Aside from Soccer, Cricket is such a traditional English sport, but, I’m sorry, I can’t share the enthusiasm of it’s ardent supporters. That bat and ball game has never been for me, which probably stems from a childhood having forced to watch the game when it was on back when the BBC had the rights. Then again, if you took the cricket out of the cricket stadium for one day and replaced it with comics, then you would’ve got my interest, and that’s what the organisers of the Birmingham Comics Festival did.
April in Birmingham is a month long celebration of comics thanks to satellite events sponsored by the convention organisers of BCF such as a quiz night, where the winner of the quiz wins a free commission from a creator from the show. I won one last year, a commission by Fables and Miracleman artist Mark Buckingham, and I’m still proud of it.
What’s impressive is how the organisers successfully built on last year’s inaugural show which is held at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. Upon entering the venue, it’s apparent that the planners had full carte blanche over the spacious venue there were three floors and an area that was dedicated to the cosplayers. The first floor was jam packed with artists, dealers, exhibitors and small press publishers. The convention had appearances from such guests as Luca Pizzari, Mark Harrison and Ian Kennedy, both of whom had put in rare appearances at shows such as these.
As an art collector, I didn’t get on any early commission lists, I took the easy route and I arranged a few pre-show commissions from a few artists. This freed up some time to attend a few panels. The panel room was busy at all times with informative talks ranging from diversity to cosplay. Amongst the panels I attended was aptly titled “Something in the water”, an engaging discussion about local comic artists which featured cartoonists Hunt Emerson, Lew Stringer and 2000AD artist Ian Richardson, all of whom spoke about how they started their careers in comics.
The talk also highlighted the great work that the likes of John McCrea, Mike Collins and Phil Winslade, to name a few. This was followed by “God Bless America”, a revealing and jovial panel where such guests like David Hine, Dan Abnett, Luca Pizzari and Steve Pugh spoke about working for such companies as Dark Horse, Marvel, DC, Aftershock and Image.
Aquaman scribe Dan Abnett gave his thoughts on the interaction between editors, writers and artists and the different approaches Marvel and DC do. Hinterkind writer Ian Edginton spoke about “legitimately buying the Batman 1966 blu ray set” for research purposes for the upcoming Batman 66 and Avengers project (the 60s TV show) which is going to be released in June.
With the explosion of comic events throughout Britain, the second city in the UK has three comic conventions this year which include ICE (International Comics Expo) in September and Birmingham MCM in November. It just proves that the second city is truly comic friendly.