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Results tagged “Comic Book Alliance” from Birmingham Mail - Speech Balloon


On the weekend of 9-10th April London held its first comic book and related media convention in over ten years. G.M. Jordan, of the Comic Book Alliance was there to report and take pictures of the event.

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Its been a long time coming but finally London saw a return of a dedicated comic show and it felt fantastic to be back. Big name guests from all over the world mixed with local creators, fans dressed up (and in some cases dressed down); the sun shone and the organisers had selected a fantastic venue in the design centre. It's perfectly suited to big comic conventions, it has acres of space, it's light and it's comfortable.

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Mark Millar certainly knows how to put on a show, he and his team have worked hard to get the right mixture of guests, panels and dealers.

There were the usual little niggles that come with a first show but they could be forgiven; Kapow gave off a great vibe and everybody took away a desire for it to be repeated.

The programme of events and signings were full and it felt like an American show, the queues for signings stretched right around the convention hall and at one point people were literally lining up without knowing who they were waiting for.

Marvel were hyping up the new Thor film and it certainly is eye-catching, and the lead actors took time out to talk to the fans. Visitors were greeted at the front door by a giant picture promoting the Green Lantern film, whereas most people appeared to be excited by Thor, the words on most people's lips about Green Lantern were "Have you seen the trailer?" and "What's with all the CGI?", probably one to miss.

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One of the great things about the show was the carnival atmosphere, Cosplayers are now a common sight at these events and the colour and energy the participants bring to the party is infectious. You won't find me painting myself blue and sticking fairy wings onto my back, and quite frankly the only character I could pull off would be Jon Haward's Buddha, but those who do take part certainly add to the atmosphere.

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It used to be that Cosplayers didn't spend much money on comics, that appears to be changing and whilst it would be nice if they invested some of their cash on British comics I am sure the dealers are just grateful that they spend money at all.

There were lots of small and large publishers, distributors and dealers, the availability of original art on display and sale with a wonderful cross section of styles and genres. Professionals also took time to sign work and offer advice, the sheer volume of members of the public meant that some left disappointed. But on hand were the likes of Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, CB Cebulski, Brian Bolland, Jimmy Broxton, Steve Dillon and Gary Erskine, to name but a few.

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The Comic Book Alliance also had a table and were showing off examples of the work included in the Spirit of Hope anthology that will go on sale in June and hopefully raise money for those affected by the recent natural disasters in Japan and New Zealand.

Right next door to the CBA David Lloyd and the Cartoon Classroom team sketched and offered advice on writing/drawing comics.

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On Sunday at 4.30pm it was all over, the convention was over with everybody I spoke to hoping that Kerpow would be back next year. Well done, Mr Miller, you pulled it off with style and grace, now do it again.

For more on Kapow Comic Con visit: www.kapowcomiccon.com

For more on G.M. Jordan visit: www.jordanx.co.uk and www.comicshopvoice.co.uk

For more about The Comic Book Alliance visit: www.comicbookalliance.com

Memorabilia Spring 2011

By Paul Birch on Apr 1, 11 10:05 AM


THE VERY first Memorabilia show at Birmingham's NEC was so long ago now but the memory of being there and becoming overwhelmed with memories of one's one past and beyond remains a very happy memory in itself.

Everywhere you turned there were Corgi cars, old British weekly comics and annuals, Action Men and Sindy Dolls, posters of The Beatles and old Hammer films, a treasure trove of stuff you wanted to touch to make sure it was real. And everyone seemed to feel the same, familiar faces on the Birmingham comics' scene were there, all independent of each other, and we all naturally congregated in the bar - most of us with our partners; it was that kind of event, one that could be shared as a couple. I'd picked up a bunch of delightful Playhour & Robins, Steve Pugh had bought Aurora movable toys of General Custer made in the 70s, and Jon McCrea had Star Trek: Next Generation purchases.

We would keep going to the shows, and bump into each other, but with each successive event Memorabilia just got bigger, and it took all your time just to get round, let alone wave to friends from across an aisle. It also increasingly aimed itself towards the merchandising of then hot properties as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Babylon 5, with Buffy soon joining them, and brand new comics for the speculator market pre-bagged and never intended to be read. I no longer wanted to reach out and touch things.

So, as with all things, one drifts away, Memorabilia didn't bother that it wasn't getting my entrance money; the queues were always massive all weekend. I know because I was working for The Birmingham Mail and we had an office at the NEC, so could see them trooping in, laden with cash to spend every year.

There had been an attempt at a Memorabilia magazine, published by Trinity Publications as I recall, and maybe Titan had a go at it too. It should have done just as well as the show but I think the original show's organiser's had co-edited it, and that obviously wasn't where their strengths were. The show got sold to a few other organisers down the years too... Whoever was running it the year David Soul came must've been laughing all the way to the bank, the queues to get signed autographs by the former Starsky & Hutch actor, and singer of hit songs such as Don't Give up on us, Baby might have aged and looked rough around the edges but there were an awful lot of women wanting more than just a signed picture!

As guest names were becoming more the rage, Memorabilia decided to invest in comics personalities more and got John McCrea, Phil Winslade, Hunt Emerson and James Hodgkins to attend, with myself involved assisting them sell their artwork, and a zombie portfolio they co-produced. Sometime after that, BICS was created, as have been a number of more Memorabilia style events around the UK over the years.

It had been a couple of years since I'd attended Memorabilia myself, and another change of organisers are now responsible. Memorabilia is now handled by the company who produce the London MCM Expo, a similar styled show that because of its location in the capital has eclipsed even the Birmingham event's impressive attendance figures; they are also expanding their franchise further putting on a one day event in Manchester this summer.

So, on Saturday 26th March, after picking my daughter up from her dancing classes it was quite late on the Saturday afternoon by the time I got to the NEC, but the press office was friendly and diligent in arranging a pass, while outside the show Star Wars stormtroopers policed their beat while zombie and vampire babes posed for photographs.

The show itself was quieter than I'd expected. This may well have been down to it being late in the afternoon, but my thoughts also turned to the recession having an effect. Progressing through the show one noticed TV-related sci-fi didn't dominate the stalls, in quite the ways it had before, and there was a more welcoming variety of goods on offer for me personally, but it can't be denied the numbers of stalls themselves seemed decidedly thin on the ground.

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Beyond the Bond girls, or ladies as they are now, signing autographs, to the right of stunt driver Evil Kenevial's cars (who would have thought they'd stayed in one piece after all those crazy leaps and landings?), and far too near the bellowing screams of live wrestling events was the comics village.

GM Jordan of The Comic Book Alliance (CBA) was present and told me the various faces occupying tables at the comics village were largely small press creators, but faces to watch out for the future. He also enthused over Spirit of Hope, the benefit book the CBA is producing.

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Markosia had the most prominent stand and I took a keen interest in how publisher Harry Markos and others representing the company would talk to those passing by, getting their opinions on what kind of things they were into, comics or otherwise, and suggesting suitable books in that vein.

Certainly Kate and William - A Very Public Love Story, the comic book biography of the forthcoming Royal nuptials, has garnered the publisher mainstream media coverage. And deservedly so in visual terms featuring as it does art by West Bromich-born Mike Collins and Gary Erskine.

Harry said that Mike had been influenced by those brilliant artists who'd worked on the classic girls comics that used to sell in their hundreds of thousands in newsagents up and down the country (that publishing loss is almost as big a financial folly as us supporting the banking system, but something to whinge about another day). On the evidence shown, Markosia look in good hands, with some promising material set for the future.

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Around the corner was Time Bomb Comics. The now Birmingham-based independent that has upped its quality with each passing title, and whose latest book London Calling missed out on being nominated for the Eagle Awards.

A family affair, the Tanners always bring along their young toddler Sasha: BICS 2010 had her in a little Supergirl outfit, Memorabilia had her dressed as Wonder Woman, and The Sunday Mercury was quick to take a photograph of her to grace the following day's newspaper.

There are now quite a few specific comics events like BICS and the Bristol Comics Expo up and down the country, and along with related events like Memorabilia, familiar faces are showing up at each - like touring troubadours or modern-day travelling fairs they sell their wares, old friendships are rekindled, new ones made, and as these people age they bring their partners, wives and in time their children too. One of the unexpected delights for me is to take my own daughter Alex. Comic related shows are no longer the sole domain of spotty anorak types mingling with leather-clad heavy metal freaks, the times they are a changing.

That stated, the new Memorabilia's idea of setting up a specific comics village at its Birmingham NEC show has to be a good thing; the village will grow as more families come in.

Sales were quiet I'm told. Again the whys and wherefores could be recession-related or the fact that the noise of the wrestlers nearby puts people off (I'm told the London MCM Expo has a similar problem in terms of proximity, though sales can be good). However, it's something I trust Memorabilia will keep as an integral part of the new show, and that in time it proves to be financially beneficial to all, with more punters coming once they're aware of it.

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With time pressing, there was not enough time to reintroduce myself to Kat Nicholson and Jason Cardy's whose Classical Comics' adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream we reviewed here at Speech Balloons recently, but I made a brief wave to Beano artist Laura Howell, and as we exited we noticed Al Davison and managed to have a few words, as he told us he's moved on from doing Dr Who comics for IDW to working on a new graphic novel he's enthusiastic about for Renegade Arts Entertainment.

In all, a quiet show (aside from the wrestling), but pretty enjoyable on a personal level, and one I trust will find its feet and build itself up again to mass of crowds it used to have waiting outside to get in. The next Memorabilia show is at the NEC on 19-20th November, and details can be found at: www.memorabilia.co.uk and www.thenec.co.uk

Here are some other website links, about people and events mentioned above, that may prove of interest:

Al Davison visit: www.astralgypsy.com

Classical Comics: www.classicalcomics.com

Comic Book Alliance: www.comicbookalliance.org.uk

Laura Howell: www.laurahowell.co.uk

Markosia Comics: www.markosia.com

Time Bomb Comics: www.timebombcomics.com


SPIRIT OF HOPE

By Paul Birch on Mar 24, 11 05:54 AM


SPIRIT OF Hope is the official title of the anthology comic featuring an all-star cast of contributors, due to published via The Comic Book Alliance.
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As was revealed by The Birmingham Mail's Speech Balloons on March 17th, Spirit of Hope is being produced as a fundraising comic whereby all profits made by the sales will go towards those who have suffered from the recent tsunami tragedies that have struck both Japan and New Zealand.

To this end all of the contributors - including the likes of Mike Allred, Mark Buckingham, Darick Robertson and Liam Sharp - have donated their creative services for free. To that already prestigious roll call the name of Chris Weston can also now be revealed as being involved in Spirit of Hope.

Featured above is an exclusive Speech Balloons preview of the art Weston produced for the comic. It should be noted that as potent as the illustration is, it is still only a low resolution image, and the piece will be seen in all its true glory when printed in Spirit of Hope.

Chris Weston's comic book artwork has appeared in such fan favourite titles as Britain's 2000AD, and for US publishers on books such as Ministry in Space, The Invisibles, and Enemy Ace: War in Heaven. He has also illustrated record covers, produced the design for the latest Dan Dare action figure, and been involved in the film industry; notably producing concept art and storyboards for the Denzel Washington movie The Book of Eli.

"Occasionally I get asked to create art for charity, and I usually have the excuse of being too busy to get involved," said the artist. "However, the scale of the disaster in Japan made my deadline concerns seem trivial in comparison. I also couldn't bear the feeling that I was gawping at the horror from the sidelines and not pitching in and helping somehow."

Commenting on the actual artwork he produced, Weston revealed:

"I wanted to create a symbolic piece that captured the quiet dignity and strength of the Japanese people; a tribute to their constant resilience in the face of adversity. My pictures shows a mythic samurai representing the Land of the Rising Sun, bloody but unbowed after his battle with a water demon. It's called The Sun Rises Higher than the Waves."

Other writers and artists now known to be contributing to Spirit of Hope include Jason Cobley, Gary Crutchley, Gary Erskine, Mats Engesten, Lew Stringer and Anthony Williams.

For more about The Comic Book Alliance visit: www.comicbookalliance.co.uk

For more on Chris Weston visit: www.chrisweston.co.uk


THE EARTHQUAKE devastation that has struck New Zealand and Japan has galvanised the UK's Comic Book Alliance into action; prompting them to produce a fundraising comic to help those who have lost their homes and families.

The as-yet untitled comic will be a US styled colour production and include themes such as earthquakes, tsunamis, loss, hope and survival; those latter two points looking towards better days ahead for all.

"It's going to be a cool book," said Project Editor Alan Cowsill. "I was just looking at all the folk who've signed up for strips and getting that 'Woah' feeling!"

The roll call of contributors has already reached an international level and includes Darick Robertson, Liam Sharp, Mark Buckingham, Nick Abadzis, Si Spencer, Peter Hogan , Glenn Dakin, Tony Lee, PJ Holden, William Simpson, Donna Barr, Sean Wilson and Michiru Morika, plus a cover by no less than Mike and Laura Allred, and featuring art by Knight & Squire artist Jimmy Broxton that we are previewing exclusively here today:

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"The response has been mind-blowing" said The Comic Book Alliance's Tim Pilcher, but the search for talented contributors continues.

"We are still looking for creators so that we can put together an impressive package that will hopefully sell thousands and to raise as much money as possible to help these countries get back on their feet and to rebuild their lives."

With a deadline of only Saturday 2nd April it is hoped that with everyone pulling together,
through media coverage, word of mouth, and the internet that ancillary assistance will also step forward with regards to helping out on the production of the book, and investigating free or reduced rate printing and distribution issues; and perhaps even more importantly that readers will be out there looking to pick up the comic in their droves!

Those who would like to become involved are advised to email: founders@comicbookalliance.co.uk.

For more about The Comic Book Alliance visit: www.comicbookalliance.co.uk


The Comic Book Alliance (CBA), the Voice of the British Comics Industry, are offering comic fans some very special Christmas treats this week with their very first fundraising auction - including the chance to star alongside Batman in his new comic, Batman Inc; along with other experiences that money can't buy!

Grant Morrison (the award-winning writer who killed Batman and resurrected him!) will write the winning bidder into an issue of Batman Inc. featuring their name and likeness, courtesy of DC Comics.

Not only that, but Frank Quitely, winner of four 2010 Eagle Awards and one of the hottest artists in comics (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin) will draw a personalised portrait of a winning bidder!

Quitely said ""This is ideal. Some lucky bidder gets to enjoy a cutting caricature of themselves, I get to exercise my cruel sense of humour, and the CBA gets the money it needs to help it carry on its vital work -- everyone's a winner!"

Plus there are dozens of signed books, comics and graphic novels from Alan Moore (Watchmen), Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys), Charles Vess (Stardust), and John Wagner (Judge Dredd).

And there's original comic art and signed limited prints by the cream of British artists including zombie art work by Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Bryan Talbot (Grandville), Sean Phillips (Criminal), John McCrea (Hitman), David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Mark Buckingham (Fables), Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl) and Garen Ewing (The Rainbow Orchid).

The CBA supports and promotes comic creators, publishers, retailers and distributors, both in the UK and abroad, The Alliance has assembled an advisory board made up of leading academics and professionals from a wide spectrum including chat show host, turned comic book writer, Jonathan Ross and V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd.

In the last year the CBA has helped organise and promote major exhibitions and sent thousands of free comic books to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The CBA also runs a website that helps the general public find their local comic book retailer (www.comicshops.co.uk) and with over 1.5m visitors.

Chairman Tim Pilcher said "The UK has one of the most creative and extensive comic publishing industries in the world--a legacy that has produced some of the best artists and writers currently working in the medium. It's been wonderfully overwhelming to see so many of them generously donating their time and items to this very worthy British cause and coming together to support the medium they love."

There are no reserves, and all bids start at just 99p, so there's the chance to pick up some real Christmas bargains for the comic fan in your life!

The auction starts at 19:00 on Thursday 2 December and runs until at 19:00 on Saturday 11 December on www.eBay.co.uk: search for the seller, comic_book_alliance or further details can be found at www.comicbookalliance.co.uk.

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