Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Nine Worlds of geekdom



When I got the call asking me to host some panels at the debut fan oriented convention Nine Worlds Geekfest, it was really hard to form an idea of what to expect. I’ve been to the vast cross section of the UKs convention and expo offerings in the science fiction, pop culture and film veins, but this was the first large-scale fan-driven residential festival I’d gone along to.



Women In Comics panel  L-R: Illustrator Jessica Kemp, Actress and artist  Jessica Martin, and myself, hosting.
Women In Comics panel
L-R: Illustrator Jessica Kemp, Actress and artist
Jessica Martin, and myself, hosting.
The more established names you are probably aware of such as Kapow! Comic Con, the MCM and LFCC events (to name but a few) all have a huge commercial focus, with impressive merchandising, long autograph queues and corporate film/ TV studio sponsorship and advertising filling any convention hall space available. The atmospheres at these events are fantastic, with an air of suspense with the opportunity to be a set of eyes on the latest film sneak-peek or being the first in line to get a copy of a new book at it’s launch. The serious cosplayers come out to wield their latest shiny purchases and expertly crafted accessories, creators alike come out to show off their latest wares and many a creative union have been known to be forged over a few drinks at the venue bar.

Nine Worlds Geekfest had quite the different feel. No security chaperoning the guests, no troupes of sci-fi sirens staking their spectacle claim, and very little in the way of suited industry types. This convention had a very clear and marked homegrown feel. The organisers and faces of the festivities, Ludi and Eric, were omnipresent at information stations. From what was going on where at any given moment to assisting the visitors and staff any way they humanly could, they evidently really knew their stuff down to the tiniest of detail. From a fan perspective, there was so much going on, you were spoilt for choice. As an Indie Comics stream panel host and on-location organiser, the same could be said again however, as there were so many places to be, the audience count always seemed a little underwhelming. I attended many panels myself so was part of a veritable selection of audience sizes for guests such as Red Dwarf’s Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn and Doctor Who’s Matthew Waterhouse and wandered past many an open door with clubs and societies waxing and waning with participants. When you know you are putting on a fantastic panel and superb guests have come to talk about their body of work, you naturally want as many people as possible to hear what they have to say. But with this in mind and tickets for Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014 already on sale, I’m sure the attendance will build naturally, remedying this singular gremlin.

Panels

In conversation with Dan Boultwood, creator of IT CAME!
I had a super time interviewing some incredible minds from the world of comic books. First up was cartooninst and illustrator Dan Boultwood [read my follow up and in-depth interview with him here], who enthused over his latest B-movie style comic book series IT CAME! published by Titan. I then chaired the utterly enjoyable panel ‘Women In Comics’ with great friend and Indie Comics/ Missed Deadline stream founder Jessica Kemp, and the wondrously talented Jessica Martin. Jessica Martin has not only had an incredible acting and performance career in cult British television including Doctor Who and Spitting Image, but she brought along with her exclusive pages from her work-in-progress stunning new 1920s themed graphic novel;  
Elsie Harris Picture Palace. I honestly can’t wait to see this in print as Jessica discussed it’s inspiration, style and the journey she’d been on bringing Elsie to life. Lastly, I was delighted to welcome self-confessed type-geek, king of modernist illustration and comic book writer-artist, Rian Hughes. We discussed everything from what he has on his walls at home (original artwork by Serge Clerc and Steve Ditko, yes the room filled Hulk-green with envy) to his collaborative adventures designing progressive comic covers for Iron Man Stark: Disassembled series and his new book CULT-URE; a brilliantly incisive and colourful piece of graphic design from cover to leaf.


All in the planning – the Nine Worlds roots (a new Yggdrasil) 

Over the mere course of a month, the festivals organisers managed to supremely surpass their £10,000 Kickstarter campaign goal by 232% with a creative video and a solid marketing strategy, allowing vital funds to be banked on and the festivities to really start coming together and again showing that we all have the power to make things happen.

With a colourful rainbow of content streams including Literature, Steampunk, Anime, Doctor Who & Torchwood, Robotics, Harry Potter, Joss Whedon, Tolkien, Social Gaming, Creative Writing and Skeptics to name a mere few, short of cloning oneself or hiring out a TARDIS to be in multiple locations at any one time, the sage outsider may have inhaled and wagged their finger of warning allaying to a fear of them having bitten off a multi-genre more than they could chew. But quite sensibly, they called in field experts to take charge of panel implementation and content divergence, guaranteeing social media involvement, all-important accountability and a beautiful myriad to passions by and for the people.

A-TEAM

Again as I was lucky enough to straddle both the professional and visitor side of the geekfest fence, I absolutely wanted to highlight the multi-national all-female (from my encounters anyway) technical team. They all knew their stuff, were to the point, and very effective, helping us lesser technically minded coordinators, and again were always on hand when you needed them. I loathe bringing gender in to these matters, but it was a first all-female team I’d encountered, who also proved to be the savviest and most conducive team I’ve worked with, with a refreshing can-do (and did-do) attitude, so I’ll let that comment be digested any way you decide.

In summary, the recipe is a great one, the execution has very sturdy foundtations and the product can only be perfected in time. I can't wait to see this inclusive, organic gathering of minds and meaning flourish in the exciting years to come.





LINKS

Nine Worlds Geekfest website

Rian Hughes - Device Fonts (art, fonts, illustration and photography)

Dan Boultwood IT CAME! Copies of the new comic book series available now

Missed Deadline comic stream at Nine Worlds Geekfest

Nine Worlds Geekfest original Kickstarter campaign video:


Posted by: Geek Girl Kerensa Creswell-Bryant
Geek Girl, Updated at: 15:41