Matt C: Can it really be my 10th time at the Bristol Comic Expo? Am I really that old?! These are questions I’d prefer to leave unanswered for the time being (!), and instead focus on the anticipated highlights of the forthcoming weekend. For me it’s all about over-indulging in my lifelong hobby, which comes in the form of purchasing stacks of back issues, meeting creators and general chinwagging about comics.
This year I’m intending to reign in my spending on back issues due to financial constraints, as well as the pile of unread comics I’ve accumulated over the last few years. It’s always nice to have something to hand to read, but as my wife likes to remind me, it has got a little bit out of control. If I can, I’ll plug the gaps in my Invaders and Howard The Duck collections, and maybe pick up some Silver and Bronze Age Thor issues I’m missing. But that’s it. Honest.
As unusual, a few previously announced guests have dropped out, the main disappointment being Image publisher Eric Stephenson. I was looking forward to asking him what happened to War Heroes, Gutsville, Pretty Baby Machine, Infinite Horizon, and all those other Image books that went AWOL before their conclusions! Oh well. Maybe next time. The major draw this year is undoubtedly Chris Claremont. He may not command the attention he once did, but there’s no denying his the industry-changing impact of his seminal work on Uncanny X-Men throughout the 1980s. There’s a good argument to be made that superhero comics would look a lot different today (for good or bad, depending on where you sit) if he hadn’t been steering the mutant ship throughout that decade.
A look at the official website reveals there’ll be plenty going on, and even though it’s the second year of operating on a reduced scale (making it even smaller than the US cons we dream of going to) it’s still the best comics-based gathering in England at the moment, so I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Matt T: Another year, another con. After last year’s downsized, reduced and thoroughly shrunken-down effort I’m at the very least going to be less disappointed with the floor space of the Expo. Instead of aiming to fill in all my gaps and massively expand my amount of back issues I’m going to be aiming more at completely new runs, such as John Ostrander’s take on the Suicide Squad. It’s been recommended to me in the past, and I’m a big fan of any series that takes minor characters out of the background and gives them something more interesting to do. I might start picking up a few issues of Astro City as well, as it’s one of those classic books I seem to have completely missed out on in spite of the various good reviews. My long standing search for both Moon Knight and Ragman books will also continue, although I’m not expecting to find anything I haven’t already got, and I'll be keeping my eye out for as some mid-Nineties' Spidey books too. I’m also looking to grab some EC titles and maybe some issues of Creepy and Eeire issues, as they’re always good for a giggle.
The panels look pretty interesting this year, especially ‘Comic Writing for Dummies’ at the Mecure Hotel and obviously Chris Claremont at the Ramada. The DC Universe panel is always good for some new info, and Bob Wayne is an entertaining fella when in charge of proceedings. There’s another Claremont panel on Sunday involving Alan Davis as well, which will certainly be a must, and the Vertigo session will be worth it just to watch Matt C corner the panel again.
I’m going to try and get Mike Carey to sign my Unwritten # 1, and Chris Claremont to squiggle on a few old X-men for me. Of course I’m also looking forward to a few beers with the Paradox posse, as well as some old friends I’ve not seen for a while.
Stewart R: This is just my second visit to Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo (to give it its full title!) and after last year's grand weekend of geek fun with the Paradox Group I'm looking forward to a second bite of the cherry. Last year's events seemed to zoom past as I tried to get to grips with the etiquette of the Expo longboxes - 'elbows out and if there's a sliver of space make it yours' seems to be a winning tactic - and work the queues for the various panels.
With the foresight to have looked at the panel line-up and timings I feel I'm now prepped to get the best out of the two days. I'll possibly stick my nose in for the Chris Claremont panel but suspect there'll be a throng of fans far more determined to get a seat. With The Losers motion picture hitting UK cinemas next weekend I'll certainly be interested to see what Jock and Andy Diggle have to say in their panel, not least because Jock seemed very excited about the adaptation when he appeared last year. Minus the enthusiastic energy of Dan Didio and the easy sells of Blackest Night and Wednesday Comics I'll certainly be looking for Bob Wayne to bring some saliva-inducing news items and guests to the DC Universe panel this time, and the inclusion of Batgirl artist Lee Garbett has me locked in for a fight for a seat. A year ago I certainly wouldn't have been queuing to get into a Vertigo panel but their body of work has been so strong these past 12 months that I dare say that that hour on the Sunday is possibly the panel I'm looking forward to most of all.
After last year's random and unorganised purchasing of back issues - I was young(er), naive and new to the game - I've had a few titles written down for the past 6 months or so that may need to be dug out and purchased for a bargain price if I can find them. High on the list is Green Lantern Corps Vol 2 as I've loved Tomasi and Gleason's work through the Blackest Night tie-in and I'm expecting to be able to pick up several issues here and there for a snip. I'll also be aiming to pick up some of Ron Lim's work on Silver Surfer Vol 3 as I was given a few copies by an Aunt back when I was 8 or 9 years old and they're some of my favourite comics of all time.
Am I excited? Does Thanos like being dead?!
Matt C: As it’s not been mentioned already, this year sees the debut appearance of podcasters extraordinaire, James and Ross, aka Creeping With Armstrong, who will be out and about looking for ‘celebs’ to interview/interrogate. We mention this as CWA’s James is none other than reviewer James R from the Paradox Group, so don’t be surprised if several other Paradox lend their (possibly inebriated) dulcet tones to a future CWA episode.
See you on the other side!