Winterfest 2 Report & My Moan

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Winterfest 2 Report

Saturday 23rd October saw the 2nd Winterfest held in London, and I enjoyed it no end. I met a lot of nice people, brought quite a few small press comics and also sold more copies of The Dead Woods than I expected to. So I had fun.

Now to report the facts – Grant Morrison didn’t come.

According to Kev’s press release this was because he felt the video would not be fair to the fans, also travel arrangements have been messed up and he does have a lot of work as well. So that video I filmed and edited, it seems, would be a waste of time…

More on that later… so where to start?

Well Portent Comics, we got there about half hour late and were set up by 11am in the end – by then the festival was on the way and the punters were taking a good look around. With me were Jamie Warr (writer of Cowboy Jack) and my beautiful girlfriend Keely Field, bless her sitting through the whole day like she did. We had a good day, selling 19 copies of The Dead Woods – which is still available for those who missed it. I learnt a lot, especially about printing and where I should take Portent next year (exciting stuff coming up).

I met lots of nice creators in the same boat as us, and also a few pro’s and some very nice people from AP Comics (great guys), the Pulp Theatre team behind Brodie’s Law (also great guys) and even more which I will come to later on in the report – I will probably spend most of the next month reading and reviewing the comics I picked up and by the looks of them enjoying them.

The Americans also put on a good show, Dan Didio, Mike Avon Oeming, Joe Pruett answered questions from the audience and Rich Johnston. Dan was the star with his comments concerning the ‘truth and Rich Johnston’ that gave the crowd a good laugh. Joe talked about his new company that he will launching using his own money and lots of well known creators while Mike, with sore throat talked fondly about drawing the first few issues of Powers while working security at a car parking lot and waiting for the money to come in from sales. Something Dan Didio said about Superman really hit home for me, and how realism comes into the comics and what DC is trying to do. His Superman comments were about how when Superman enters a room people would step back, why is he here? Have I done anything wrong? Is he here for me?

I thought that was great, being that Superman is my favourite. Dan, if you want me to quote you direct or if anyone else remembers exactly what he said let me know – cause it was great. Dan also mentioned that DC would have a one-page tribute to Chris Reeve up-coming in future copies of Superman. He also mentioned that when the Jim Lee run ends they will be shaking things again with the creative teams… come on Morrison!

It’s funny because at the festival I wanted to talk to so many more people than I actually did, I hoped to interview some people and if I didn’t manage to see you then I am sorry – I will be at Bristol (on 6th & 7th November) running the Silver Bullets table so come and have a chat there!

Anyway on with the show… I spent most of time behind the desk of Portent, but when I did venture out I met up with AP Comics’ Richard Emms, who was very nice and said they had had a good day at the festival and would definitely do it again. They are looking forward to the Bristol Expo, as am I. I picked up a copy of Comicana and Bin4ry and was treated to some other comics as well which I will review ASAP. AP Comics are really doing their bit for the British comic industry producing work that is right up there with the big American publishers – check out Darkham Vale, it’s very good.

Brodie’s Law, ‘Pulp Theatre’ was another table I checked out where I met creators Daley Osiyemi & David Bircham who were also both nice guys. I brought a copy of Brodie’s Law, which I have read now and really enjoyed – it’s a great noir piece, and worth checking out (review on it’s way soon). Daley told me how well things were going for them and that the day had also been a success, I had a sound bite from him but lost it due to bad sound… but basically they sold everything they had taken to the festival and he also mentioned the success they had at the San Diego Wizard Con. Brodie’s Law is written by Alan Grant and created by the guys.

I met and picked up comics from Underfire Comics; where a very nice young lady was busy promoting Rapid Fire #4, a great A5 comic which deserves to do well. 20000 leagues’ Sancho by Ian Whelan & Alan Nolan, it looks nice but I haven’t read it yet. I have two issues of Malcolm Magic, by Blink Twice, which I have heard is very good – the guys in the table were very nice and commented on how much of good day they have had as well. I met a very helpful man by the name of John Anderson at the Soaring Penguin table and picked up a copy of Meanwhile from them, which again I haven’t read yet – developing a trend here- I met Gary Spencer Milidge from Abiogenesis Press and brought a copy of Strangehaven #1, which I have read (ha!) and it excellent, I will be picking up more of these – I am a bit behind on this one as it has been going for a few years and is quite popular by all accounts, anyway it’s excellent. I also met the guys from Ariel Press and got copies of Raven # 5 and also Gravestown, both look great and I will also review them ASAP along with everything else I picked up.

I picked up a copy of Redeye #3 from Barry Renshaw, another great guy (I tell you this place was full of them). Redeye, for those who don’t know, is a Comics International style magazine from the Independent/small press market edited By Barry and published by Engine Comics. It is full of interesting articles and eyecandy pics from a certain small press company I am a little familiar with – Portent – COUGH!

Excuse me…

I had the pleasure of having our table next to team behind Solar Wind, winner of the National Comic Awards 2004 ‘Best Independent’. Paul Scott is nice guy and so were the rest of his team; I got a comic with a free spud gun!! Anyway, check them out if you see them, I haven’t, once again, read the comic yet but it has a nice and eye catching cover, and free gun helps.

The rest of the day went smoothly, and we got the main event. Jonathan Ross meets Grant Morrison – your questions – his answers… well we all know that wasn’t to be. Instead we were treated to a panel of creators made up of Dan Didio, Bob Wayne, Frazer Irving and Si Spurrier answering the questions put to them via a video tape of Jonathan Ross reading out questions for Grant. Now I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan and filmed the questions, Kev F Sutherland emailed me that morning, knowing I worked as a cameraman/editor and hoping I could spare a few hours and my expensive equipment to pop to Jonathan’s house which is not to far away form me it turns out (about half an hour). I did and had a wonderful time looking at his comic collection and his toys. “Back to the plot James” – right the panel was quite fun and in the end I was glad I decided to stay for it. Dan and Bob cracked a few jokes as did Frazer and Si – all of them seemed very genuine and happy to be there and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. I did film it, but with no real skill as I only set the camera up on a 4 shot and didn’t take good sound, but it came out ok.

I left soon after and headed home with my Keely who seemed to enjoy the Q&A session more than anything else that had happened that day. Portent Comics sold 19 copies of The Dead Woods #1 which I am really happy about and I leant a lot about the small press scene – we are now planning for Bristol next May, we plan to get everything printed professionally and hope to get distribution on our new titles we have almost finished (stay tuned for more as it develops). Overall I would say the festival was very good, maybe not as busy as last year but everyone seemed to do more business than last and the crowds were genuinely interested in the independent/Small Press industry and what they doing. It’s a shame that this seems to be the last festival to be produced by Kev F Sutherland, maybe someone else will pick up the mantle of this Winterfest as it is good the British Industry.

My Moan

Topics - The death of Action Comics featuring Superman?

Topics - Superman Returns

Being of sound body and mind I thought I would take some time off to look at the hottest subjects that seem to be plaguing the internet at the moment in the world of comics.

I am avoiding the Amazing Spider-Man/Gwen Stacy subject and the Green Arrow HIV subject because frankly my dear I don’t give a damn… however I do have something to say about the topics above.

Action Comics by Chuck Austen

Where shall I begin?

It’s rubbish.

No that’s unfair – the plot is not rubbish, we actually have some stories that could be quite good if they had decent characters. I will start with the characterization of Superman, Superman I hear you say BUT that’s not Superman in Action Comics at the moment. EXACTLY.

I like Chuck Austen I really do, I have tried hard to enjoy his work – very hard. Superman: Metropolis was one the best books of last year, in my humble opinion. His run on Action has been full of great art (even the guest artists are excellent), great action, pretty solid and good ideas (trying hard to forget the husband and wife who can turn you into salt idea) but he has missed the point of who these characters are and where they been before he came he got hold of them.

In the most recent issue of Action Comics we have a man who looks a lot like Superman telling the villain of the week that he will “pop their head off” if they don’t let the female hostage go – what the hell? Superman doesn’t threaten villains with “I will pop your head” – I feel lines like this are the reason comics don’t seem to be for kids anymore. I have read better by Austen (Metropolis) and think DC need to address this, the guy has some great ideas but they are ruin by bad, out of character dialogue!

Superman Returns

This from Variety:

Though a deal has not yet been inked, relative unknown Brandon Routh is expected to take on the role of Superman for the long-in-the-works feature. Singer and his crew are headed to Australia next month to begin production.

Excellent – Superman the new movie seems to be moving forward, and in the right direction it seems. So why, oh why do we have hundreds, if not thousands of internet fans moaning and moaning. It all we seem to do when it comes to comics being made into movies, can’t we support them until we actually see what the film is like?

The Chicago Sun-Times also reports that Dan Harris said the following

As for script secrets, Harris divulged the following: "He'll begin in his late 20s. He lost his powers in 'Superman 2' and now he has the powers back. But something has happened because he's been away for a long time."

"We're taking off from the first two Superman films with Christopher Reeve. We use his history and then move on with big twists and great special effects.

"We're not going to do the origin story again. Our view is if you're over 25 years old, then you've seen the Reeve films and that's Superman to you. If you're under 25, then you watch TV's 'Smallville,' and that's Superman to you."

I am sick of message boards where we bitch over the colour of actors playing roles in comic book movies, what the story will or won’t be, if one actor is right for the movie only to change our minds the next day and last but no means least, what the bloody costume will look like. Let’s just wait and see, please…

Anyway, good luck to the film makers and if you we a cameraman to document your movie let me know, heh.

That’s my moan for this week, expect more in the future as it seems this is the best way of getting these things off my chest.

On the plus side, for any UK readers say hello in Bristol on the 6th and 7th of November at the Comic Expo convention that is taking place at the Ramada hotel. See you there!

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