COMICS are now big business thanks to numerous TV and movie spin-offs and consequent branded merchandise, however, characters like Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and Superman were house-hold names long before they received the Hollywood treatment.
At the Edinburgh International Conference Centre next weekend, the worlds of those original comic books and their multi-media spin-offs come together, when some of the biggest names in the industry head to the Capital for the fifth Edinburgh Comic Con.
The brainchild of 42-year-old James Lundy, the two day event has, in the past, attracted many of Marvel and DC Comics’ top artists as well as a host of famous faces from TV series and movies such as Babylon 5, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who and Star Wars. 2018 will be no exception.
“Actually, one of the most memorable famous faces to attend was Sean Kelly from Storage Wars,” recalls Lundy.
“He hosted the charity auction and was genuinely funny, a real favourite with the fans.”
The father of two continues, “This year, while I’m obviously looking forward to meeting all our guests, I’m personally excited about Fabian Nicieza attending.
“Not only is he the co-creator of Deadpool, but he’s also written over a thousand books, covering a massive range of characters for the likes of Marvel and DC Comics.
“Other creators I’m personally looking forward to meeting are Robbi Rodriguez, as he is the co-creator of Spider-Gwen, and Fernando Dagnino for his work on Justice League: Generation Lost.”
Lundy has also attracted an impressive roster of actors for this year’s event, many of who have appeared in more than one of the movies in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
“These include such names as Stefan Kapicic, who portrayed the role of Colossus in Deadpool, Dominic Keating from Star Trek Enterprise, and Daz Crawford from Agents of SHIELD,” he lists, and there’s more.
“We also have Clive Russell and Fintan McKeown from Game of Thrones, Joshua Herdman who was Gregory Goyle in Harry Potter, Rony Bridges from Star Wars and Paul Amos from Assassin’s Creed.”
For Lundy, organising the annual event has become a full time job, although he still has a day job to fit in too, working at The Dome on George Street.
“In all honesty, organising a convention takes more work than I can possibly put into words,” he says.
“They are a constantly evolving animal with a life of their own, taking you to some of the highest highs before dropping you back down to Earth with a thud.
“Sometimes you have to work on guests for a number of years before they attend, as even though they are agreeable, schedules can clash - you just have to keep spinning those plates until the planets align.”
Describing his first Comic Con as “the realisation of a life long dream to work in the industry,” Lundy reveals it actually “came off the back of a rather unpleasant experience”.
He explains, “Finding myself unemployed due to the recession, I was left looking for something to do, and it was after attending Kapow, a convention in London in 2011, I decided that if I was going to work incredibly hard to get something off the ground, it was going to be something I loved.
“At that time, there was literally nothing like Comic Con in this neck of the woods, for the life of me I could not figure out why.
“There have been a lot of hurdles to overcome since that first event, but as an international city, I knew Edinburgh not only deserved a Comic Con, but deserved one that would grow and stand the test of time.”
Of course, without comics, there would be no Comic Con, and Lundy is in no doubt as to the attraction they hold for the reader.
“Comics are just a fantastic medium to tell a good story.
“With comic books, the only limitation is your imagination, not budget restrictions or advances in special effects.
“That said though, they have proven themselves to be a gold mine as source material for the film industry, with everything from Road to Perdition to The Avengers, having originated on the pages of a comic.”
Lundy’s first comic, other than The Beano and The Dandy, was Marvel’s Secret Wars #1.
“That was the first comic I ever purchased with my own money and I was hooked right from the start. It had a lasting emotional impact on me,” he says.
“It was lunch time at my primary school, and as we walked to the chip shop to get something to eat, there was a newsagent next door.
“For some reason I went in and immediately stumbled upon this comic book with various superheroes practically jumping off the cover at me.
“I simply had to spend some of my lunch money on it.
“I remain genuinely unsure what the appeal was, perhaps it was recognising The Hulk from the TV series, but I believe the sense of nobility that was practiced by the heroes certainly had a lot to do with their appeal to my young mind.
“They all just seemed larger than life and I couldn’t get enough of how the likes of Captain America just seemed to be this ‘Sentinel of Liberty’.”
Many of the fans attending next weekend will have similar memories, perhaps one reason the Edinburgh Comic Con has become a staple on the international calendar, drawing the biggest names on the circuit.
“In many ways we are now starting to reap the fruit from the seeds sown a number of years ago,” reflects Lundy.
With so many spin-offs, the event is not just about comics, however, and this year there will again be something for everyone.
He says, “Apart from the guests, there will be a host of complimentary attractions.
These will include prop displays, photo opportunities, wrestling displays, tabletop gaming, a retro arcade, virtual reality, a LEGO exhibition, photo booth and panel room.
“We’ll also be running the ECC Cosplay Championship, which attracts entries on an international basis.
“These will all be included in the cost of admission, but as usual, attendees will be free to make donations to our chosen charity, the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity.”
Hero Convention’s Edinburgh Comic Con, EICC, Morrison Street, 14 & 15 April, 10am-6pm