Kapow Comic Con certainly bought the San Diego weather to London as the Business and Design Centre in Islington hosted the first convention of its kind. Boasting a San Diego experience for the UK, Mark Millar’s brainchild got off to a roaring start as convention-goers queued around the block and beyond as doors opened at 9am for the sell out two-day event.
With much hype surrounding the show, it had a lot to live up to.
The convention hall is home to the staple fare of conventions. retailers selling everything from original art to toys and figures and of course comics, combined with a big gaming presence and publisher exhibits.
The show gets off to a roaring with UK Broadcasting legend and writer of Image Comics’ “Turf,” Jonathan Ross.
Ross, hosting the first panel of the day, the Pros v Fans quiz, entertained the crowd despite having admitted to losing the questions that he had prepared during the course of the morning, much to crowd amusement.
The industry pros team-represented by Millar, “Watchmen” artist Dave Gibbons, and Marvel legend John Romita, Jr.-were pitted against the fans, headed by celeb comic fan comedian Stuart Lee and two members of the audience, the formidable Joel and Rachel.
Quiz topics ranged from Jack Kirby to Missing Words, and there were special guest appearances through the power of video from DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee and the crowd-pleasing double act of Marvel’s Joe Quesada and Tom Brevoort.
After several incredibly brain-straining rounds, including the vexing “does anyone know the real name of ‘Werewolf by Night,'” the Fans team won by a narrow margin.
On the convention floor, the queues were as legendary as the creators on hand for signing, as Millar’s “Kick-Ass” collaborator John Romita, Jr., made his first UK signing appearance.
There was no shortage of big names taking the floor including “Marine Man” creator and Eisner nominee Ian Churchill, “Ultimate Avengers vs. Ultimates” artist Leinil Francis Yu, and, in a rare UK convention appearance, “Ultimates” artist Bryan Hitch. “V for Vendetta’s” David Lloyd, “Hellblazer” and “Slaine” artist Simon Bisley, and “Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man’s” David Lafuente added to the comics luminaries while the aforementioned Jonathan Ross signed copies of his comic.
Former CBR columnist Rich Johnston was also on hand signing his take on the upcoming royal wedding, “Kate & William: A Very Public Love Story.”
Later in the day, The DC Super Star Creators Panel got underway, headed by DC’s Senior VP of Sales, UK convention regular Bob Wayne. Wayne, who admitted feeling weary after two weekends of conventions, was endlessly good natured as he introduced artist Frank Quietly and writers Peter Milligan and Paul Cornell.
With much discussion (and some avoidance) of Quietly’s upcoming collaboration with Grant Morrison on the multi- artist, 7 part “Multiversity” and Peter Milligan’s upcoming “Red Lantern” ongoing series, questions from the floor ranged from a general appreciation for Paul Cornell’s “Knight and Squire” to DC’s plans to bring Vertigo and DC Universes closer together.
At the Marvel Pint O’ CB panel, the notable absence was from the panel’s namesake, C.B. Cebulski. In his place the panel was headed by editors Stephen Wacker and Nick Lowe, together with writers Rob Williams and Nick Spencer.
The panel that could easily have been renamed the “Captain Britain and MI 13 appreciation panel,” such was the adoration from British fans for their homegrown heroes.
In the second of Marvel’s Kapow announcements, Nick Spencer announced that he will write a three-issue “Cloak and Dagger” series with artist Emma Rios.
The panel then opened the proceedings to questions from the floor ranging from more Captain Britain outpouring to Marvel’s plans for several upcoming 50th anniversaries, and when will Captain Britain become an Avenger.
Stephen Wacker also answered the question “when will we see Eddie Brock as Venom again” with the response that, while they are happy with Flash Thompson as the current Venom, they do have plans for Eddie Brock.
Back on the convention floor, the main man of the show, the seemingly tireless Mark Millar, signed for arguably the show’s longest queue of fans, gladly signing, shaking hands and taking photographs. With such an active role in the show Millar remained endlessly good natured though out.
The much discussed “Surprise Panel” saw another packed auditorium as “Doctor Who” actor and “Adulthood” director/writer Noel Clarke answered questions from the audience and discussed his love for the works of Kevin Smith and the influence of Quentin Tarantino.
Making a guest appearance via pre-recorded video, the man who gave his name to Kapow’s first Stan Lee Awards received huge applause from the auditorium as Scottish comedian Billy Kirkwood hosted the awards. Drawing on celebs and audience members to read the nominations, with hilarious consequences, there were no surprises that Stan the Man himself won the Man of the Year award.
The con saved the best till last and rounded up Saturday with Marvel Pictures’ Thor panel.
Amid tight security and a packed presentation hall fans were read an apology for the absence of “Thor” director Kenneth Brannagh but were treated to 20 minutes of footage of the upcoming movie, together with several other clips. The footage didn’t disappoint as fans saw the protracted scene featuring actor Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in a movie that deftly mixes subtle humor and the action we have seen in “Iron Man.”
Following the footage, “Thor” stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) were welcomed on stage and took questions from the audience. While avoiding questions relating to the upcoming “Avengers” film, the pair confessed to having only seen the final edit of “Thor” the night before and talked about how they prepared for their roles, amongst other things. Genuinely enthused to be a part of something as huge as “Thor,” both actors and the footage were well received by convention goers.
As quickly as it had begun the Kapow crowd flocked into the warm London night, ready to do it again on Sunday where they can look forward to The Millarworld Panel, the world premiere of Steven Spielberg’s “Falling Skies,” Marvel X-Men and Spidey panels and the much talked-about Movie X.
With Kapow, Millar and company have bought the sensibilities and atmosphere of American conventions to the UK. With panels, A-List guests and huge exclusives such as the “Thor” footage, Kapow has raised the bar for conventions in the UK and based on fan reaction at the show, it has lived up to the hype. There is no doubt that movie studios and the big names that see US conventions as big business will look to Kapow to do the same in the UK.
Stay tuned to CBR for more announcements and coverage from Day 2 of Kapow!