Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Conventions of the Past - Part 1

With the Bristol Comic Expo coming up this weekend I thought it might be appropriate to take a look back at a few UK comic conventions of the past. British comic cons have been running since 1968 and I attended my first one 30 years ago in 1979. Blimey indeed!

I didn't even own a camera to take pix of the 1979 event (which was in the Metropole Hotel in Birmingham by the way) but I did snap a few with my new cheap point n shoot camera in 1980. This event was in London and organized by Marvel UK. In an attempt to attract the crowds they invited guests from tv, film, and comics. (The sort of multi-media event which is common today, so they were ahead of their time.)

In his satin tights fighting for your rights here's someone at the 1980 event dressed as Captain America...


...and at the same event, actress Jacqueline Pearce (star of Blakes 7 and Hammer movie The Reptile) picks up a few awards...


Two years later in 1982 a convention was held in London again, this time with comics back as the central focus. Here's a young pre-Watchmen Dave Gibbons perusing the items in the dealer's room...


Years before Cosplay, fans in costume were a rarity at UK Cons, but that never stopped merry Martin Forrest from dressing up as Doctor Midnite. (Martin was a superb fan-artist, contributing to several fanzines of the period including my own Metamorph.) Here he is in character thwarting a ham sandwich in 1982....


...and I suppose it's only fair that I reveal how I looked way back when too. Here I am at the same Con with moustache, bomber jacket and tinted specs, managing to look at least five years out of fashion even for 1982...


Moving on another two years, here's Alan Moore in '84 at a convention in Birmingham winning what is possibly his first Eagle Award. (This would be either for his work on Warrior or The Daredevils, or possibly both.)


At the same 1984 event here's Kevin O'Neill who, in memory serves me correctly, was collecting an Eagle Award on behalf of Pat Mills. (Although I could be mistaken and he could have deservedly won one himself that year of course.) Just behind Kev is Manhunter / Thor artist Walt Simonson who was presenting the Awards, and in the background is Eagle Awards organizer Richard Burton...


Again at the 1984 Con, here's Marvel UK editor Bernie Jaye receiving the Eagle Award for The Daredevils comic (a groundbreaking UK monthly which featured lots of Alan Moore material including fanzine reviews, Night Raven text stories and of course Captain Britain by Moore and Alan Davis)...


Here's Bernie with that very Eagle Award. In those days it was a certificate, but later events saw it evolve into a trophy...


The same 1984 Convention saw fanzine editor Martin Lock launch his Harrier Comics company with Conqueror No.1 written by Lock with artwork by Dave Harwood...


The final pic from 1984 shows American Flagg creator Howard Chaykin (on the right) with colourist Leslie Zahler on the left and a fan in a very good home made Flagg costume...


Moving forward through the mists of time we stumble into 1987 and a UKCAC (UK Comic Art Convention) event in the heart of London. Here's the lads from Viz making their only appearance at a London comic convention. Left to right is Viz cover artist Simon Thorp, writer Graham Dury, and Viz co-creators Simon and Chris Donald...


The UKCAC organizers often tried to instigate friendly conflict on the panels and joining the Viz lads on the same discussion were a group of Oink! contributors. As it turned out, we all got on well as most comic creators do. Left to right is Chris Donald; moderator Theo Clarke; me in Oink! T-shirt "hogging" the mic (can't resist a piggy pun); artist Ed McHenry; artist/writer David Leach...


A relaxing trip to the bar is a tradition after a convention and here's a surprised looking Hunt Emerson with Chris Donald and Chris' wife Dolores in a London pub...


More old Con pix soon! (Or not, if enough bribes are received. ;-)

See you at the Bristol International Comic Expo this weekend:
http://www.fantasyevents.org/index2.html


17 comments:

Theo Clarke said...

Sadly, the Bristol expo clashes with Shoot London: a photographic competrition game around Tate Modern so I will not be able to enjoy your punning reminiscences this weekend.

Lew Stringer said...

Good to hear from you anyway Theo!

Tom Daylight said...

Is that really you? Age has served you well, Lew! ;-)

LauraH said...

I would never in a million years have recognised you in that 1982 pic!! Amazing what contact lenses can do, eh? XD

Lew Stringer said...

Well, contact lenses plus a few thousand cakes over the past 27 years. ;-)

John Freeman said...

Have a great Con guys, look forward to seeing more of Lew's nostalgic (and embarrassing) pics soon. As long as there's none of me :)

Emsie said...

This is fascinating!! Thank you for posting it ^__^ YOur first con was *gulp* in the year I was born.
It's nice to know my birthyear was also the birth of UK comic events though.

Mark said...

Was that the con where Viz were celebrating their 100th issue? They came running down the lecture hall steps, Dury attempted to vault over the 17 year old me, tripped on my shoulder, fell on his arse, and got rapturous applause as everyone thought it was deliberate slapstick. He was wearing DM boots and it bloody hurt. Bloody stew-dents.

Lew Stringer said...

Check it again Emma. My first Con was in 1979 but UK comic events started in 1968 and I know that's **way** before your birth year. ;-)

Lew

Lew Stringer said...

Hi Mark, I would have thought that 1987 Con was long before the 100th issue but Viz' frequency has changed over the years so you could be right. I'm sure that's the only comic con Graham's been to so sounds like your painful memories are accurate.

Mark said...

I'm pretty sure my Dury/shoulder interface actually happened in '89. Viz had just done a big push to reach selling a million copies of their latest issue. Which may or may not have been issue 100. So maybe they made two visits?

I think I may have made a comment to my mate Jeff along the lines of "holy shit, I nearly killed the guy who draws THE FAT SLAGS" at the time. So yeah, that was '89. The year Jose Munoz was there.

Lew Stringer said...

Interesting. I don't recall him going to two Cons but I'll take your word for it as I often find these events blur into one big 30 year long convention memory! :)

Adam J Smith said...

Viz's 100th issue wasn't until 2000! The 50th was in 1989, so that must be the celebration you're thinking of.

Trav28 said...

These images are a superb peek into some great comics history. Cheers for posting!

alcilan said...

Great stuff, Lew. Ah those large spectacles that those of us who needed them used to 'hide behind' ;-)

Thanks for posting those pics. I enjoyed them.

David Leach said...

Bloody hell, that picture of the Viz vs Oink boys at UKAC is a photo of my very first ever panel as a guest. I remember it vividly, I was so in awe of meeting all you fellow Oinkers. I made some good friends that weekend. Thanks for sharing, Lew!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, good weekend, that.

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