I realise that I have written as a person who has carried out almost every role at a convention except that as an organiser. So I am going to try and record my progress from complete novice to Swapmeet Controller at Commando Comic Swapmeet 3.
The first issue that I encountered was when to plan it for. At Swapmeet 2, I had already had some feedback on when not to plan it for and that was cool as this event will always be about the comics rather than the cash. I had checked the comic conventions planned for 2018 and saw that few events were planned in Scotland for September including the biggie of MCM Expo Glasgow. As long as I avoided that bad boy, I have a chance of some of my friends popping along just to support the Swapmeet.
So the date I settled on was the last weekend in September 2018. Now some will be wondering why we have picked September. Well, that is simple. The Commando swap happens twice a year and the first two happened in England in September 2017 and March 2018. As they were six months apart, it makes sense for us to keep to that cycle. It also makes sense for us North of the Border to continue to support the swaps in England as we never know what is going to be up for swapping just as it makes sense for our pals South of the Border to support the swaps in Scotland as they will never know what treasures we will find.
The second issue I had trouble with was the location. Now I know that my fellow collectors and I cannot command vast sums, so my first idea was local community centres and by speaking to those who knew better than I meant I got an education in community centre economics. I genuinely did not realise how expensive it was to maintain them. So all I can say is that if you can afford to support your local community centre, please do so as people who are barely above or on the National Living Wage cannot do so and they are the ones that need them the most.
I found that the rates for our local community centres were not prohibitive. In fact they were very reasonable but were outside the budget I had set for the event as I want to at least break even on the day. However, the main show stopper was finding out that they could not accommodate the hours I wanted. Luckily, the same person who was able to guide me on the availability of the community centres advised me that I should check out one of the local social clubs as they might be able to provide a venue at a rate that I might consider reasonable and could better fit the hours I was after. The main issue was that the community centre shut at 12:30pm on a Saturday afternoon and I was after Saturday and Sunday afternoons which would have racked up additional costs in staffing and opening outside core hours.
Off I toddled to the Lochore Miners Welfare Society & Social Club which is a reminder of how several generations of Fifers made their living and is one of the last remaining Miners Welfare Clubs in Scotland. The first thing that struck me was how chuffing big the place was!
You could hide a football pitch behind it! The green stuff that you can see to the right is a bowling green that my Dad would not have minded checking out. In I went to chat with a responsible adult or anyone that could advise me if I could hold an event here. And I found the manageress who was absolutely lovely. In a matter of minutes, I had booked one of the function rooms that is rated for up to 120 people. After I add in tables, that will drop to 90 people including the collectors who are trying to convert their doubles either into pennies or into issues that can fill their gaps.
Some might question why I am worrying about such small numbers as most events these days number their crowds into the 100s or into the 1000s. Well that’s an easy question to answer. The British Comics market these days is very niche and Commando comic collectors are even more so but there seems to be very few events that cater to this taste as almost everyone else seems to concentrate on Manga, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image or Vertigo.
My inspiration for this event has been Andy Yates who has had the vision to put on two events centred on Commando comics based on little more than optimism and a yen to increase the funds of his local Scout group. My own vision is to increase my comic holdings and to give the small group of British comic collectors the chance to meet, chew the fat, improve our collections and not to increase the profits of EBay, PayPal or Royal Mail! And the fact that I can get a pint at the Tute does not hurt either!
My next article on my work as a comic event organiser will concentrate on two of the gentlemen who have been kind enough to agree to attend as guests and what else I have managed to get done in getting things organised. I would love to have ladies such as Mary Feldwick, Alison Mary Fitt, Jackie Wilson, Kate Charlesworth, Annie Parkhouse, Eli Winter and a whole host of others attend but I fear that their awesomeness in contributing to British comics might be lost on some of those attending.