London Super Comic Con behind the scenes secrets

London Super Comic Con organiser George explains what goes on under the hood

Jonathan Ross will appearing at this year's London Super COmic Con
Jonathan Ross will appearing at this year’s London Super Comic Con

Since its inception, London Super Comic Con has established itself as the definitive British answer to the creative-focused events we’d pour over with barely concealed envy in the ads of our favourite funny books.

Held 15 to 16 March 2014 at London’s Excel Centre, London Super Comic Con 2014 features guests from all ends of the spectrum. From celebrity fanboy-turned-creator Jonathan Ross, to current heavy hitters like Superior Spider-Man‘s Dan Slott, Fatale‘s Sean Philips and Origin II‘s Kieron Gillen,  to cast-iron legends like V For Vendetta‘s David Lloyd, Watchmen‘s David Gibbons and the almighty Howard Chaykin, there’s something for everyone.

Event organiser George tells us about the superhuman effort behind LSCC…

295378_204259942960510_642960_nWhat was the genesis for London Super Comic Con?

The organisers are first and foremost comic fans. We have been reading and collecting comics for over 30 years and some of us have been attending US comic convention for over 20 years. We were in a pub discussing our next US convention trip when one of us asked why there isn’t a US-style convention in the UK.

As you can imagine the usual pub talk followed where we discussed what form the convention should take based on our experiences at US conventions. We slowly realised that we had the resources and contacts to make it happen ourselves. The London Super Comic Convention is the result of these conversations.

Is it galling that ‘comic con’ has become shorthand for any large convention, as opposed to one with actual comics?

I think we have to look at the evolution of comic conventions in the US to see how the “comic-con” handle has become shorthand for large conventions (with or without comics).

The large conventions in the US began as comic conventions but have over time grown their numbers and generate revenues to survive and spread their remit beyond the standard comic convention to pop culture events. The nature and size of the film and TV medium has meant that as the conventions have grown the PR related to those conventions has ensured that the public focus is on pop culture rather than comics. San Diego is a classic example of this. Though the comic side is dwarfed by the film and TV PR the comic side is still bigger than the vast majority of US comic conventions.

We believe that a comic convention should have, as it core principle be comic focused and where a convention doesn’t have any comics it is an interesting misnomer. It does show, however, how popular the comic convention circuit is now that others have recently begun to use the name.

Scale-wise, LSCC seems to be at such a high. How do you keep it real and make sure that smaller creators and publishers are looked after, while producing a line-up hat of big beasts that gets people talking?

Our key principle is that the show provides our attendees the ability to sample the wide comic universe. We hope that our attendees see LSCC as the event where they can do something different. When planning LSCC we have to ensure therefore that:

– We bring creators to the show that they haven’t seen before

– Bring a mix of publishers (attending this year from the US are IDW, BOOM! Studios, Avatar and Zenescope and from the UK we have 2000AD, Markosia and Titan Publishing) that offer as wide a variety of comics as possible. This year for example attendees can sample comics differing as much as BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time to Avatar’s Crossed.

– Give the small press the opportunity to have their work seen by as many people as possible. This year we decided to have an Artist Alley ordered in alphabetical order. This means that small press and “big beasts” will be sitting next to each other this year and we hope that our attendees, while queuing for the latter will take a minute to view the offerings of our small press exhibitors.

What are the biggest challenges you think people might not necessarily be aware of about an event like LSCC?

It’s getting the blend of creators, publishers and exhibitors right bearing in mind that the majority of our attendees attend both days of the convention. We therefore have to maintain a mix of publishers, creators and exhibitors of quality but also in quantity sufficient to satisfy our attendee’s appetites.

This means we have to keep things fresh. Each day over the weekend has to provide our attendees with something different. We have to ensure that LSCC is not only different from other UK conventions but also different from past years.

Getting that balance right is tough but we have learnt from our past experience, listening to attendees, our prior guest creators, publishers, exhibitors and small press what we need to do to keep LSCC evolving. LSCC’s increasing reputation in the US, Europe and the UK and increasing attendee numbers indicate that we are on the right track.

Getting Jonathan Ross – the UK’s number 1 celebrity fanboy – is quite a coup. How did that happen?

It wasn’t the easiest of things, but given the contacts that we have, and the opportunity that we present over all other UK shows – to reach the largest audience of comic fans, it was almost inevitable that we were going to reach out to Jon given that his new comic is being released just before our event. Obviously Jonathan’s a busy man and we were extremely happy that he found the time to come and perform a signing session as well as take part in a panel at our event.

Regional comic events seem to be flowering at the moment, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own micro-con?

We have received a number of requests for advice from potential convention organisers.

Our advice has always been that before you do anything you should determine the principles of your show, the target audience, and the resources available and then tailor the convention accordingly.

We also say that no matter how good your show is if no one knows it exists it won’t be a success. Advertising and PR is therefore crucial in the run up to the event.

What’s the future of London Super Comic Con? What’s your dream for the event?

New York Comic Con – nuff said!

Meet Jonathan Ross and a whole universe of comic legends at London Super Comic Con, held 15 to 16 March 2014 at London’s Excel Centre. Find out more and book tickets