London Book Fair 2010 – Comics and Graphic Novel Pavilion Report

So yesterday I attended the London Book Fair which for the first time was hosting a Comics and Graphic Novel Pavilion and some panels to help give some insight  to the mainstream publishing folks  into  the world of comics.

It was a pretty small set up, well smaller than I was expecting, although I did hear that some companies/individuals  couldn’t attend due to the flight ban. The Pavilion, which was in one of the corners of the main hall and was made up of Diamond, Dark Horse (who weren’t there),Self Made Hero and Foyles . The space available was dominated by Diamond which I thought was a shame as I would have loved to have seen more indie companies there like Com.X, Markosia and Insomina Publications to name but a few. I think they could have got more benefit out of the space than having a massive distributor there taking up a third of the space. In a perfect world it would have been cool if Diamond could have sponsored that space and then giving it over at a  reduced cost to some smaller comic companies.

The impression I got talking to some of the people there that  Monday was a bit of a poor show in terms of foot traffic but Tuesday seemed to be a different story.  Every time  I stopped at the comic cafe (seemed the pavilion title had been dropped from the programme guide) there was always a buzz of interest from those wanting to know more about the world of comics. Big props go to Emma Vieceli and Nana Li who were constantly drawing for about four hours straight in between stopping to chat to folks about their work and comics in general. I thought the girls did a fab job at being comic ambassadors for the day.  I also had a word with the team from Self Made Hero who were just around the corner (publishers of the brilliant Sherlock Holmes graphic novel adaptations which I love).

On my travels around the fair I did discover (mainly by accident) a number of other comic companies at the fair exhibiting but who were no where near the Comics Cafe. I heard varying reasons for this but I still  thought it was a bit weird and it would have been great if they could have been all in one spot.

What really threw me was the panel “New Opportunities: Graphic Novels and Digital” I attended  which was moderated by Emma Hayley the Publishing Director for Self Made Hero, the other panelists were Ian Rankin, David Fickling and Paul Gravett (Cory Doctorow, couldn’t attend). The surprise came when I walked into the room and found it was standing room only. I thought Emma did a cracking job at keeping the other panelists on topic while putting across her own thoughts. The panel was fun interesting, lively and some good points were made by all the panelists. I didn’t get the chance to record it but I did see it being filmed so hopefully it will be online in some shape or form.

The high level of audience attendance goes to show that the UK publishing industry is perhaps ready to start to taking comics more seriously. I hope so.

Overall I think there’s definite merit in having a presence at the fair for comics as there was a clear interest in it. For next year I’d like to see the Comics Cafe grow and hopefully the organizers can find a way to pull those other comic companies that already have a presence at the Book Fair into the fold. I think one of the problems is probably going to be the cost for the smaller creators/companies to be able to get a space there and I’m not sure what can be done about that. This issue is something that the organizers should look into as given the quality of work I’ve seen come out of the indie creator scene there should be a place where they can get exposure to those mainstream publishers etc looking to get a foot in the comics world.

Look out for more chat about my experiences at the show on the next episode of Geek Syndicate

GS Reporter: Nuge

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2 comments

  1. Sean Azzopardi /

    Interesting report. I did contact the organizers about exhibition space for self publishers. They were very helpful, but the cost was out of my price range, sadly.

    • geeksyndicate /

      Yeah I’m guessing that would be the case for a lot of the smaller press guys. I definitely think it’s something that should be looked at if they want to try and raise the profile of comics more within the book fair.

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