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By midlandsmovies, Jun 9 2019 07:52AM



Comic Con Leicester 2019


Celebrating its 5th Anniversary, Leicester Comic Con is one of the highlights of Leicester’s cultural quarter and a must-see on the Midlands cosplay calendar. With 4 successful years behind them, the convention once again returned to the art-deco ex-cinema Athena venue which has always given this event a local and quirky flavour.


Although taking place over the first weekend in June at the height of summer, the weather couldn’t have been wetter. Although previous years have seen many people gather at the front of the venue, allowing cosplayers to congregate and take photos, the incessant rain meant that it was a slightly darker beginning than previous years.




What it did mean though was that people being forced inside resulted in a bigger, better – and slightly cramped – atmosphere inside where comic and film fans, artists and those dressed up pushed together to create an amazing buzz.


As you arrive, out the front of the venue were three of the vehicles used for Bumblebee in the cinema iterations of the Transformers. In Michael Bay’s first take on Transformers in 2007, Bumblebee was depicted as a 1976 Camaro and then a fifth-generation 2011 Camaro before returning to his original cartoon Volkswagen Beetle version in Travis Knight’s Bumblebee (2018).


As famous a car as you’re sure to see today, right? Well not quite. Once inside attendees were greeted with the Bat-Signal which was illuminating the Tumbler – the armoured Batmobile used in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.




Heading upstairs first of all, there was also a mannequin dressed as Knight of the Old Republic who we took photos next to after resting our bags on the model. However, rather embarrassingly after we left, we noted that to our surprise this “mannequin” started to move. The very static cosplayer had trolled us good!


Upstairs, as with most years, there is a gaming area at the very top of the venue and the artists are situation in stalls on each tier of the balcony. We’ve said before – and we’ll say it again – but this is such a unique venue that it really does have a fantastically original and special feel when compared to other conventions often situated in bland leisure centres or echo-y halls.


Up on this top tier were Nick Gribbon who specialises in cinema, Marvel and zombie illustrations whilst the convention alsowelcomed Leicester post-apocalyptic artist Gustaffo Vargas who brought his Peru-infused ‘drug Guinea Pigs’ to the floor. Sass & Sorcery were there selling their magical art prints and greeting cards, as was game art designer Little Woodlouse, pop culture artist Lee Bradley and anime-inspired artist Emmett Green.


Keith Chan returned as one of the convention’s veteran artists along with David Millgate and his 2000AD artwork and poster prints. And also out for his 5th year in a row was Ryan Button of RB Illustrations. We’re slightly biased as Ryan did our fantastic film night event posters but was great to see one of the designs (for our Die Hard-themed screening night) finally become a limited edition print. As well as more Bumblebee (and Grimlock) related Transformers art too!



Rachel of Nottingham’s EldritchRach Illustration was another return artist whilst another Nottingham artist of handmade crafts & illustrations was Fanatic Pufferfish and next door was Here Be Monsters, the comic from Luke Parker.


A welcome return too for Midlands animator and cartoonist Thomas Crook (who we covered in our early days) and his delightful dairy creation – the Cheesemen – who, as you can guess, are mysterious characters made of cheese. Here, attendees could grab a free build-your-own robot Cheese Man. A great little model can be made from card and a cool idea to link back to their fun website for the instructions.


Along with the artists, the balcony also hosts the body-painting zone where very brave men and women allow themselves to be covered in head to-toe make-up. Given how hot the venue was starting to get, it made strange sense that their little amount of clothing was very much enviable by this time.


We then headed back down the stairs where there was an Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones photo opportunity whilst on the main stage you could share space with Star Wars droids, Yoda, Ewoks and the Emperor’s throne as well.


The main ground floor hosts shops, coin-op machines and a mass of Funko Pop sellers but we recommend checking out local business Arcade Frames run by local Nottingham film-fan and musician Rob Lane who creates retro-fused LEGO mini figure frames.



Finally, we couldn’t not mention one of the organisers of the event itself, Gavin Lee-Pate. With 5 successful years under his belt, Gavin (and his partner in crime Richard Tewkesbury) should be rightly proud of another successful event which gives joy to so many local people from all ages and backgrounds. Gavin is also a successful artist in his own right under Cult Locations Ink. These are small hand drawn prints of famous movie locations from the Overlook Hotel to Florin Castle (from The Princess Bride) – which is actually Derby’s Haddon Hall no less.


So as we finish Saturday, we wish all the best for the hosts, stalls, artists and attendees - and as we write this we mustn’t forget that there’s a whole second day of fun on Sunday!


Please check all the artists and on their links - and Happy ComicCon-ing everybody – you’ll find no better place in the region this Summer!


Michael Sales






By midlandsmovies, Jun 5 2017 09:57AM



Editor Mike Sales decides to go “full cosplay” and leaves his post as Midlands Movies Editor to play Stormtrooper TK-421 in his third visit to one of Leicester’s most successful comic and film events of the year...


Could it be a hat-trick of successful events for Comic Con Leicester?


Well, at first glance it sure was. With a sold-out weekend of exciting entertainment ahead, CCL has grown year on year and organisers Gavin Lee-Pate and Richard Tewkesbury have set such high standards during the previous 2 years (see our 2015 and 2016 reports) that expectations were high.


But from the outset they showed why their event is one of the hottest tickets in town with a whole host of artists, stalls, film fans, cosplayers and shop stands included within the magnificent Athena venue. We said before, but will say again to those new, that this unique venue used to be the city’s Odeon cinema and its tiered balconies give this event a special cinematic flavour. It results in having much more character that is far removed from the huge impersonal arenas of larger Comic Cons.



So, what were the differences and highlights of this year? First up, I decided to experience going in my first ever full cosplay outfit to truly understand the nature of these events from a fan perspective. Kindly, film music composer, DJ and my very good friend Damon Baxter (aka the ‘Deadly Avenger’) suggested I get fully kitted in his professional Stormtrooper costume. www.deadlyavenger.co.uk


“It was made by the original guy from the 1977 moulds”, he had glee in telling me, “but you basically cannot move in it, stairs are almost a no-no and wear as little as possible underneath as you will sweat. A lot”.


The rumours of on-set fainting were soon too easy to understand as I stepped into a black ‘onesie’ before Damon helped strapped the plastic armour plating to my limbs. And yes, it does take 2 people to get dressed properly!


So, now it had been removed from the mannequin and was fully on my 6-foot frame we walked (waddled) round the corner to Leicester's Cultural Quarter to enter the show. Beforehand, Damon and I had broadcast two Facebook Live videos as we were also planning to handout some Star Wars related goodie bags throughout the day as a thank you to the attendees and our followers over the years.


Click here to see the first two Facebook live videos:

1. Mike & Damon on the floor (apologies for portrait issue)

2. Stormtrooper Mike about to enter



Once at the entrance , the organisers had arranged for a Jurassic Park jeep plus a great dinosaur model that actually moved when someone got inside it, which ‘welcomed’ the attendees to the event. Outside with the sun shining and the soaring John Williams score in the background, it was therefore made a pleasurable place to relax as well, when the event crowds became busy. And it gave a suitable area for socialising and photography too.




Now inside, me (in my outfit) felt right at home with a Star Wars droid display and full-size (!) Jabba the Hut model. This had a constant stream of fans lying next to him whilst giving their best Princess Leia reclining pose. Upstairs was a speeder bike and we both just had to have a go on that of course as well.





One of our first stops was with artist Ryan Button of RB Illustrations. His third time at the event too, his local film-inspired art (and images from our own MM event posters) have always gone down well with fans looking for a retro-infused poster, card or pin badge. http://rbillustration.com




Next to Ryan was Rob Hill Author who was promoting his book The Bad Movie Bible which celebrated the best of the worst films of all time. With 15 years in post-production working on films such as 28 Days Later, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the Harry Potter series Rob is well placed to understand what makes a movie bad.


Soon after we were working ourselves along the busy aisles to check the further talent on show. The outfit helped as people (mostly) got out of my way when seeing me – the Empire still flexing its might – but the lack of vision through the small green tinted lenses of the helmet was limiting to say the least.


After a few hours of experiencing the full delights – panels were announced through the day, body painting showed great artistry (and a lot of flesh!) and the retro gaming had queues of children trying to beat Pokemon experts – I decide to take a break from the main arena.




Once outside, the true spirit of the convention was obvious to see. Strangers chatted, people laughed and many photographs were taken. From elaborate Manga costumes to home-made outfits using tape and cardboard, it really didn’t matter what approach people had taken as everyone was relishing the variety of delights on show.




“Are you naked?” I ask one lady who came up to me to ask for a photo. “Mostly”, was her reply, “I’ve got body paint on as part of the Midlands Body Paint Project”. My helmet hid my blushing as we posed for a photo and off she went into the crowd. More seriously however, the body paint project was a true highlight, particularly the brave men and women who wait patiently as talented artists work on their full torsos and beyond. These creatives draw intricate designs which, this year, was mostly amazing Guardians of the Galaxy characters. On day 2, when out of the confines of my costume, I too got more photos with Yondu and Drax, both in an impressive array of multicoloured make-up. www.facebook.com/MidlandsBodypaintProject/




As mentioned, the Stromtrooper experience was great but I headed back to Comic Con on Day 2 in my ‘civvies’ where I was able to speak more freely to many of the excellent artists. Here I witnessed the great local talent and the following were just a small selection of the gifted creatives who attended.


First up, comic artist Chris Sides is the writer of the self-published Dark Matter anthologies and was promoting his soon-to-be-released new graphic novel Impossible, yet we strangely bonded most over our chats about the problems with the Batman V Superman film. www.chrissideswriter.com


Next to Chris (and throwing in his own disapproval of BvS) was writer and creator Jay Martin of YMJ. With a deep love of everything comics, sci-fi and fantasy from an early age it has led him to create stories of his own and he was here with his ALV and Domeinion comics. www.yeahwritejay.co.uk


Up next was Spike Baxter-Gale of Metamorphosis Arts which encompassed his love of all types of art, from photography and illustration to film. With canvases ranging from the Joker to FrankenFurter the simplistic designs were a popular choice amongst the crowd. www.metarts.uk. Attic Studios were once again in attendance also with their trio of artists Dan Harris, Kris Carter & Jim Bampfield. With a variety of styles between them. I was drawn to Harris’ work and even bought a superb postcard of retro icons of the 80s. A prize if you can name all of the below! www.atticstudios.website




Hometown girl and animation student Bianca of BBZ art had a superb portfolio of designs focused on visual development, characters and concepts for animation and storytelling. http://beebeezed.storenvy.com. Eat My Paint artist Lloyd Davies brought a lot of fun to his comic designs as he created beautiful images made solely in Microsoft Paint. His books, stickers and request table helped attract fans with his laugh out loud work. https://tapas.io/series/eatmypaint


Lauren Livesey is talented artist who is “in love with stars, women and dogs” and her fantastic astrological and fairy tale inspired images of strong women and fantasy figures made sure the magic was in full flow throughout the convention. www.laurenlivesey.co.uk. Finally, we also managed to swing by and chat to Phoebe Hancox who specialises in storyboards, characters, posters and prints. Her intricate line drawings had a dark gothic quality incorporating mysterious and sacred symbolism. phoebehancoxillustration.carbonmade.com




Phew! As I said, this was just a small selection we managed to involve ourselves in and there were dozens more talented individuals with an eclectic range of work on show. There was also plenty of stalls selling merchandise and food and it’s safe to say everyone who gave their time worked their hardest to make the community event successful.


Shops and stalls sold everything from retro toys to the obligatory Funko Pops and books. “Look, there’s a great Alien Anthology art book there”, I exclaimed to Damon. “Don’t talk to me about Alien. It’s dead to me now”, he jokes, still reeling from his recent disappointment about the latest instalment Covenant. He won’t let that damn flute go! Ha ha.



As the event came to a close we again ran into Gavin (one of the organisers) and he looked the calmest I’d ever seen him. A man of few words, he didn’t need to say much in order to show how happy he was with this year’s event. And as someone who ended up sweaty and unable to pee in a Stormtrooper costume, I couldn’t have been happier myself. It was an absolute pleasure to see the faces on those who came up to me to grab a photo, and from 5 to 50, the diverse range of joyful fans in attendance was testament to the professionalism and experience of this now faultless event.


Midlands Movies Mike


To see all the photos from the weekend please click here for the photo album


Check out the Facebook Live videos from Day 2:

DAY 2 Intro https://www.facebook.com/midlandsmovies/videos/2042242582676859/

Day 2 Comic Con: https://www.facebook.com/midlandsmovies/videos/2042257519342032/

Day 2 (part 2): https://www.facebook.com/midlandsmovies/videos/2042258836008567/








By midlandsmovies, Jun 9 2016 10:41PM

Click here for all photos of the 2016 event on the Midlands Movies Facebook page


Midlands Movies Mike takes a trip to the ever-expanding Comic Con Leicester at the Athena venue in the city’s cultural quarter. With a completely sold-out event, Mike braved the throngs of cosplayers and comic fans for the weekend where the wacky and wonderful sat side-by-side in a showcase of the region’s immense talent.


After last year’s fantastic event (read our report here) it was great to see the event back in the city and even bigger than before. Organisers Gavin-Lee Pate (http://www.theretrodraughtsman.co.uk) and Richard Twekesbury promised even more fun than last year and boy did they deliver.


Rocking up to the Athena venue (an art-deco building previously the Odeon cinema) the joy began with an amazing appearance from Ecto-1, the car from Ghostbusters. As accurate as you could possibly want, the vehicle was a fully kitted out replica with the sirens and the Ghostbusters theme playing in the background and from the amount of happy faces, this slice of the 80s went down great with old and young alike.


With no queues – better than last year – the organisers had staggered attendees and I entered the venue’s foyer and was greeted by a host of Cosplayers from comics, film, gaming and television. Some of the more impressive outfits included a number of authentic Stormtroopers, a couple of Predators (one of which had a Judge Dredd costume so Dredd-ator?) and one boy in a fully accurate Batman V Superman Dark Knight armour outfit – even with light-up eyes. More obscurely, a personal favourite was one guy in a Warriors leather jerkin – something he had made himself which was a cool nod to one of the most enjoyable gangs flicks on the early 80s.


As before, the old cinema lay-out meant that shops were mainly on the lower floor and stall-holders on the tiered balconies which made for a distinctive arrangement but one drawback was the stairs (especially for masked cosplayers) and the unfortunate temperature – again, the heavily costumed attendees would have been sweating like mad. I was, and I just was just dressed in a t-shirt!


So, who were the talent on show? Well, there was both a high quantity of creatives but more importantly and amazing quality and passion amongst them too.


Manga influenced comic studio, Tanra Studios were on hand both days to promote their new join-project Pandora and Nadia and Tara drew a host of commissions over the two days. Check out their work at www.tanrastudios.blogspot.co.uk or on Twitter @Tanra626


Kate Beaumont from www.cosmicmindcomics.tumblr.com were grateful for the water provided by what they called “blue shirts” (a spin on Star Trek and a kind nod to the organising volunteers on the day) and had a fantastic time selling their comic to new readers.


Local Leicester legend Rebecca Mansfield from the 2015 show was again in attendance with her dragon inspired art and prints www.rebeccamansfieldart.com and Dark Pond Creations’ Patrick Scattergood was there to promote his award nominated anthology series Flesh Tones https://sellfy.com/DarkPondCreations


With me being raised in a small town called Walderslade in Kent, it was an interesting chat with Maidstone-based writer Kit Cox who went to school a town over from where we grew up. Kit acknowledged my ‘Godzilla’ t-shirt and who entertained later in the day with a comedic speech on the history of Myths and Monsters. Very apt! www.kitcox.com


Midlands Movies event poster designer and Leicester’s premier artist to the local scene Ryan Button, was there selling fabulous prints of his 80s and sci-fi inspired art. From Transformers to Star Wars via Skeletor and Cybermen, Ryan of RB Illustrations had a steady flow to his stall. Also a storyboard artist for local filmmakers, contact Ryan for film-related commissions and order from his website at http://rbillustration.com


Freelance comic and cartoon artist Tara Washington had a range of fantasy and dream-like art www.Chosha-kurenai.deviantart.com and illustrator Alexandra McCarthy had post-con Twitter comments of “best stall there” with a selection of quirky cat art. Lots of awesome cats including one as a “cat-tamer”. http://1-in-100.co.uk. Jess Taylor was nearby and is an illustrator inspired by Disney concept and storyboard art and check out her amazing designs at http://jesstarts.tumblr.com/ whilst another 2015 alumni, animator Thomas Crook, was promoting his current cartoons.


Also from 2015’s con, David “We were wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts last year” Millgate was back and this time with his new comic “Jackboot & Ironheel” – soon to be available via Forbidden Planet. David even had his mum looking after his stall at one point and I purchased an amazing signed Kylo Ren poster print from the Blaby based artist who designs on a wide range of topics including Star Wars and 2000AD. Follow David on Twitter here https://twitter.com/DavidMillgate


Tom Hodge aka The Dude Designs is now back in Leicester after a stint in LA and his 80s VHS-style work has been used for Hobo With a Shotgun, The Innkeepers and Wolf Cop’s official artwork. As well as these wider releases, Tom hasn’t forgotten his roots after designing the poster for Leicester grindhouse feature The Wrong Floor by Roasted films (https://www.facebook.com/TheWrongFloor) and check out his huge selection of posters at his site http://thedudedesigns.com


Leo Gavin of Phisog is a self employed artist whose designs range from film prints to sketchbook doodles. Based in Staffordshire, Leo created this cartoon which I loved and he’s recently moved into digital art involving characters like Deadpool and Harley Quinn.


Artist Sandra Danborg showcased her art inspired by fantasy characters and fictional worlds and told me how she created her first graphic novel by drawing a page a day. She was worried that the final pages were a much better quality than the first but you wouldn’t be able to tell with her unique style and colouring process. www.memorylane.thecomicseries.com


Founded in 2012, Reckless Hero have moved from their t-shirt prints into publishing with their “The Last Sheriff” comic but now have a new book they were promoting called “The Falconer”. The group (Chris Imber, Chris Jenkins and Matthew King) have bonded over music and art for over a decade and are continuing to bring a vivid range of stories to life. Check them at www.recklesshero.com


Death Bugle’s hilarious comics were a joy – originally a story about a death metal band but now encompassing bears, fleas and “hideous flies”. Ha ha! Check their out their clever and peculiar take on the world at www.deathbulge.com whilst Dan Harris promised epic science fiction and more “epic-er” comedy with his action adventure Lou Scannon series (geddit?). As well as that title, the interestingly named “Druid Investigations #1” has now been released as part of the Attic Studios collective. www.atticstudios.website


Another returnee was Wolverhampton University alumni Keith Chan www.keith-chan.co.uk whose comic book art, greeting cards and prints had everything from trouser-eating horses to superhero sketches and basset hounds!


One of the more popular stalls was Sajan Rai whose “Childish B*tt Vomit” comic had free stickers and a chance for you to get yourself drawn as a sloth. Not the one from The Goonies. But an actual sloth. Brocko and Frens was a big hit with the crowds with what can only be described as a dolphin in a leather jacket (Brocko), a polar bear (Barnabus Buggles) and a baby seal (Baby Seal). www.sajanrai.co.uk


Giles Meakin Illustrator focuses on fantasy, horror, murals, storyboards and even portraits and photography. In addition he also does commissions so see if there’s something up your street over at www.gilesmeakin.co.uk


Finally – but most eye-opening-ly – the brave ladies of Midlands Body Paint decided to go mostly natural where a team of talented artists drew comic book designs directly onto their bodies. A risqué show of individualism and empowerment, their network of talented artists, models and photographers took many a breath away but the absence of offense showed the welcoming nature of a diverse crowd. Well done Leicester.


And with a busy two days drawing to a close, the final day encompassed a cosplay show and with everyone tiring from so much fun, the event drew to a satisfying close. A huge congratulation and thank you should be passed to the organisers, attendees, artists, Cosplayers and everyone else who came to Leicester to experience one of the city’s best alternative weekends. Long may it continue.


Midlands Movies Mike

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