BICS 2008 – Interview with Shane Chebsey

With less than a week to the Birmingham Internation Comics Show we managed to grab Shane Chebsey, one of the BICS organisers for an interview.

What were the lessons that you feel were learnt from last year’s comic show?

The most important lesson we learned was that we were far too cheap.

The goody bags alone were worth at least three times the price of entry.

We just wanted as many people to attend as possible, but the low price meant we really struggled, financially, to put on another show this year. We hope that this year we’ll be in a stronger position to make BICS 2009 even better for everyone.

The stylish venue for BICS

How much planning is involved in organising a con of this size and when do you start the planning process?

We have a 1 month break after the show, and then start working again. We do a few little things over that month, but we try to have a break from it if we can. The work involved for just 3 people is staggering. I work around 4 hours a day Monday to Friday on the show. I know the other guys to similar.

The month before the show it becomes almost full time and I guess it would be if we didn’t have to earn a living in our day jobs.

 

Organising a convention is a huge undertaking that most people would shy away from and this will be your third time in the hot seat. What is it that keeps you coming back, are you a glutton for punishment?

Yes,… I must be. He he.

We love comics, and we love comic shows. We just want the comic industry to have a professional event that both fans and those working in comics can enjoy and make use of.

It’s a fantastic buzz running a show, and you get to meet lots of interesting people along the way too.

Also for me, working with James and Andy is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. I love those guys!

Shane, James and Andy take a break

How difficult have you found it getting industry names to attend, especially those who are based overseas?

It’s not been difficult getting anyone to want to come, but actually getting the really big names from overseas to find gaps in their work schedule is quite challenging. There’s also the problem that some of these guys are just so disorganised… you would not believe.

Mike 'Hellboy' Mignola at BICS 2007. Many thanks to the guys at Engine Comics for taken the photo.

 

In 2006 Scotty Young rang us the day before the show to let us know he didn’t have a passport. Can you believe that?? Bless him!

The UK names large and small are all very supportive of the show and we owe them a huge thank you for their continued support.

Leah Moore and Dave Gibbons

It seems this year you have a fair number of sponsors. Has it been easier getting sponsors to support you as you are becoming more established?

Yes, but the support has always been there really. It’s just that now it’s starting to get serious. We like to think we give back a lot to our sponsors. We make people aware of their products, and we will keep doing our best to support the comics industry as it- in turn – supports us.

2000AD stand at BICS 2007

One of the issues that came out of last year’s BICS was that things were a little cramped in the main convention hall and the adjourning corridors. How have you guys addressed that problem this year?

We’ve booked another room, but due to the huge demand for tables we are guessing it’ll still seem very busy. However, we have been very careful, with our planning, to avoid bottle necking at guest tables and signings. I guess we’ll find out how effective that has been on Saturday.

 

On the comics show website there is talk of special discounted screenings at the I-Max cinema over the weekend. Is there anymore info you can give us regarding this?

All BICS attendees get a £2 discount when they go to see Dark Knight at the IMAX. I’ve now seen it twice on IMAX, and it’s fantastic! Times for screenings are on the IMAX website via: www.thinktank.ac

Holy cosplay Batman!...yeah I know, that was funnier in my head!

Once again you are having a launch party on the Friday how important do you see this kind of event?

We originally did this so that we could have part of the show we could enjoy ourselves, before all of the stress of the weekend, but we soon realised last year, that it has now become an integral part of what makes BICS special for both fans and industry bods alike. It really starts the weekend with a bang and put people in a positive mood before all the hard work begins. It also gives some fans a unique opportunity to party alongside creators and visionaries.

The 2007 Launch Party

Is there any advice you would like to pass onto those attending for the first time?

Don’t be shy… it’s a friendly show, so use it as a chance to meet people and make contacts. Also, make sure you go to as many of the events as possible. This year we’ve arranged some really essential panels and interviews.

Also, please remember to pick up a copy of the free events guide, you’ll find it very helpful when looking for exhibitors, signing and events.

 

Are there any guests attending that you are personally looking forward to meeting?

Yes. I’m really looking forward to meeting Michael Golden, Olivier Coipel and Mark Chiarello. I’m just a big fanboy at heart.

 

Who would one of your dream guests be as an organiser and a comic fan?

Well, some of my dream guests have already attended previous years, and some of the names we have planned for next year would also fit into this description, but I dare not mention their names here.

I guess my Dream US guest list for a future show (based on our usual quota of 3 US Guests a year) would be: Frank Miller, Stan Lee and Joss Whedon, but hey… you never know.

Lastly there are probably still a few people on the fence about coming what would you say to those people to convince them to attend?

Now you’re putting me on the spot!

Well, first of all the show is amazing value for money. Where else can you get a whole weekend of entertainment for all the family for just £16? Not to mention the £25+ goody bag.

There is no event anything like BICS in my humble opinion. That’s because we put on the kind of show, we’d love to attend ourselves. Whether you love Manga, small press, web comics, cosplay, superheroes, collectibles or you just like to meet up with your friends, have a pint and talk about the medium you love to people who love it just as much as you do… There’s something for everyone at BICS 2008.

Many thanks for your time Shane and best of luck with the show.

Cheers Fellas! See you there!

GS Reporter: The Nuge

 

 

 

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5 comments

  1. Bit thanks to Shane and his guys for going through this hell to give us a great show.

    Cy Dethan and I went for the first time last year with a one collaboration under our belts. Returning this year, Cy has an on-going series (Starship Troopers from Markosia), an original graphic novel about to come out (Cancertown from Insomnia) and several other projects in development with publishers; and I have illustrated stories for Insomnia publications, Accent UK (with more on the way for them) and won several lettering gigs, not to mention recently joining the Insomnia team as Creative Director.

    If that doesn’t get you off the fence and decide to attend I don’t know what will!

    It is a great event, and everyone should go.

  2. Big kudos to anyone who takes such an organisational nightmare on. I’ll be attending (one day only cos I’m a dongle-berry) for the first time and indeed it’ll be my first “proper” event.

    Nice interview – even spotted one of my questions in there, so yay!

  3. Iz /

    Cool interview B, nicely done sir.

    i might just have to bite the bullet next weekend and ask Shane if he can fund a full-time Brum Con organiser – purely to save himself some of the work obviously 🙂

    I’m very intrigued to see who they have next year now – woot!

  4. I’ll add my thanks to Nic’s … It was a great Con and gets better each year … Shane and James (and no doubt others behind the scenes) have created a great show that will hopefully be around for many years to come.
    Great to meet Nic at the Con too .. and thank her personally for the art on the upcoming WESTERN anthology .. as well as advice on the WOLFMEN figurine … it’s a long story …
    Dave W (Accent UK)

  5. Glad you enjoyed the show guys. Thanks for the comments.

    Shane

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