OK, I have helped some friends out and as a result ended up at the Falkirk Invasion and Coatbridge Comic Con for the cost of driving there and back rather than adding in the ticket price and so on. Both have points to recommend them. Falkirk allowed me to fill in two more gaps of the Commando collection and raised a lot of money for Children’s Hospice Association Scotland so that is never a bad thing but this article is going to concentrate on Coatbridge Comic Con.
This was essentially run for the good folk of Coatbridge and most fans outside of Coatbridge will be wondering why anyone would run an event specifically for their town when everyone else is trying to bring every fan and their dog Astro in order to get as many people into their event as possible. However, when a few more facts get added in then it comes as no surprise that this event was run for the benefit of the town.
Those who are into comics will have already know why this event was run there, but the main brief was that it was being run by the organiser and his team to give kids the same chance to get into comics that he had back in the 1970s. The second reason it was run at St Bartholomew’s Primary School was that this was the old primary school of the organiser and he has long been known for running events to raise funds for the school as in his words “They taught me how to read and write and it’s only fair I give something back”.
Now many folk have met the organiser and they have their opinion of him and that’s fine. But I have also met the organiser a few times and his worst faults, I would say, are that he likes to chat and likes a pretty face! Nothing wrong with that, but I am betting he gets pelters from his other half on a few occasions for the latter rather than the former! If you have not guessed already, then I am not giving away any secrets by saying that one of the richest guys in Scotland bankrolled this event and that is Mark Millar.
And from my dealings with Mark Millar, I would say that his heart is certainly in the right place. Every movie that he is associated with has a charity premiere in Scotland and St Bartholomew’s Primary School benefits from each screening. He bankrolled the entire con in Coatbridge to the extent of buying the biggest balloon of Spiderman I have ever seen! Not only did he do that, but he brought in comic royalty with the guests being Leah Moore (Leah I found my ashcan Albion now I need to meet up again!), Frank Quitely (thanks for signing issue 9 of Electric Soup) Sean Phillips (I look forward to seeing you again at the Lakes) Simon Fraser (I cannot wait to see your version of Fireball), Rob Williams (Rob, you were an absolute gent, a genuine pleasure to meet and it was great to meet someone else who remembers Cast-Iron Bill so fondly. The dogs are Rikki and Lora.), Duncan Fegredo (I have wanted to meet you for years and you did not disappoint) and John McCrea (Another gent. Yes it was a tastefully located sticker to cover *ahem* bits and I hope you enjoyed your meal!)
I also saw some great cosplay outfits from one where a young lad had decided that the onesie that Mum and Dad bought did not suitably portray Iron Man so he had made his own forearm cuffs which was great to one of the funniest and most epic cosplays from a young Mum to be where her soon to arrive child assisted in the cosplay. Lauren, that was such an understated costume but epically brilliant at the same time!
And yes, Lauren has called ber son Logan so congratulations to all of you and I hope you are all doing well.
However, the mission statement of getting kids into comics is where I completely agree with Mark. I learned to read as much to get teachers off my back as I did to read the comics that were coming into my house on a weekly basis and I have to say I think Mark has succeeded. One of my friends was at the con as a vendor and he had comics coming out of his ears. He said that this was the first event where kids were coming up to his table and asking what comics they should read. He had at least ten kids came up to his table and buying comics as first time buyers. For me, as a comics fan, this is awesome and makes me want to applaud Mark Millar’s efforts in setting up this event.
This was also one of the most civilized events I have attended as I cannot think of any other event where brews and soft drinks have been provided for the vendors and that alone raised the bar for me as too many events cost you an arm and a leg just to get water let alone a decent cup of tea!
If I had run the event, I might have done some things differently but that’s just personal taste. All in all, it was a great event and I look forward to going again next year so well done Mark.