Monday, 20 June 2016

Hull ComicCon 2016


At the end of the M62. Massive bridge. My in-laws live there. The 2017 European City of Culture too apparently. Not sure what happens with that if we leave the European Union.

The second Hull Comic Con was great though, just great. A one day con, just the Saturday. Probably the friendliest convention I've ever been to. I was a guest last year too, for the inaugural event, and it was pretty great then, especially for a first time con. This year the organisers built on that, using the same venue (The “Asylum” at Hull University, what a fantastic name for a comic con venue) but expanded the space they used, spreading it out over three floors.

Hull Comic Con 2016 cosplay
The ground floor had all the merchandising tables and the TV and Film guests, Trevor and Simon were there with Sophie Aldred promoting their FREE audio sci-fi series Strangeness in Space. I haven't had chance to listen to it yet, but there's no excuse really is there? It's free, it's funny and it's science fiction. John Challis and Hull's very own Jon Campling was there along with his tremendous hair.

The first floor was the Retro Game floor although I never actually visited it. My brother-in-law Keegan was very kindly helping me out and he paid it a visit. It had Retro Games. 

The comic guests were on the second floor, a little out of the way, but to be fair last year the lighting downstairs had been quite murky and they put the artists next to a big window so the lighting was good. Several comic guests, so more than a lot of cons lately! Russ Leach, Lee Sullivan, Rachael Smith and Adam Cheal were some of those up there with me, conveniently opposite the room where I was giving a talk on Jack Kirby later. Initial worries that it was going to be quiet soon disappeared and it got absolutely packed later in the day, with apparently six times as many people coming compared to the previous year and a healthy turn out for my talk.

There were loads of talks too, three rooms worth, so at any one time there were two or three talks/photoshoots going on. The one on Jack Kirby was the best obviously, anyone fortunate enough to hear it was also treated to a rendition of the “Jack Kirby” rap from the Illus alum KABOOM!. LD Wilkinson put a nice photo of me giving the talk on Twitter-
Russell Payne
Jack Kirby talk at Hull Comic Con

I had a few unusual requests for quick sketches. One person asked for a “kawaii Hitler”, which I think means “a cute Hitler”. What would you do with a sketch of Hitler looking cute? Someone else wanted a sketch of an invisible Deadpool. So I just gave them a piece of paper, and they gave me £3. Odd.

As things were winding up, Simon Hickson (the one from Trevor and Simon that isn't Trevor) popped up to say Hi, probably not specifically to see me as Lee Sullivan on the table next to me was doing some work with him. Always weird meeting people whose work you admire, but he was a really nice guy and insisted on paying for one of my prints despite my best attempts to give it him. And he had a nice hat. I only mentioned it a couple of paragraphs ago, but since you probably didn't bother clicking on the link, I'm going to try again - do check out his FREE audio sci-fi series Strangeness in Space.

Keegan manning my table

The after-show party was easily the best I've ever been to. No exaggeration. I'm aware this is all very positive, but hey, I had a good time. I often enjoy the bits after a convention more than the convention itself, whether its just chatting in the bar or something more, but District 14 went the extra mile with this. There was the usual disco and charity raffle, which was fine, but they also had three events on stage, and they were all absolutely stellar quality, I'd have happily paid to see any one of them. With theatre style seating so you could buy a drink form the bar, and then find a seat in front of the stage to take it all in. First up was legendary comiccon quizmaster Tony Hitchman doing a talk/quiz on Gorillas in comics (Ape Escapism). A journey through various bizarre Gorilla based comics, covering Super-Intelligent Gorillas, Alien Gorillas, Nazi Gorillas and of course Gorillas playing baseball. 

Tony Hitchman
Tony Hitchman's "Ape Escapism" Quiz

Tony threw bananas at the audience to reward correct answers, and engraved trophies were awarded at the end. Coming third was one of the proudest achievements of my career.

Very proud. 3rd Prize.

Following Tony, actor and skilled raconteur Simon Fisher-Becker performed a slightly condensed version of his one-man show “My Dalek Has Another Puncture”. Simon has toured with this, his second show in a trilogy I think, (the first was My Dalek Has A Puncture! The last is “Let Zygons be Zygons”!!). Concentrating mostly on his role as Dorium Maldovar in Dr Who, accompanied by slides, it was a fantastic, fascinating, honest and often quite touching autobiographical/anecdotal journey. You can buy Simon's book here.

At this point I would have left feeling like it was a great night out, but then Norman Lovett did an hour's stand-up. I've seen Norman's stand up a few times, and his meandering audience interaction is masterful. I'm not sure he told a single actual joke, but it was very, very funny. A master at work.

@skaromedia did the charity raffle with aplomb. Mysteriously, the Dr Who canvas from Russ Leach and Adam Cheal's Graphic Novels were chosen by the winners before my framed original art. Must have been the poor lighting in the bar......

Add a cheap bar and pizza to this and you can see why it scored so highly. Awesome.

I also got to pick up some of Tony Hitchman's 4 page black and white comics, another blast from the past and exactly the sort of thing I don't see nearly enough of at comic cons anymore....

Tony Hitchman

Thanks to Keegan for helping me out and to all the con staff for looking after us. Enormous congratulations and thanks to the organisers District 14, and masterplanner Steve Bowman for doing such an exceptional job, I don't think I've ever enjoyed a comic convention quite as much as I did this one. Looking forward to seeing what they do next.... Find out yourself at Bridcon in October! If you live anywhere near Bridlington, I imagine that'll be great fun too.

1 comment:

  1. FANTASTIC talk on the King, thanks Russ!!

    xx Bea