Monday, 16 November 2015

A Golden Age for UK fandom

A Dalek, yesterday.
The Doctor Who Festival I attended on Saturday was the last convention I'll be doing this year, so it was great to go out on a high. I really enjoyed having the company of artist Russ Leach and the Panini editors on the stand, and meeting so many Doctor Who fans eager for a Daft Dimension sketch! You can read more about the day over on my other blog here:

The Festival was the sixth event I've attended this year. (It would have been eight, if I hadn't cancelled two due to illness.) Three in London, one each in Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Sheffield. All different, and all enjoyable in their own ways. I already have invites to four next year, and will hopefully add more soon. Long gone are the days when we only had one convention a year (if we were lucky). There are now events almost every weekend of the year. The UK comics community has never had it so good. Too good in fact, as there are now so many events that they sometimes clash. There were at least three on Saturday for example, at different parts of the country. 
London Film and Comic Con, July 2015.
More events mean more choice and more opportunities for fans and pros to meet up. This is fandom on a large scale. I hear a lot about "geek culture" but in truth these events now 
attract tens of thousands of people from all walks of life. It's a day out for many families now. True, many of them are not there for comics, especially at the events that have Hollywood stars as the attraction, but with comics guests and stalls also present it raises the public's awareness of comics. People notice the art that reminds them of their childhood comics, or are simply intrigued by it, and come over to chat, and sometimes buy a sketch, a print, or a comic. 

There are still events that focus on comics of course, such as the Thought Bubble Festival over the weekend, or ICE and the Birmingham Comics Festival. These shows are not only excellent for mainstream comics and creators but they also raise the profiles of independent creators and publishers and are well worth supporting. 
ICE, Birmingham, September 2015.
Comics conventions of the 21st Century are a great way to attract a new audience. It might not be a success for everyone, but it works for some. The remarkable thing is how quickly it's grown. Comic cons in Britain started in 1968 from a Birmingham event by Phil Clarke and Steve Moore, and subsequent cons pretty much stuck to the same template for the next 30 plus years. It was a template that worked though, and many enjoyable conventions came out of it. In more recent times, the inclusion of film and TV stars has broadened the appeal of such events, with some shows having a weekend attendance of around 100,000 people. Yes, only a fraction of those people might buy a comic, but it all helps. 
Collectormania event, Milton Keynes, June 2015.
After the winter break I'm looking forward to attending the 2016 events and I have plans for self-publishing more comics next year (as well as continuing working on newsstand titles of course). This is a golden era for comics fandom and indie publishers. See you out there!  

News of some shows I'll be at in 2016:


Gary said...

It's too bad The Beano and 2000 A.D. are the last comics standing in Britain. I'm guessing all those people in the photographs must be buying American comics or toys. There HAS to be potential right there for someone to start up a comics company in the U.K.? Why isn't it happening? How did we get to this state? Britain can only offer two very tired looking comics to the world? Something needs doing. Is it too late?

Lew Stringer said...

I'm guessing you don't read my blogs very often, or attend any comics events? There are far more than two UK comics out there. I covered this subject on my other blog in the summer. Here's the link: