The lack of a London Super Con in 2018 left quite a big hole in the Con calendar and the early guest list from the brand-new Portsmouth event looked like it was going to fill the gap. However, lots of prospective great guests seemed to be pulling out of the event in the months leading up to it, although great credit to Joel and his team as they kept on repeatedly plugging the gaps with comparable guests. Also, great to see the near total reliance on comic guests with a mere sprinkling of the dreaded TV and film people.
Arriving at the Con on the Saturday morning, it was great to see a long queue developing from very early. It was obvious this was going to be a well-attended event. The doors opened and everyone headed for the Walt Simonson queue which within 20 minutes already covered half the length of the signing area. It was also obvious that Walt was going to be busy all weekend. A huge number of other great guests were mostly at their tables from early on, so the signing area was extremely busy.
Besides Walt, there was also Rafael Albuquerque, the marvellous Louise Simonson, Dave Dorman, Gene Ha, Shawn Martinbrough, Cully Hamner, Philip and Shelly Bond, a nice group of USA Star Wars artists, plus a super collection of Brits headed up by Frank Quitely, Rob Williams and Sean Philips. A marvellous collection of guests, all of whom (bar one) were signed for free. Cully Hamner charged per book after a few free which was a great shame as he spent much of the weekend on his own.
I must make special mention of Walt Simonson at this point. He had long queues all weekend but happily signed and sketched for free. He worked nearly the whole of Saturday without a break and looked quite grey and ill by 18.00 on day one. He was back, like the trooper he is, signing again on the Sunday morning. A brilliant guest so kudos to the organisers, and Walt, if you are reading this, a massive thanks from all the fans that saw you over the weekend.
Away from the signing area, the Con was heaving with lots of visitors. Helped by truly superb weather, it was great to see lots of families with loads of kids dressed in costume. Lots of cosplayers and a masterstroke by the organisers to have lots of events happening outside the Guildhall as there were always hundreds of people milling around the shows, exhibitions and food halls. There was a great atmosphere at the event as well which just added to a great weekend.
Another brilliant Con which proved that you don’t have to have signature charging guests or masses of non-comic guests to make a successful event. There was nothing I could fault with the event and for a first-time show, it was excellent in just about every sense. Thanks and congratulations to the organisers and helpers who all made the event what it was… a resounding success! Dates are already announced for 2019 (4th and 5th May) and I’ll be at the front of the queue for that! Promises to be one of the best in the 2019 calendar so my advice is not to miss it!
Article by Peter Brewer, and feature image courtesy of Portsmouth Comic Con (Facebook)