[Conventions] Kapow Comic Con 2011

I’d love to write more about people’s experiences at conventions, so please contact me if you’d like to write a guest post about a convention, or share any links with a really good convention writeup.

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Last weekend was the first ever Kapow! Comic Con, an attempt to kick start a convention in the UK that would be comparable in style (if not size) to the San Diego Comic Con.

Arb and I went, along with some friends/ partners/ sisters and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This is a very different style of convention from the scifi/ fantasy ones like Eastercon, which I’ve written about previously. It’s funded and organised by professionals rather than fans, so there is a very different type of atmosphere. Less of the wackiness, craziness, and warmth, and more queuing, organised sales pitches, and people from film/ television as well as writers.

Having said all that, it felt like a friendly event, full of fans of comics, cult TV shows (a category which apparently includes Merlin these days) and – yes – computer games. And they were very sharp with making sure that events ran on time.

We went to a panel which was a Q&A session with Mark Gatiss who aimiably chatted about Sherlock, Doctor Who, The First Men on the Moon, history of horror, why he prefers writing screenplays to books and just about anything else for the hour.

A few computer gaming companies turned up to show off upcoming releases, and I actually got close to a Nintendo 3DS for the first time. Which was long enough to ascertain that yes, the 3D pictures look very cool. I was also amused to see someone brought along some booth blokes dressed as soldiers rather than scantily clad booth babes.

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There were plenty of cosplayers around, even on the Saturday (the cosplay competition was on Sunday), mostly in superhero costumes with a smattering of medieval. I’m not sure who this woman is dressed as but thought it was a great picture with her friend in the scarf.

Unlike computer gaming conventions, there was a fair number of women represented in the attendees. Or in other words – geeky girls represent!

I haven’t mentioned the comics yet, which took up the main body of the convention floor as you can see in the picture at the top.

There was some brilliant merchandise available – as well as back issues, there were models, posters, tshirts, mugs, et al. We came home with a really cool poster of Spider Jerusalem, a mug (for me) that reads “evil fluffy bitey things”, and the first issue of a new comic produced locally and which comes with its own CD where the entire creative team had turned up to make the pitch. Go check out their website for the Mister Who comic. It’s pretty darned awesome.

Anyone else go to Kapow last weekend? What did you think?

Are any gaming conventions fun?

I’ve read a few blogs from people who went to PAX East over the weekend. And what they had in common is that no one really found the convention itself to be all that fun, it was more about being able to meet up with fellow bloggers/ guildies/ etc there.

Now last year I went to a couple of conventions. One was the Eurogamer Expo, which is a gaming convention, has a show floor full of demos that you can try, and that’s about it. I wasn’t impressed. I wonder if it was partly my own fault – what did I really expect from a gaming convention anyway? There were games, right?

The other convention that I went to last year was Eastercon, which is a sci fi convention. We had a blast! There were panels on all the time, there were films to watch, demos to take part in, panels with well known authors who you could go talk to, a chocolate tasting (yes really). even a room full of board games to play. Some of the panels were even about games, and we also got to meet friends from around the country.

I know which convention I would go to again and it would be the scifi one. But why the big difference? I wonder if it’s because sci fi conventions tend to be fan run, with lots of volunteers stepping up to offer to run sessions on just about anything under the sun, lots of families and family oriented activities, and people with years of fandom under their belt who are keen to welcome newbies into the convention scene.

Maybe it really is about the people, and not about the big shiny demos that you need to queue for hours to play or the devs who probably don’t have time to talk to you anyway.

In any case, me and Arb are going to Comic Con 2011, one of the biggest conventions of them all. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous. Will it be more like the scifi conventions with fans, fan run activities, panels and crazy things to do, or will it be more like the gaming conventions with silent anonymous queues to see the good stuff.

Has anyone actually had fun at a gaming convention? I wonder a bit about Blizzcon too, because really the main fun there seems to be meeting guildies which you don’t actually have to do at a Blizzcon.