Saturday, 30 June 2012

Glasgow Comic Con 2012

The front of house staff?
It was over to the west today for the second Glasgow Comic Convention. A small but fun affair, the big name guests included Alan Grant, Jim Starlin, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. I missed Grant's chat, but enjoyed Starlin on stage with ComX publisher Eddie Deighton and Tank Girl artist Rufus Dayglo, talking about cosmic comics. Starlin was sanguine about Marvel not bothering to tell him about his creation, Thanos, appearing in the Avengers film; the charming Deighton suggested we take a look at the appeal page for the proposed Jack Kirby Museum; and Dayglo spoke of turning down Vertigo jobs due to their unoriginality while effing rather a lot for an event with several little kids present.
Where's Wally? Vulcan!
Quitely and Morrison spoke about how they began working together on such revered titles as Earth 2, We3, X-Men and All-Star Superman. Quitely said: "If it's a choice between working with Grant or some other writer then I go with Grant because he's the best." The ever-genial Morrison looked rather touched. Talking a little about his long-promised Multiversity project for DC, Morrison said the nine-issue series would re-establish the DC multiverse, and feature the likes of the Society of Super-Beings, the Master Men and the Just. One of the issues, Pax Americana, will be a collaboration with Quitely featuring the Charlton characters, and as Blue Beetle, Nightshade, Captain Atom and co inspired Watchmen, Morrison said he'd be taking his structural cues from that project, 'because nobody has really done anything with it'. This means an eight-panel - not nine - grid structure 'based on harmonics' (I have no idea what this means, but it'll likely bemuse me as much as Superman's singing did in Infinite Crisis).
Is this a Clea shot of Dr Strange?
The moment that really grabbed me was Morrison revealing that there'll be communication between worlds via comic books - characters on individual earths will be considered fictional in the others, with seven publishers across the multiverse telling their adventures. I love that he's going right back to the Flash's debut in 1956's Showcase #4, when Barry Allen was reading the adventures of Jay Garrick. "It's a bit of a puzzle box," said Morrison of the project's structure.
The Hobbit was negatively criticised for his smooth feet
The costume contest proved fun, with Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and the inevitable Dr Who. The winner was Eclipso (Jean Loring version), in a fantastic home-made outfit. Other favourites included Spider-Scotsman, the Black Cat and Dr Strange.
Black Cat, Spider-Scotsman and 'Mr Batman'
The contest organisation could have done with a bit of sharpening up - a bunch of wrestlers were cluttering up the stage, and when they broke into a pretend fight, no one could see it for the contestants; and blaring DC New 52 style grunge rock music drowned out much of the chat.
Eclipso steps into the light
Like last year, there were a few organisational problems, chief among them, the fact that the venue - the beautiful, Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Queen's Cross Church in Maryhill - is ruddy awful for a convention. Yes, the pews mean there's lots of seating for panels, but the acoustics are terrible and for some reason the organisers haven't bothered to hire cheap roving mics. So unless the person next to you is asking the question, you've no chance of knowing what the guests on stage think they're asking.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Obviously
Plus, the space is basically the old church nave, a couple of rooms for selling comics and toys, and two tiny toilets. Some small press folk are shoved into dark corners. Refreshments are sold, from a titchy kitchen, but there's nowhere to just hang out. And the narrow aisles ensure you're constantly being elbowed. An extra hall over the road this year means there's space for more vendors and artist signings, but that too was chockablock with people. 
Harley Quinn (who lunched with us in a nearby cafe!) and Poison Ivy
I'm not ungrateful, I appreciate that a lot of effort goes into organising a con - chums of mine ran UKCAC and GlasCAC for years - and I did enjoy the day. But as last year, the chaos of the venue didn't encourage me to stay and spend money. Mind, it could be that the organisers appreciate that there's room for improvement, selling me this fine shirt ...
Suck it in, boy
I'll definitely be back at Glasgow Comic Con next year (if this post doesn't get me barred), but if the event could be held at one of Glasgow's universities, or a dedicated meeting venue, things would be much better.

12 comments:

  1. It was a super day and I loved listening to Grant Morrison, Quitely and Jim Starlin amongst others.

    The costume contest was great too, so many people had put a lot of effort in.

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  2. "based on harmonics" - that pretty much sums up what I dislike about Morrison's writing. He can come up with fantastic ideas and then they get bogged down in style over substance. I like some of his stuff, don't get me wrong, but all too often he seems more concerned with the structure of his tale rather than the story itself - Final Crisis being a case in point.

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    1. Darn, I was hoping you would be explaining things to me, Gary!

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  3. At £12.50 to get in, I decided to give it a miss. I'd only have been interested in acquiring back issues so nearly £15 for the privilege seems a bit steep. It's like Sainsbury's charging an entrance fee so that you can spend money in their shop. Yeah, I understand the 'stars' expenses have to be covered, but if it comes down to hearing creators waffle on about their future plans or buying a couple of old comics, then (for me) the comics win hands-down every time.

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  4. It's a good job you didn't go, then, Kid - apart from the boxes of 50p comics from the Nineties, things seemed to be overpriced. I saw one 100-page DC Super-Spectacular priced at 45 quid!

    I reckon I got my money's worth in terms of an entertaining day, I loved the costume contest and it was good to hear the guests.

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  5. Glad you had a good day in Glasgow, you got me all nostalgic with your mention of UKCAC.
    I used to go to the ones in London with my son we would stay for the full two days, and stay in some cheap student digs to cut the cost down.
    I think the last one I went to was in Manchester in around 98 or 99, after that it moved to Bristol so we stopped going, good memories.

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    1. I went to the Bristol one, that was the first time I came across a Travelling Man shop. Oh, how I love Travelling Man.

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  6. Sounds like you had a good time, one and all. I havent been to a comic-con for some seven years, due to work constraints [i.e. actually having a job, lol!]. I would stand in line for up to two hours for autographs, mainly on art books they worked on, not the actual comics as they seemed more appreciative of that.
    Spending £15 isnt so unusual...or recent. As far back as the late 80s we here 'oop north' would pay anything from that to £25 for a two-day ticket over a weekend to attend a comic-con, most of the proceeds going to Amnesty International or some other such terrorist supporting charity [oh, little bit of 80s satire there, Ben Elton would be so proud] until the attendees would wise up and insist the price be brought down. They were well attended by all sorts, from the early appearances of Frank Quietly to Dez Skinn to Fraser Hines from Emmerdale Farm [we got all the high-flyers]. Also good places to pick up that model kit you couldnt get thru mail order or that obscure comic-book that one needed to complete ones collection. Bliss unbound.
    I never participated in any costume contest but the ones I saw were extremely well made, everything from a bearded man dressed as Romana from Dr.Who, Mary Tamm version [once seen, never forgotten - despite the effort] and fat Supermen, short Supermen, every iteration of Supermen inbetween. The pictures you post here show a fine selection of costumes and masks; the Harley Quinn one is especially good. I think the facemask on the last man needs a bit of work, however; he looks a trifle bloated[!].

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    1. Love the memories.

      I won't love them so much when I dream about a hirsute Mary Tamm.

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  7. I was in town for ten days and yet I didn't know about this! I'm collecting 100-page Super-Spectaculars but not at that price!
    The last time I was in the church, it was to read a poem at a wedding. I have heard it's been the location for comics-related events in the last couple of years.

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