Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Akira The Don performed this weekend at MorrisonCon. Tweet at him here.
Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon
Photos by Christopher Neseman and Akira The Don

Waking up at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning, partly because of the jetlag, partly because I'd neglected to draw the twin curtains of the vast expanses of glass that ramed my half-panaoramic Vegas hotel suite and was drowning in sunshine at 6:30am, still drunk, still giddy with joy from the previous night's festivities, it was easy to forget I was supposedly attending a Comic Book Convention. Certainly, it felt like an unconventional convention… although I should at this point clarify I haven't been to a conventional comic book convention since I was about 13 and I attended one in Birmingham, that felt rather like a massive comic shop populated by roughly 3000 men in jeans and T shirts and 30 females in fancy dress. So far this felt something like the raves I used to go to at Butlins in the early 2000s.

Last night we partied harder than Che Guevvara (there's me and James Dewees smashing the living crap out of the thing up top), yet here we all were, 9:30 am, gathered in the cavernous confines of the Hard Rock Hotel's convention hall, located midway between a pool party and a rock club, chugging down a bucket of coffee as organisers James Sime, Kirsten Baldrock and Ron Richards welcomed us to The Proceedings to thunderous applause from a resolutely undefinable, non-genre specific audience comprised of a multiverse of men and women of different stripes, creeds and backgrounds.

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Half an hour later I was sipping on a Jack and Coke bought for me by a jubilant, immaculately suited James Sime, and the panels were underway.

I don't know what traditional comic book panels are like usually, but these reminded me of extended sit downs on American talk shows from a paralel universe where there are no commercial breaks, no rules against swearing, and no one has anything to sell. The guests just vibed merrily on comfy ass sofas in front of a receptive crowd of humans who whooped and hollered and asked excellent questions. Sometimes they'd be coming up with ideas for mental and ace sounding comics that might never exist, sometimes they'd be live-drawing Wonder-Woman with blood on her face to cries of "that's cum!"… or a mutitude of various Batmen, easily the most drawn and sketched creation of the weekend, to gasps of awe that lasted long enough to theoretically put the gaspers in comas.

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Across the way was a big ass room to Hang Out In, framed by bars. The easiest thing in the world to do here was drink, although getting food seemed an almost impossible task. I survived on bananas and gin for most of the weekend, as did Grant's immaculately attired wife Kristan.

An art gallery lurked invitingly at the back of the Shining-esque carpeted Hang Out Hall, resplendent with unbuyable works yet to be published, along with pages from classic-ass shit like Flex Mentallo to gawp at in wonder. It was here the various creators would sit themselves down to sign things and chat with their fellow humans. The queues were boozey, merry, windy things that were as fun to hang out in as anywhere onsite – I dropped in a bunch on numerous occasions to Shoot Breezes, before lurching off in search of more adventure – and security were either plain clothed or Sparse.

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Considering the unprecedented level of access to the assembled comics, music and movie-stars present, and how easy it would have been for an unhinged human to make a nuisance of themselves, that no one did was pretty amazing – and indicative of the vibe and level of Decent Humanity on display at the event. People were respectful, pleasant, charming, and safe… no one got nasty, no one got invasive, no one got their tits in a twist when it came time for the human doing the signing to move on to another human with some books that needed writing on. Amazingly, it seems if you treat people like people, as opposed to crazed bestial cattlefreaks made of entirely different genetic material to the so-called stars they're suppsoed to be worshipping at the hooves of, they act like – duh – people, not crazed bestial cattlefreaks. Science!

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

It was about 11am when James Sime asked me if I could host the music panel. The programme listed it as:


Music is the life blood of art. For many working in creative fields, it provides both the muse and imagination lubricant that helps the words and the paint flow. As both musician and author, music is the medium as well as inspiration. Assembling a conglomeration of fellow musical MorrisonCon guests, we investigate the musical muse, how the creation of a narrative form such as comics compares to the creation of musical structures, the challenges of translating melodic sounds to the printed page, and also talk about what albums we've been rocking out to lately.

Featuring: Gerard Way, Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson, J.H. Williams III, Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence)

So Gerard and I got some drinks and discussed a gameplan, that basically involved getting up there and working it out as we went along, aiming for a conclusion of some kind. Darick Robertson somehow had a guitar on him, which we figured might come in useful. So, we got out there, and had the sort of conversation we'd usually have in a pub, but in front of a ton of people, and it was a great time, and we all really enjoyed it.

We discussed out first records, our first comics, the marriage of them to in our creative lives, which were most likely to get a person laid, psychedelia, punk rock, how Grant Morrison invented Oasis, that sort of thing. Musical rhythm in comics, how Warren Ellis dad was a drummer and that seems to have informed Warren's percussive style of writing. How Grant took his Batman villain Professor Pyg from a Momus song… People asked questions, all of which were great and concerning the sort of topics each member of the panel could elocute on at great length until the proverbial cows returned from Mars to bring about The Armageddon… until the last one, which was what everybody thought of Phonogram, and it transpired quite hilariously that I was the only person the panel aware of the thing.

I got the crowd to MAKE SOME FUCKING NOISE for Kieran Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, who'd previously told me thew were going to have their own GillenCon in a pub in Hackney, where they'd listen to Kenickie and drink beer… and the panel all resolved to go home and read Phonogram. I actually saw someone giving Gerard a copy on the Sunday. There were some serious-ass Phonogram missionaries at MorrisonCon.

As we were leaving the stage, it dawned on me Darrick hadn't really made use of his guitar, so pulled him to the mike stand, with the intention of freestyling something or other… and the next thing I knew Darrick, Grant and I were involved in an impromptu performance of I Wanna Hold Your Hand, with me doing some bizarre kind of Wyclef Jean impression.

It was one of those beautiful, never to repeated , impossible to have happened anywhere else sort of events that were rife at MorrisonCon.

That evening a bunch of us hung out in Le Suite Morrison listening to Grant's rare Dalek Music and rampaging through the immaculately stocked and researched bar until I remembered I was supposed to be DJing, and fled room-ward to collect my Equipment, a hulking great piece of technology called a KONTROL I'd bought and learned to use especially for the occasion. The technology enables me to create remixes on the fly, chop up and loop up bits of records, seamlessly beatmatch unlikely combinations of tempos and stuff, and so following a beautiful selection of new wave classicry from San Fransisco's GLAMTASM, a kind of bizzare but supremely party set ensued, involving bits of rap and electronica and metal and indie and cartoon soundtracks and anime and all sorts of dope and mental shit that every time I looked down on the crowd or across at the bar I could usually spot Frank Quietly and his missus pogoing frenziedly to. I was also able to intone through layers of delay and filter effects through a microphone from up on high, like a psychedigital Moses.

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

Akira The Don's Second Day At MorrisonCon

During the proceedings world famous glass munching staple gun artist (and massive JH Williams fan) Jenn Ocide  went onstage and bought great joy to the assembled by munching a load of glass, and great joy to mightily-bearded and dapperly-hatted comics scribe Jason Aaron (seen above with me just before we ran off to find booze on the Friday afternoon) by allowing him to staple a $100 bill to her ass. I chopped up some Macross Plus and some Megadeath and some Wu-Tang by way of soundtrack, increasing the intensity as the staples flew.

I think there was about 45 minutes of the club's lifespan left when it dawned on me they'd happily leave me up here all night, and there was no one else scheduled to provide musc, so I grabbed James Sime and insisted on showing him the basics of the Technology Interface and The Software, then ran off to party with the people while James stepped up to the occasion like fucking PRO.

With so small an amount of time left to officially PARTY I decided to make up for lost time, and flung myself into the proceedings with the reckless abandon of, say, Happy The Horse at his first keg party. It is no wonder then, that I managed to go on an accidental bender that found me collapsing through my hotel doors at around 7am, my mind a tapestry of blank spots peppered by bursts of memories including singing foreign language pop songs with a bunch of girls and boys atop some tables, smoking a pipe of loud ass chronic in a random hotel room, drawing on a wall, discussing babies and cactus shooting with Jimmy Urine in a diner, A Swimming Pool, an Explosion of Blue Feathers, getting mobbed by sharpie weilding inebriates in a toilet, jumping on James Sime and attempting to ride him like a pony, and falling into a stack of slot machines like some neon fucking dominoes.

Like I said, I haven't been to a comics convention since I was 13, but if this WAS a comics convention, I'm pretty sure it was pretty fucking uncomnventional.


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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