I just got back from Ka-Pow! I didn’t take any notes or record anything, so here are my recollections.
It’s been an enjoyable day. I arrived at the venue 20 minutes early to find a massive queue. In the line, various characters appeared in their costumes – The Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Harley Quinn, etc. My favourite was a slightly chubby Blue Beetle, reminiscent of the Adam Hughes rendition for the 1980s Justice League when Blue Beetle sat around eating too many cookies. I did wonder why on Earth people dress up like this, but then I saw a little kid shout to his parents “Look! The Joker”, to which the lanky green villain tipped his hat and winked at the wee one, making his day. Respect due there. At around 20 past 9, I got in. Stewart Lee ran into me, shouting “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault” to a lady. I picked up a program to get a bearing on what was coming up. There was lots on, often simultaneously, so you had to pick and choose.
First up for me was a talk by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. It was ostensibly to mark DC’s plans to publish Marshal Law, but it covered lots of their 2000ad work too. The higher ups at DC have changed, meaning the pair do not forsee any problems (as O’Neill experienced with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).
Next, a panel with 2000ad creators old and new. Main draws for me here were Dave Gibbons, Brendan McCarthy and Brian Bolland. In the event though Bolland did not show up. It was an interesting talk, Gibbons talked about the beginnings of the comic, and McCarthy mentioned that he’s doing a new strip about Judge Dredd becoming a zombie – “The Walking Dredd”. What really excited the audience more than the comic talk though was when conversation turned to the forthcoming Judge Dredd movie (yep, another one). Ka-Pow is billed as “an event dedicated to the comicbooks and the films, TV shows and games they inspire.” I am very interested in comics, and not very much in the other stuff at all. Talk of how Dredd’s movie bike and costume looks cool, how violent and dark it is, and how the screenplay is great but it depends on many factors, all of that bores me to tears and gets in the way of talking about 2000ad.
Next was a talk called “Meet the Creators of Clint”. It coincided with a DC Comics panel which I toyed with going to, but I decided to keep it British so to speak and check out this. No panel members were listed in the program, but I imagined Jonathon Ross, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr. and Frankie Boyle would be there. Out of those three only Mark Millar appeared. No explanation was forthcoming on Romita and Ross, but Millar did say that Boyle “couldn’t be arsed”. Stewart Lee was along though, and was his usual entertaining self. The whole talk was informal, and they made it seem like they were chatting and we just happened to be there.
I spent the next couple of hours checking out the stalls and picked up some nice bargains. These marts are amazing. You can literally pick up a comic for 50p and a stall around the corner is selling the same thing for £15. I bumped into Paul Gravett, who was going into The Stan Lee Awards with his VIP badge.
I went in there too, after seeing that the queue wasn’t impossibly huge. After ten minutes of everyone standing around, John Romita Jr took the initiative and to the mic and started telling stories and answering questions. He was a real crowd-pleaser and was obviously loved by the audience. I have to admit to being a bit starstruck myself. He has been drawing comics I was reading since I was a nipper, after all. That along with his family heritage in comics make him a bit of a legend. There was a comedian host onstage getting loads of laughs as he announced winners’ names, and they were not there to pick up the awards (Grant Morrison was nowhere to be seen, and was apparently in the pub and wouldn’t leave according to Millar). There was no-one to present half the time either. At one stage Romita Jr was called up to present an award for best movie in a category that Kick Ass was a contender in. He didn’t win. He presented it to no-one and the host took it from him. Awkward. The host asked someone from SFX to present an award. He did not appear and after a while Frank Quitely came down to do the honours. Comedian guy did not know who Quitely was and talked to him as if he was SFX guy. It was all farcical. Romita Jr. did receive an award for best artist and in his speech said this was the first award he’d ever won and that it genuinely meant a lot to him. A big round of applause for that one. Stan Lee won Man of the Year and had recorded a video message saying it should have been Man of the Century. Excelsior!
After all that fun, I had a coffee. It became apparent that Thor and Loki were about to appear on the IGN stage. The two actors were 45 minutes late and appeared just before closing time. I can’t remember their names because the IGN host kept saying “Thor and Loki are on their way” and “Let Thor in, dude, he’s Thor!” I think he was that guy who used to do “Rad” on Saturdays on Channel 5 about 12 years ago. He sounded like him. At one point it was announced that we now had on stage “the guy who designed Thor’s costume”. It wasn’t Jack Kirby.
I had another little browse around and met Dan Lester, the cartoonist who does Monkeys Might Puke. We’ve e-mailed back and forth and I was in an anthology that he put together. We’ve never actually met though, he seems like a cool guy. A dedicated small presser doing it for the love of comics.
So by this time the attendants were telling everyone to please make their way to the doors. It was a good event, I’d like to see another. But Mark Millar did mention that he’d lost a fortune today, so I wouldn’t count on it.