7 May 2008

The Road To Bristol 2008

You will notice an absence of new reviews this coming weekend, but have no fear – we haven’t given up on comics! No, this weekend you will find us at the annual Comic Expo in Bristol, so the usual mix of back issue hording and drunken mayhem means reviewing new books takes a back seat for once. Expect a bumper selection of reviews the following weekend. In the meantime, we look at what’s on the agenda at the Comic Expo and what we’ll keeping an eye out for in the bargain boxes…

Matt C: I can’t believe this’ll be my 8th time at the Bristol Expo, it doesn’t seem all that long ago since I made my first venture into the world of comic conventions. Obviously it doesn’t compare to the size and scale of the US cons (you’ll never see a bunch of actors and directors pimping their movies at Bristol!), but while I dream of one day attending Comic-Con in San Diego, Bristol is enough fun to keep me going in the meantime. Plenty of fun memories, a few embarrassing ones (!) and a ridiculous amount of comics – that’s what I’ve accumulated since I first went along back in 2001. This year my impending fatherhood means I’ll be watching how many pennies I spend, and making sure I don’t go overboard on my purchasing as I have been known to do in the past (although I can’t hold a candle to Rob N!). That’s the plan anyway….

Matt T: Being my second visit to the Con I’m looking forward to a similar level of madness as last year, although this time round I intend to arm myself with a list of wanted comics (something I’d recommend to anyone going!). There’s plenty on offer in the 50p boxes and a few rare gems hidden in surprising places. Hopefully the mad redheaded bloke who tried to rob a Moon Knight #1 right out of my hand won’t be there, or I’ll have to unleash hell on his ass. I’ll also be bringing my camera along, so I’ll be able to capture the gaggle of nutters dressed up in various costumes to give them the respect they deserve for wearing lycra all day. And having the legend that is Dave Gibbons there means I’ll be able to get my collected Watchmen signed and annoy him about the movie….

Matt C: A “wants list” is an essential thing indeed. Sure, you may look like an ubergeek referring to a notebook as you wade through the boxes, but the amount of times I’ve come got back home to discover that – yet again! – I’ve bought a bunch of comics I already had finally taught me how valuable a list can be! This year I’m on the lookout for some Marvel magazines from the late 70s, early 80s. Stuff like Savage Sword Of Conan, Bizarre Adventures, Epic and Tales Of The Zombie. I picked up a few Marvel mags earlier this year and became quite taken with the format, the art, and the more mature approach to comic book storytelling that wasn’t seen in the regular Marvel books at the time. Any of DC’s Silver Age period going cheap is bound to get my attention, the more ridiculous the cover, the better!

Matt T: I loved seeing the Superman and Jimmy Olsen issues from that era which Matt C picked up last year. Having Superman’s pal marry a baboon for no discernible, or at least logical, reason makes for a great read. Personally I’m after some early James Robinson Starman, a few copies of the Defenders and some gaps in my mid-90s Amazing Spider-Man. If I discover any gems out there I might just flash the cash, especially if that Werewolf By Night with the first appearance of Moon Knight keeps taunting me. I regretted not picking up a few cheap figures too last year, and being able to get in early on the Saturday might lead to some freebie blaggage. Mostly I’ll be tracking down Marvel stuff, but EC has caught my eye recently so a couple of classic issues would be excellent. Damn it, I need to start making that list now!

Matt C: As for events, well it sucks that Jim Shooter’s pulled out, I was looking forward to his panel as I always enjoy those guys who like reminiscing about what it was like back in the day (Roy Thomas’s appearance a couple of years ago was absolutely enthralling). Still, we’ve got Walt and Louise Simonson in attendance, and as Walt was the guy behind one of the greatest runs on Thor ever (only beaten – just - by Stan n’ Jack) I’m going to endeavour to get an autograph from the man with my backup copy (oh yes!) of the classic Thor #380. Jim Starlin’s been in the biz a long time so hopefully he’ll have a few stories to tell – just a shame they’ve lumped him with the last-panel-on-Sunday slot when most of our energy levels have been thoroughly depleted. Dave Gibbons always shows his face at Bristol, but this year can we hope that he might have some juicy tidbits from the Watchmen movie?

Matt T: That’s what I’m hoping for. It’s a real shame Shooter bailed, I was looking forward to some stories from the good ol’ days of comics. Ah well. As I’ve only just discovered the wonders of Clandestine and Excalibur’s Cross Time Caper I’m also hoping Alan Davis is still due to attend. The DC panel can throw up a few surprises, and at least a couple of Marvel books will be getting represented, albeit in a slightly half-arsed manner. Andy Diggle and Jock are normally entertaining in one way or another. The film night looks….odd, and is on the Friday night (when people should be in the bar dammit!), while Saturday night will throw up (literally) the always eventful Eagle Awards. Last year was a bit of a farce, and I’m hoping everyone’s mate Dez Skinn turns up to drunkenly claim he invented the wheel or gave birth to Neil Gaiman.

Matt C: Ah yes, the DC panel – forgot about that! Will anyone have the balls to ask them why the bothered publishing Countdown? And why Marvel seems to be trouncing them so regularly in the sales chart? And speaking of Marvel, nice for them to show up again… not. I mean, how hard can it be to send a couple of guys over?! As for the Eagle Awards – nice idea, but the execution is usually incredibly cringeworthy, the only highlights being people making unintentional fools of themselves and the occasional on-stage career suicide. Best bet is to stay in the bar. Or go back to your hotel room and read comics!

Matt T: After voting for a few of my fave titles online I’m at least intrigued to see who wins what in the Awards, although the state of DC at the mo makes me think a Marvel whitewash might be on the cards. There’s a few indies I’m rooting for and smaller books, such as Dynamo 5, desrve some recognition. Whether the award means anything is another matter, but I’m pulling for a number of non-Big Two wins and hoping some up and coming talent get some props. Most exciting of all is the impressively "large" contingent of the Paradox Comics Group (and friends!) attending this year (almost 10 of us!), giving us plenty of friendly faces to fight with over back issues of Fantastic Four. I’m personally looking forward to seeing Matt C, Rob N and Andrew B in a heated battle over some obscure issue of Conan or Jack Kirby’s first New Gods. As I’ve got my camera any carnage will be captured for all to see…..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great teaser piece ahead of the con. I'm looking forward to this, because going with a bunch of mates is a bit like going on those Geography/History school trips when you were 15.

I don't usually make a wish list because frankly I get distracted by stuff I see cheap. I'll generally pick up most anything from the bronze/silver age if it's priced ridiculously low (as many bronze age books were priced last year. Matt C and myself hoovered up a lot of titles from the flared trouser era priced between 50p and a pound, including a lot of Jack Kirby stuff from his return to Marvel). There are a few issues I'm always on the look out for to complete runs and to plug gaps. Things Like Captain America 206 (to complete my Kirby run from the late seventies) and Thor 165 and 176 (to plug the gaps in a run of issues from 161 to 300). I'll have my eyes out for Avengers issues 30-31, 34, 37, 47 and 131, which will complete a run of issues 27 to 203. But mostly it's whatever looks cheap. After all, if you want to pay (a reasonable) full price, you can buy the comics pretty much any time from Quicksilver. Like Matt I'm also interested in B&W Marvel magazine titles. I've got a lot of the classic Fantasy ones, but few of the Horror ones.

Talking of Horror, I am tempted of course to bring along my copy of Werewolf by Night with the first appearance by Moon Knight, just so that I can wave it at Matt T from time to time. I would also like to assure him that there won't be any competition from me for 'obscure issues of Conan or Jack Kirby's first New Gods' on account of the fact that I already have a run of Conan 1 to 150, and all the Kirby issues of New Gods (and Forever People... and Mister Miracle come to that...). That's one of the few advantages of being old – a decent looking comic collection!