Meanwhile…Comic Con: Back at the ranch…

MEANWHILE…COMIC CON: Back at the ranch…
A preview 
by Sarah Miles

Some bit ago, I sat down with comic creator Simon Birks on Free Comic Book Day to talk about his newest project, Meanwhile… Comic Con, a brand new convention launching this 30 September on the campus of Chichester College. With that date rapidly approaching, here’s the second part of our conversation…

Hi Simon, with the convention only a week away it’s good of you to sit down with me again for a quick chat. How is it all going?

Well, it’s like you have to think about everything, all at once, all the time. Saying that, I’m getting through the workload, and everything is looking good. It’s been a great experience, and, like always, there’s plenty to learn to build on.

I’m going to throw the ticket link in early, just so you know how to get the tickets!

Ha ha, nicely done! So… how has organising a convention been for you? I know that Marielle (Simon’s partner for those of you that missed the last interview!) has been organising events for a while, but I imagine that a convention is a whole new animal?

Yes, there’s a lot of different parts. I was really pleased we sold all the exhibitor tables, and also hit my goal for getting guests. I wanted about 10% of the tables to be guests, and considering we have seven guests, and seventy odd tables, I’d say that was perfect.

I’ve been indebted to the people helping; Comics, Games and Coffee (CGC Emporium) are running the games tournaments as you know, but we now also have Leonard Sultana running the panels and the cosplay competition. He has a lot of experience, and the panels are something I wouldn’t be able to do on the day along with everything else. We’ve also got the retro games area and now a VR area, thanks to Belong Portsmouth gaming.

I see from the map that you have a few panels and showcases happening, too, with a pretty wide range of themes. Are these things that you wanted to do, or did creators bring their ideas to you?  

A lot of the panel themes write themselves. Having two great Dredd artists is such a bonus, and of course there’s Alan Martin and Warwick Johnson Cadwell, both of Tank Girl, so that’s pretty much a given. Manga’s very popular, and Sonia Leong’s experience in the industry gave us a fantastic opportunity to talk about that. Alison Sampson, with her current run on ‘Winnebago Graveyard’ for Image comics, is such a talent that I hope people will be able to get a lot of great information about her work.

Small press is what I do (when I’m not running conventions), and I have a lot of friends here who know first-hand how to make it work. Anyone who has thoughts about creating their own comic should definitely stop in at that panel.

The workshops are a great way to get interactive with the con-goers. We’ve had great interest for the Manga drawing workshop, again with Sonia Leong.

Model making, like bow-ties, is cool, and to have Ryan showing us how to make a figure will be fun, and then we have J7 Studio, showing us how to create a Judge Dredd helmet. Cannot wait.

Last, but not least, we have our army of volunteers, who’ve given up their day to ensure others have a great time. You’ll see them at the con, eager to help you with any questions.

Glad you mentioned the workshops, as my youngest is a secret artist in her spare time (don’t tell her I told you though!) so I must book her in for that. Anyway, back to be “professional”, I’ve heard from Owen and Tom (of CGC Chichester) that the games event tickets are going well, did you expect the gaming area to take off the way it has?

Yes. I know they have a great gaming following at CGC, so the tournaments were always a no-brainer. They’ve got Magic the Gathering, Final Fantasy, Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: Destiny; all great games.

I think it’s going to be great to see how the players play the games, too. Whenever I’ve been in the shop and there’s been a tournament on, it’s serious stuff.

Personally I’ll be cosplaying on the day – assuming that I can get my costumes finished in time that is – have you had a lot of response from either existing cosplayers or people who are trying it for the first time?

We were recently at the University of Chichester Freshers Fair, and had a lot of great feedback about what people will be coming as. We’ve got a poll on our event page (check out the Meanwhile… Facebook page for more info – S) with a list of people’s costumes, and it grows longer every time I look at it.

I’m looking forward to Chichester embracing the Cosplay community.

Are there any characters you would really like see on the day?

I’m a big Bioshock fan, so anything from those games always makes me smile. Also, Bob Ross. Seen a couple of him recently, and you can’t get much cooler.

If you want to follow the fun on the day, follow us on social media:

Facebook: MeanwhileCGC

Twitter: @MeanwhileCGC

Instagram: @MeanwhileCGC

Now I know that last time I asked if you had a wishlist of guests, and you kept your cards very close to your chest so as not to jinx anything. Now that we’re almost there – and seeing as you mentioned some of my favourite comics last time– is there anyone that you can tell us about that you are really excited for?

Well, our guest list is great. It’s our first con, and the list is like we’ve been running for ages! John Higgins, Sonia Leong, Alan Martin, Alison Sampson, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Mick McMahon and Angelo Tirotto. If you’d like to know more about them, visit our website,, and click on the Guests link on the menu bar.

Thanks again for giving us more of your time, I know that you are really busy so I’ll leave it there for now, but I look forward to seeing you on the 30th, and hope that the rest of the week isn’t too mad for you! 

If any Talking Comics readers or listeners are going to Meanwhile…, please let me know, as it would be great to meet up with you on the day!—Sarah


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