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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Countdown to Comics Launch Pad Begins

2000AD editor Matt Smith, photographed at
Bristol UK Comics Festival, 2004,
holding a copy of small press
comic FutureQuake
This summer, a unique event takes place at The Studio, Birmingham, bringing together seasoned professionals and aspiring creators from around the world with one thing in common: a passion for comics.

The first event of its kind, Launch Pad, taking place 18th June and organised by the team behind the International Comic Show, includes a full programme of workshops and seminars designed to inform and inspire budding writers and artists, along with opportunities for portfolio reviews and face-to-face feedback.

Speakers at the one day conference include legendary US comic creator Klaus Janson, DC Comics Senior Editor Joey Cavalieri and 2000AD Editor Matt Smith, and the event is officially supported by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Rebellion Entertainment, Diamond Distribution and a host of other major publishing companies worldwide.

The Conference is limited to 300 delegates and includes an option to attend the exclusive after event roof garden party with complimentary food and drink.

• To find out more or to book your place go to:

Friday, 15 April 2011

Darkie's Mob joins Titan's 'Battle' line-up

Darkie's Mob collection published by Titan BooksAfter a long wait, Titan Books has published a full, uncensored collection of Darkie's Mob, John Wagner and Mike Western's hard-hitting Far East World War 2 adventure, first published in Battle Picture Weekly.

In the hellish, humid jungles of Burma, renegade Captain Joe Darkie leads a rag-tag squad of British soldiers behind Japanese lines, transforming them into the brutal 'Darkies Mob'. Narrated in diary form by hapless Private Richard Shortland, Darkie's squad face hardship, horror and vicious combat at every turn, as their Captain's mania threatens to engulf them all.

But what is Darkie's terrible secret, and how many will have to die before his bloodlust is finally sated?

Darkie's Mob was created by John Wagner (perhaps best known for his work on 2000AD's 'Judge Dredd' and his graphic novel, A History of Violence) and legendary British artist Mike Western (The Sarge) and ran in Battle and Valiant between 14th August 1976 and 18th June 1977.

"Darkie’s Mob was about as grim as Battle could get," notes Moose Harris, who provided scans for the new collection. "John Wagner had just turned freelance when he began writing it, and needed to get a good, strong story under his belt. He researched the Burma campaign extensively, and Darkie’s Mob reflected his findings. The scenes where Darkie is nailed to a roof to bake in the sun, where Meeker’s arm is amputated with a hunting knife, and where one of the mob is crucified and left to die, were all based on actual events.

"This didn’t save the Battle editorial team from the attentions of Parliament at the time of the investigations into Action. When the strip was reprinted by Battle in the post-Action era, five episodes were dropped because of their content. Mike Western, a veteran of many years and many stories, found certain elements of the narrative disturbing, but still regarded it as his favourite collaboration."

This is the first time the strip has appeared in its full uncensored form since its first publication in Battle, and Titan Books have been understandably careful in their presentation, warning on the cover of 'strong language' - a reference to the jingoistic parlance of the characters. But the hard-hitting story, when read as a whole, hides a grim secret that puts Darkie's hatred for his enemy in grim perspective once revealed.

Asked in 2002 if there was ever the threat of censorship during the strip's original run, John Wagner said: "Surprisingly, no. It was one of the things that made the story readable. No plastic soldiers like 'Captain Hurricane', this was an attempt to portray the reality of war and the strong emotions and sometimes desperate condition of the men who fought it."

Speaking about the strip in 2007 to David Bishop, John felt the strip was "a wee bit repetitive" when read in one sitting. "I’m surprised that we got away with some of the stuff we did," he said. "Most of it is based on real incidents."

The story is a grim adventure tale, exposing the jungle war as a savage setting - for both sides in the conflict. Joe Darkie is an unforgiving anti hero, and it's no wonder the tale influenced stories such as Bad Company in 2000AD later.

Moose Harris has done a sterling job on scans for the book - often no easy task given the original printing - and deserves praise for his graft.

Overall, Darkie's Mob is a powerful tale that some will no doubt find offensive - but could it be any more offensive than glossing over the realities of war, and all it brings, as some comic stories have done?

Buy Darkie's Mob from

Buy Darkie's Mob: The Secret War of Joe Darkie from

Further Reading

Colonel Marbles John Wagner Interview
2002 interview

Vicious Imagery: John Wagner talks about Battle Picture Weekly Part 1
David Bishop talks to John about how he came on board at IPC

Vicious Imagery: John Wagner on Battle Picture Weekly Part 2
The origins of Darkie's Mob discussed

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Commando crunches up sales, revamps digital app

The latest issues of Commando are on sale in all good newsagents and includes a tale written by occasional downthetubes contributor Matthew Badham.

Editor Calum Laird tells us the Commando iPad and iPhone app has just been updated and improved thanks to the feedback DC Thomson received from the first to adopt it. "It now works better than ever, he tells us, "and we have doubled the numbers of digi-subscribers in the last month." Although he doesn't tell us exactly how many subscribers that is...

Despite the launch of a digital edition, the print version continues to thrive in the title's 50th year. "Our paper subscription numbers have gone up 30 per cent this year," says Calum. "More details of the offers we have for that service can be found at" And of course we're still offering our DTT Commando discount - see column left for details.

Commando 4383: International Squadron 
Oiginally Commando No 216 (June 1966), re-issued as No 887 (November 1974)
Story: Brunt Art: Gordon Livingstone Cover Art: Ken Barr

South Africans in Catalinas, French in Dewoitine fighters, British in Hurricanes…what a terrific bunch they were!

They fought among themselves, they scrapped with the Japs — and to crown it all they had a German saboteur and spy in their midst creating more havoc!

"This was one story I was sure remembered clearly from 1966 (which was otherwise a pretty unmemorable year)," says Calum Laird, Commando Editor (don't forget, football fans, he's Scottish). So it was with some relish that I opened the dusty copy from the Commando archives.

"There was Commando stalwart Gordon Livingstone’s artwork bringing to life a story of feuding nationalities almost too busy with their personal quarrels to fight the Japanese enemy. And the whole mixture stirred with a spy in the camp. Just as I recalled.

"What I had forgotten, though, was Wally the monkey — the real hero of the story."

Commando 4384: Dressed to Kill...
Originally Commando No 470 (April 1970), re-issued as No 1387 (February 1980)
Story: Nick Allen Art: Ramon de la Fuente Cover art: Penalva

It was quite a sight to see Bert Morris ride to war over the parched desert sands in a battered, bucking jeep… with hundreds of bloodthirsty Arabs thundering along on horseback behind.

Branded a coward by the Foreign Legion but labelled a hero by the British Army, Bert’s story of how he raised this rebel army is now told for the first time. And what a story!

"A great combination here from 1970 with an opening panel that sets the scene," notes George Low, former Commando Editor. “'Dressed as an Arab, dressed as a British soldier, dressed as a French legionnaire… it didn’t matter what this guy wore, he was a fighting fury in any uniform!'

"So it’s desert action galore with sparkling artwork by Ramon de la Fuente to bring the best out of Nick Allen’s script. And the wonderful cover by Penalva has won its place in Commando history as the heaviest illustration to date. The paint on the hut wall is authentically deep and rough, lovingly laid on with a trowel I suspect."

Commando No 4385: Deserter!
Story: Matt Badham Art: Macabich Cover Art: Macabich

Abraham Brown’s older brother Robert went off to serve in the US Army in the American Civil War…and he didn’t come back. Abraham followed in his footsteps grimly determined to avenge his brother’s death.

But when he discovered that it hadn’t been enemy action that ended Robert’s life but a pack of outlaws he saw only one way to settle the score — and that meant deserting the flag he signed up to serve.

Occasional DTT contributor Matt Badham, better known for his great comic creator interviews in Judge Dredd Megazine, tells us he wrote this script in 2008 and was pleasantly surprised when we told him it had been published. "I enjoyed writing Commando, but it was very hard work. More novelistic than most comics; how Ferg Handley manages to write so many and keep the quality up is beyond me!"

Commando 4386: Fire And Water
Story: Mac Macdonald Art: Keith Page Cover Art: Keith Page

John James came from a long line of Royal Navy men. Yet he chose to join the RAF as a pilot. It seemed, though, that his naval heritage didn’t want to let him go. When he ditched his Hurricane in the English Channel he thought it was a one-off incident.

How wrong he was!

• Official Commando web site: 
• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846  
• Commando is also available for iPad and iPhone. The apps are free to download through the Apple iTunes App Store and a digital subscription is priced at £4.99 per month, compared to a £99 annual print subscription. For those not sure there are four free issues to download prior to making a purchase.  
Commando Comics iPhone App on iTunes  
Commando Comics iPad App on iTunes

Panel Borders: Spring Conventions - revealing nore about Sprit of Hope

Continuing radio show and podcast Panel Borders' month of shows about anthologies and collectives, they have a trio of interviews recorded at two recent comic book conventions in London.

Recorded at Kapow!, Islington Design Centre (April 2011): Alex Fitch talks to editor Alan Cowsill and publisher Tim Pilcher (Comic Book Alliance) about the comic book anthology Spirit of Hope that they’re bringing out to help raise funds to support the people of Japan after the recent Tsunami disaster and to Joel Meadows, editor of Tripwire about the new digital incarnation of his magazine about comics and pop culture.

Also, in an interview recorded at the London Comic and Small Press Expo, Goldsmiths College last month, Dickon Harris talks to Shaky Kane about his career which has ranged from short pieces in a variety of anthologies such as 2000AD, Escape and Revolver to his serialised graphic novel, The Bulletproof Coffin, written by David Hine.

• Panel Borders: Spring Conventions airs at 5pm, Thursday 14/04/11, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

Spirit of Hope Facebook Group

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Myriad Editions announces First Graphic Novel Competition

Scouting through the large number of graphic novel publishers at the London Book Fair, I came across news of a graphic novel competition being run by Brighton-based publisher Myriad Editions, publishers of the brilliant Rumblestrip album by Woodrow Phoenix some time back.

This is their first ever competition for a first graphic novel; the entry may be by a single author or may be a collaboration between a writer and artist. The winner will have the opportunity to develop their work in progress with Myriad's creative and editorial team with a view to being offered a contract and publication by Myriad in 2012/13.

The winner will be announced in January 2012 at the First Fictions Festival, organised by Myriad Editions in partnership with the University of Sussex and the closing date for the competion is Monday 1st October 2011.

The winning entry will be an extract from a narrative work in progress – fiction or non-fiction – and will be chosen purely on the strength and promise of the art and writing by a panel of expert judges, including: Steve Bell, cartoonist (Guardian); Hannah Berry, graphic novelist (Britten & Brulightly); Ed Hillyer (Ilya), cartoonist (King Lear, Skidmarks) and author (The Clay Dreaming); Corinne Pearlman, Creative Director, Myriad Editions
Ian Rankin, author (Inspector Rebus series and other novels); and Bryan Talbot, graphic novelist (Grandville, Alice in Sunderland, The Tale of One Bad Rat)

The competition is open to all cartoonists, writers and artists who have not previously published a graphic novel. A completed entry form, submission of a one page synopsis and between 15-30 pages of a graphic work in progress (fiction or non-fiction, with or without words, capable of being reproduced in black/white/greyscale) should be sent by post, with a covering letter and a cheque for £10 (made payable to Myriad Editions) to the address on the publisher's web site here.

(The entry fee is towards the administrative costs including photocopying, printing and postage and is a pretty standard thing for such competitions - when I ran the Lancaster litfest poetry competition it was accepted the entry fee was to cover costs).

The shortlist will be decided in December 2011 and the winner will be announced in January 2012 at the First Fictions Festival.

The submitted works must be intended for printing in black / greyscale only; in English;

submitted by email (PDF) or posted (photocopy of an original work) together with a cheque made payable to ‘Myriad Editions’ sent to the address on the web site. Entries that are not accompanied by the entrance fee cannot be accepted.

• For full conditions of entry or to download an entry form go to

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

London Book Fair maintains interest in graphic novels

The London Book Fair will again be promoting graphic novels tomorrow (13th April) with a seminar entield The Graphic Novel Renaissance, chaired by Paul Gravett.

Has a "tipping point" been reached for graphic novels? Leading editors and publishers from the UK's best and brightest graphic novel publishers discuss the rapidly changes occurring to this flourishing publishing sector.

The seminar is chaired by ComICA's Paul Gravett, freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, writer and broadcaster, and speakers are Sam Arthur, Director, Nobrow Press; Olivier Cadic, Managing Director, Cinebook; Emma Hayley, Publishing Director, SelfMadeHero; and Lizzie Spratt, Commissioning Editor, Walker Books.

Almost 30 graphic novel publishers attended last year's event despite disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud problems which meant many would-be attendees did not get to the Fair.

• The Graphic Novel Renaissance: 13 Apr 2011, 13:00-14:00, Westminster Room, Earls Court 1. London Book Fair web site:

Kapow breaks world records, announces 2012 return

Venue Inside - Kapow Comic Con 2011 London
Kapow ComicCon.
See Original on flickr
Guinness World Records, the official authority on record-breaking, has confirmed that two new Guinness World Records were set at the Kapow Comic Convention over the past weekend.

Comic book artists from across the industry came together to achieve new records for the ‘Fastest Production of a Comic-book’ (11 hours 19 min 38 sec) and ‘Most Contributors to a Comic-Book’ (62 contributors).

Talent including Kick Ass creator Mark Millar, cult Glaswegian artist Frank Quitely, Doctor Who and Superman writer Paul Cornell and iconic Marvel artist John Romita Jr worked throughout the day to create a new Superior comic book title. 62 contributors in total contributed to the comic-book, with the story concept, script, dialogue and all panels illustrated and lettered in one day.  “This is normally at least four weeks work and has be done in the space of a single day” explained Millar.

Guinness World Record adjudicators were on-site to confirm all guidelines were followed and to determine the records had indeed been accomplished. Gaz Deaves, Editor of Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to see some of the most successful comic creators in the world working together for this Guinness World Records title. Watching the components of a real comic book slowly emerge over the day and combine into the finished article was both deeply intimidating and hugely entertaining.”

The comic-book will be printed and distributed through Marvel’s Icon imprint, with all royalties being donated to Yorkhill Children’s Foundation. “Children in hospital love to read comic books to while away the hours on the wards," noted Shona Cardle, Chief Executive of the Foundation, " and we’re sure that this new comic will be a hit with the young patients at Yorkhill Hospital”.

Yorkhill Children’s Foundation provides enhanced medical equipment and resources which benefit sick children and babies who are treated at Yorkhill Hospital and within NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. These can include innovative medical equipment, improvements in child and family facilities and paediatric research and training.

The Kapow! Comic Convention team have announced that the event will return in 2012, "with film studios and exhibitors already lining up to book."  

Read our Kapow Convention Report  

• Official Kapow Website:

Yorkhill Children’s Foundation

Monday, 11 April 2011

It's a ¿@#!*$ exhibition and comics events thing in Belfast, innit...


What this unpronounceable series of symbols stands for is; ‘an exhibition and series of events incorporating the artistic mediums of Comics, Illustration and Zine making'.

Exhibiting Artists are Malcy Duff, who will also be appearing, Travis Millard, Tom Gauld, Simone Lia, Chris Ware, Fionnuala Doran and Phil Barrett.

Alongside the visual treat that is the work of the exhibiting artists, Belfast-based Catalyst Arts will also play host to a library full of zines and comics from all over the place - "Basically anything we could get our hands on," say the orgaaisers.

Then as if that wasn’t enough, there will be series of events running throughout the duration of the exhibition to keep things interesting, details of which can be found below.

• Catalyst Arts presents ¿@#!*$: 15th April – 7th May; Preview Thursday 14th April, 7pm – 10pm; 5 College Court, Belfast, BT1 6BS

• ‘Absence’ Launch Party
7.30pm – 9:30pm, Thursday 21st April, Catalyst Arts Gallery
Local Artists Andy Luke (Gran, Don’t Get lost) and Stephen Downey (Cancertown, Slaughterman’s Creed) launch their latest work ‘Absence’.

• Secret Cinema
Location and Time: Unknown
Follow ‘Sweet Or Salted’ on facebook. If you want any more information… don’t be silly, it is a secret isn’t it.

• Comic/Zine fair
12pm – 5pm Saturday 23rd April, Catalyst Arts Gallery
On Saturday 23rd April the Gallery space will be handed over to creators of comics, zines and all things illustrative. Stalls will be set up pedaling wares ranging from cakes to comics, posters to bags, zines to doodles on pieces of paper… you get the idea.

Stalls are FREE but spaces are limited, so if you are interested in reserving one then please contact

• Pretty Circus presents ‘Live Music & Live Drawing’ 7pm – 1am, Sunday 1st May, Catalyst Arts Gallery
The collective Pretty Circus arrange a night of live performance with music and illustration combining for a unique take on the collaboration of the two art-forms.

• ‘The Simpsons’ live comic performance by Malcy Duff
8pm Thursday 5th May, Catalyst Arts Gallery, Belfast

• ‘The Dog Walking Technique’: Drawing/Comic Storytelling Workshop
11am – 3pm, Saturday 7th May, Catalyst Arts Gallery, Belfast
Lunch Provided free
On Saturday 7th May, Artist Malcy Duff will be running a free workshop based around;non-traditional approaches to drawing, and comic storytelling, exploring new possibilities in form and narrative. Malcy uses sensory drawing to create ideas and/or characters, and have specific techniques that he has designed to lead these into making comix

Spaces are limited, if you are interested in taking part please RSVP to to book a place.

Al Davison signs aboard for Blood and Light

Renegade Entertainment has announced Al (The Spiral Cage, Doctor Who) Davison will draw Blood and Light, a new project from the publisher run by Alan Grant, Alexander Finbow and Doug Bradley.

"Blood and Light is a story I'm very passionate about, and to see its world and characters come to life is fantastic," says  Alexander Finbow. "After a long search for the right artist, we decided on the extremely talented Al Davison to bring this story to the page.

"Al was finishing up a one shot issue of the Unwritten for Vertigo when we signed him up, so he was able to get stuck straight into Blood Light. His character designs are beautiful works of art in themselves and I am really thrilled to collaborate on the graphic novel adaptation with him."

Blood and Light centres on Lawrence Bowman, a captain in Oliver Cromwell's army during the English civil war. The story picks up as Cromwell's forces begin their bloody campaign in Ireland against the Royalist and catholic forces with the siege of Drogheda. Bowman leads his men to successfully capture the city but his allegiances and loyalties are thrown into doubt by Cromwell's orders to show no mercy to any within the walls.

Realising that his trusted captain is troubled, Cromwell chooses him to lead the investigation into some brutal murders that have brought terror to the Irish countryside. Bowman finds himself thrust into a race against time to uncover the murderer before he strikes again.

Renegade's projects featuring other British creators include Channel Evil by Alan Grant and Shane Oakley, and Sand, featuring art originally by the late, great John Hicklenton.

• Check out Renegade Entertainment at

• Al's official site is The Astral Gypsy

Kapow: A Round Up

Venue Inside - Kapow Comic Con 2011 London
Kapow ComicCon. Photo: Stereo @rtist. See Original on flickr
(with thanks to Dave Stokes for letting us re-publish his Round Up - original version, with swearing, on his blog here; and Stero @rtist Ketan Majmudar for permission to use some of his super pictures of the event)

Mark Millar's first Kapow event, which included comics, film and TV panels, signings and the presentation of the first Stan Lee Awards (winners below). took place in London at the weekend. It seems to have gone well, judging from the many positive comments on Twitter and initial reports, although there has been some criticism of the amount of queuing and a lack of information on what was on in the run up to the event.

Here's a personal account of Saturday's proceedings by artist Dave Stokes, plus web links to other reports and news items that sprang from the event. We'll add to that list as more get posted.

Our thanks to everyone who offered their take on proceedings for this site.
So after falling in from the first annual Kapow Comic Con I promptly blacked out. Only to wake just now! So I guess this is as good a time as any to do a bit of a write up.

I'll get the negative out of the way first. I'm not proclaiming to be some sort of convention expert - this was only my second big comic convention - but I felt the information available prior to the con was a little lacklustre. The last con I attended had their panel schedule, floor plans (with a list of who every table was allocated too), and signing schedule all emailed to me ahead of leaving for the con.

Dredd Man - Kapow Comic Con 2011
Judge Dredd - aka 2000AD archivist Wakefield Carter
Photo: Stereo @rtist
I knew what books I could take to get signed, knew which artists were going to be in artists alley so I could go look up their sketch prices to help me plan my budget, etc.

I'm not the most organised person but I don't think going to a con without some vague gameplan is a great idea. All the books I took to get signed today, every single one, the creators aren't signing till tomorrow. I took a couple of movie posters for the new Thor movie to see if I could get those signed only to find when I got there that the Thor movie guests weren't on any signing schedule.

So I spent the day carrying a quite a bit of dead weight.

That's probably my only major gripe with the convention.

Now the postive. The turnout was great, at the busiest time of the day the show floor was rammed. There were some queuing snafus with the incredibly popular signing guests (John Romita Jr, Mark Millar etc) at times. Fortunately, most of the more popular panels were during "peak" times so the queues for those (on a balcony above the show floor) really helped the congestion a bit.

Stormtrooper and Black Cat - Kapow Comic Con - 2011
Stormtrooper and Black Cat. Photo: Stereo @rtist. See original on Flicker
The cosplayers looked awesome! Although every single time I walked passed a cosplayer who was stopping to get a photo taken, I could hear someone  just out of my eyeline make some snide comment about them. I'm not exaggerating either, literally everytime. The queue to get in first thing in the morning was the worst, pretty much 2-3 people deep either side of me in the queue were tearing into every cosplayer in the line that "dared" show off their costume on the streets.

Phoenix & Chsotbuster - Kapow Comic Con 2011 - London
Phoenix and Ghostbuster. Photo: Stereo @Artist
Original on Flickr here
RANT INCOMING! What the f*** is people's problem? You don't want to dress up? Fine, no one is asking you to. That Harley Quinn doesn't have that quite leggy, big boobed comic book figure so you want to spout some quite hurtful comments (not loud enough for her to hear though, thankfully) when you look like a passable Clayface even without make-up.

It's not like there were any Hawkmen with eight foot wingspans choking up already narrow aisles. If you're at a comic convention, you're a geek. There's no cool geeks, jock geeks whatever, that person you think you're entitled to rip the piss out of is just the same as you, so if you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to your fucking self. How are you people 30+ years old and still have yet to learn this very basic life lesson?

Costume Competition Line up - Kapow Comic Con 2011
Costume Competition Line up - Kapow Comic Con 2011. Photo: Stereo @rtist.
I think the cosplayers all looked awesome! Some of the costumes were top notch and really detailed. The Penguin especially was a real standout for me personally. he looked like he literally stepped out of the Batman Animated Series. I certainly don't have the balls to do it so who am I to criticise.

I only actually made it into one panel: the DC Comics Creators panel with Paul Cornell, Pete Milligan and Frank Quietly which was a lot of fun, but didn't really break any news that hasn't been seen elsewhere. Paul Cornell was a standout as he's such an enthusiastic and genuinely funny guy that he had the audience rolling in the aisles.

I do regret not getting into a couple more panels, especially the Green Lantern one, as I'm really looking forward to Emerald Knights and, obviously, the movie. But even getting to the queue 45 minutes before the panel starts and being faced with a huge line was a bit off putting. The Thor movie panel were even asking people to surrender their phones and cameras before being seated, which is fair I guess, but I wasn't prepared to part with my phone (anyone who knows me that my luck would have worked against me and I'd never see the phone again) so I skipped that panel also.

Early on the day I had a great chat with fantasy artist Manon who had the most gorgeous, incredible work on display in her portfolio. Her high end prints look amazing, and I was sorely tempted to grab one, but that would have decimated my weekend budget in one fell swoop. I was gutted, I'm going to start saving my pennies again and grab a print through her website eventually.

Despite being under the weather with what seemed like the start of a failing voice she was really open and informative about her process and her transition over to painting digitally in the last few years. Her work's very diverse with great humour pieces side by side with thoughtful portraits and stunning fantasy heroines. Really inspiring stuff, if you get a chance to see her at an event and you can afford it, please hurl large amounts of cash at her.

I eventually met up with good twitter buddy and fellow wannabe comicker Kev Levell, and we had a great chat about the trials and tribulations of being a full-time illustrator (which I'm not, but still), and how difficult it is to get into the comics biz, and the pro's and cons of twitter in general.

Unlike me, Kev was organised enough to get his portfolio submitted in time for the Marvel review at the convention, but still didn't get selected for a review slot. For shame Marvel, for shame, your loss.

So we made a pact I had to go stick my portfolio under someone's nose before the end of the day and so did he. I like to think I'm a man of my word so no excuses, no time for shyness, just do it.

I have this absolute hang-up about approaching someones table with the goal of getting them to look at my work, and not buying anything, especially another artist. So I spent way more than I'd planned to because of this, but ultimately got some really cool swag.

I got some great feedback from Terry Martin of Murky Depths and the cover artist of their latest issue, Neil Roberts. Really positive, I grabbed a Murky Depths card and Terry Martin took my email address (because of course I had forgotten to bring my business cards!) so fingers crossed something might come of that. Maybe once I've got a solid story arc finished of Blackfriars that might be an avenue to see it actually in print?

And after that the weight of self-doubt was lifted, and I was showing stuff to anyone who would look.

Stephen Downey really took a lot of time looking through my stuff and gave me some great feedback to improve my sequential work and seemed genuinely impressed with my portfolio, so much so he put it under the nose of one of his friends who walked passed his table. I'd already got an awesome Nightcrawler sketch in my sketchbook earlier (which were stupidly cheap for how awesome they are. Seriously go get a sketch from this guy!)

The stand out, hands down highlight for me though was Kev Crossley. Just after 5pm I think so funds had dwindled to my last £20, I'd hoped to get a sketch but his sketch list was heaving so I settled for some awesome fantasy themed greetings cards, and asked if he would be willing to look at my portfolio.

He was really busy but agreed, and the feedback was insane! He seemed genuinely surprised and was so taken with a couple of pieces he asked if he could snap a picture or two, particularly of my Abe Sapien sketch from a few months back, as he wanted to have a stab at his own interpretation.

I was so flattered I just about burst on the spot and insisted he take the sketch. Kev said I should look him up on facebook so I can see his version when he gets around to it, which I'm looking forward too immensely. He jotted down my webcomic address on the back of the sketch too so let's hope he likes it!

So all in all, it was a great day. I do have a ticket for Sunday but I'm not sure I'm going to go. I'm already over my budget for the weekend (by a lot), and I will end up spending more money if I go. That and the absolutely obnxious, horrific closures/delays/diversion on the London Underground made travelling to and from the venue an arduous affair.

There's a few kinks to work out with the convention if it returns next year, but I don't feel like it was a wasted trip. I only took a few snaps at the con. I'm neither a great or prolific photographer and once I'd discarded the ones with my finger intruding into frame there wasn't very many left, but if you're interested you can go see them here.

About the contributors to this post

• Dave Stokes is a a full time projectionist, and part time illustrator and currently accepting commissions. Please email stokesbookATgmail DOT com for rates. Check out his blog at

• Stereo @artist Ketan Majmudar is a freelance Web Designer/Developer (, Bassist and Photographer (stereoscopic & 2d) for art an fun. Check out his twitter event app: and his blog at 

Mark Millar pushed into phone box by fans at Kapow Comic Con 2011 London
Mark Millar pushed into phone box by fans at Kapow. Photo: Stereo @rtist.
More Kapow Links

• Official Website: 

Stan Lee Award Winners

Best Writer – Grant Morrison
Best Artist – John Romita Jr
Best Series – The Walking Dead
Best Superhero or Sci-Fi Movie – Inception
Best Trade – Blackest Night
Best Limited Series or Story Arc – Batman & Robin: Batman & Robin Must Die
Best Comic Hero - Batman
Best Newcomer - Jonathan Ross
Best Publisher – Marvel
Best TV Show – The Walking Dead
Best Game or Toy – Red Dead Redemption
Man or Woman of the Year – Stan Lee

News Items Green Lanetern Footage Report
"After being shown the previously released trailer for the Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters video game and animated movie, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights  those of us in attendance were lucky enough to see the footage which was shown at WonderCon a couple of weeks ago... The footage was very well received by the audience..."

• ComicBooked: Thor Screening Report
"It was the end of day one of Kapow!, and with all recording devices checked in prior to entering the auditorium, security was tight for the panel for upcoming Marvel movie Thor – but what would you expect when the security team included a gentleman who looked exactly like Odin, the God of Thunder’s father?"

• IGN Comics: Hit Girl gets Spin Off - Mark Millar announces four new projects
Hit Girl, the pint-sized dervish of death and destruction from Kick Ass, is to star in her own eponymous spin-off book, with work on it already well under way.
• IGN Comics: Kapow! 11: How to Break Into Comics
Marvel's top drawer on how to catch a break in the comics' business.

Geek Syndicate: Stan Lee Award Winners

Geek Syndicate: The IGN Arena at Kapow Comic Con

Pro and Creator Reports

• Comic Journal writer David Robertson: I Just Came Back from Kapow
"It was a good event, I’d like to see another. But Mark Millar did mention that he’d lost a fortune today, so I wouldn’t count on it."

• Keiron Gillen: Notes on Kapow
"In short, they pulled it off. For a first time con, it was spectacularly together. It also served its purpose, in terms of justifying its existence."

Photo © Joel Meadows
• Joel Meadows, Edior of Tripwire: Windy Millar
 "So after months of hype and bluster, Kapow Comic Con 2011 came to London at the weekend. Promising San Diego in London (overpriced hotels, restaurants you can't get into and panels you can't get near), at last there was the chance to see what all of the fuss was about..."

(Joel's report includes some brilliant photographs from the event, including this one of the two cos-players having a break)

• Steve Penfold and Dan Thompson: Diary - Day 1
"Talking about it now we’re pretty sure – given the success of the weekend – it’ll likely upgrade to Excel at some stage but this was the best venue I’ve stood inside for a long old time."

Fan Reports

• The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (Matthew Hyde): Day One, blow by blow
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth (Matthew Hyde): Day Two, blow by blow

Growler's World: Saturday
I went to the Saturday part of this brand new, major comic convention in London and was blown away by the awesomeness!"

Heather Taylor: My First Ever Comic Convention
"Mark Millar ended the panel Q&A with a comment about those who’ve said he’s sold out. His response? “If I get given free money, I’m going to take it. I’m Scottish.” If John Romita Jr. is anything to go by, taking money isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can still lead to even better things i.e. the work you love to do."


Stereo @Artist at Kapow: Flickr Set
Hit Girl Promo Cover Revealed
• London Comic Club:!/
• Jock: Frank Quitely, John Romita Jr., Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar

Twitter Comments

"I do think they maybe need more volunteers to ensure that the 45minute rule on queuing is enforced" - MCE 

"This year I think VIP was not worth it due to a number of things, but I will buy it next year if they guarantee  a few BIG panels like the Thor panel, and hopefully they'll get a decent VIP goody bag too!... Jonathan Ross was a true gent at his signing, best signing of the day." - SasariHurley

"Getting good reports about #kapow from creators - amused that they all seem focused around the after con pub..." - Tony Lee 

"IMHO it was the best Comic Con I've been to. Well done to all at #Kapow!!" -  Gary Seaward

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