Kapow Con 2012 Report

This past weekend, various fans, exhibitors and professionals of the comics world descended upon the Business Design Centre in London, England for the second annual Kapow Con.  And I was among them, selling copies of the first three issues of The Standard.  I was sharing a table with the Glasgow League of Writers, with Gordon McLean as my core tablemate, selling the first two issues of No More Heroes.  But also assisting at the table were GLoW cohorts Colin Bell (pimping free samples of his webcomic Jonbot VS Martha), Sam Read, John McCusker and Luke Halsall.  Things started off a little slow, but once they picked up, Kapow turned out to be a very successful weekend for GLoW and for The Standard.

As we struggled to make sense of the London tube system, we ended up being a bit late to the venue on the Saturday.  We ended up arriving at the Business Design Centre just as the fans were getting in.  Perhaps being in a rush to set up threw us off our game a bit, but it seemed like at first we were struggling to grab anyone’s attention on the floor.  Thankfully, we started drawing people to our table, and both The Standard and No More Heroes began to sell rather well.

The one panel I attended on Saturday was the Image Superstars panel.  Eric Stephenson was moderating this discussion, which included Charlie Adlard, Sean Phillips, David Hine, Shaky Kane and the surprise addition of Doug Braithwaite, who will be drawing upcoming sci-fi noir series Storm Dogs for Hine.  The various projects discussed at this panel reminded me just how much quality output Image is getting out there right now. Exciting times for creator-owned work indeed.  I got to ask a question about why, while in the past it seemed like creators made their naes on great Image titles before moving on up to Marvel and DC, now we’re seeing big name Marvel and DC creators coming over to Image, and that prompted some interesting debate and discussion amongst the panel.  Afterwards, I was also able to pounce on Image publisher Eric Stephenson and get some copies of The Standard in his hands!  Eric Stephenson actually really impressed me at Kapow.  As such a senior publisher, I’m sure it would have been easy for him to take a hands-off approach, but he was there at the Image booth selling away like every other exhibitor.  It goes to show the passion he still has for the industry and the product he’s selling.

The other main thing that took me away from my table on Saturday was a couple of signings.  I’m kicking myself at missing the Paul Cornell signing (especially when I hear that Mr. Cornell sat down to have a chat with my Comic Anonymous friends earlier in the day while I was away getting coffee!), but I did get to go see Jock, getting both my hardcover graphic novel of Batman: The Black Mirror and a couple of Scalped issues signed.  Jock was nice, and seemed pleased that someone had some Scalped stuff for him.  Of course, I’m a Scalped super-fan.

Later on in the day, I ended up in a much bigger queue for Scott Snyder.  We were told that Scott would only be signing 1 item per person, as the queues were massive and he wanted to get through everyone before his time was up, which is fair enough.  So, after a moment of Sophie’s Choice style turmoil, I settled to have Batman: The Black Mirror signed instead of Batman #5, my favourite single issue Snyder has written.  As was the case at NYCC, Snyder was a very nice guy to meet, though I got a real kick to discover that he actually knew who I was, and reads my reviews!  I gave Scott copies of The Standard, and went away feeling pretty chuffed, if I do say so myself.

As the day neared its close, some of our number decided to head off early.  But I’m glad I decided to stay on to the bitter end, as in that last stint we made a whole bunch of sales.  Among the people I was happiest to meet on Saturday was Magnus Aspli, writer of The Vessel of Terror.
I was a big fan of this book, and gushed about it in my review last year.  So it was nice to put a face to the name at last.  Anyway, after wringing every last sale out of the day that I could, finally we were chased out of the hall, and Kapow was done for the night.

For dinner, we went to a fantastic Thai restaurant called Thai Square London.  This was the first time I’ve had Thai food, but it won’t be the last.  Disco duck with coconut rice: delicious.  We went to the Hilton Bar afterwards, but honestly we were so tired after our long journey and early rise (5am for me!) that we ended up calling it a night early.

On Sunday, we managed to get to the venue earlier, giving us time to get ourselves set up before the punters arrived.  As the day of selling began proper, I was really pleased that we had a few people who had bought The Standard #1 the day before coming back to get issues #2 and #3, because they loved the first issue so much.  It’s great to have readers come back and let you know they enjoyed the book, it really emphasizes that you’re not just throwing your work out into a void, that people are appreciating it.

My one panel for Sunday was DC’s New 52 panel.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: people give Dan Didio a hard time, but his passion for what he does is undeniable.  He showed that again here, in an enthusiastic, often candid panel talking about what lies ahead for DC’s publishing line.  Also on the panel were Scott Snyder, Ian Churchill and Bob Wayne.  It’s funny, the news that DC will be re-introducing an established male character as gay in the coming months has been making headlines as a big announcement in the news-phere, but as someone who actually attended the panel, I can say the “announcement” came somewhat off-hand, as a reply to a tricky question from the audience.  “Much like our President, Dan Didio’s opinion has evolved,” drolly quipped Bob Wayne – probably the line of the panel.

Afterwards, I went back for a second Scott Snyder signing, this time to get Batman #5 signed.  Snyder kindly obliged, and also teased a bit about what’s coming up in Batman.  I can’t share any details, but it’s going to be very exciting!

As we neared the home-stretch for Kapow, I managed to sell out of The Standard #1 .  On one hand, this was great – I’d had a successful sell-out of the first issue!  But on the other hand, it meant that for the last 20 minutes or so of exhibiting I had a hard time getting people to buy just issues #2 and #3.  I did manage to sway a couple of folk, though.

And finally, it was all over.  Another con done, and it was time to pack up and go home.  Already, I’m back in Glasgow and it feels like London never happened.  But all in all, it was a very successful con.  I got to meet some awesome people, make some promising contacts, and most importantly, get The Standard into the hands of a whole new bunch of readers.  See you again next year, Kapow!

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