5 Sep 2013

Melksham Comic Con 2013: The Voyage Home

Now we've had a chance to settle back into reality following our first visit to Melksham Comic Con, here are some thoughts on last Saturday's events:

Melksham Comic Con Saturday 31 August 2013
James R: Well, that was a pleasant surprise! After our dalliance with the giganto-con that was the London Super Comic-Con in February, our daytrip into deepest, darkest Wiltshire was both a treat and a tonic. If you asked me what I want from a con, I'd say: firstly, great panels and guests, secondly, back issues and merchandise, and finally time and space to go and sit with my friends. Melksham doesn't provide the first two in abundance, but it's clear to see that the seeds of a great convention are in place. Hayley and the Brians did a superb job of running the day, and it was great to see such a wide age range in the attendees. The panels were a total treat, with Kieron Gillen, Simon Spurrier and Rob Williams' 'The Writing Room' providing a particular highlight. Personally, what I really loved was the location - quaint little town it may be, but out off all the cons I've attended, Melksham provided the best range of places to go sit, eat and drink away from the convention itself, and having a couple of hours with my friends from the PCG made the day alone worthwhile. As the con came to a close we learnt that it would not only return next year, but be a two day affair, and this is fantastic news. If they can bring in more guests and panels without losing the unique atmosphere of the convention, Melksham 2014 could be truly spectacular. But for 2013, I'll simply say bravo to all involved - I had a great day.

Harley Quinn: The Cake Edition
Matt C: Echoing James' sentiments, I thoroughly enjoyed my first excursion to the Melksham Comic Con. Sure, it was a relatively low key affair but it was impossible to escape the atmosphere of enthusiam for the medium that filled the main room of Melksham Assembly Hall. The aformention (if truncated) 'The Writing Room' panel was a highlight but another worth mentioning was one from earlier in the day entitled 'Women In The Industy'. Featuring Lizzie Boyle, Simon Spurrier and Melksham Con organiser Hayley Spencer it started off by discussing the rather relevant question 'Why should we even need a panel to discuss women in comics because aren't comics for everyone?!'. Food for thought and it ensured some lively opions were put forward. It was a day that zipped by incredibly quickly and, bizarely, considering I'd not expected much beyond contemporay back issues on offer, I actually managed to plug some gaps in my collection with issues I'd been trying to find (at reasonable prices!) for years. And, probably well deserving of a mention too is the highly impressive Harley Quinn cake (yes, really!) that was disturbing enough that it had to have it's back turned to the punters for the majority of the day so as not to freak out any kids passing by! So yeah, a good time had by all, and I think it's fair to say the PCG will be back in 2014.

Ben Oliver & Rob Williams
Stewart R: It's unanimous then: the Melksham Comic Con was a success! I too had a fantastic day relishing the opportunity to spend time with the Paradox Comics Group away from our usual stomping ground and getting to see how others go about setting up and delivering a comic convention with enthusiasm, guts and guile. I'll admit that upon walking into the Assembly Hall that first time on a beautiful Summer Saturday morning I did have an initial thought that 'Ooh, this might not take long to go around' as the location is of a reasonable size, yet not huge. That said, after doing the once around it became clear that many of the exhibitors and stalls were in need of a second (and occasional third) look. Certainly there wasn't a vast amount for the back issue hunter to go through, yet all of the PCG managed to come away with something from the annals of the 1980s or earlier and that perhaps states quality over quantity which will suffice for now. There were small press efforts that caught the eye - which I hadn't seen previously at Bristol or London - and got my wallet arm flexing along with works from some of the better known talent such as Emma Vieceli. Like James and Matt I came away from the day appreciating both of the mentioned panels which were insightful, intimate, honest and genuinely felt worthwhile and I'm sure that's something Hayley will be looking to replicate and expand upon next time and beyond. It was also clear that all of the visitors, be they creators, exhibitors, helpers or the humble punters were having a great time with the room filled with smiling faces. That's certainly only one of a plethora of successful elements that let the Melksham Comic Con 2013 stand out as one of the great days of the year.

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