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Monday, 28 February 2011

View from the Trenches: the Cardiff Comic Expo

Time Bomb Comics publisher Steve Tanner kindly sent us a report on the Cardiff International Comic Expo, which included the launch of titles such as Stuart Tipples 10thology project and Barry Nugent's Fallen Heroes...

Fallen Heroes - one of several new
titles attracting attention at CICE
When I heard a whisper last October that there was going to be a one day comics event taking place in Cardiff in February 2011 organised by those behind the Bristol Expo, I was straight in touch with them to book a table before any official announcements of the con had been made – I was that certain it was going to be a worthwhile addition to the Time Bomb Comics’ burgeoning convention calendar.

The last time comics conventions were held in Cardiff was back in the early 1980s. Known as the Cymrucons, they were small intimate affairs that boasted the likes of Alan Moore, Garry Leach and Dez Skinn as special guests. It’s probably no surprise that neither of those three pitched up in the Welsh Capital again for the inaugural Cardiff International Comics Expo that was held on Saturday 26th February, but I don’t think their lack of presence made much difference.

Arriving at the Mercure Holland House on the Friday night the first titbit I found out about the Expo was that the pre-event buzz had been so good that a decision had already been made to not only have another one in February 2012 but to make that one a two-day show. Clearly, after a barren 30 years the Welsh are intent on playing catch up!

Saturday morning arrived to find Cardiff grey, miserable and wet, but the banqueting room of the Mercure was already buzzing with tables being dressed, daleks being adjusted and stormtroopers ambling about looking lost. Outside, an impressively long queue was snaking away towards Newport. Inside, an equally-impressive looking TARDIS had been squeezed into place, and a quick nosey around the tables revealed some welcome new faces had arrived on the comics show circuit in amongst the old hands:

Dalen Books were here, a predominantly Welsh language publisher that has begun to release English editions of some of their licensed European titles such as TinTin and Lucky Luke. Anyone impressed by any of Cinebook’s editions would be blown away by Dalen’s Druids and Arthur books – wonderful stuff!

Dave Morris’ Corvus Press debuted their new The Baker Street Irregulars series, an intriguing looking story that channels those terrific spy and secret agent serials from the sixties.

The first issue of Fallen Heroes launched (check out videos of the event here on Geek Syndicate), the comics adaptation of Barry Nugent’s novel (and promptly sold out by 11.00am!).

Also launching to much excitement was 10thology, an impressive anthology of stories set in Wales by creators from Wales – it was obviously a big draw for the local crowd and it became more unusual to see someone who wasn’t clutching a copy of this as the day progressed.

Editor Stuart Tipples tells us the titles beat all expectations and sold out of the 80 copies available on the day for the soft launch. "Not bad for a 114 page graphic novel even with the price reduction to £12!" he says.

It wasn’t just about the new boys though. Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard had a constant line of fans waiting for sketches. The Etherington Brothers, Markosia, Dealer Comics and my own Time Bomb Comics all seemed to be holding their own. That said, things did quieten down considerably from 4.00pm, but it was then a good opportunity for those of all behind tables to get together and compare notes.

Having expected “Bristol-Lite” I was pleased that the Cardiff Expo had its own identity and the day was clearly a success, starting the UK 2011 convention season off with a bang. Hopefully CICE 2012 and Hi-Ex 2012 won’t clash!

• The Cardiff International Comic Expo wil return next year, running the wekend ofn 25-26th February 2012. More info: www.fantasyevents.org/cice

Fallen Heroes Launch Event - Videos on GeekSyndicate

• Special thanks to Steve for taking time out of his busy schedule to write this report. Check out Time Bomb Comics - which include Stephen Walsh and Keith page's London Calling - at www.timebombcomics.com
 

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