Comics fans were spoilt for choice at this year’s SFX Weekender…
If you were taken to such places as a nipper (as your Comic Heroes scribe was) there’s something about arriving on a blustery British holiday park that will forever be exciting. The best years may be behind these creaking ghosts of UK-based holidays past, but fill them with excitable science fiction fans and a program packed to the gills with talent and you’re on to a winner.
For the average comic nut, the SFX Weekender was a journey into the surreal, taking in talking animals, steam punk interruptions and some of the biggest names in the UK comics industry. Thursday night’s pre-party set the tone as we lesser mortals mixed with the likes of Bryan Talbot and Paul Cornell and eased ourselves into proceedings.
On Saturday morning, it was straight down to business. A panel featuring Paul Cornell and a freshly arrived Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood discussed how to get started in comics to a packed main arena. Gate-crashed half way through by birthday boy Dez Skinn (who hadn’t been told the panel had been moved, sorry about that Dez!) the panel dished out tips for aspiring writers and artists (don’t be afraid to self-publish, people!) and made everyone in the room begin frantically scheming new strips. Elsewhere in the Main Void, Preacher legend Glenn Fabry and cartoon maestro Paul Cemmick could be found bringing their artwork to the masses.
Saturday afternoon’s undoubted highlight was a liquid lunch with Mssrs. Lee and Boultwood as they delighted the bar with a workshop on comic creation. Even a troupe in full steam punk attire marching through the middle of the audience couldn’t put the intrepid duo off their stride, and their presentation was one of the weekend’s high points.
A 2000AD panel featuring the likes of the mighty Al Ewing and Defoe’s Leigh Gallagher kicked things off on Saturday, while the legendary Pat Mills and artist Clint Langley broke out the biros for a signing session. Meanwhile Luther Arkwright creator Bryan Talbot was busy captivating audiences in the screening room with a talk on Grandville’s anthropomorphic influences. He also gave us an update on the status of the next instalment of Detective Inspector LeBrock’s adventures, telling the assembled masses that scripting is complete and artwork is getting under way in the next couple of months.
The final comics panel of the weekend featured Bryan Talbot, Pat Mills, Tony Lee and Titan’s Den Patrick chatting about comics outside the US. Reading recommendations (including Marjane Satropi’s Persepolis and Kieron Gillen’s Phonogram), the future of UK comic shops and the agendas of publishers across the world were pored over in a discussion that could happily have carried on for several days. But, with the bar beckoning, the Weekender’s comics coverage was wrapped up leaving everyone with the warm fuzzy feeling that arrives with a job well done. Roll on next year…