The Sad Painful Coma of the Bristol Comics Expo

I keep getting distracted from doing what I was working on, but this time it’s slightly related to the fun and games of my time at UKCAC. It’s about the successor to UKCAC, the Bristol Comics Expo.

Last year was the first year a new organisation team after a few years of the event being reduced as one of the venues, Brunel’s Old Station was being renovated and with the recession at it’s worst, it was decided to prune the Expo down to the basics and just hold it in the Ramada hotel where the guests stayed.

This was fine, but to cut a long story short the Expo passed into the hands of the organisers of the Small Press room in previous years. Last year was their first year of organising the entire event, not just the Small Press side of things and it was a reuniting of the old Comics and CD’s team for what was expected to be a busy weekend selling comics.

It wasn’t.

The Saturday was ok, but the Sunday was appalling. Brunel’s Old Station was empty and it’s a huge space when it’s empty, and it was oh so empty if you were a dealer on that Sunday. I don’t think we sold a thing for two hours, and other dealers were making the same complaints.

Now this isn’t me saying ‘the organisers are shite’ but I know they were offered advice from many people who had large amounts of experience in organising conventions and marts, including myself. As far as I know, nearly every offer was turned down with a snotty reply.

Then there was the palaver this year with the nude Halo Jones print which brought this reaction from her creator Alan Moore:

PÓM: Yeah. There was some kind of controversy, if you like, recently over Halo Jones, and…

AM: Oh, the picture of Halo Jones with her tits out?

PÓM: The alleged topless illustration of Halo Jones, yes.

AM: I made a brief comment upon it, which was probably more than was necessary. I just heard about it, and made a brief remark about how that wasn’t how I’d originally envisaged the character, in fact that was quite the opposite of what the character was meant to be. It’s, like, I’m kind of used to the fact that, if you do work in the comics industry, for any of the big companies, then you might as well say goodbye to the characters and your control over them, you having any say in what’s done with them.

PÓM: Although, in this case it wasn’t any of big companies that were doing it, it was…

AM: Fair enough, but the thing is, if I’d got an active say in the character any more, that perhaps wouldn’t have happened. But, I haven’t. I’ve cut me ties with all those things. So, I couldn’t even really get up an awful lot of interest to make the comment in the first place, it’s nothing that I really cared about apart from the fact that lazy sexism is always wrong.

PÓM: The only thing is, there were a lot of people who were very, I think saddened by the fact that this had happened. There’s a lot of people who said ‘this is not right.’ I mean, it may only be an idea, it may only be lines on paper, but it was wrong, and that was – there were still so many people who were still so passionate about it, after all these years.

AM: That’s nice to know. But it’s a phenomenon that I’ve got used to, especially with those wretched Watchmen prequels. No, a lot of my comics work I am very very distanced from. Other than the stuff which I own.

And here’s the thing with that: it was the sort of lazy sexism that people in the British comics scene had worked hard to play down, and in one fell swoop you had one of the few female characters in British comics who was a strong character in her own right being reduced to a pair of tits for people to get excited by.

Nothing wrong with cheescake, but the snippet from the Moore interview sums it up exactly. Now had the organisers taken advice on from people, then this incredibly damaging bit of publicity might not have happened. Had they listened to marketing advice they might not be sticking flyers up on lampposts on Victoria Street in Bristol. Yes, it’s 2013 and one of the most pointless bits of marketing ever is still be used even though I was told it wouldn’t be.

So I’m a bit pissed off really. I loved the Expo because it carried the bloodline of UKCAC but to see it quietly slip into a coma, so I hope it’s busy this weekend. I hope I’m proven wrong and I get made to look like a prick.  They were still advertising dealer tables on Monday. That isn’t a good sign.

I’ll be down for a bit over the weekend, but I’ll follow this blog up with another next week as to why exactly this makes me sad, not to mention a tad pissed off.

3 thoughts on “The Sad Painful Coma of the Bristol Comics Expo

  1. Pingback: Maybe I Was a Wee Bit Harsh….. | My Little Underground

  2. Pingback: Maybe I Was a Wee Bit Harsh About the Bristol Comics Expo….. | My Little Underground

  3. Pingback: The Problem With Fake Geek Girls | My Little Underground

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