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THE UKs LARGEST INDEPENDENT COMICS PUBLISHER Between 1984-1994 I worked freelance as a writer/artist/editor/agent in comics as well as comics journalism for MU Press,Blue Comet Press,Fantagraphic Books,Eros Comics,Dorne,Fleetway,IPC and others in the United States,UK and Europe. During this period I also produced large numbers of single panel gag cartoons for agencies in Germany such as Boiselle-Lohmann and Baaske Agency –these going to magazines and publications around Europe. I also worked as a freelance editor in comics and publications ranging from wildlife,astronomy and science fiction magazines. From 1984 to present I've been self publishing comics as well as publications on a wide variety of subjects under the Black Tower banner. I have also produced packages of work for companies in India,Hong Kong and China. I have also been working as an industry advisor for smaller companies in countries such as India,Canada,Singapore,China,Europe and the US. hoopercomicsuk@yahoo.com

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Why Comic Conventions Are NOT About The Comics Any more

This article by Scott Gargan for the Connecticutt Post online http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Comic-book-convention-culture-growing-by-leaps-5674658.php is interesting because it shows the attitudes of reporters to comic cons but, above all, it proves what I have been saying for years: Comic conventions are no longer about comic fans meeting up to talk about comics, look for those back issues and do what they used to do.

Now it has become more of a social get-together and having spoken to cos-players in the past I learnt a good few do not read comics but are inspired by movies, TV or seeing other cos-players and some use it for trying to find a date!  There are cos-players who are comic collectors of course.

There does need to be an event that is solely comic orientated for creators and fans.  No "we can't do this without all the big promo merchandise or cos-players" and all the other excuses. By 2013 it was rare to actually bump into a comic fan/collector at these events in the UK.

Anyway, over to Scott.

Comic book convention culture growing by leaps and bounds

  • Cosplayers gather during ComiCONN at the Marriot Hotel in Trumbull, Conn., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. Convention culture is on the rise throughout the country; in Connecticut, ComiCONN, an event founded by Trumbull resident Mitch Hallock, has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2010. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    Cosplayers gather during ComiCONN at the Marriot Hotel in Trumbull, Conn., on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. Convention culture is on the rise throughout the country; in Connecticut, ComiCONN, an event founded by Trumbull resident Mitch Hallock, has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2010.
    Photo: Autumn Driscoll 

But on certain weekends, the 30-year-old Stamford resident transforms into Wonder Woman, Robin (Batman's sidekick) or even a Storm Trooper.

Gatti is a "cosplayer," a fan who goes to comic book conventions posing as their favorite characters from movies, TV shows, video games and comic books.

"Going to cons, I meet so many like-minded people, and I get to show off my work," she said. "We have so much fun together."

Cosplaying is one of the most visible manifestations of the burgeoning comic book convention culture. Fueled by the Internet's community-building power, as well as Hollywood's popularization of comic book tales and characters, "cons," as they are referred to by attendees, have grown in scope and attendance, even as the most famous of them, Comic-Con International: San Diego, remains the ultimate geek mecca.

In Connecticut, ComiCONN, an event founded by Trumbull resident Mitch Hallock, has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2010. What started as a small, single-day convention at the Holiday Inn in North Haven has ballooned into a three-day extravaganza at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. (It takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 15-17.) Thousands of people from across New England and New York are expected to attend.

"The evolution was not something that was desired -- it was a necessity," said Hallock, who initially intended ComiCONN to be an intimate affair. "It had to grow, it had to spread its wings. That's the nature of the beast."

That beast is feeding off the passion of fans like Gatti. Her obsession with cons took root around 2009 after she decided to dress up as Mara Jade (Luke Skywalker's wife in the "Star Wars" book series) for Halloween. Searching online for inspiration for the costume, she came across the 501st Legion, a worldwide fan group dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of "Star Wars" characters. It was as a newly minted member of the organization that she attended her first con.

"I had never been to a con before," said Gatti, who makes all of her costumes by hand. "My first one was in Massachusetts. People were wearing a bunch of different costumes there. I said, `I want to do that.' "

At her next con, Gatti dressed up as Wonder Woman. Then she became a Storm Trooper. Before she knew it, Gatti had an entire arsenal of alter-egos at her disposal.

Donning her Robin costume at Wizard World Philadelphia four years ago, she wowed Burt Ward, the actor that played the character on the original "Batman" TV series.

"He told me, `It looks better on you than it did on me,' " Gatti said, laughing.

Other fans experience cons as civilians. Stratford resident Rob Pivarnik said he "can't compete" with cosplayers, who have "spent a lot of time and money on their costumes." His focus is on meeting his favorite writers and illustrators and browsing the comic books and collectibles for sale.

"I get to gush and be a fan boy," Pivarnik said of the chance to rub elbows with famed writer/illustrator George Perez, who is scheduled to be at ComiCONN this year.

Asked what draws people to convention culture, Pivarnik said, "Pure escapism."

"The world is so harried and stressful," he said. "Everybody is forced to grow up so quickly. This is a chance to step back from that, put on a cape and run around and play superhero."

Hallock said that there are a lot of superheroes running around nowadays. That wasn't always the case. For many years, comic book fans were ostracized -- "forced underground," as he put it -- by mainstream culture. However, with the advent of the Internet, fans are mobilizing. What's more, Hollywood is producing superhero films faster than viewers can watch them. Suddenly, it's cool to like comic books.

Scott.gargan@scni.com; Twitter: @scottgarg


  1. It's true. Comics are no longer the main draw to conventions. Worse, the idea of producing something as a comic is now being bound up more and more in the ideals of action movies and short term cultural ( fashion) trends than anthing actually meaningful. Sure, let the nerds play, let the nerds have fun, let the nerds have their time in the sun - why not ? They've waited long enough......but make it about something.Let the narrative have a meaning - even in the cosplay - otherwise we are just proving what many more serious writing and creative genres have always sneered at comics for - no depth. No content. Still juvenile ...not really grown up yet. Yeah.....and we're proving it .....

  2. I like cos-players but its killing businesses. Traders who rely on going to a certain number of events to sell are now finding no one is buying and I heard one cos-player in 2012, who was looking at a traders boxes of comics: "That's a lot of comics. Who buys that many comics?" Bless. So tempted to turn him up-side-down and knock his head on the floor. Cos-players that are comic fans I like more -as in that "Uncle George" (Perez) tribute cos-play!

  3. Cosplay has to be a separate space - for one thing so that there can be a bit more security - and another, so that the people there know what to expect - not so much comics. There has to be more in the way of comic lectures and comic history on dispaly - not just in the 'living legends catagory' but in the 'this-is-the-way-it-was-before-you-were- even-a-twinkle-old-son' style ...the presentations neesd to be more entertaining, too. Got to go. See ya.

  4. Sadly, I've tried for years to get a "How comics were/history" at events to encourage new readers or get people interested but not a single event would have any of it -unless I bought floor space for a couple hundred pounds. Comics are dead as an industry in the UK.