Matt Gatty writes for Bleeding Cool:
The difficult second album.
"We have to get bigger". Those of you that have been reading Hickman's run on Avengers will probably be familiar with that line.
That line has been the main idea when it comes to planning the second Melksham Comic Con. We'd had a good start in our inaugural event, winning praise from both attendees and exhibitors for our down-to-earth, friendly feel and our approachable staff.
Based in Melksham, a small town in the heart of Wiltshire, the initial idea behind the convention was to give local people an outlet for getting in to the world of comics, perhaps snaring that elusive audience of "new readers" that the Big Two are forever chasing. It was geared towards being family friendly and inclusive, trying to get youngsters interested in these characters beyond the fleeting glimpses of movie and TV exposure.
What we hadn't quite expected is how far some people would be willing to travel to experience that smaller type of convention for themselves. As staff wandered around the venue, they'd hear stories from a few attendees that had travelled from London, and were really enjoying the more personal nature of our event, as opposed to the more anonymous feel of the big city conventions (no judgement there, we love the bigger events too!).
The exhibitors were also impressed with the convention staff, who were available to help unload their cars, taking stuff to exhibitor tables, a service that larger events are simply unable to offer.
We'd had a good start, but the planning team for the convention knew that going into our second event, more was needed. MCC could still be a small convention, but it wouldn't hurt to have some bigger ideas.
More guests, more exhibitors, more cool little features that our big city brethren wouldn't be able to put on for their attendees.
With one to week to go, we think we've done pretty well.
First up, the guest list. We've assembled a lineup that is about twice the size of last year's event, and includes Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier, Dylan Teague, Simon Furman, Emma Vieceli, Rob Williams, Ben Oliver, Lee Townsend, Mike Collins, Kate Brown and Paul Duffield.
As ever, people can get stuff signed or get personalised sketches from the artists, provided you get there quick enough!
As well as doubling the guest lineup, our exhibitor list is twice the size, featuring four South West comic book shops, American Dream Comics, Automattic Comics, The Incredible Comics Shop, and event founder Hayley's shop, KomiX Melksham. In addition to those, there's a whole host of indie creators and geek-focused craft stalls. We're pretty sure that everyone will spot something that tickles their fancy and opens their wallet.
There's also another day of Q&A and panel sessions set up for attendees, although this will be extremely limited as the venue lounge can seat 50 people. But if you get there quick enough, it's a great opportunity to talk to creators in a quieter setting than the convention hall itself.
As well as panels with creators like Gillen, Spurrier, Vieceli and Williams, we'll be kicking off the day with a book launch from indie creators Jon Lock and Nich Angell. You may have bumped into these guys at several bigger conventions already, and we're pretty damned excited about helping them to launch their crossover book The Heavenly Chord, spinning out of Lock's Afterlife Inc. and Angell's 7STRING books. More details can be found at either here or here.
Let's see, by my count that's more guests and more exhibitors checked off on the "To Do List", so what else have we got that might tempt you?
Ah yes, a good old fashioned raffle. As MCC is entirely not-for-profit, we're always looking for ways to raise funds so we can keep on bringing the awesome.
The team has acquired a pretty sweet range of prizes that will be raffled off at the end of the day, for the princely sum of £1 per ticket. That ticket lands you with the chance of winning a prize from a bunch of cool stuff that includes Marvel Select figures, a DeLorean model, a USS Enterprise model kit, loads of Star Wars and Batman merch, and the "Fancypants Grand Prize", an ArtFX statue of the Joker from The Killing Joke (that one has already got our staff drooling over it).
In addition to all that, there will also have a bunch of prizes to be donated from various members of the guest lineup, which will be confirmed on the day.
That's gotta be worth £1 for a ticket, right?
We haven't forgotten to include the younglings either. If you're bringing your kids along, they'll be able to get their face painted for free! We'll also have balloon modeller extraordinaire Dave Hickory wandering around, impressing people with his ability to make just about anything out of a few balloons. Captain America's shield, Thor's hammer, Hulk's hands, even a set of dragon's wings!
So that's pretty much it. We've got a few days to go, and everything's in place. A quick look at the tickets sold shows that this year, people are coming from far and wide. We've sent out tickets to all sorts of places, like Weston Super Mare, West Wales, London, York and even Glasgow. It would be amazing for this to continue, to show that we can provide a real alternative to the bigger shows that some people just can't get to (or indeed, get on with).
Tickets will still be available on the door, £6 each or 4 for £20.
Melksham Comic Con takes place on Saturday August 31st, at the Melksham Assembly Hall.
I've heard stories that our little town can be a bit of a pain in the arse to find, so I'd say that if you do make the trip, satnav/ Google Maps will be your best friend.
More info can be found at MelkshamComicCon.co.uk