KAPOW Comic-Con 2011

Hit GirlIn the beginning, there was KAPOW!

Deemed by many to be a god/superhero of sorts, if Mark Millar was given a full week rather than just two days (as was KAPOW! Comic Con 2011), he probably could battle and remove all evil from Earth, if not the Universe.

Like all good gods, he had help, his endless list of heroes from Dave Gibbons to John Romita Jr and from the organisers and other members of Team Genius who were there.

The convention was showcasing established successful creatives, but there wasn’t a panel I went to that they didn’t throw tons of encouragement at the audience to go for our dreams. And if you didn’t have any walking in, you sure did when you left.

It was only two days, but it could be written about for weeks. There was so much happening, it would be impossible to recap everything. But to me it was definitely the birth of something great in the heart of the UK comic world.

There were very notable tales of humble beginnings from Mark himself, saving the money for weeks to travel as an aspiring artist down to London to have his sketches critiqued. While waiting in line to be reviewed, he quickly realised his drawings on blue squared maths paper wouldn’t cut it amongst the other (obvious) pros who were in the same line. He got back on the bus without showing the drawings, and thus his writing career began.

Dave GibbonsThis perseverance/determination/devotion/respect was everywhere. Especially all the artists/writers on the 2000AD panel, some from the founding days including Brendan McCarthy and Dave Gibbons (pictured) to the newer guys they inspired such as Jock (Mark Simpson) and Al Ewing.

Jock gave a brief insight to the forthcoming Dredd movie he did the story board for. He has seen 5 minutes of completely untreated footage, ‘it looks fucking great!’. “The Lawmaker looks great” while sweeping between cars….and the movie is ‘grim’, ‘tough’, ‘hard’, ‘violent’ and has ‘drugs’ in it.

What more could we ask for?

The difficulties of getting work off the ground was common. Noel Clarke gave a brilliant refreshingly honest panel on the struggles of getting projects backed. I’d really love to see the Supergirl relaunch he tried to get going, or the superhero project he’s written himself (he’s an avid comic reader). But he will succeed, as he showed Russell T Davis that he could write a script, and then showed us he could direct. But again he encouraged everyone in the audience to go for it.

The wonderfully entertaining Mark Gatiss mapped out his career in his hysterical panel. The love he clearly feels for what he works on is an inspiration. The currently in development second series of Sherlock promises to be full of this affection and care, and some what amazing.

Even the God of Thunder that is THOR’s Chris Hemsworth spoke of being about to move back home to Australia as his acting career wasn’t taking off, only to eventually land what could quite possibly be THE superhero movie of the year. The 20+ minutes screened were nothing short of breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting the simply stunning design of Asgard, nor the brilliant performances by everyone involved.

Thor MovieDespite the outstanding design and epic scale of the film, director Kenneth Branagh was adamant it was grounded in a tale about brothers and family. Tom Hiddleston mentioned that he actually went for the THOR part originally, to end up playing the part of THOR’s brother Loki, which he looks born for. Chris also mentioned he believed Anthony Hopkins role as Odin to be the best of his career. Another shock about what we saw was just how funny it was. Brilliant hysterical pieces, which I’ll let you discover yourself. And of course some wonderful cameos for those who keep their eyes peeled.

Pretty much a given at events like this. Everyone who goes is going to have a completely different experience. To me my highlight was the Attack the Block panel. Joe Cornish (from TV/radio Adam & Joe) effectively gave a master class in monster movie making. Surely he has a doctorate in Monster Films. From the joys of researching local south London kids on how they would react to an alien invasion on their doorstep, to the perils of having to completely give up a year of your life to complete the project.

They showed a few extended clips of key moments. I don’t want to describe them in any detail (you can see the trailer here), but from what they showed, and Joe’s clearly genuine love for the genre, it has instant cult classic slashed all over it. Pitched as ‘La Haine vs Aliens’, It is by far the movie I’m most excited about seeing.

kapow comic-com

Of course there were numerous announcements of releases such as the Kick Ass spin-off Hit Girl(above), and Millar’s desire to develop an entirely new universe of superheroes for the 21st Century. But my overriding memory of the event will be the many brilliant people I heard give talks and who I spoke to while walking around the event.

It was a massive success. With people such as Ridley Scott on site checking it out for Prometheus next year and the huge amount of hero movies in the 2012 calendar, the big bang really has happened, and what a wonderful colourful universe it is becoming.