Matt C: Ever since Bristol Comic Expo ceased being a regular fixture on the calendar, the PCG have continued to seek out a replacement. For most of us, it was our first con, and back towards the beginning of the century it was the only major comic convention in the country. A lot has changed since then; comics are now a far more dominant force in popular culture, and there's not a weekend that goes by without some convention or other taking place somewhere in the British Isles (although far too many use the words 'comic con' with only a cursory nod towards actual comics, if that).
Time and location are important factors for us to consider (Thought Bubble remains an elusive possibility to most of us), and for a few years we were fixed upon our beloved Melksham Comic Con, a low key affair for sure, but one with tremendous heart and affection, coupled with a welcoming, inclusive spirit. That is no more, and something like London Super Comic Con - which has plenty of merchandise on offer, along with a decent showing of guests - lacks the kind of atmosphere we're looking for.
And now Portsmouth Comic Con has sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere, with an eye-popping guestlist and - hooray! - it's just an hour's drive away!
How could we resist?
With a genuine focus on comics, but still encompassing various other elements of geek culture, it looks hugely promising. Frank Quitely, Sean Phillips, Walt and Louise Simonson (PCG faves!) are amongst the impressive roster of guests, and on top of that Image, IDW and Dark Horse are sending across some of their top bods to make an appearance. There's obviously plenty more to it, much of it for us to discover when we get there, but it's a tremendously exciting to have a new player on the scene, and one that seems to have a certain amount of clout in the industry at that. All in all it's a thrilling prospect as that moveable space reserved for a good con on the calendar required filling, and it appears as though Portsmouth Comic Con may very well fit the bill.
James R: Portsmouth Ho! Now, this isn't me being lazy, but my editor-in-chief has done a very good job in outlining why we're so excited about the Portsmouth Comic-Con, and it's actually a genuine comics convention - not a glorified celebrity signing event with the occasional cosplayer. A lot of that is due to the convention being run by Joel Meadows and Andrew Coleman, who are 'proper' comics people.
Meadows has been the creative force behind the various incarnations of Tripwire, the comics magazine (and one of my ways back into the medium whilst at university in the 1990s), and it's clear that he and Coleman are intent on creating an American-style convention here in the UK. I'm beyond delighted that there's a shiny new convention so close to us - and I love that roster of guests; I can't remember ever having so many issues to take for signing, even at the height of Bristol Comic Expo's reign.
As always, I'm also excited to get away with my PCG friends and be able to fully immerse myself in the medium I love for the weekend - it's always great to make new friends too, so if you spot us around the floor, come and say 'Hi'!
Jo S: To a relative newbie still to the world of comics, the Melksham and Bristol cons have been mythic events, something the PCG lads go a little misty-eyed about, and which they were disappointed to lose. We've tried a couple of one day trips last year, to ICE Brighton and to the London Super Comic Con - both of which were a new world of comics excitement for me - but this will be my first chance to sample the full experience, and I'm looking forward to having the time to attend panels and get involved with the activities of the full event.
Watching my PCG pals 'working the boxes' is such a treat - I've talked before about the delight of seeing that 'flick - flick - flick - flick - face of glee - swoop' routine in action and I'll be taking a list myself this time. I can't lie: I'll also be popping in to the Robot Room; not strictly 'proper' comic con fare but totally my cup of tea!
The Portsmouth team have made a fantastic job of stirring the fervour in the run-up to this event too - increasingly frequent tweets with new guests and activities have really stoked my enthusiasm and I'm into the 'Can't wait, make it the weekend NOW!' phase!