Kapow ComicCon, Day 1: A Wil Wheaton of Nerds

For years comic book fans in the UK have looked across the sea at San Diego and New York and wondered why the land of Wells and Clarke had nothing to offer.  While the US had their huge events, premieres and panels, all we could do was wait for grainy videos and vicarious emails.

No longer!  Kapow was the first attempt at a big British comic convention and proved that it’s not the size that matters, but what you do with it.

Queuing started at 8am with many already in full costume, and didn’t stop until the day was over. The first panel we attended was a Fans vs. Pros quiz, hosted by Jonathan Ross which pitted John Romita, Jr., Mark Millar, and the immortal Dave Gibbons against Stewart Lee and a couple of fans out of the audience.  Obviously no real substance, but a lot of fun and a nice way of letting the coffee injections take effect.  The fans won, of course.

Mark Gatiss was our next victim. One of the League of Gentlemen, Professor Lazarus, one of the Mycrofts Holmes and a thoroughly nice chap, he waxed lyrical on all things horror (Halloween ruined American movies), televisual (“[Stephen] Fry. Bastard Fry”), and supernatural  (“Crystals. Fucking Crystals”). He could have done an entire weekend and I’d have been happy. Just as well, since he made us miss the Green Lantern Panel (Gatiss. Bastard Gatiss).

With a bit of time in hand to look around the stalls, picking up some nice stuff from Genki Gear and Insert Coin T-Shirts, it became increasingly difficult to navigate the Supermen, Batmen, Penguins and Steampunks so I dragged Ang away from the yaoi and started queuing again.  How many Supermen does one city need before it starts to feel like a Monty Python sketch!  Next year I’m going as Bicycle Repair man.

We got really lucky with the last panel of the day; the one every geek, nerd, and fan wanted to see, the Thunder God himself, Thor. After a lot of herding and surrendering of technology (the comic book fan equivalent of Gitmo) five hundred of us got to see twenty-five minutes of footage from Branagh’s movie (with script co-written by the Great Maker) and if the whole movie is as good as those few minutes then it’s going to be a real Easter treat.

Hemsworth is perfect as the hammer thrower, Sir Anthony Hopkins eats the scenery as the Allfather,  Tom Hiddleston gave a good turn as Loki and we even got a brief, tantalising glimpse of Stringer Heimdall. Talk about your 60 degree day.

It’s a shame the movie is in 3D, but at least JMS’s script (and a fantastic cameo that must have left him wet) is full of the humour and excitement fans of Babylon 5 know to expect.

Coming soon: Kapow 2: They Queue in Blood.

July Reading

This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities by Jim Rossignol.

A whistle stop tour of gaming culture which avoids the usual clichés of describing gamers as nerds or gaming as an antisocial and harmful habit. Rossignol splits his essay into three parts each dealing with the different types of gaming that have emerged across the world and it’s not only a decent essay about gaming but touches on some exciting developments such as gaming with purpose and games-as-propaganda.

The Vesuvius Club: Graphic Novel by Mark Gatiss.

An adaptation of Gatiss’ novel about an Edwardian James Bond type getting into scrapes around London and Italy, which seemed like the Cliff Notes version of the original novel.  The story itself is pretty camp and leaves you unsure whether to give the book on which it’s based a chance.  Quite disappointing considering Gatiss’s track record on Doctor Who and Sherlock.
Warning: May contain hand-drawn penis.

The Wheel of Time, Book 12: The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

Just when I thought I was getting to the end of a very long slog, I found out that this final volume in the twelve book series was to be split into three huge books.  From notes left when Robert Jordan passed away, the epic battle between light and dark is being finished by fantasy writer and fan Sanderson.  Definitely a commitment, but Sanderson’s input has given the story a sense of urgency that makes the reader know the last battle is only around the corner.