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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