More pictures to come and/or check out my Flickr.
After staying in Crayford with pals Jamie and Sarah, they drove me to fellow podcaster (Geek Syndicate)/rogue/awesome bud Dave Monteith's spot in South London on Friday afternoon. Shortly after arriving, we headed out to Forbidden Planet in central London as there was a big comic book signing going on. Friends Becky Cloonan and the Kill Shakespeare boys Andy Belanger, Anthony Del Col, and Conor McCreery were part of it. Also big guns Jock, Scott Snyder and Trevor McCarthy were signing too. Afterwards, we went off to the famed Phoenix bar/club where tons of comic folks already were hanging and drinking. And boy did the spot fill up with comic book folks! Marvel's Joe Quesada and C.B. Cebulski attended along with the likes of Charlie Adlard, Paul Cornell, Tony Lee, and sooooo many more. It was sort of the pre-Kapow drink up. I met lots of other cool folks as well. Bit of a time getting back to Dave's home late at night, but we made it! Don't know why London tubes stop around 1am. Alas. Bed at 3:30 a.m.
Saturday morning, I arrived at Kapow Con at the Business Design Center in London around 11:00 a.m. It was already teeming with my fellow nerds and the vibe was well...vibrant! I had several interviews lined up for the weekend, but many I just wanted to discover on my own. I like to walk around the show floor and see what catches my eye and if it interests me, then interview the creators. I found a lot! It was a great set up on the main mezzanine floor. The "artist alley" bit was on the 2nd level and not all in a row due to design of the center itself. So you had about 6 tables in little cul de sacs going down the left side of the center. I talked to several of the cartoonists with tables and a few said it hurt traffic while others said they made out like gangbusters. It was a good variety of both big names and small press/indie creators up there. On the ground floor was a wrestling ring (you'll hear about that later) and a stage where they did interviews. I liked the stage interviews as it gave people a chance to stand around and listen to creators/actors/etc. talk about their work.
After my walkabout and saying hi to numerous pals exhibiting, I met up with good pal/fellow podcaster Barry Nugent (also of Geek Syndicate) and we headed over to the VIP drinks reception being held about 5 minutes away.
As we entered the bar, I saw Frankie Boyle coming out. If you don't know, he's a well known (and I find hilarious though some think controversial/insulting) comedian in the UK. He's also been writing a comic that has appeared in Clint Magazine. We had been in touch before to meet up and do an interview. So, as I serendipitously ran into him, he said, "Do you want to do the interview now?". After agreeing, we walked off to grab some lunch and I invited Barry along for the ride. Pleasant to find out Frankie is a proper comics nerd and we chatted a lot about it. We also delved into his comedian life as I was also interviewing him for Stated Magazine. Super nice guy though rest assured that he still brought the insult comedy. Which we loved! We chatted for about an hour and I'll release that as a podcast soon as well as put up an interview on Stated at some point. Thanks to Frankie for his time and for buying us lunch.
After that great start to the show, I walked about some more and grabbed some interviews. Not too many this day as I planned many more on the next. I always like to get an idea of where everyone is and then grab them the next day. Also, gives me a chance to do a bit of research on them if I have time.
A bit later, I ran into my bud Jonathan Ross (is it name dropping if you are friends?) and chatted with him for a bit. We made plans to meet up later and I was heading off until he told me he was going to be doing some wrestling. You read that right. Some wrestling. There was a wrestling ring at the entrance where the Lucha Britannia Wrestling group held matches all day. Gotta say, it was pretty fun to watch.
I went back over with Jonathan and waited for his bit. It was pretty funny. El Bastardo held up a comic of JR's comic "America's Got Powers" and started insulting the comic crowd. And then ripped it in half. Wossy jumped in the ring and they went at it! The crowd started chanting "Wossy! Wossy! Wossy!". Don't believe me? Check it!
Pretty awesome stuff! After the "match", we decided to call it a day and head over to the Hilton for drinks. Everyone from the con was there and we all drank a few and chatted much. It is funny when you hang with someone so well known and watching people react to them. Some were losing their shit! Of course, Jonathan is the nicest guy around and super generous and fun. (Thanks for the drinks!). I went off to dinner with a big group of friends including Emma Vieceli, Andrew Ruddick, Marc Ellerby, Adam Cadwell, Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and others. Good food, good convo, good times. Back to the Hilton for more shenanigans and drinks and home by 2am.
Sunday started a bit earlier and we got to the con by 10am. I was scheduled to meet Jonathan then to do an actual interview. Due to schedules, it got pushed back a couple of times. As did mine with Mark Millar. Still, I went about rushing to get more. And boy did I get them! I didn't realize the show ended at 3:30 which I thought was too early. 5pm would have been perfect. All of my English pals said it was "tea time". I did a ton of interviews with creators from SelfMadeHero. A great UK publisher that is putting out some amazing graphic novels. So many interviews that I'll be releasing a SMH special podcast later in the week.
I serendipitously ran into Jimmy Carr whom I really wanted to interview. He was with Frankie Boyle as they were doing a panel later. He was very kind but declined the interview as his missus was ill and he had to get back. Then he went into comedy mode and said, "Don't mean to be a dick. Not interested so piss off." Ha! Of course, he was kidding and told it in typical Carr fashion. Still, would love to have chatted with him. Maybe next trip!
And finally, after much delay and rescheduling, I was able to grab Mr. Kapow Con himself Mark Millar after the show ended. He's always been lovely to me and remembers when we first met in NYC all those years ago. We sat for about 15 minutes and chatted about the show, comics, movies and more. After that, it was over! Back to the Hilton for more drinks and good-byes.
Oh, I should mention the panels! There were some awesome ones for sure, but I only popped my head into a few of them for about 15-20 minutes at a time due to interview schedules. I went to the beginning of the Independent comics panel. Which seemed a bit unbalanced. No disrespect meant, of course. It seemed like it was originally supposed to be a panel for a specific indie anthology but then a few established indie/mainstream creators (Kate Brown, Becky Cloonan and Emma Vieceli) were thrown on it at the last minute. Some even joked about it. In all reality (again, no disrespect), I would have loved to have seen a panel with just Kate, Becky and Emma as the 3 of them are so engaging, smart and funny.
I almost forgot to show you my stash as well! I didn't pick up too much as many books I had already gotten at the previous week's Bristol Expo. Plus, I got handed a few as well. Thanks to all! Can't wait to get my eyeballs reading them.
I know there was some controversy with this show. But I have to say, it was quite well run. Kudos to Lucy and Sarah. I met them early on Saturday and they were quite good to me and helped get me in touch with some interviewees and were helpful with any other info I needed.
For the record, I got the following interviews over the weekend: Dave Barris, Emily Lockwood, Scott Mackay (Electric Man film), Frankie Boyle, Gary Erskine, Gemma Bedea, Lee Fenton Wilkinson (Afroella), John McCrea (and son Kirby), Jonathan Ross, Mark Millar, Neil Gibson (Twisted Dark), Rasheed, Tayo Olarewaju (Mister Who), Steve Tanner (Time Bomb Comics) and the many SelfMadeHero creators like Anthony Hope Smith, Will Bingley (Gonzo), Dan Lockwood (Lovecraft Editor), - JAKe (Hellraisers), Kate Brown (Fish & Chocolate), and I.N.J. Culbard (Charles Dexter Ward). Expect these interviews to go up this week!
Overall, I had a great time and felt it was a really well run show. Did it have a stumble or 2? Sure. But everyone I chatted with seemed to have a good time. You can't knock the enthusiasm felt in the con at all times. I'd definitely love to come back next year if I can.
Great to see everyone there and apologies for not mentioning everyone but I'm gonna name a few that I hung/drank with on numerous occasions! (In no particular order)...first off, mad props/thanks to David/Siobhan Monteith for letting me stay with them all weekend into next. Emma and Doug (SelfMadeHer0), 2000AD boys, C.B. Cebulski, Jonathan Ross, Frankie Boyle, Emma Vieceli, Andrew Ruddick, Kate Brown, Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, Anthony Del Col, Barry Nugent, Sophie Calder (Titan Books), Emma Price, Marc Ellerby, Adam Cadwell, Gary Erskine, Lee Bradley, John McCrea, Cat Collins, Mark Millar, Sarah Unwin, Lucy Unwin, GM Jordan, Nabil, Lisa and Clark (Thought Bubble), and the beat goes on!
I'm sure I've forgotten some. If I met you and gave you my card, please drop me an email to follow up as I'll be having lots of catching up to do when I return to NYC on Tuesday. Unless I find a beautiful and nice British girl who'll marry me, take me in and help me find work. I've got 2 days. It could happen.
Check out the Kapow Con recap podcast! Episode 404 is here!