Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Swindon Film and Comic Con 2017 review

Lightsabers in the mist at Swindon Comic Con

Just back from Swindon Film and Comic Con 2017. Since some people there said they actually read my blog, here’s a quick recap.

I didn’t go with the ray of sunshine that is John Watson this year, my brother-in-law Keegan came to help instead, so there won’t be a Watson counter-blog contradicting the events in mine. Don’t worry though, we are going to LSCC together this year and that’s guaranteed to be 3 days of solid hilarity.

Swindon. I’m still not quite sure where it is, but I drove to Hull first to pick up Keegan then down the M1 and veered off right to Swindon, so it’s somewhere West of London. Swindon has more roundabouts than cars, including one giant roundabout that had five little roundabouts inside it. Once you enter the labyrinth of roundabouts, it’s very easy to spend a couple of days just driving round around in never-ending circles. It’s a miracle anyone ever leaves, I imagine some people just run out of petrol driving around and around and just abandon their cars and set up rudimentary settlements on the grass circles inside the roundabouts. With the help of my co-pilot Keegan though, I did manage to find the convention. For the second year, the event was held at the Steam Railway Museum, so if you like trains and comic conventions (and who in their right mind doesn’t?) this was a pretty great combination.

Now I like Swindon Comic Con, there are so many film/tv/sci-fi/comic conventions in the UK now, this one does stand out as different, in a good way. For an independent convention outside London, it has way more guests than you would expect, with an emphasis on TV and film, but still a decent number of writers and artists, not to mention quite a lot of wrestlers. They also have a real emphasis on raising money for charity, with several causes benefitting.

It catered really well for all ages with things like a Princess area for little girls, with several Disney princesses sat in zones where the kids could chat to them and have photos taken. 


There was a Virtual Reality gaming area, a Jedi academy and various zones with models from Dr Who and Star Wars. Outside they had loads of cars and props from movies. So, if you were bringing little ones, it wasn’t just rows of tables, and this obviously worked because I’d say I saw more families wandering round at this con than any other I’ve been to.

We drove down Friday night, and bought the world’s most expensive drink in the hotel bar before we retired for the night. We arrived too late to set up Friday, instead getting up early and driving 5 minutes down the road to STEAM – the Museum of the Great Western Railway. The artists and authors were all lining a wide corridor in front of a beautiful old steam train, while the TV/Film stars and merchandising were in the main hall. So I didn’t really spend much time hobnobbing with celebs, although Chris Barrie did walk past on the way to the toilet and Martin Roberts had a brief chat as he walked by.

Actually, I say that, but one other thing Swindon Comiccon does quite well is integrate guests and punters in the after party. For a separate ticket, people can attend an after party, where all the guests are invited. It’s held in some sort of social club/village hall. They had food, a DJ, a charity auction and raffle, and it was a nice chance to have a proper chat with people. It was also slightly surreal seeing actors from Red Dwarf and Eastenders doing the Macarana with a couple of Zombies. Barry Britain from Britain’s Got Talent provided some entertainment too, I’m not quite sure what it was he did, I felt like I missed it, maybe I was at the bar, he seemed like a friendly chap though.

Saturday was busy in the main hall but quite quiet for us, but the organisers made an effort to fix this with extra signage and more doors open and it really picked up on the Sunday.

In the main hall they had most of the remaining actors from ‘Allo ‘Allo and George and Mildred, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Trevor and Simon, Hannah Spearitt and Andrew Lee Potts from Primeval, a ton of Star Wars supporting actors and several wrestlers. Something for everyone really, which is where Swindon excelled, it did it’s best to provide a good day out for people and it showed on the faces of the people attending and the atmosphere of the whole weekend. People had a good time. As a last minute guest they also actress Rosie Jane, who plays new companion Bill Pott’s Mum in Dr Who, a nice addition from a very recent show.

I spent most of my time at my table, sketching and agreeing with people who pointed out how talented I am, so didn’t really get chance to speak to many of the other guests properly. I always forget to take photos of sketches, although last year I did take quite a few. It's such a shame because I know John Watson enjoys seeing them. I do have one of a Batman I did for a little boy though. At least you can tell it's Batman.


In the Author’s and Artist’s alley there were some familiar faces, Dr Who artist Grant Perkins, Lee Townsend, Lee Bradley and his enormous stand, and some new ones. Nathan Pegler has some rather nice pastel art, unusual to see an artist doing sci-fi images in pastels, Keegan bought a print of a Borg cube that he did.

On the table next to me was Basil Waite and an entourage of several followers. They just made me feel old bouncing around singing and getting excited about absolutely everything, but it was nice to see their enthusiasm and cheerfulness.

As usual, I forgot to take many photos, so thankyou to Keegan for sending me some. An old friend, Stewart, was there with his two boys and he kindly sent me a photo of me where I look like I’m asleep at my table.

Russ Payne swindoncomiccon

At least two people, yes TWO, at Swindon mentioned they read this blog. So hello to both my readers. As usual, there were some pretty impressive Cosplayers, not least of which some 8 foot tall transformers and the lady Chronic with her baby Bluntman.


On the Sunday we walked in with Jet from Gladiators, who I didn’t recognise despite the fact she hasn’t aged since 1992. As I said, much busier the second day and I did a ton of sketches for people. Keegan is a budding artist too and did a few sketches on the fly too, this was his Deadpool and Groot. I expect he will receive a call from Marvel any moment now.

Keegan's Deadpool and Groot

Thanks to Skywalkers Promotions, Luke and all the other organisers/staff/helpers/guests for doing such a great job, and everyone who came to my table to buy stuff, get sketches and have a chat. If you live anywhere near Swindon, I’d wholeheartedly recommend giving Swindon Comic Con a try next year.

My next Convention is next weekend in Trafford, Manchester, the Trafford Park Comiccon. I’ll be giving a talk on Jack Kirby, come along if you can!

After Trafford I'm having July off to finish the book I'm writing with John Watson (see his latest blog), then I have the following guest appearances in August-

6th August 2017
Hull Comiccon

12th August 2017
Blackpool Comic Con

25th to 27th August 2017
London Super Comic Convention

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