12 May 2009

Con Report: Bristol Comic Expo 2009

Alexi attended the Bristol Comic Expo at the weekend. As has been widely reported elsewhere, it was somewhat smaller this year, the economic climate being what it is. This meant the big hall near the station was out and more stuff was crammed into the main Ramada hotel area instead.

It was, predictably, a bit cramped but fortunately the Small Press Expo (that had stepped into the breach when the main Expo announced it was to downsize) really helped make up for it. Running on the Saturday at the Mercure hotel just round the corner, it provided the much-needed space for the exhibitors who couldn't get into the Ramada.

Panel-wise, due to trains and suchlike, Alexi had to miss some of the panels he'd have liked to have seen, but did catch Dan DiDio and Bob Wayne representin' for DC. They were quick-witted and likeable and it's always interesting to see some of the people who genuinely have a hand in guiding where the comics industry is heading.

Of course, one of the best things about the weekend for Alexi was getting to see the stories he'd scripted appear in the minty fresh Layer Zero: Choices and Western anthologies (from the good folks at Insomnia and Accent UK respectively). He also spent far too much money at the bar and talked a lot to some very nice people, but was disappointed to only get limited opportunity to do robot-dancing.

There were things that could have been done better - the Small Press Expo could also have been on on the Sunday and there could have been better information about where it was and what was going on there. However, this seems to have already been addressed in the planning for next year - both hotels will run both days and hopefully it should be a bit more cohesive. This does suggest that the big hall is now officially out of the picture, and if that's what it takes to make the con break even, more power to the organisers for adapting. Birmingham's BICS looks to be going slightly in the opposite direction, upping it's prices slightly to support a bigger and more adventurous con, and again, more power to them too. Every con he attends reminds Alexi what a relatively small industry this is and how essential conventions are to maintain an even vaguely unified feel to the whole business.