For those who were a little thrill in their daddy’s eye on 11th Feb 1977, last Saturday saw their 40th birthday coincide with anniversary celebrations for one of the greatest Progs known to man. 2000ad. Forged from the ashes of Action by Pat Mills, it took the subversive, confrontational and almost anti-social punk tendencies that saw Action routinely canned by the Whitehouse brigade and draped them in sci fi settings to make them more palatable.
This convention had a lot riding on it too. I got an early bird ticket at £40 which is quite steep when you consider the price of a typical MCM, but in many ways it delivered.
Given the ticket price and the fan base it was a much older crowd and less diverse then you would get at some of the broader cons, having said that being dedicated to a title meant there was a lot more camaraderie involved in the environment as no one could argue which was the best band, we were all there for the greatest hits. There was little concession activity wise, a display of ‘Dredd’ props with some judges on hand to pose with and a ‘perp’ corner for those who wanted to do some ‘simping’. Sadly as my colleague was not arriving until much later I felt too self-conscious to ask folk to take my photos in the outfits so I missed the fun in that section. Its notable there were no games on display given Rebellion is first and foremost a Games studio, but given the first announcement that morning they plan to put up their intellectual properties to other developers explains this was for the hard core comic fan first and foremost.
The main draw when talking to other fans were to meet the creators, of which pretty much everyone was there from the whole era. I managed to meet briefly in no particular order: Kew-K, Steve McManus (my Tharg, a fictional role all editor assumes, in many ways the Doctor Who character of publishing) John Higgins, Andy Diggle and co-creator of Judge Dredd John Wagner. Most of the alumni were there and more comfortable than I ever seen them before at these things. From Alan Grant, Pat Mills (the retrospective with him is currently on Facebook) Dave Bishop and of course Dave Gibbons.
The queues….well it’s a hard one to judge. I don’t collect artwork or sketchings. I don’t have the space for them. There were queues and some of them were quite long. I think if you’re wanted to get something off Carlos Esquerra you would be waiting an hour minimum. Me and my late comer colleague were not that keen for that but given what you would get ….I mean it’s a small matter when you consider I went for Boland and McMahon cursed earth signing at Gosh and that was an hour and a half. Personally at £40 I was more about the talks. And there were loads.
I went for the writing ones, as again the big room the big talks. Well it’s like going to a theatre and seeing the massive queue for the big show and ignoring it to be comfortable in the B venue. I went for the writers and I got loads. Robbie Morrison, Robbie Williamson, Al Ewing, Emma Beeby, all in good form.
The only disappointment was the ‘Slaine’ Bar. I was expecting a whole decked out corner. But it was basically an, admittedly rather ornate fascia placed on the front of the bar. And then you get the regular gripes of a convention. The price of hotel drinks.
In short though it was a great day for those more hard-core fans then me. And I hope we see a growth in more of this style of conventions rather than the one size fits all of the MCM. It put the comics front and centre and the atmosphere was great.