Man, I had SO. MUCH. FUN. It wasn't like a con at all; there weren't any cosplayers or booths or even too many fanboys. It was mostly artists and writers and publishers and academics, but everybody was talking and hanging out with everyone else. I had coffee and cake with Paul Gravett!!! And an Italian lady who wrote a book on modern comics storytelling with a special chapter on Watchmen, and several editors and artists and...agh, fangirl overload!!!
Where do I start? I think we'll start with the people I met--like the lovely Sarah McIntyre, who is a published artist working mostly for the DFC, a weekly all-ages UK publication.
She was actually IN one of the Comica panels: 'Great British Comics - Past, Present & Future'! She's also put up a great account in her own LJ. Hers has pictures!
This is the day we met, at the Symposium for Archetypes and Stereotypes in Postwar comics. And here's the following Sunday, with Dave McKean, and then some great autobiographical artists, plus the winners of the Observer Graphic Short Story competition, Self Made Hero (the talents behind the Manga Shakespeare and Introducing... lines) and the heads and artists/writers of Classic Comics. Sarah's little pic of the last group was really cute and evocative...she drew it right there while sitting next to me, at a speed you wouldn't believe. On my other side was another amazing artist, a Dutch girl called Maartje Schalkx. She has the most amazing work, but she wouldn't let us peek at her sketches...maybe because her usual work is so carefully finished? I love the diversity of the artistic process.
At the V&A symposium I met some really amazing artists like Sarah Lightman and Corinne Pearlman, who do autobiographical comics. We got to talking with Paul Gravett and some other people about the female presence in fandom and the difference between female and male fans as opposed to fangirls and fanboys. Sarah and Corinne had excellent ideas for some future projects--more news on this soon.
I also met this amazing Libyan-British artist Asia Alfasi who is about a DECADE younger than me and has a) a manga short story in the Tokyopop Rising Stars UK anthology and b) a graphic autobiography coming out next April. Apparently Arabic kids grow up with manga as American comics are banned in their countries and she always thought manga was native to Arabic culture as she read stuff that was edited to change names and Japanese terms. It happened exactly that way in the Philippines with me! We bonded immediately--I feel so lucky to have spoken with her one-on-one. When she was in the panel her discussion was so frank and spirited, it totally energised the room. Being on the same panel as the famous Lise Mhyre of Nemi AND Corinne Pearlman might have been daunting but Asia was so bubbly and enthusiastic and earnest about manga as a bridge between cultures (and an antidote to bullying!) that I wished the panel was longer.
Then I went with this really cool academic girl to see Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie talk about Lost Girls. We couldn't stay for the signing, but we did get the books, and we went with Corinne to the Tube station at about 8.30.
All in all an entirely satisfying time. The only thing I regret is that I only went to two days; the rest were sold out! Next year I plan to book WAY in advance and save several days for it. I definitely look forward to meeting a lot of the same people there. Maybe next year there'll be more people to go with as well!