Archive for Convention

Hello Again! Manga Jiman, and the Small Press at AyaRevolution 2009

Posted in Event, Other with tags , , , , on August 19, 2009 by comicmole

Hi, didn’t see you there, welcome back again to the small press burrow that is Comic Mole Investigates.  Its been a while but I hope that normal service will resume now with a cavalcade of new reviews! (hmm…I wonder how many I have to write for it to be considered a ‘calvalcade?’…)

Over the past couple of months I’ve been on my own little comicking adventure: writing and drawing an entry to this year’s Manga Jiman competition.  My comic is finished now, but the deadline for the competition is the end of September, so if anyone else out there wants to try their hand at making their own short (6-8 page) manga-inspired-comic then there might still be enough time to squeeze in an entry – ganbatte (good luck/do your best) if you choose to enter!

The Small Press at AyaRevolution 2009

It might be assumed that an anime convention is purely for the sale or promotion of large-scale commercial products: new DVD box-sets, pre-release showings of new movies, shiny new mass market manga volumes lined up for sale, and a crowd of eager fans chomping at the bit to snap up the products they want.  Well, to a certain extent that’s true, but there is a whole lot of individual creativity present at anime cons which is well worth experiencing.

Cosplay is one such element that is steadily growing as a con phenomenon, branching out from anime-based events to Expos and comic conventions.  The results are often fantastic to look at, but in some cases it requires many months of planning and construction to finish an outfit.

In the same vein of individual creativity is comicking: it can often take several months of a small press artist’s free time (or more) to create that next issue of their ongoing series, or that unique one-shot.  Unfortunately though the small pressers aren’t walking around with copies of their comics strapped all over them for you to peruse as they walk by (hmm…maybe we should try this…).  So if you like going to anime cons and already enjoy small press comics, or even if you’ve only ever read Viz or Tokyopop manga (but are curious…), don’t forget to clear the haze brought on by a room full of shiny new anime merch, and look out for the indie artists at your next anime event!

At Ayacon this year were: ITCH Publishing, Speedlines Publishing, Panic Room Comics, Sweatdrop Studios and Ushio (probably among others that I can’t remember off the top of my head ^^; )


Bristol International Comic Expo 2009: Highlights

Posted in Event with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by comicmole

Mole note: this post covers my personal highlights from the 2009 Bristol Expo – for general impressions of the event please see my previous post.

Small press comics heaven, one of the SP Expo rooms at Bristol:


The best thing about the Bristol Expo for me was the chance to walk around many rooms filled with comic creators and buy issues directly from the people who designed and made them.  Being able to meet an artist who’s work you really like and say to them ‘great work, please keep it up!’ is a fantastic feeling that you just can’t get by ordering comics over the internet.

Personally, I also like to ask the creators that I meet if they will sign the comic I’m buying from them, as a kind of memento of meeting them at that time.  Side note: this is why I don’t usually request a signature on a comic I’m ordering over the net, unless its extremely unlikely that I will ever get the chance to meet the creator(s) in person.  If a comic arrives signed then there’s no point in me taking it along to meet the creator(s) and get it signed, therefore the signature means much less to me (do others feel like this or am I just a tad weird?…)

Anyway, as well as the general greatness of actually being there, here are some specific highlights of the event:

  • Going to the SelfMadeHero Manga Shakespeare table  (pictured below) and picking up an advance copy of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, illustrated by Emma Vieceli.  Also, telling them how much I was looking forward to their verions of ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Merchant ofVenice’ (illustrated by Nana Li and Faye Yong respectively).  I got a free poster for that – motto: it can pay to tell publishers if you are eagerly awaiting their books ^_~


  • Getting the new ‘Cupcake of Doom’ t-shirt from Genki Gear (very apt as I’m trying to lose weight…)




  • Chatting with Sally and Azure at the IndieManga table and getting very excited about their upcoming release Between Worlds by Anna Fitzpatrick (which is debuting in just a couple of weeks at the May MCM London Expo).  The bookmarks I got from them give a glimpse of the fantastic art in ‘Between Worlds’, which is being printed in full colour.


  • Getting to meet and shake the hand of Paul Gravett, author of ‘Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics’ amongst many other books about comics , and say how much I enjoyed his work.  Once again, you don’t get to do these kinds of things over the internet ^_^

OK, highlights end there!  Next time I’ll be back with more comic reviews (and belive me I’m not short on material for those now ^_~ ).

Bristol International Comic Expo 2009: General Impressions

Posted in Event with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by comicmole

(My Bristol write-up was getting a bit long, so I’ve split it in two: General Impressions here and Highlights to follow)

Last weekend myself and my other Bumblemoo compatriots Wren and Banemoo went along to the Bristol International Comic Expo.  It was a first for me and Banemoo, although Wren had been once before.  Seeing as I was introduced to comics through manga, and have since gained a love of small press work and non-manga comics too, I saw Bristol as a good opportunity to pick up some exciting new books to read and get out of my comfort zone of sailor suited high school girls and mechs (hmm…sailor suited mechs? anyway…)

The Expo was held in two hotels this year: the Ramada Plaza held the main event and the Mercure held the Small Press Expo.  Luckily both hotels were only 2 minutes walk from each other and a 5 minute walk from the train station, making the event very easy to find.


When we got there we had a choice of two free comics to collect – I chose this little number with the Simon Bisley cover:


But free comics aside, our general impression of the Expo was more one of a series of fantastic dealers’ rooms to look around, rather than somewhere we might have wanted to spend two whole days.  There weren’t many panels we were particularly interested in –  we don’t really keep abreast of industry affairs and we’re not ‘inside’ enough to know which creators are which in the flesh, and who would be the most interesting to listen to.  However, taking another look at the website after we got back home, I think I would pay more attention to the panel lineup if I was going to visit again and try to attend at least a couple of them.  It might actually be more fun to attend as a creator, so time could be spent meeting and socialising with other creators in a more relaxed way.

As someone who didn’t know what any of the more famous comic creators looked like, I found it quite difficult to navigate around the different artists offering sketches.  It was quite crowded in the Ramada where the main event was held (an atmosphere not helped by a lack of opening windows or adequate air conditioning), so most of the bigger name artists’ tables were obscured by a cluster of people queuing for sketches or signatures, and more people trying to squeeze past.  The only artist we knew that we wanted to search for, to perhaps request a sketch, was Simon Bisley.  However we couldn’t find either him or a table with his name on it so we gave up in the end.

Even though we didn’t end up participating in any ‘special’ con activities like panels or signings, we still had a great time and came away with some really unique purchases!  I would still recommend going to the Bristol Expo to anyone who enjoys UK small press comics (and assorted mainstream publishers, and related paraphanalia), as you just won’t find the same kind of collection of niche and hard-to-get items this side of the internet.  And unlike the internet, where you would have to order and pay shipping from many individual websites, everything at Bristol is under one roof (well two rooves, but who’s counting?)


Away from the more crowded hallways, foraging through the work of a lot of the indie publishers in the dealers’ rooms was a fascinating experience; there were so many different styles of art on show, from heavily inked horror through wordy thought-provoking comics to lighthearted bits of fluff.  Most artists and publishers were very happy for people to flip through a copy of their comic and most were unobtrusively friendly and helpful.  However, to those pushy sellers who would repetedly take me through a comic’s extra features and tell me I’d get a free sketch if I’d just buy it, please try to cool off a bit or I’ll be too busy trying to get away from you to notice how good your comic is.

One thing I did notice, which might spark some discussion if people don’t agree with me, was that quite a few of the indie and small press comics seemed a little bland and archetypal.  Things like anthologies of ‘Zombies’ or ‘Werewolves’ or ‘The Girly Comic’.  Seeing titles like this immediately puts me off the comic.  Even if it turns out to be an amazing anthology of varied work, I wouldn’t know as the title would have made me think it was boring and mainstream, like being spoon fed some kind of single flavour food that the sellers know that fans will buy, similarly to Hollywood churning out blockbuster sequel after blockbuster sequel.  What was interesting to me about this was that it was the indie publishers who seemed to be doing it most, and I would have thought they would be the ones being more experimental.

…and if they are in fact being quite experimental, as my brief perusal of ‘The Girly Comic’ website seems to hint at (one of the shorts in issue one covers what you might do if you had your own gimp?), then maybe they could try using a name that doesn’t make it sound like their comic was written for male geeks to buy in order to ‘get their girlfriend into comics’ Cosmo-style.

(Disclaimer: I’m more making a general point about bland derivative works rather than saying ‘The Girly Comic’ in particular should change its name, in fact the more I peruse the website the more I want to read an issue of ‘The Girly Comic’…although I’m still kind of hoping it will turn out to be a joke name and actually be full of robot stories ^_~ )

Robot love aside, next up will be my personal highlights of the Bristol Expo, so please stick around for that ^_^