Wednesday, 1 August 2018

London Film and ComicCon 2018 LFCC review

I've done The London Film & Comiccon (LFCC to it's friends) a few times over the years (2015, 2014) but this was the first time I really enjoyed some proper comic and art chat with people. Instead of being the poor second cousin to the TV and Moviestars, it felt like the CC part of LFCC got a proper share of the game for a change. This was probably due to Tony Lee trying a few new things with the Comic Zone, there was a full schedule of free talks very day as well as a "Comic Symposium" and a really decent mix of comic guests from across the board, pro, small-press, writers, artists and right at there start, at tables number one, two and three- Me promoting the Jack Kirby Museum and the lovely people from the London Cartoon Museum.

So, I drove up on Thursday, and stayed at my daughter Chloe's place on the Isle of Dogs, which is quite close to the Excel Exhibition Centre. Unfortunately LFCC was held at the London Olympia, just a convenient hour away on the modern, efficient and air conditioned London Underground. The Olympia is essentially one giant greenhouse, and Friday was one of the hottest days of the year, so by the time I'd set up my table, it was already hotter than the surface of the sun. A very dramatic thunderstorm cracked the sky and cooled the air later on though.

I was there primarily to promote the Jack Kirby Museum, so I'd printed off a large poster that said "If you don't know KIRBY, then you don't know JACK" which served it's purpose in making me visible from a distance and about one in every few hundred attendees made a beeline for the table because of it. I also had a few posters and a bunch of flyers made with a potted history of Jack Kirby and the URL of the museum-

My helper for Friday was Stewart, an old friend and a seriously massive Firefly fan, so his loyalty was divided between me and Jewel Staite. He managed to fit us both in though. (Thanks for the help Stew!) It helped that I didn't charge anything for my photo, so I was cheaper than Jewel, but she was in Firefly a lot more than I was, and possibly slightly prettier.

Russell Payne and Stewart at the London Film and Comic Convention 2018
Stewart, Captain America & Russell
Friday was quiet, but by no means deserted. In previous years LFCC has been mostly casual comic fans, people who like the movies, or wanted an autograph from a stormtrooper, but already I was having chats about Wally Wood, Alex Toth and of course Jack Kirby. It boded well. Friday morning 11am I had a panel with Tim Pilcher and Alison from the Cartoon Museum that the pun loving Tony Lee had called "Dark Knight at the Museum". Not many turned up, to be expected as it was the first panel of the weekend, but had a really enjoyable discussion with Alison and Tim about the role of comic museums. There were solid panels throughout the weekend, and all the comic ones were free.

Dark Knight at the Museum panel
Russell Payne, Alison Brown, Tim Pilcher

Saturday and Sunday were busy. Saturday more so, Saturday was astonishingly busy. Saturday was wall to wall nerds, but in a good way. The queue to walk up the stairs stretched hundreds of metres, so you can imagine how big the Peter Capaldi queue was, it formed in front of my table and was so big it had it's own gravitational field and crossed two timezones. There was a whiff of mass hysteria in the air, but also that nice camaraderie you get when so many people gather together that like the same stuff. I heard one girl scream "We're wearing the same t-shirt!!!" at some random guy wearing the same Avengers shirt as her, she did it with such delight and intensity, you'd think she'd just discovered a long lost brother, not just someone who also shopped at Primark.

The epic Peter Capaldi queue
Had a brief wander round downstairs on Saturday while my helpers for the weekend, Darrell and his daughter Liv, manned my table, and there was barely room to move in the main traders area. I saw two people bickering over a lego figurine, which pretty much sums it up. The Comic Zone was the place to be, busy but not packed, and much friendlier.

A few artists found time to wander over to my table. David Leach, who edited the awesome Jack Kirby Prisoner hardcover artist edition (Titan Books) spotted a couple of the Kirby Prisoner pages I had displayed and came over to talk. Simon Bisley thumbed through the Kamandi and took away a large Captain America Kirby print with a view to possibly painting it, and I had nice chats with Grant Perkins, Mike Collins and others. I said a quick hi to my London Supercon buddy Dan Slott, but he always has a crowd of adoring fans around him. It was a good comic guest lineup, a really good one, a nice mix, there was SO much to see at LFCC,  this year the Comic Zone managed to hold it's own as an area worth visiting, not just an afterthought.

Darrell and a Cyberman. Darrell is the one on the right.

One woman brought her own rug, rolled it out and fell asleep a few metres in front of my table, I admired her ability to kip under any circumstances. It was quiet when I took this photo, but she had a good few hours sleep, at some points people were stepping over her to put things in the bin. I did start to wonder if she was cosplaying as Wee Willie Winkie. I suppose it's entirely possible she had some sort of condition, but either way, her extreme napping was impressive, and the man sat guarding her, presumably her partner, who folded out a chair and sat there for hours calmly watching over her, was an oddly touching example of loyalty and patience.

Aside from Willie, cosplay plays a major part at most comicons now, and LFCC was no exception. People tried to talk to me through rubber masks, giant helmets and in one case, a large foam toothbrush, at least that's what it looked like, it was probably some Manga character. Honorable mentions go to the Monty Python Holy Grail cosplayers, coconut shells and all, Ned Flanders and the Dark Crystal ones, they were all great.

Despite my best efforts, I broke my rule and spent money at LFCC. One essential purchase was Lew Stringers "Pedantic Stan - The Comic Fan" booklet. Very funny and perfect for anyone who goes to Comic cons. I laughed a lot reading it, I wish all funnybooks were this funny.

My other purchase was a page of original Nemesis the Warlock art from David Roach. This was one of those weird, happy co-incidences. David came over to chat about Jack Kirby and offered to scan some original Kirby art and send it to the Museum. I've chatted to David before, but never mentioned to him how much I loved his 2000AD Nemesis work, so I did. He had just recently found a few pages and had them with him, so I went over to look and he slipped a page out of his folder that triggered an eighties flashback, it was the one that had a little Captain Beefheart reference on it, an album cover with "Torque Mask Replica". In 1988, when a teenage me saw this, and subsequently found out about Trout Mask Replica, it directly led to a lifelong obsession with Captain Beefheart. Finding this page now, and having the added bonus of buying it direct from the artist, I couldn't resist. Also, it's a lovely page, David draws Purity Brown like no-one else. It's my new favourite piece of original art. Thanks David. If you're ever at a comic convention, make sure you look through any original art that artists are selling, it's so much better to buy a piece from the creator than it is paying a premium buying it from a third party, where the art has changed hands several times in a speculative market. Live and direct, its always better. Also he signed it on the back "To Russ, David Roach, Fast and Bulbous", fantastic! Here's my new favourite thing-

So all in all, a really good con that far exceeded my expectations, exhausting but well organised, good guests, nice vibe and I got a Nemesis page. Thanks to Tony Lee and his team for doing such a great job, and thanks to Stewart, Liv & Darrell for the assistance and the photos. If regular readers are wondering where John Watson is, he'll be at the NICE convention in a few weeks, see here.

My next comic convention is Hull Comiccon on Saturday 18th August which is FREE this year, with activities, workshops, signings, panels, games & of course cosplay. If you live near near Hull, it's a great free day out for all the family! Come and say hello, or bring a rug and have a nap.

Other LFCC2018 reviews-

Lew Stringer's LFFC2018 review


MyPlusOne LFCC 2018 review/rant

Russell Payne LFCC 2018 London Film and Comic Con

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