Sunday, 27 May 2012

KAPOW !! A knockout... two views of the weekend.

Dave's View - 'Anthologies do sell'.
Last weekend saw Accent UK travel down to London for the second KAPOW!! convention.
We've heard a lot of good things about last year's event but had failed to make it ourselves as we were at the MOCCA event in New York.
Only Colin and I were going down to man the stall for the two days and so we were a bit limited as to how much we could take with us, limited that is by what we could physically carry. Or that would have been the case had it not been for support from a company that will remain nameless (as I think they prefer it that way) who we to bring with them a box of each of our old anthologies, and Stuart of UK Comics (our printer) who was bringing 2 boxes of the new 2OMBIES. This meant that, if all went to plan, we'd actually had more comics to sell than we've had at a Con for a very long time, and most of them were anthologies, which are notoriously a bit of a hit or miss affair . The danger was, of course, that we might find ourselves carrying a lot of books back up North with us, and the anthologies are pretty heavy beasts. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Colin and I set off for London on the Friday, rather than rush down Saturday morning. There were two reasons for this. Firstly the Con started at 9am, which would have meant a very very early start, and secondly we'd agreed to deliver some stock to Orbital Comics, following a meeting for Camila at the last Comiket event.
Before heading off to Orbital we needed to lighten our load and drop off most of our luggage (comics) at the venue. Blimey. Talk about well organised. Within minutes of entering we were looking down at our table and less than an hour later we were pretty much set up. Covering the stall with a sheet as we left to keep the dust off, job done.
We set off for Orbital Comics.
After a little wandering around London's streets we were once again reminded of the value of having an ex-scout along with us. Without Scott we were hopeless and completely failed to find the store. Still, modern technology soon came to our rescue. We phoned Scott who talked us through the route and ten minutes later and we were there.
Wow, what a great store Orbital Comics is. A full room dedicated to Independent Press. We were in heaven. Camila, and the store in general, is a real champion of comics that are outside the mainstream, and only too happy to stock our books. It's a great feeling knowing that we have our complete catalogue (except the original ZOMBIES, which is sold out) available in a London store.
As we were chatting about comics with Camilla our good friend Chris Dingsdale appeared. Chris had kindly agreed to allow us to crash at his house, despite Colin's snoring issue, see, a good friend indeed.
I was tempted, albeit only momentarily, to cry AccentUK Assemble, but we were still missing a member, as artist Gary Crutchley wouldn't be meeting up with us until Saturday, and so I refrained. Well, there was also the fact that Chris would have probably clipped me around the ear.
So, first things first then... off to a pub for a pint. Which turned into a few pints and some food.
Then it was back to Chris's for a beer, some chat and a video. The video we selected was Doc Savage which we were all old enough to remember watching at the cinema. I could say that it had aged pretty well, but that would be because it was as bad now as it had been back then. Still, great fun and a film that would be all the better for a new audio track that had us doing the vocals, agfter having re-written the script of course.
Satuday, and no headache. No idea how that happened. Must have been some of that old Doc magic.
We arrived to find that all the anthologies had been delivered, which meant we had a whole load of them to sell, and a few minutes later the stall was fully stocked... and Belmat was in position.
We had a steady stream of customers all day really. We didn't do the sales we'd hoped to do but we did sell about 2/3rds of what we expected, so it was too bad.
(photo from Bleeding Cool 
- that's us in the red circle talking to some customers)
Gary Crutchley arrived with a fabulous piece of original art and we gave a raffle ticket to everyone who bought a copy of WesterNoir. Sales, and interest, in WesterNoir were very encouraging, and although it sold very well, so did all of the books. Best seller on the day was 2OMBIES, you just can't keep them down, and it was great to hand a few copies out to contributors, and see the look of pleasure on their faces.
(photo - Chris finally gets back with the coffee only to find Dave no longer at the stall)
An added bonus of these Cons is that we often find that our table is next to someone we've never met before and this time it was the team behind Mr. Who. A really nice bunch of guys who are very passionate about the industry and their work. I've not read the comics yet but they're full of extras, in the form of CDs, that relate to the comic story itself. Interesting ideas.
It was a late finish on Saturday, 7pm, but it really didn't feel it. Usually the last hoour of a Con is pretty quite but in this case we were still talking to customers and making sales pretty much up to the last minute. Great stuff.
(photo - good friend Steve Tanner's TimeBomb stall)
Saturday night say a tired trio make it as far as the first restaurant that had a spare table, were we had food and beer. Not necessarily in that order. And then it was back to Chris's for more beer and a movie. This time it was the classic Megaforce, which is kind of a merging of Mad Maz and the Bee Gees, but not in a good way. Great fun though and once again I think our dialogue script was better. I did bounce the idea of acquiring the rights to Megaforce, what a comic book that would be, but the more I sobered up the less convinced I became.
Sunday, following a cooked breakfast (thanks Chris, maybe remember the Black Pudding next time ... just a suggestion) we made our way to the event wondering how much stock we could shift to save a few back problems on the way home. Sundays are always quieter than Saturdays. It's a fact of Comic Con Life.
But there's always the exception to every rule and this Con was it.
Sunday we did better sales than Saturday and following our passing the agreed number of anthology stockover to the guys on the Orbital Comics table, we were pretty much down to only having a few copies of most books left to sell. Phew. I even had a couple of offers for Belmat, but he's not for sale I'm afraid ... I do take commissions though :o)
I did get to wander around the event a little over the two days and it certainly is impressive. The organisation was excellent, with no queues effecting us in the main area. Most of the people behind stalls seemed to have had a very good convention sales-wise and a good cup of coffee was always close at hand.
Joel Meadows (Tripwire) pulled the winning ticket for the WesterNoir original art out of the hat (as it were) and disappointingly I didn't win, but we phoned the happy winner who will be receiving the artwork very soon.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by for a chat, to buy a comic or two or to bring me food (that's you Chris).
A great event ... I'd recommend it to all ... punters, dealers and publishers alike.
We'll be back for more next year.
                                                                     Dave West - May 2012.

Chris's View - “Deeds Not Words”

Comics events used to be about as common in the UK as hard photographic evidence of the Beast Of Bodmin.
These days you cant move for them. At least not in the merry month of May at any rate.
Last week it was Bristol Expo. This week its Kapow! at the  London design Centre in trendy Islington.
Last year’s event was a good one. I travelled down from my home in North Wales for a relaxing weekend in the Capital. Stayed in Kensington (well OK at the Youth Hostel but it is very nice….) spent some time and lots of cash in the Convention Hall, attended various panels, chatted comics, met up with old friends and even made some new ones. Nice one.
This year though I was worried. Really worried.
Now I am living in our wonderful Capital City and I have offered up my digs once already to the unfailingly nice Colin Mathieson and his son Scott for the purposes of the Accent UK presence at London SuperCon.
This time however Mr M was being accompanied by the fearsome Mr Dave West.
Yes THAT Dave West. The Eagle Award Winner. The CEO. The Chief. The Genralissimo himself.
A man with an ego so large he can only talk about himself in the third person.
Thus on Friday afternoon I was informed that Dave would be arriving in the City Centre with his “people” ( well, Colin ) and I was to await instructions as to when I would be granted an audience with the great man.
Actually what transpired was that I was looking around the excellent Orbital Comics and saw the pair of them trying to sell Accent UK books to the unsuspecting proprietors. I told Orbital they were frauds. They didn’t listen and took the books anyway.
We then retired to the “Marquess of Anglesey” on Drury Lane for beer, food and then more beer.
A return to the East End was capped off by a group viewing (with beer) of “Doc Savage The Man of Bronze” (1975) or at least my German R2 DVD. A camp classic. Dave and I laughed nostalgically whilst remarking what a good Doc Ron Ely was. Colin shared that he really liked the scene where Doc takes his early morning swim. Hmm. OK.
Saturday morning; Breakfast, Underground, London Design Centre. In that order.
I have to say that on entering, the Hall was impressive. The Design Centre is as close to an ideal venue for a Convention as you will find, just beating out the Ex Cel as it is essentially in the centre of London.
Layout was similar to last year’s event but it became apparent over the course of the weekend that the organisers had listened to the comments and acted on them where necessary.
The lower level entrance floor was taken up again by the Movie promotion area – natty flat screens arranged in a circle with couches to watch the (limited) number of movie trailers on offer. The stage area was back for events and interviews. In addition this year, a full size wrestling ring had been erected adjacent the entrance signing area.
Stairs led up to the main mezzanine floor with all the dealers’ and exhibition stands. Signing tables were once again at the rear of the floor.
The upper gallery levels that overlook the main floor again featured the main panel room and also the Auditorium for movie / TV events.
Accent UK were grouped on the main floor with a number of other independent publishers. The stand was already set up by Dave and Colin on Friday. They had gained access to the Hall early. No doubt Dave West had one of his “Don’t you know who I am ?!?“ moments to gain entry. Seen a few of those down the years.
The doors opened, people arrived and within minutes the place was packed. Really packed. To the point where it was difficult to look at dealer’s stands with any success.
One of the delights about going along with the Accent UK lads is that they recognise my many and varied skills, talent and experience. I am a Professional after all in my chosen field.
Thus within no time I was going to the Concession stand for coffees and out to the nearest Sainsburys to fetch lunch because you know it’s good to feel well, “valued”.
So Kapow! was in full swing again. In truth there was so much going on that you could not possibly participate in everything. In the Hall there were dealers, signings, the stage for interviews and wrestling going on simultaneously.
The upper galleries held panels and movie previews and this hosted some independent press and an “artists alley” also.
The Saturday ended at 7pm which is perhaps a tad too long and we retired to a local Thai restaurant before returning to the East End (via a beer stop at Tescos) for a late night showing of the 1982 classic “Megaforce”.
Some films are good and some films are bad and some films though are so bad they are good. In fact so enamoured was Dave that at one point he was considering acquiring the Comic Book rights together with us lot turning up next year in lycra jumpsuits and headbands to promote the thing. Of course that could have been the beer talking. Still, miss Kapow! 2013 at your peril eh?
Sunday morning. Full English breakfast courtesy of yours truly. Dave then asked me for one of those Hotel guest comment cards for accommodation / quality / service for him to fill in before he left. Sadly I didn’t have one. Got marked down for that one. Damn.
Once again we negotiated the weekend tube closures and reached the Design centre just prior to opening at 9.30am. Stall sorted I resumed my duties and we were off and running once again.
The Convention didn’t even seem to suffer the Sunday slowdown these events usually suffer from. The Cosplay Contest was due to be staged and thus all manner of costumed characters turned up. Some looked great. Some ah.. didn’t. Special mention to the two She-Hulks though who both looked fantastic. Not sure who won but the prizes looked spectacular.
I attended two panels; The Marvel “A Cup O’ Joe” Panel seemed disorganised and not spontaneous as I think it was meant to be. Sorry guys but it seemed like a wasted opportunity to me. Better next year huh?
The DC Panel on the other hand seemed well organised, interesting and informative, In fact I hadn’t read any “New 52” material but the Panel actually made me  want to. Well done Bob Wayne, Dan Didio, Scott Snyder et al.
(I have now read  Justice League; Origin” and “Batman; A Court of Owls”. Excellent they were too and yes Dave, I know you told me so.).
So what is the verdict? Well Kapow! in 2011 was all nice, shiny and new just as the Super Con was this year but I am pleased to report that this years event was even brighter and shinier even though it wasn’t new. I spent more money than I have ever spent at an event.
It was great to see Marvel, DC and Image attending. DC even gave a breakdown of what the UK market share means to them (and it’s significant). We are getting the recognition that out valuable custom deserves.
Organisation was good, the problems from last year with queuing on the main floor for autographs had been solved. There was tons of activity going on simultaneously. I cannot imagine anyone being bored over the two days. The dealers sounded as if they did well. Accent UK did pretty good numbers and made a load of new contacts including retailers.
Proceedings closed at 3.30pm we packed up and Colin and I carried Dave’s bags out of the Hall. Fame and status carries its own rewards I guess.
Roll on next year then.
Actually I made up the stuff about Dave West if I am honest. I didn’t help carry his bags out of the Hall.
Colin did.
                                        Chris Dingsdale - May 2012


  1. Chris Dingsdale29 May 2012 at 00:20

    I would just like to say that I would pay to see Dave West punch the air and shout;


    in a packed Orbital Comics on a friday afternoon!!

  2. Ha ... I think doing that might just lose us any respectability that we have ... heard earned and so easily lost ...