Hayley and her team and for that reason, we definitely want to see it happen again next year.  Well done.

Barry Kitson Iron Man sketch

A Barry Kitson special