It's the second Portsmouth Comic Con this weekend, and it will be the PCG's second visit. Here are our pre-con musings...
Matt C: It was abundantly clear when Portsmouth Comic Con made its debut in 2018 that it wasn't some sort of Johnny-come-lately attempting to cash in on the popularity of comic book culture in the modern world. With Tripwire magazine co-founder Joel Meadows as one the organisers, it had some real clout behind it, and saw the likes of Walt & Louise Simonson, Frank Quitely and Sean Phillips making appearances, the emphasis being on actual comics rather than the film and TV focus that many so-called 'comic cons' specialise in.
In its second year it's underscoring its commitment to comics with guests ranging from contemporary faves such as Kieron Gillen and Declan Shalvey to industry veterans like Steve Englehart and Roy Thomas; the latter - creator of the likes of Iron Fist, Man-Thing, Hyperion and so many more - is surely now the main keeper of the original Marvel Bullpen flame now that Stan has gone.
With comic book properties more popular than ever (the eye-popping box office for Avengers: Endgame being the prime example) it's always necessary to celebrate the source material. Our cultural landscape would be VERY different without them. It's also handy that Portsmouth Comic Con is just an hour down the road from the PCG, so a welcome weekend of indulging in our hobby lies ahead of us!
James R: It was looking bleak for us comics fans based in the south of England - the fantastic Melksham Con was no more, and our options for comics conventions looked to be restricted to fraudulent events, using 'Comic Con' as a name, but offering us slim pickings in terms of actual comics. (Though if you wanted the signature of a man who played the third Venusian on the right in episode 12 of Space 1999, you were in luck!) Thank the ghost of Jack Kirby then for the intervention of Joel Meadows and Co. who produced a corking first Portsmouth Comic Con last year.
I'm delighted that it's back - beyond the outstanding guests that have been enticed to the south coast this year, I always see conventions as the chance to spend time with my comics pals, and catch up with old friends too. I've never had a bad time at a comics convention with the PCG, and I can't see that changing this year - Portsmouth has expanded further, offering a cornucopia of geeky goodness to indulge in over the bank holiday weekend.
If you've never been to a convention before, I highly recommend making the journey to Portsmouth - the team have put together a winning blend of events, all located in a brilliant central hub; you'll have the chance to get everywhere and see everything on offer if you do attend. If you spot any members of the PCG working the boxes (or possibly having refreshing beverages) come say hi - conventions are also great for forming new geeky alliances!
Jo S: My fellow PCG team members have waxed lyrical about comic cons of yore and, more than a little wistful that I have only come to this recently, I had bemoaned my lack of opportunity to attend a 'real' comics event - but no more! Last year's inaugural Portsmouth event was an absolute revelation - the panels, the venue, the creators! In the year since then, I have started to collect a couple of Bronze Age series, as well as my cementing my habit for weekly new comics, so I relish the opportunity to rummage the back issue boxes for juicy finds to fill some of the gaps in my list - if anyone spots any Spider-Ham, find me!
One of the elements I enjoyed most last year was the chance to meet creators of comics which have been on my list in recent days - there is no other genre I can think of where it's so possible to sit and chat with someone who created work that affected you so directly, so this is a big pull for me this time around. I'm especially looking forward to hearing Kieron Gillen's panel: his work on Die, and its comprehensive back matter, has had me fascinated this year. Talking panels, I will be at the front of the queue for 'Robots, Cyborgs & AI Technology: Imagining the Future in Science Fiction Media' - the title could have been written with me in mind!
One of the most striking impressions I personally took away from last year was of the cosplayers there: their confidence and commitment to their characterisation inspired me enormously and I'm going to be taking the plunge, at the ripe old age of 48, and cosplaying for the first time myself. I'm tremendously nervous but very excited and hope I can make the PCG proud - it looks as if the cosplay element has been ramped up this year, especially with Star Wars Day falling on the Saturday, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that. As James says, if you see any of the PCG gang there, come and say Hi! I'll be the one in the red boots and the yellow headscarf!