In the last few weeks I’ve been to two very different conventions, and had a brilliant time at them both.
Thought Bubble, Leeds.
The Cardiff International Comic Expo back in February was my first ever comic convention. I had such a good day that I knew I wanted to go to more comic conventions and had heard lots of good stuff about Thought Bubble so decided that I would go and see what it was like for myself. Over the months between booking my ticket and it finally being time to make the journey up to Leeds I found out that a few online friends were also going to be there and it would be an opportunity to meet in person some of the people I have known online for some time. I spent much of Saturday with Liz and Mark from My Favourite Books, met up with Budgie for a coffee, and briefly met Bevis and bought the only comics of his that I didn’t already own so that now I have a full set.
It’s been a few weeks now, so I’m not going to be going into much detail about what I did and saw walking around the two halls, instead I shall just say that the vast array of comics on offer was pretty amazing. There were so many talented creators there selling comics that would have covered pretty much anybody’s tastes. I could have spent my money five or six times over, so settled for collecting lots of business cards that pointed towards online shops for future splurges. My comics TBR pile is now looking very healthy again and I’m looking forward to some great reading time once I’ve finished my semester 1 assignments and exam. The atmosphere at Thought Bubble was warm and friendly, and I had a really enjoyable weekend. I shall definitely be going back in future years.
Me and my friend Emma are both huge fans of the tv show Leverage so when she discovered that Starfury were going to be doing a Leverage convention we eagerly booked our tickets. The line up got better and better as we got closer to the weekend, with four out of the five main cast members (Gina Bellman, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge and Christian Kane) able to attend. In addition we had one of the co-creators and writers of the show, Chris Downey, and arrived to find Mark Sheppard appearing as an unannounced surprise guest. An added bonus for me was that Christian Kane was going to be bringing along bandmates and buddies including Steve Carlson and Riley Smith, and they were going to be playing a gig on the Saturday night. Kane’s The House Rules is one of my most played CDs of 2011, and I’m a fan of Steve Carlson’s solo music too so this all sounded like a wonderful early Christmas present to myself.
Both Saturday and Sunday started with panels (there were photoshoots going on at the same time but we’ve never gone in for them), these always tend to be entertaining though when there is no moderation of the questions being asked there is always the risk that things can get a little silly or even out of hand. By and large the questions asked were good, interesting ones (I’m thinking of taking a couple and putting them together for a recurring blog feature in 2012) and every person on the stage answered what was asked of them really well. At every convention I’ve been to before there has been one guest who has been a little disappointing, or just not so comfortable with being on the stage answering questions but every single person at Con-1 was utterly brilliant. As Sunday progressed I started to feel increasingly sad with each passing panel that we were getting closer to the end of things – I could have listened to each and every one of them for so much longer.
Something that was a little unexpected but that just made the weekend even better for me was how much discussion there was of writing, both from Chris Downey talking about writing Leverage – his Sunday panel began with him walking the audience through how they write Leverage episodes, and from Christian, Steve and Riley talking about writing music. I came away feeling inspired by them all, and buoyed by the realisation that in general terms writing is writing no matter what the desired end product is.
Saturday’s musical evening was every bit as good as I’d hoped, and probably a bit more. We knew that Life of Riley were going to be playing first but another surprise was that Brian Nutter followed them. He is one of Keith Urban’s guitarists, and a really talented musician – I hope there will be more opportunities in the future to hear him perform. The final act was Christian and Steve along with Brian, and the members of Life of Riley, it was so good to hear so many Kane songs that I love performed live.
Con-2 has already been announced for next November, after having such a good weekend at Con-1 we’re definitely going to be there.