While live tweeting the Eagle Awards last Friday I reported the shock announcement by MCM’s Brian Cooney that the Eagles would be ending their 30 year run with immediate effect. Well, it turns out that things are not quite what they seem.
Eagle Awards organiser, Cassandra Conroy issued the following press release today, stating that not only was the announcement false but that MCM had made it without the permission of the Eagles themselves.
I wanna say quickly that full credit for this story goes to the guys at Geek Syndicate. I’m merely passing on the press release they were sent. The Eagles’ relationship with MCM is something of a quagmire and I’m trying not to be one of the many people who has a loud opinion on the matter, but I figured since I was one of the people who broke the original story, it was only right to report the response.
For immediate release
Thursday, May 31, 2012
EAGLE AWARDS CONTINUE TO FLY HIGH
“People often say ‘Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet’ and this is one of those times,” announced Eagle Awards chair Cassandra Conroy.
Referring to an announcement made by MCM Expo’s Bryan Cooney at the conclusion of 2012 Eagle Awards ceremony on Friday night, she added, “To paraphrase Mark Twain: The reports of the Eagles’ death have been greatly exaggerated.
“Neither my father (Eagle Awards founder Mike Conroy) nor I attended Friday night’s ceremony, which we were boycotting in response to actions that are now being reviewed by my lawyer. Thus we don’t know exactly what Bryan said,” she explained. “However, with Bleeding Cool posting that Friday night’s ceremony was ‘the end of the road for the Eagle Awards after 30-some years and from next May, there’d be something called The MCM Awards instead.’ and others suggesting that next year the Eagles would be transformed into entirely new awards. I feel the need to put the record straight…
“The Eagles are neither dead nor morphing into anything else. MCM Expo is in no position to announce, imply or indicate otherwise,” Conroy stated. “In fact no third party can casually discard what my father has developed over the past 36 years. The Eagles will continue to soar into 2013 and beyond. We’ll be announcing further details of our plans for next year in the near future.”
I imagine we’ve not heard the last of this rather messy situation. It’s a shame to see two organisations that I like very much going at it like this but I guess all’s fair in love and comic book awards.
The very first year that Steve and I appeared at the MCM Expo the event fell upon the same day as a Millwall game. It’s not a detail that I would remember were it not for the fact that it meant that my first experience of the con was sitting on a packed tube full of confused skinheads and teenagers dressed as cats. There has probably never been a more perplexed railway carriage anywhere in the world and I found myself developing an instant fondness for this oddball of a con.
I mention this story first because really the teenagers dressed as cats (and Pokemon and cardboard boxes and pretty much anything else you can imagine) are the heart of MCM. That’s not to say they are the only audience there (in terms of floor space, it’s probably the biggest comic con in the UK) but at its very core the event is about people who say the word “random” a lot, cutting loose and having fun. As a result, MCM has always had a kind if energetic buzz about it that you just don’t find anywhere else and it’s this buzz that is the key to why this year’s event was so successful.
MCM has taken some flak over the years for its rather diverse (random, you might say) range of exhibits. While other cons focus on comics or movies or trading or whatever, MCM goes for a bit of everything but in times such as these it’s exactly that kind of diversity that you need. If you’re only going to go to one comic con then the obvious choice is the one that lets you see as much as possible. MCM is not so much a comic convention as a convention for the sort of people who like comics. It’s a subtle distinction but one that breeds the kind of extremely loyal fanbase that descended in droves upon the Excel Centre last weekend.
For our part, we were taken completely by surprise by just how busy the con was. We brought our usual hefty amount of stock, expecting it to last the entire event (especially given a slightly disappointing audience turn out at Kapow) but instead found ourselves completely sold out of copies of Moon by 5pm on Saturday. The result was that Steve had to scurry back to Essex on Sunday morning, while I tried to learn how you sell prints of characters from a book you don’t have (turns out, you generally don’t). By 11am we were back up and running however and went on to smash our all time sales record by some way.
I should mention, in the interests of fairness, that we had a much better pitch than at Kapow, being as we were right next to the auditorium and the booth for ASDF (who I’d never heard of before the weekend but who I’m pretty sure most teenagers would readily kill for.) This naturally translated into better sales but the fact that we took more than twice what we made at Kapow and paid less than half for the table left me pondering whether we’ll keep Kapow on our calendar next year.
Organisation wise we’ve got no complaints. Comics Village (who run the comics side of the event) have gotten very good at pre-show communication this time around and having every table get a small blurb in the program was a nice touch. Despite the huge crowds, there was always a volunteer on hand when needed and they were (as has always been the case) extremely helpful and friendly.
The one part where the organisation fell down slightly was in the execution of the Eagle Awards on Friday night. The Eagles themselves are probably a topic for another day but the very low audience turn out was a bit of a shame. Steve and I certainly appreciate being able to hog the free beer but I can’t help but think that if they were properly publicised and perhaps held on the Saturday night, the turn out would have been far better. We ran into only two non-comics industry people at the awards and they confessed that they’d only found the event by chance. Given the announcement about the demise of the Eagles, I wonder whether the lack of publicity was a deliberate move to send the awards off quietly with an eye to focusing on next year’s new “MCM Awards.”
The Eagles is but a small part of the overall event however and a low turnout for one small part is not enough to spoil the experience of what was in all regards a fantastic convention experience.
I was actually considering dropping this segment from the site a while back, since it doesn’t have an awful lot to do with comics and in many ways exists because I don’t have time to learn how This Is My Jam works. Then various people came up to us at Kapow last week and told us how much they were digging the music on the site, so it looks like Song of the Week is here to stay for the present. Glad you’re all enjoying it.
Woodkid is the musical alter ego of photographer and film maker Yoann Lemoine. This is significant because Yoann not only wrote and recorded Run Boy Run but also made the video and when I say ‘made the video’ I don’t mean he shot a vid of himself singing on his iPhone, I mean that he has gone and made one of the most beautiful music videos that you will see all year. The aesthetic reminds me a little of the excellent IOS game Sword & Sworcery (which you should play) in that it’s mournful and dark but with a deep underpinning of hope.
With luck that’ll be the most pretentious thing I say all day but it’s still early so let’s wait and see. Steve and I will be down at the Eagle Awards later tonight so follow @danthompson2099 on twitter if you want live updates and if you’re coming to the MCM Expo this weekend, come say hi!
Kapow’s something of a special convention for us. The con’s first outing last April was also the first time that Moon saw action at a major convention and Kapow 2011 remains one of my highlights from last year. In the end Kapow 2012 turned out to be something of a mixed bag, not awful by any stretch but certainly a very different to last year.
It was pretty hard to get a sense of the overall vibe of the con as we were kinda tucked away in the new Artist’s Alley on the upper level but on the whole the atmosphere definitely seemed somewhat muted compared to 2011. That’s not to say that people weren’t enjoying themselves but the electricity which permeated the air last time was lacking and the audience numbers certainly looked to be down (though this is pure speculation).
Ultimately I think you have to put this down to the decision to postpone the convention until May in order to allow Marvel Comics to attend (they were a little busy in April with a certain movie). This move placed Kapow exactly a week before one of London’s other Goliath cons, MCM and just 2 weeks after the Bristol expo. To be fair, all three cons have slightly different audiences but cramming them all into one month was always going to force fans to pick one or two and both Bristol and Kapow appear to have been hit by this (though, let me again stress that this observation isn’t based on concrete attendance figures).
One thing that wasn’t lacking was the work that the guests and exhibitors themselves put into the event. Of the few events I got to see the Lucha Britannia‘s wrestling shows remain the highlight for me. Wrestling shows at comic cons have become a pretty common sight but the Lucha Britannia guys put on by far the best show I’ve seen in this country and I heartily recommend that you catch one of their shows if you get the chance. Jonathan Ross also continued to carve out a reputation as the ultimate convention guest, at one point even diving into the ring to help the good guy wrestlers win the day.
Reactions to the new Artist’s Alley seemed to be kinda mixed too. Some people enjoyed the quieter atmosphere as it allowed them to talk to fans without clogging up the isle and certainly for the fans who found their way up there it offered a lot of opportunities to spend time meeting creators. Of course the down side is that not all the fans found all their way up there and because the layout didn’t funnel people directly past tables, it was tough for exhibitors to strike up conversations and ultimately sell books.
In all honesty, use of the upper levels of the business design centre was inevitable given how crowded the main floor got during the day. I take some issue with the price that was charged for the tables in the Alley, given that they were always going to be inferior to the main floor in terms of sales. Other cons justify the existence of these less desirable plots by renting them to small press publishers and creators for a reduced rate. It’s a deal that works for everyone as you essentially get what you pay for. Kapow’s stance has always been that they don’t do small press and everyone pays the same for a table. This was fine last year, we paid a premium sum but we got a premium table in a premium location. This year however I can’t help but feel that we paid way over the odds for a less desirable location. Die hard critics will leap on this as “another example of Kapow stiffing small press” but I’m not sure I see it in quite such extreme terms. The Artist’s Alley was a new venture and it takes a year or so to work the bugs out of things like that. Jumping to conspiracy theories serves nobody and it’s far better to offer organisers constructive feedback than jump down their throats. So here’s the feedback, Kapow: The Artist’s Alley works, it’s a good addition but it’s too expensive and you need to make it clearer during the booking process that it’s located on the upper level…oh and if you could book even more luchas, that’d be great too.
While we’re on the subject of feedback, I want to offer one additional thought. Kapow, your wristbands suck. They look like creepy, escaped hospital patient bracelets and they are scratchy as hell (my poor wife has the scars to prove it and that’s just from rolling onto my arm in her sleep during Saturday night). Give exhibitors lanyards. Lanyards are cool, you can take them off at night and they sound like the name of a family from Game of Thrones. There’s no reason not to use them.
On the whole, the weekend was a lot of fun for us. Despite the disappointment of our table, we sold reasonably well, met a lot of incredible Moon fans (seriously, you guys are incredible) and had a lot of fun. I want to send out some congratulations to Band of Butchers artist Rob Carey who not only successfully launched his Lightning Strike project but (justifiably) had big name editors drooling over his artwork. Never get tired of seeing people I know get recognition they deserve. Also want to give some thanks to Stuart Gould from UKComics for coming through again with some amazing print work for us. If you make comics and you don’t use Stu for your printing then you’re possibly mad.
I now have four days to “relax” by doing my day job, meeting with my film writing partner Jim Eaton to work on our next big project and finalising the new Unseen Shadows comic I’m doing and then it’s off to MCM for three more days of madness. I’ll be live tweeting the Eagle awards from @danthompson2099 on Friday and given how much free beer they gave me last time, this should be something that’s worth tuning in for.
Well done, Kapow for pulling off the difficult second album. There were some logistical issues but every fan I spoke to had a cracking time. Here’s to another year of a very unique convention.
Turns out that we weren’t the only people from the Bunker to be out exploring the MCM Expo last week. In a surprise turn of events we’ve discovered photos proving that Moon himself was also out on patrol! Over the course of the day he changed outfits (as well as heights, weights and genders) several times but never once did he stop protecting the good people of London from the terrors of the unknown!
Thanks to everyone who agreed to pose for us at MCM. Moon will make a welcome return to the convention scene sometime in the future.
If you’re at a loss for something to do this weekend then we at the Bunker would strongly suggest that you come check out the MCM (Movies, Comics & Manga) Expo at London’s Excel Centre! With competition cropping up from other major cons, MCM have pulled all the stops out this year and it honestly looks like it’s going to be a fantastic day out. You’ll be able to play all the latest games (including Arkham City), watch the many splendid (and not so splendid) cosplayers parading their fancy outfits and of course pick up a copy of Moon! There’s also a chance to meet Batgirl/Secret Six writer Gail Simone, Dr Who writer Tony Lee and tonnes of other guests too.
MCM is a fantastic show and the sheer number of things to do there is utterly mindblowing. If you’ve not been before then give it a go. I promise you will not regret it!
We shall be at the Beyond the Bunker stall in the Comics Village so please do drop by and say hello. We will have the usual comics, badges and limited edition DVDs available plus you’ll be able to ask any questions about the forthcoming release of Tales of the Fallen.
If you’re not able to make it then you needn’t feel left out as I’ll be tweeting the days events all through the weekend. Just follow me on twitter to join in!
For details and directions CLICK HERE! See you there!
Some of you will probably have noticed that we’ve been banging on about releasing Moon #2 at the end of summer for quite some time now. You may also have spied that it is in fact the end of summer and Moon news has been a little thin on the ground. With that in mind I thought it would be good to jump on and give a little update on where the book is at and how long you can expect to wait to get it in your hands. So let’s get the difficult yet obvious statement out of the way right now:
Moon #2 will probably be out in November.
The reasons for the delay are a mix of personal issues and scheduling clashes which unfortunately took Steve out of action for a couple of months. While that may not seem a big deal in the scheme of things, when you’re dealing with a creative team which spans two hemispheres and who all have other professional commitments to work on, a couple of months can really knock things out of sync.
We looked at the dates a week or so ago and realised we had two choices: do it fast or do it right and for all three of us there is simply no debate on that point. Moon is too good a comic and its fans too good a bunch of people to turn in a half baked end result. The support that we’ve received from both the public and the press since launching Beyond The Bunker has been utterly overwhelming and to publish a book that we were not 100% happy with would feel like a betrayal to all of those people.
So what’s the plan? Well Steve is now working night and day to get Fallen Heroes #2 & Wrath of God finished and away to the folks at Unseen Shadows so that he can turn his full focus to Moon #2. Iv is fired up and ready to deliver some more mind blowing colours and I’m trying to sort out some more distribution methods so that you can get your fix as soon as possible. Plan A at the moment is to hold a launch event in London some time in mid-November and then have the con debut at Thought Bubble in Leeds. If we can bring the book to MCM in October, we will, but right now we can’t promise anything.
Are we happy about this? Obviously not. When we started BTB one of the main things we wanted to do was get away from the slow publishing schedules of a lot of independent comics. While we know you guys are incredibly patient, we’ve never felt like that gives us the right to be sluggish in delivering stories to you. We promised to keep bringing Moon comics and we will keep bringing Moon comics, but this one’s taken longer than we wanted and for that we are honestly very sorry. The good news is that we’ve tackled the issues that caused the delay and lunar-gods willing, we should be churning these books out at a more respectable rate from here on out.
We’re going to try and be a lot more communicative with you guys in the run up to the book’s launch in order to ensure that as many people can get their hands on it as possible as soon as possible. Please keep checking back here for regular updates and remember to follow us on twitter @beyondthebunker and @danthompson2099. Whatever other work we do, Moon and its fans will always be priority A number 1.
It’s great, it’s coming, thank you for hanging in there.
Following a couple of phone calls today, I’m pleased to announce that we will be attending both the Entertainment Media Show and the MCM Expo this coming October! These are two of the biggest geek/comic cons in the calendar and we’re very excited to have Moon as a part of them.
The first port of call in our autumn tour of the capital will be a return to Earls Court on the 1st & 2nd of October for the annual Entertainment Media Show. Guests this year include John Hurt, Alex Winter and Mother Effing Bossk! EMS is a chance to meet the stars of geek film and TV as well as browsing hundreds of stalls selling everything from comics and artwork to swords and robots. Check out our gallery of photos from the London Film and Comic Con in July for an idea of some of the great stuff and cool costumes you’ll get a chance to see.
It’s also only £6 to get in so it’s well worth it if you want a fun day out with some mates and don’t want to break the bank.
You can find details and tickets at their WEBSITE
Not long after the madness of EMS we’ll be heading to the other end of Londinium for our second appearance at the MCM Expo. MCM takes place at London’s Excel Centre from the 28th until the 30th October and is about as big as UK comic cons get. Over 60,000 people will descend on the con over a few days, clad (well many of them at least) in some of the most elaborate costumes ever conceived by the mind of geek. The show will be hosting panels and demos of all the biggest comics, games and movies of the coming year so if you want to get ahead of the game then this is the place to go.
You’ll probably want to book a weekend pass for this one as the Comic Village alone can take a whole day to properly explore.
There’s also wrestling.
Full details can be found HERE
It’s gonna be a busy month!
Ever since we got word that a non-MCM event would be taking up residence in the Excel Centre next February there’s been a lot of speculation about the identity of the newcomer (I say a LOT of speculation, in all honesty the topic has been mentioned once or twice and then dropped again because there was no new information to go on). We knew it was going to be comics focused, we knew Harry Markos (of UK publisher Markosia) was involved and that MCM were a bit peeved. Now though, with tickets on sale, the organisers have started to offer up a little more information. In an interview with Bleeding Cool the mysterious group of anonymous backers came clean on some of the events goals as well as tackling the question of why it exists in the first place.
“London Super Comic Convention is being organised by a number of people that have been brought together for the express purpose of providing what the UK has been lacking – a comic convention with not just 2 or 3 American guests, but with a substantial amount of American creators spanning the decades, from 60’s through to present day. As such and given the enormity of the task, the collective encompasses individuals from both the UK and US, who have both financial acumen and experience in different fields, with one common denominator – All are comic fans, who want nothing more than to have a UK show that can go toe to toe on a guest list basis with the larger American Shows, and have a show that truly rivals its American counterparts..”
If that statement sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost the exact same statement that Mark Millar made when he announced Kapow! back in 2010…it’s also very similar to some of the claims made by MCM in this year’s publicity. It seems that if you want to sell a comic con to a British audience then you better damn well make it as American as possible.
So how does the new kid rack up against it’s competitors? Well for all the similarities in marketing, there are some key differences between Kapow! and SCC. For a start the newbie is about 4 times the size of Kapow in terms of raw floor space (though anyone who’s been to the Excel will tell you that just because they have the space, doesn’t mean it’s actually filled with anything).Secondly, while Mark Millar revelled in the film and game aspects of Kapow, SCC’s organisers have promised 100% comics and nothing else. This of course raises the question, are there enough convention going comic fans to justify filling the entire Excel with them? I hope so, but I suspect that they’re going to have dip into the Manga market quite heavily in order to do the numbers they want. Finally, if the SCC cabal are to be believed, they have a budget at their disposal that would make other comic cons weep. For all it’s killer line up Kapow did suffer from having very few American creators (Leinil Yu and John Romita Jnr apparently paid for their own flights to attend the con) and while it’s perfectly possible to produce an A list line-up without going abroad, there’s a lot of people who would pay good money to meet the likes of Brian Bendis and Matt Fraction.
Oddly enough, despite sharing a venue, MCM may well suffer less than a lot of people think from the encroachment of the new dog. For a start MCM isn’t really a comic con (shock horror). Sure it has a comic section, a very nice comic section, but it’s far from the focus of the event. MCM is about Manga, Cosplay and gaming and the comics are there as an icing on the cake rather than any kind of major jammy filling. Secondly the MCM events take place in May and October, well clear of SCC’s February show. If anything we should be sparing a thought for the poor Cardiff Comic Con who have suddenly found themselves with a juggernaut of a con taking place on exactly the same day as them!
The MCM and the SCC target crowds do overlap, but I’m not sure it’s quite as big as some people are making out. Despite fears that Kapow would dilute the attendance rate for existing cons, 2011 is shaping up to be a bumper year for convention attendance across the board. With geek culture on the rise, I don’t see the market as being at saturation point just yet. If anything the addition of a major con in the normally bare spring may help to stir up interest for events throughout the year.
So what about SCC’s own merits? Well the lineup so far is solid (but the first names announced always are) however the continuous references to “stars of the silver age” sets of a few alarm bells for me. Getting in the guy who drew Superman 30 years ago is fine if those were landmark Superman comics, getting him in because you can’t afford the guy who draws Superman now, not so much.
But that’s speculation. Right now the presence of a major con with apparently bottomless pockets seems largely positive to me. If done right it will draw in new fans, offer another chance for creators to get their books noticed and force the other cons to stretch for new levels of success. If it fails, well there’s still a whole year of cons to enjoy.
As for whether we’ll be attending, that will have to wait and see. Exhibitor prices haven’t been released yet, but once we know those, we’ll have a better idea of whether we can expect to see Moon kicking in the doors and demanding the shady council of SCC unmask…or more likely, buying novelty T-Shirts.