Tuesday, 23 February 2016

London Super Comic Con LSCC 2016 - review

london super comic convention pass 2016

February 20 & 21, 2016

Excel, London

Back from this year's London Super Comic Convention – LSCC 2016.

LSCC is one of the good ones. One of the few remaining comiccons that isn't dominated by film and TV stars. It's about comics and comic creators, and it's run by people who know comics and love comics, so the guest list always has a good selection of UK and International artists and writers. Its in it's fifth year now so maintaining the wow factor is a challenge, but with such headline guests as Brian Bolland, Frank Cho, Marv Wolfman, Mike Zeck and internationally acclaimed poet, writer and artist Russell Payne, they didn't do so bad. It's also about cosplay, so you have to be able to cope with standing in-between a gun toting psychopath and a zombie in the Gents, but you get that sometimes in London anyway.

Scarlet Witch and Magneto at LSCC 2016

balloon batman lscc 2016

I had a carefully orchestrated multi-stage plan for the weekend, but as usual it all went wrong before the con even started. Unusually though, none of it was my doing, all fails were perpetrated by Marvel and DC cover artist and professional non-driver John Watson. I generally give John a lift to LSCC, but this year he was getting the train down from a family holiday on Scotland on the Friday, I was going down on the Saturday morning and taking some of his stuff, and I was bringing him home on the Sunday. John realised on Friday that half the stuff he needed to take was still locked in his studio, so he had to get a train from northern Scotland to York, then to Poulton on Friday night, to pick up his forgotten folders and then we both set off super early (I got up at 2:45am, which is more of a bed-time than a get-up-time) Saturday morning to still get to LSCC before it started.

I was happy to bail John out though and I'm sure his blog will be full of praise and thanks for my kindness, interspersed with nice comments about how talented I am. The drive down was a useful opportunity to chat about the book we are writing together, it's John's first novel so I'm showing him the ropes, trying to teach him essential writing skills such as procrastination and work avoidance, but he's a slow learner and keeps writing stuff down and producing chapters.

Astonishing, we got there in plenty of time, managed to park for free on set up the table before even earlybird ticket holders got in. The table was between JK Woodward (really nice guy, with some great Trek/Dr Who art, especially an image of Spock and Tom Baker dreaming of Jelly babies - check out his blog) and Chicago based artist Jill Thompson, who was lovely and has done all sorts including drawing Sandman and creating Scary Godmother and who had her young niece sat next to her painting. LSCC often arrange the Artist Alley in alphabetical order, there's a theory that this is to prevent Ian Churchill from borrowing John Watson's clothes.

Russell Payne, John Watson and JK Woodward at LSCC 2016 comic artists

Stage 2 of the plan was to meet up and share a table with Barry Kitson. This also failed. Barry didn't manage to get to the con until 3pm, so I spent most of the day explaining to people that I wasn't Barry and that Barry wasn't there yet. Barry has a lot of fans and we heard the words “Where's Barry?” so many times we considered doing a series of books on it. When he did arrive, the helper who met Barry at the door didn't recognise him. Not recognising Barry Kitson at a comiccon is a bit like not recognising Mary Berry at a Cake Convention, but it got cleared up and he got straight into painting some gorgeous watercolours. I've been a fan of Barry's work since I was a teenager, a few hours of Barry Kitson is still better than 3 full days of most other artists, so I'm not complaining.

Even better, after the arrival of Barry, my daughter Chloe also arrived. She lives in London, so I was staying at hers that evening and it was a lovely opportunity to spend a bit of dad/daughter time wandering round the con. I haven't quite adjusted to her being an adult and kept trying to buy her Disney Princess merchandise, but she eventually convinced me that she no longer has any need for Lego Ariel earrings or a Tinkerbell Pop Funko and we went out for an evening meal at Canary Wharf instead. I stayed over at Chloe's flat in Northwest London and had an emotional reunion with her chinchilla Coco.

Meanwhile......John went back with Barry to his house in Norwich.

Norwich is 120 miles away. I expected John and Barry might get chatting about art and be a bit late the next day so stage 3 of the plan was to get to the con early on Sunday to man the table for them for a couple of hours while they drove down form Norwich. This also failed. Barry had deadlines to meet and wasn't coming, so John got dropped at Cambridge to catch a train to LSCC. Turns out that trains from Cambridge to London are only very slightly quicker than walking.

So Sunday was a lot more people asking “Where's Barry?” followed by “Where's John?” and "Then who are you?". When John finally got to a part of the country that had a mobile phone mast, I was able to keep his legions of fans updated with helpful text messages like-

“Sat on a train, It isn't moving.”
“Sell everything.”

and my favourite text, that I read out to an eager crowd of people waiting for news-

“Should be there at 12.”

Useful considering I received the text at 1:30pm.

text messages ldcc

Had a great time sketching for people though, which is much easier when John isn't there because he tends to hide my pens to stop me showing him up with my superior art. I did a little sign offering to “draw anything” which was possibly a mistake as people began to take it too literally, the high point being a request to draw Nicholas Parsons attacking Jim Bowen with a dart. I rose to the challenge. It may actually have been my best work to date. (Thanks to Mick for sending the photos!)

Comic Artist Russell Payne sketching at LSCC 2016

Russell Payne LSCC2016

Jim Bowen vs Nicholas Parsons

I also did Rapunzel, Han Solo vs Starlord, Deadpool fighting Wolverine, Bane, Penguin and a lot of Batgirls for some reason.

A man came by a couple of times to invite me to the Barbados comic convention, this seemed a little too good to be true. I eagerly await his email. I possibly should have mentioned that I don't have a passport. I sold prints, did sketches and I got some work too, so a worthwhile trip. I was also offered some comic cover work by a publshing company, but I have a strong suspicion this is because they thought I was Barry Kitson,

Other honourable mentions to -

Gary Frank, who I had a chat with about Jack Kirby and must pressgang into a Kirby panel in the future.

TomTricks who could create just about anything people asked for out of a few stretchy balloons. Available now for children's paties.

George Gechev of GGComics who managed to enthusiastically tell me about his new comic despite my best efforts to escape. George uses dark red writing on a black business card and a font so tiny that his website address can only be read with an electron microscope. One out of ten for the card, ten out of ten for enthusiasm though, hope he does well.


..and that elusive enigma Barry Kitson whose latest volume of Empire can be read online at Thrillbent.

barry kitson mark said empire lscc

Many thanks to the organisers George, John and Imran for doing such a great job once again. If you want to read an even more wildly inaccurate review filled with such gems as -

An hour to Cambridge, an hour to London, I'd be back at midday.”
Russ has also apologised for being an egotistical nightmare “
Yet, this time, I knew, I was the idiot. It wasn't Russ, it was me.”

Then don't miss John Watson's account on his blog here!