Dublin City Comic Convention 2007

Kicking off last year Dublin Comic Con has grown quickly and this year comes with a new venue and a star studded guest list. With such a buzz about it Fractal Matter sat down with the event’s organiser, John Hendrick, to talk about this year.

How did Dublin Comic Con come about?

John Hendrick: Well, there were a couple of reasons, one was the distinct lack of cons and signings here in Dublin. There hadn’t been one for years. So when we did the signing with Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch in aid of the 2004 Tsunami, the response was gargantuan. Way, way more people turned up than I was expecting. Which started to get me thinking about doing a con. I still wasn’t sure about it but I go to Bristol every year and there I met up with a load of friends and we started talking about the possibility.

After Bristol I was emailing Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, just having a laugh and in the conversation I mentioned that I was thinking about it. Both the lads immediately told me to go for it. They said that they had a great time and figured that any other pros would too. Hitchy especially was the main person who convinced me to go for it, so I put on a one day con on smaller scale to test the waters.

I got in touch with a few mates who worked in the industry like Paul Cornell, Liam Sharp and a few others. Invited them over and cut my teeth on the first Dublin con. Overall it was a big success and I made all the mistakes I needed to make in preparation for this one.

What are the sorts of things you need to plan for in setting up a con then?

Well, basically everything. At first you have to guarantee the guests. Having connections in the industry helps, but it isn’t everything. You need to have a good name too. Be personable, answer any questions the people you want to come over to your con have, and hopefully show them a good time.

Next up you need to look at a venue. Weigh up the pros and cons, such as size, local amenities, location etc. After that you need to look at costs. See if your convention will be feasible and see if you’ll make your money back once you sell all your exhibitors space in the dealer room and sell tickets in to it. You then have to look at the extra organisation, advertising promotional material, convention infrastructure, equipment, staff the list is pretty massive. Getting your brand out there, making sure that you’ve covered all your bases and hopefully have everything ready to roll when the con starts up.

Then you most definitely have to have your finger on the button in terms of your market. Generally big names mean people will travel. But lord knows what might happen on the day. There could be any sort of factor that means a lot of people who’d attend can’t on the day. So you need to be sure that the market is there, in your home town to make sure that the costs of your convention are covered.

Next up you need to have a schedule that you can work from which gives the guests their time with their fans and also a time to take a break. You need to try and have a good diverse mix of guests and exhibitors that appeal to a broad range of the market and you need to make sure that all those people who are paying their hard earned cash to get in and meet their favourite creators have a good time and feel like they’re getting value for money.

Last but most definitely not least is expect the unexpected. Something is bound to go wrong on the day. A spanner from somewhere will be thrown into the mix at some stage and you have to make sure that you’ve got the support and the lee way to get everything back on track and all the people who’re relying on you have a great time. The guests, the exhibitors, the staff and most importantly the fans who’ve paid in to attend.

So when did you start planning this year’s con then?

Well, with the way the con was being received even before it had gone ahead last year we knew that people were really excited about it. So, we knew that this was something we could build on. Organising this years con was in the early stages even before last years and then the day after we had time to sit down and assess how it went and where we went wrong. We identified the issues, luckily there were few and then in the following days we sat down, drew up a list of who we’d love to see over here as fans ourselves and then started to agree on a guest list. Top of that was and probably always will be this year’s guest of honour, Jim Lee.

In the same way we’ve started approaching talent for next year’s convention already and the response has been pretty positive.

Next year’s con will have a few nice surprises.

But we’re sworn to secrecy for the time being.

How did you go about getting guests for this year’s lineup?

Well, I’m fairly well known in the industry and I have a strong online presence. Plus I have a few friends that work at the big 2 and that always helped.

But the internet is a great thing and most creators who I had never met before, were friends of friends so I was able to extend the offers that way too.

Luckily, pretty much everyone in the industry are really nice people, and we all get along because we all have a mutual love for the business. Creators are often really open to the offer of a trip to somewhere like Dublin, and they’re also quite eager to talk to both their readers and retailers like myself. They appreciate it when we tell them sales figures, customer reactions to their titles etc. So it’s pretty easy to make contact with creators because they’re just as into comics as we are.

Ok for those who don’t know - who have you got as guests this year? Obviously you’ve mentioned Jim Lee.

The guest list this year has a broad spectrum of long standing industry favourites and a few new kids on the block too. Attending the con will this year will be the award winning creative team behind Civil War, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. Mark and Steve are going to be reuniting for an as yet unannounced Marvel title in 2008 and Mark already has a run on FF with Bryan Hitch ready to go. Steve’s working on the Brand New Day Spider-Man books at the moment too and they look amazing.

Iron Man movie designer and comic book artist extraordinaire Adi Granov will be there. Adi’s done a lot of covers for Marvel recently which have been really eye popping and he’s just started a new Iron Man project with Iron Man Director Jon Faverau providing the script.

Comic book legend Simon Bisley will be coming along for the duration. Simon’s been an artistic tour de force in comic books for well over 2 decades now and his early works like the ABC Warriors and Slaine still stand the test of time as some of the best produced comic book work from that time.

D.C. comics heavy weight Carlos Pacheco is flying in from Spain Carlos is a fantastic artist who’s recently worked on Superman, Superman and Batman: Absolute Power , JLA/JSA and Green Lantern. He’s also worked on X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers Forever at Marvel as well as numerous other projects at other companies.

Ultimate X-Men artist Ben Oliver will be joining us for the duration of the con too. He’s a fantastic artist who has produced really stellar work on Judge Dredd, The Authority, The Losers, Tom Strong and has a new Ghost Rider project on the way.

John McCrea coming straight from his recent work on JLA/Hitman, Nick Roche of Transformers and now Doctor Who fame, Liam Sharp from Mamtor and the new Lord Havok Countdown mini, Jock and Andy Diggle who just finished Green Arrow Year One and of course the fantastic Losers, as well as television’s Paul Cornell & Marvel’s C.B. Cebulski. Plus loads more from Irish talent.

What will the guests be doing? Obviously signings but what else?

Aside from signings we’ve got a pretty packed schedule lined up for everyone to enjoy. There’ll be a number of different panels through-out each day, the chance to get sketches from your favourite artists and writers depending on their availability. Question and answer sessions, C.B. Cebulski’s using the con as part of his Chesterquest talent search where he’ll be looking at artists portfolios.

What other events have you got on as part of the Con weekend, which is 2 days this year as opposed to one last?

There’ll also be a charity pub quiz in aid of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children here in Dublin on Saturday night.

The quiz is open to everyone but spaces are limited, so people have to have their teams registered before hand. So get your teams formed and into us, tables of 4 are €40 per table. Last year’s was a lot of fun and people get really into it.

There’s a costume competition that’ll be on over the weekend and the winners will be announced on the Sunday.

A comic book movie talk with creators who’ve worked and are currently working on comic book movies in Hollywood. A getting into comics lecture and a spotlight on the Irish Comics Industry. Since it’s growing in leaps and bounds here.

Discuss this topic here.

  • MARK PEYTONMark Peyton – has a MA in History and Research from the University of Hull specialising in the Hundred Years War. In a complete departure from that he now runs communications and membership for a UK based Trade Union as well as being a part time writer/journalist. He is a founding member of Millarworld acting as a moderator and as an editor for Fractal Matter.