Last year’s inaugural Kapow! Comic Con – championed by Mark Millar, organised by Lucy and Sarah Unwin – was an instant success. With panels on Thor, Misfits, Falling Skies, Being Human and Merlin, it was the UK con that wasn’t just for comic book fans, the so-called ‘UK San Diego’ (except in the considerably chillier North London).
Somehow a year has passed since that jam-packed weekend, and it’s time for Kapow Mark 2. This year, while the TV and film schedule is considerably weaker (with The Amazing Spider-Man being the only truly A-list movie on display, and one disjointed panel covering the entire world of TV) the comics line-up is pretty damn huge, with both Joe Quesada of Marvel and Dan Didio of DC attending the same UK convention for the first time ever. Both of the Big Two have more than one impressive panel on show, while Image and the various indies have a big presence too.
Kapow! has already developed a reputation as the convention for people who have never been to a convention before. So if you’re going but are worried about being under-prepared, then fear not – Starburst are here with your handy insider’s guide to thriving at Kapow!
1. Make sure you have enough fuel
Pop a bottle of water, a Mars Bar and – if you don’t mind slightly warm sarnies – a sandwich in your bag. The cafe queue is invariably huge and the culinary venues around the Business Design Centre are mainly of the burger and kebab oeuvre. If you don’t want to spend a long time away from the con floor, bring a packed lunch.
2. Have a schedule
You’ll end up missing a panel or signing you were really looking forward to if you don’t have a timetable with you – preferably one with highlighter scrawlings all over it. Work out where you want to be before you even get there.
3. High heels are not your friends
One for the ladies here, but it applies to guys too. Unless you’re wearing a costume that absolutely demands stilettos, stick to comfy shoes. You will be on your feet a lot. The queuing starts before you even get into the building. There’ll be so much to see inside that the only time you’ll stand still will be, yes, when you’re queuing, so on this particular occasion, comfort should definitely come before fashion.
4. Try to obey the rules
Last year’s guide categorically stated that you could only start queuing for a panel 45 minutes before it began. Being a recovering teacher’s pet, I heeded the advice. Which is how I missed out on the Thor panel. No-one obeyed that rule, and the staff, who hadn’t been briefed on it, certainly didn’t enforce it. So, guys, to save everyone having to queue even more than they already do, please stick to the 45 minute rule. Also, be aware that any attempts to push in are undertaken at your own (considerable) risk.
5. Don’t forget the freebies
There are tonnes of great stands stuffed full of indies showing off their goods, so don’t let the big name creatives distract you from getting on board with tomorrow’s big names. They’re not giving away everything for free, but there are usually some cool samples you can pick up to give you a flavour of someone’s work.
6. Set a budget
Then ignore it completely when you spot that must-have Batarang.
7. Get Tweeting
Kapow is a friendly con and the best thing about the endless queues is the people you meet in them. But who exchanges numbers in this day and age? Tweet them. That way you won’t miss out on the inevitable impromptu drinks afterwards.
8. Get your cowl on
Don’t be afraid to dress up – you won’t be alone and it’s a great way to get talking to people. But if you’ve only got one costume and you don’t want it to get sweaty, save it for the Sunday – the day of the cosplay parade.
9. Get noticed
Kapow runs portfolio reviews with Marvel, DC, 2000AD and Clint. If you’re a budding artist or writer, put together a portfolio of your work and hand it in. Just remember to register beforehand by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting an application form. Writers – bear in mind that only illustrated portfolios are considered, not scripts. So make friends with an artist ASAP!
10. Don’t forget the Total Film/SFX stage
Like last year’s IGN stage, this one will be hosting interviews with all the main guests and panellists, especially for those people who couldn’t get in the panel/couldn’t be bothered to queue. It’s easy to forget that the stage exists – and in fact I didn’t notice it until towards the end of Saturday last year, just in time for the Chris Hemsworth/Tom Hiddleston interview. There will be a schedule next to the stage – check it when you arrive to factor these guests into your busy schedule.
There are still some tickets left if this article has twisted your arm into attending. You can get them through the official website here: www.kapowcomicconvention.com
And if any of you lovely readers do make it, say hi to the girl in the Donna Troy circa 1984 costume. (Or, pending fabric paint mishaps, the girl dressed as the Eleventh Doctor.)