Notes On Kapow

Illogical Volume Receives The Blessing Of Gillen (+2 Constitution).

Before I go deep into a mass of press – and I really am being highly slutty with the media this week – I wanted to write a little about Kapow at the weekend. In short, they pulled it off. For a first time con, it was spectacularly together. It also served its purpose, in terms of justifying its existence.

To state the obvious, it’s nothing like MCM. It’s primarily an anglophonic comic-book con. Since I’ve been doing cons in the UK since I returned to comics as an adult around 2000. There’s been nothing like this, on this scale – and it’s still a relatively intimate con of a few thousand – in that period. There was the showing of the secret movie at the same time as my X-men panel, and we still had a nearly full hall of a few hundred people listening to us talk. That’s something I simply haven’t seen at a UK con. It was even more packed out for the Breaking Into Comics The Marvel way panel. This is something that simply hasn’t been seen in the UK since before my time in the medium – UKAF was the reference more veterans brought up.

The biggest surprise – bar it being as generally together as it was – was the audience. The audience was pretty diverse, young and attractive (One of my metrics of cons is always “is it uncomfortable to imagine this whole place descending into a fluid-spouting orgy?” and it passed the test). While primarily a superhero audience, it was more open minded than people like to stereotype that. Most retailers I talked to seem enormously happy by the sales – I was passing Titan half way through the first day and they were sending people to get more books for a hasty restock. Equally interesting was hearing stories of what was actually selling wasn’t quite what you’d expect. People genuinely trying stuff out. Also, anecdotally, I seemed to meet a lot of people who this was their first con, which is always a good sign.

Problems? There was some talk about queues being manufactured, but that just came across as paranoia to me. Also, the aisles did get packed at certain points – the stands seemed too big and the space too small. The hotel bar was particularly useless. While generally pretty damn good on the organisation front for a British con, there were a handful of lapses. The Stan Lee awards seemed to collect the majority of them, but ended up feeling charmingly British to me. Which probably says something.

It was an odd one for me. It’s the first major con that I’ve attended in the UK since about 2006 where I haven’t actually had a table space. Since I don’t have anything creator-owned to push-out, it didn’t seem to be worthwhile. So I did a couple of panels, a signing and generally hung around. Signing was the eye-opener. Generally, as a writer, I’ve learned I burn through the queue in seconds (as artists often sketch), so I have a bit of an extended yabber. Three-quarters of an hour into the signing, I realise that the the people over there are actually waiting for me, and not John Romita Jr. (His ENORMOQUEUE was on the other side) and I had a few dozen people to sign. At which point, I go into a higher, if highly apologetic, gear. I found myself thinking “Oh – this is what happens if you end up writing X-men”, but that’s not quite true. There were as many Phonoreaders as X-men folk – and a good chunk were readers of both. And that’s without even bringing Thor into it.

I also started doing headsketches of Batroc. Yes.

Panels were fun. The breaking into comics one included a number of my usual observations (JUST DO GOOD WORK! DO NOT WORRY ABOUT PITCHING!), but in front of a bigger audience. The X-men panel featured Nick Lowe and myself wearing William and Kate masks in a really disturbing fashion, Steve Wacker making people do impressions of X-characters when they ask questions (Scottish Namor was our favourite, who won a copy of next week’s Uncanny X-men I had in my bag) and the great John Romita Jr. wandering in and being hilarious. Agreeable chaos. I also joined in the World Guiness Record attempt to produce a comic in the shortest time, scripting over a Millar plot for a page featuring panels by Adi Granov, Jock and a very intimidated chap called Dan. Dan totally had the hardest job, as Adi and Jock went for the images of a plastic duck.

I also talked nonsense at anyone who was vaguely in my vicinity.

In short: a real success. As others said, it felt more like the third year of a con rather than its debut. It bodes well for the future and I look forward to attending the next one.

*****

While I’m posting, Uncanny X-men 534.1 came out and went down pretty well. Here’s some of the better reviews which caught my eye.

Ifanboy Pick Of The Week: “Uncanny X-Men #534.1 succeeds on just about every level of expectation I’d have as an X-Men fan. ” (Also, see their Pick of the Week podcast)
Newsarama:“After reading many of Marvel’s Point One books, I definitely have to say that Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men #534.1 is by far the best of the bunch. ”
Multiversity: “Is this a good issue for new readers? The short answer is: yes, very much so.”
Comics Bulletin: “This is about as perfect an introductory issue as a series could have without completely reconstituting its premise.”
MyLatestDistraction: “…did exactly what it was intended to in every conceivable way. It clearly establishes the status quo, tells a complete story, and leaves you wanting to know what comes next…”
Comics: The Blog: “This is absolutely the way you do things.”

The main thing that I’ve learned from the response to 534.1? Namor making threesome gags is the future.