Convention Report: Kapow! 2012

Kapow was a great convention to attend that promised and delivered much. So what did I get up to?

I am very much a panel guy so I jumped straight into David “V for Vendetta” Lloyd’s top secret big announcement show. Me and about a half dozen others. The rest of the convention was at the DC Before Watchmen seminar and cheering wildly.

The big announcement was his new online only weekly comic. No physical copies, no adverts, no downloads; you buy 7 weekly issues of 21 pages for $10/ £6.99 and read it entirely online on the device of your choice. All the work is creator owned and the income is split between each contributor for that particular run. There would be a minimum of 6 volumes before deciding if the venture was sustainable. Oh and get this. It will be in landscape format. You know, round the other way!

Next up was Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way with Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, and artists Adi Granov and Sara Pichelli. It began with a show of hands. A call for writers, pencillers, inkers and even letterers. There were plenty of hands for each with the most going to the pencillers. “The good news is it is easier than ever to break into comics,” cue applause, “the bad news is it is harder than ever to get paid for it,” cue grumbling. There was then a description of Marvel’s open door submission policy for artists and details of why the door will always be closed to writers: to protect both sides’ intellectual property. A lengthy description of what makes a great portfolio followed. Then there were details of how everyone got their job including Brian Michael Bendis who wasn’t even there.

In the afternoon there was Marvel’s Cup o’ Joe. Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada revealed he had always wanted an opportunity to ask Marvel questions when he was a fan so as soon as he took up his post he instituted just that. Just before we started we had to wait for Mark Millar to pee. Well it is his con (sorta) so we all chatted amongst ourselves before firing off questions. Issues discussed: will Joe Quesada start making cameos in the marvel films; how has the Disney takeover changed things; what is the impact of digital comics and the infinite comic; and so on. Most of the questions were TV and film related it has to be said. Although there were some highlights featuring hate mail for the new black Spiderman, Christian outcry against Rawhide Kid and the most bizarre fan submission they ever had – Jesus Christ Vs the Silver Surfer. I kid you not.

The star of many peoples’ show was the Audience with Warren Ellis. Outspoken maverick genius Ellis rarely makes personal appearances so this was a rare treat for many. With his self confessed plan of doing “bigger projects but less of them,” many see his star waning since his days of widescreen comics. He seemed genuinely disillusioned with the industry in general and most of our present media stating “British TV is in a terrible state.” There was the odd story of the mooted Nick Fury film with George Cloony being cancelled after the executives read some of Garth Ennis’ storylines; his frustration about the delay of Joss Whedon collaboration Wastelanders; and the usual questions about Spider Jerusalem. Just as he was starting to seem like the retired, toothless old warhorse/ dog he started talking about his new novel Gunmachine. He literally transformed, shaking off all the years of pain spent at the mercy of the unenlightened in a collaborative medium. Writing on his own and doing most of his research in the solitary world of Google streetview he has gained a new lease of life. Gunmachine with its intriguing premise of a Manhatten cop finding a sealed room containing the gun from every single unsolved shooting of the last ten years sounds like a must read. What a shame he didn’t do a signing.

At this point I decided to do my autograph hunting nabbing Paul Cornell and lamenting his exit from Soldier Zero, shaking Scott Snyder’s hand for American Vampire and saying hi to Joe Quesada just because he was there. Earlier I had also discovered Mike Carey whom I describe as the Elton John of comics as he has written way more than you would think possible and Frank Quietly who is a lovely chap. A quick trip to hunt down Gary Erskine who did me a sketch of Jack Hawksmoor and enthused about Roller Derby and his new project Roller Grrls and the day was complete.

Apart that is from a brief appearance by Jonathan Ross. Who obligingly granted a billion autographs and pictures. Naturally being cursed when it comes to photos in my picture it looks like his anal vibrator has gone off so I won’t be sharing that one soon. I didn’t stay for the Stan Lee Awards but really wish I had. Then it is on to Sunday.

After a night discovering just how charming a £47 hotel room in London can actually be it was back in the queue for Kapow. Even with the Sunday schedule almost half the length of Saturday’s people were still queuing around the block.

A gentle panel to start saw me checking out Desert Island Comics. Tim Pilcher from the Comic Book Alliance was joined by UK artist Charlie Adlard (Walking Dead) and US artist Terry Dodson (X-Men) for a comic related spin on the famous Radio Four broadcast. Charlie chose to take the following with him to a desert island: Fantastic Four debut issue, the Complete Peanuts, Obelix & Co., Batman Year One, Why I Hate Saturn, From Hell, L’Autoroute du Soleil, and Rock Bottom. Terry chose New Mutants #1, G. I. Joe Yearbook, the Complete Calvin and Hobbes, The Rocketeer, Bone, Hellboy, the Death of Speedy, and Blacksad. It was really interesting to hear the reasons behind these works and find out some more about the careers of these two people.

Then it was on to the epic Mark Millar autograph queue. Despite joining the line more than two hours before the slot ended I was still behind cut-off point. In spite of the best efforts of people to kindly move the sign back I spent most of the time in the knowledge I was waiting around for nothing. I did have great fun chatting to the people around me however and the beauty of the weekend was everyone was really friendly. There were no unwashed, socially-inept stereotypes just happy people enjoining the same things I was. As people dropped out of line ahead of me I finally made it to the guaranteed signing point. Woo Hoo! I had questions to ask him and a hand to shake and a copy of Absolute Authority that was getting bloody heavy. Naturally as soon as I got to the front he left his signing table and ran down the line putting a squiggle on anything held out to him before calling it a day. Ah well.

I went to join the Movie X (Iron Sky) line and found out only people who had been camped out since 9.30am were getting in. Then it was off to listen to Jimmy Carr interview Frankie Boyle. Did you know either of these men were comic book fans? I didn’t. Outside of their acerbic TV personas both men were pleasant, witty and a joy to listen to. The conversation was quite cerebral at times and dredged up some truly appalling 80’s comics much to Jimmy’s disbelief. It appears Frankie is a fan of encyclopaedic proportions devouring everything he can get his hands on. “You’d have to write a really bad comic for me not to want to read it” he said. I take that as a challenge. When discussing his regular strip Rex Royd appearing in Clint he said he wanted to give the reader that disjointed feeling that you were leaping into the middle of the story just as you first experienced when you picked up your first comic as a kid. I asked both of them which graphic novel they would add to National Curriculum for every child to read. Jimmy said Maus and Frankie said The Invisibles. Frankie also stayed around after the panel until everyone had gotten a photograph.

It was at this time I was due to start queuing for Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch signing copies of their latest venture America’s got Powers. Unfortunately that had been moved to the morning in an almost clandestine way so I missed out. With just the cosplay judging to go – and a visit from motorcycle paramedics to tend to one of the wrestlers – the afternoon wrapped up and people began drifting away. All in all a very successful event.