Tuesday, 12 April 2011

KAPOW! Comic Con round up

This weekend I spent my time in the company of 2000+ nerds/geeks at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Why would I want to do such a thing? Because I was attending the very first Kapow! Comic Con, the brainchild of comic book writer Mark Millar, the man responsible for Wanted and Kick-Ass. When you think of British conventions, my first thoughts are of very minor celebrities from cancelled sci-fi shows charging £20 for an autograph, or being accosted by someone who is dressed up like The Borg. Millar wanted to bring the experience of the hugely popular and successful San Diego Comic Con to the UK. Did he succeed? While he certainly brought the San Diego weather (I felt sorry for the guy dressed as The Flash having to queue to get inside in 20 degree+ conditions), let's discuss the pros, "cons" and highlights of Kapow! (the exclamation was on the promotional material).


Top marks of the weekend have to go to the guys at the IGN UK Arena who were the most professional and had a great line-up of talent the whole weekend (by catching the guests before or after the main panels) and got interviews and signings with the likes of Danny McBride, Joe Cornish, Mark Millar and even Duncan Jones, who tried who best to be evasive when the Wolverine question came up.
Mark Gatiss took part in an excellent Q&A and was forthcoming about League Of Gentlemen (maybe an anniversary special at some point but difficult to get everyone together), Doctor Who (his episode will appear in the 2nd half due to screen in May, and his favourite Doctor is Jon Pertwee), Sherlock (another 3 feature length episodes including The Hound Of The Baskervilles and The Final Problem "but they won't be called that" and he joked about having to write himself out of that cliffhanger) and finally History of Horror (another series might happen, he hates remakes and torture porn, and loves a classic ghost story). That conveniently brings me to the Momentum panel on Sunday that featured the premiere of the teaser trailer for The Woman In Black which had the right look and spooky vibe and director James Watkins was on hand to assure us that most of the effects had been achieved in camera and that Harry Potter... sorry Daniel Radcliffe is old enough and good enough to play the lead. Also shown were a trailer for the bonkers looking Troll Hunter (with the tagline "The most important film of our time, is Norwegian") and James Wan and Leigh Whannel served up a funny Q&A to promote Insidious. Leigh Whannel is apparently terrified by Worzel Gummidge and Chocky. But the real surprise of the weekend was the Thor panel which included 20+ minutes of footage and a Q&A with Thor and Loki. There was always a chance that due to the nature of the comic that it could turn out a bit "Flash Gordon" but Branagh has found a rich vein of humour to contrast the two worlds, the visuals were impressive and the audience geeked out big time when we got a glimpse at the appearance of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

I was completely non-plussed by the Green Lantern footage. Some of the CGI, including Reynolds costume, looks ropey and WB could have a very expensive turkey on their hands. The pilot for Falling Skies made it look like Terminator Salvation but against crap CGI aliens rather than robots. The SDCC is arguably now more known for the big movie previews than it is for the comic book stuff but film fans expecting something similar would have disappointed with the lack of presence for such big summer films like Captain America, X-Men First Class, Pirates, etc as the main focus of the convention was on the comic side of things. In fact movie geeks who thought that they were quite geeky found the whole cosplay and level of intensity of the whole thing quite intimidating (Ultra Culture only lasted 20 minutes before returning to the sunshine and a couple of fellow Forumites felt it wasn't really their thing). The major grumble that I was hearing around the convention was about the lack of organisation regarding queuing for panels and signings. There was always going to be disappointment due to time restrictions and 2000 people trying to go to a panel with 500 capacity. Even some of the panels themselves were chaotic and disorganised. Jonathan Ross managed to blag his way through a Never Mind The Buzzcocks style comic quiz between the pros (Millar, John Romita Jr and Dave Gibbons - and if you don't recognise those names then the Con certainly wasn't for you!) and some fans despite leaving his questions at home! And the much hyped Stan Lee awards however were a disaster that made Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood presenting the Brit Awards look positively professional. I left half way through to go joining the queue for the Thor panel. Also the staff seemed keen to kick everyone out of the building very quickly at 4.00 on the Sunday when the tickets said it would run till 5.00.

It was always inevitable that not everything would run according to plan considering this is the first time an event like this has been tried. Hopefully the positive and negative factors will be analysed and discussed so that Kapow! 2012 is an even bigger success... but as a movie geek I hope that the major studios have a bigger presence next year.

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