Tuesday, 26 May 2015

London MCM - Wow.

This year's London MCM had grown into a three day event in an attempt to cater for the huge demand that it has seen in recent years. Last year they added a half day Friday but it wasn't very well attended and so had poor sales. We decided to trust the organisers however and still looked to make the best of the opportunity and be there for all three days.
We also decided that we'd try two tables this time.
We are struggling to get all of the stock on a single table these days and this means that there's really no space for the little extras, like the Lego figures that we've modified for each book, which always get interest from the children passing, but are usually left under the table.
Colin, Scott and Chris took the car down on Thursday, full of boxes of comics and I traveled down with my daughter Jemma on Friday, midday to get the cheaper train tickets. I'd decided to take a large percentage of  Gary Crutchley's great WesterNoir sketches with me, giving Colin only five made up Sketchpacks.
We'd only just arrived in London, at around 1pm, and Colin was texting me to say that he needed more sketches, he'd sold all the packs.
This was a very good start and an encouraging sign.
The queuing at the event seemed to be managed much better than last year and pretty soon Jemma and I were meeting Colin at the entrance and getting our passes.
Colin took the opportunity to show me Accent UK on the Comic Village index board, which was a worryingly large list of very talented and creative people...
and then he took us to our tables.
The tables looked great, and the first thing I did was get the WesterNoir sketches out and start building more sketchpacks.
It wasn't incredibly busy but we did have a good number of customers and putting my boxes of Accent UK Lego characters on the table certainly drew people in. We had a lot of fun helping kids identify the characters on the comics.
I also took the time on the Friday (as it was clear that the next two days would be incredibly busy) to pop over (I say pop over but it took about 10 minutes to navigate the crowds) and say 'Hi' to Andrew Potts. We'd promised him a set of WesterNoir to read when we chatted with him at the Belfast Airport a few weeks ago. He even offered to pose for a photo with the books and my daughter Jemma.
Friday ended and we'd done pretty well, much better than the half day Friday last year. I wondered if a lot of the people who had chosen Friday were actually the comic readers, looking to avoid the Cosplayers on Saturday and Sunday.
We followed the slow stream of reluctant people leaving the event and made our way to Greenwich, where we'd booked an apartment, sharing with TimeBomb's Steve Tanner. On the way we found what looked like Stig standing in a dock.
Nice to see that they're keeping London nice and clean.
Saturday was actually a quieter start than Friday's had been and I began to wonder if my earlier thought was going to prove to be the case, but I needn't have worried. Then afternoon was hectic. We had repeat customers, friends of repeat customers, a load of new customers and people who were just interested in what we were doing and wanted to chat. We saw some fabulous Cosplays, I particularly like the artistry that goes into the Steampunk costumes, for example Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but Steampunk...
I love the rose in the glass case on her back.
We had a tremendous day. Very tiring but very rewarding and were actually relieved when 6pm came around and with it the announcement that the show was over for the day.
We decided we needed some easy food and stopped off for Fish and Chips and a few beers on the way back to the apartment.
Sunday, I predicted, would be somewhere between the two previous days in terms of how busy we would be and how many books we would sell.
And this proved to be the case.
It's quite odd selling comics to people in Cosplay, but a lot of fun. They are really into the whole dressing up thing, and the atmosphere is really positive. Every costume is acknowledged and it's wonderful to see young kids stand in awe as they see their favourite character walk passed.
Things quietened down in the afternoon, as they invariably do, and as the event drew to a close we realised that we had had our best ever Con.
Highlights for me were ;-
1) The returning customers.
2) The guy who bought issue 1 of Westernoir, only to return about an hour later to buy the rest, having read it whilst having his lunch.
3) The guy who bought Stephenson's Robot #1 on Saturday, without the Tarot card, and came over to me on Sunday to buy the Tarot card, as he enjoyed the comic so much and didn't want to miss out.
4) Seeing Jemma's face when Andrew Potts actually did recognise me and greet me warmly.
5) The number of new customers.
A great Con, looking forward to the next one.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Warrington Market's Comic Con Style Event.

OK, so this was something completely different. The market in Warrington wanted to have a special, themed, market day and had decided to do a Comic theme, as comic book geekdom is the new cool... sorta.
We had absolutely no idea what to expect. No idea how professionally managed, how well advertised and certainly how well attended it would be.
But it was very local and so we thought we'd have a punt.
Well, truth be told, Colin did. I was less keen.
Well, we found a table with our name on it, which was a very good start and within minutes (we're old hands at this now) the table was set up and we could go for a wander and seek out a cup of tea.
We were quite surprised by the variation of the stalls setting up around us, and on talking to the stall holders found that they, like us, had absolutely no idea how the day would go.
As people started coming in at 10am, we began to realise that the people of Warrington had decided to come and see what a Comic Con was all about, and we got pretty busy.
Although there were a decent number of comic fans, a lot of our customers were people who, I sensed, had no idea that there were comics outside of Marvel and DC. Some bought a comic just to see what a small independent publisher could produce but a lot bought one as they wanted to try something different. A lot of people expressed dismay at the way DC and Marvel constantly changed continuity and reinvented their respective universes.
As they day progressed the people just kept on coming in.
One old lady asked us what was going on as she hadn't seen the market this busy since the good old days, I doubt very much that she bought anything but the site of the hustle and bustle certainly brought back fond memories and made her smile. Let's hope the Market holds more themed events like this.
So... there were no stars as such, although we did meet a local celebrity...
the host of Granada TV's Lost Treasures stopped by for a chat, but people were dressed up in as their favourite characters and the queue for a photo in the home-made X-Wing fighter was stunning. The whole thing had a great family atmosphere, more so than any Comic Con I've been to before. People were there to enjoy themselves and that's just what they did.
The event ended at 4pm, as billed, and we looked at the remaining stock and realised we'd done pretty well, and as we discussed the day over a larger we agreed we'd had a really enjoyable day.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by for a chat, let's hope the event is repeated.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Next weekend Accent UK hit Warrington Market.

A bit of a surprise for us, we've been invited to attend the first Warrington Comic Con Style event which takes place next Saturday. It's not going to be your typical Comic Con, there are no famous artists attending (that I'm aware of anyway), but it should be fun.
From a comic-in-development perspective Matt Soffe (our regular colourist for the WesterNoir covers) is in the process of adding his magic touch to the Carnival Master back story for Stephenson's Robot issue 2. Illustrated by WesterNoir co-creator Gary Crutchley and written by Jon Ayre, the issue will be printed a little later in the year. Here's a sample...
And if that isn't enough, the cover of Tales Of WesterNoir issue 2 is now complete, colours again by Matt, and is with Andy Bloor for his design touches. This will also be printed a little later in the year, but it's nice to have these things ready and waiting.
this issue will focus on Jim Wilson...

Monday, 4 May 2015

MCM Belfast Comic Con.

This year's Belfast MCM was both our and the organiser's second event in Belfast.
We arrived with heavy bags on Friday, setting up that evening to save us from the normal Saturday morning convention rush, and pretty much everything went to plan. That's one of the good things about going somewhere you've been before, you know where everything is, how best to get there and you start to build a rapport with the event organisers.
We had set everything up in no time and then had the usual quick look around those other stalls that had also set up early. The first thing to strike us was that the Comic Village hadn't grown since last year, which was great for us as it meant less competition. The second was that,of the stalls already set up, very few were actually selling comics. Again great news for us, if it remained the case.
It was nice to wander back to the hotel with only hand luggage thrown over our backs, and even nicer that even these bags were free of comic books and therefore a lot lighter.
Saturday found us not suffering particularly from the Guinness we'd consumed the night before, and within minutes we were ready for action. The rain (which seems to be as typical of Belfast as it is of Manchester) wasn't putting people off as the queue we walked passed on the way into the venue was building nicely.
The Advance Ticket holders entered at it began to feel busy, and then the normal ticket holders surged in and it was really busy.
There were a lot more Cosplayers this year, and the atmosphere felt typical of the MCMs we've been to, everybody was there to have fun.
Saturday proved to be busy all day and we exceeded last year's Saturday total, which was great.
WesterNoir was out best selling title, with a number of readers taking up to offer to get a free Gary Crutchley sketch when purchasing all 5 issues. We had a number of customers return after last year's Con to buy more issues of the title, and I think being at the Con a second time gave them confidence that they'd be able to pick up future titles as we intend to return next year as well.
All titles sold pretty well though and by the end of the day a couple of them had sold out.
That's the problem when you can't drive to a Con. You have to make tough decisions on how many copies of each book you take, and no matter how carefully you plan one things is certain, you'll never get it right.
Sunday was much quieter however, which isn't usual for an MCM in our experience.
We still had some interesting and interested customers
but sales where much lower than Saturday's.
The highlight in terms of sales was the guy who rushed over to pick up issues 2 and 3 of WesterNoir, having picked up a copy of issue 1 on Saturday.
And then it was over.
Overall, we hadn't sold as many books as last year but we'd sold a good number and had a great time.
We will return.
The weekend didn;t end there though and at the airport we got chatting with Andrew Lee Potts (of Primeval fame). We talked TV, directing and comics. A thoroughly nice bloke who will be at the London MCM event promoting his new web series, Wireless, which he described to us as being 'like Knight Rider but where the car has been replaced by a very attractive woman'. I think I might need to check that out. If you'd like to do so too then you can find it at www.wirelessweb.london
A great weekend, looking forward to a repeat next year.