UK convention ICE – The International Comics Expo has begun the ramp-up for its return to the Studio Venue in Birmingham for another blockbusting year, taking place in 2016 on the Saturday 10th September – and with some incredible superstar names in tow.
Organised by ‘comics-industry-face-about-town’/’wannabe-Matt-Bellamy’ Shane Chebsey, ICE has quickly established itself as a singular event – one that works from the established comic con format of exhibitor tables/panels/special guests but adding a unique Brummie flair, a purely comics-driven affair spread across a three-floor behemoth of an building, hidden behind the facade of a small door up a side street in Birmingham.
Shane has taken his extensive industry contacts, as well as his previous convention experience, to make ICE a ‘must attend’ addition to the UK con calendar, something which he admits himself is getting full to the brim.
“Conventions in the UK [have] almost hit saturation point with more events happening in 2016 than there are weeks in the year – it gets harder and harder to choose which events to attend,” Shane says in a recent press release.
However, one of the draws that makes ICE stand out from the herd is the incredible guest list, bringing talent from across the globe – and, in 2016, it really has pulled out all the stops.
- From the USA comes DAREDEVIL (Netflix) / BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (Dark Horse Comics) writer Christos Gage, DC BOMBSHELLS (DC Comics) / InSEXts (AfterShock Comics) writer Marguerite Bennett and legendary Marvel Comics artist / visionary editor Carl Potts. (The latter of which has already been confirmed to be hosting a workshop panel for attendees which, I suspect will be quite the full room.)
- From Italy, superstar DC Comics artists Marco Santucci (SUPERMAN) and Maria Laura Sanapo (DC BOMBSHELLS) will be making the pilgrimage.
- And, from Spain, DC Comics inker Jaun Albarran will be making his debut UK convention appearance.
Making not so far a trip – but still further than a Megabus down the M6 – will be the Scottish contingent of David Baillie (DC Vertigo), Simon Fraser (2000AD) and artist Gary Erskine. Wales is represented by artist and colourist Dylan Teague and 2000AD legend Dave Roach, while flying in from Ireland will be superstar artist and colourist combo (and returning guests) Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, no doubt eager to talk about plans for their rapidly growing Red Cube Studio.
Then you’ve got the Brits, putting in the distance – not as far, perhaps, but a journey nonetheless: HELLBOY artist Duncan Fegredo, artist Sean Phillips (THE FADE OUT, MARVEL ZOMBIES) and writer Peter Milligan (HELLBLAZER, X-FORCE) join legendary JUDGE DREDD creator John Wagner and Charlie Adlard (THE WALKING DEAD), who return for another year after a sterling 2015 appearance.
This impressive roster of international talent is just a sliver of the thirty-five artists and writers already confirmed to appear over the course of the Saturday. “At ICE, we believe that, when you call yourself an ‘international event’, your guests should reflect that, as well as showing the world what a massive pool of talent Britain has to offer. That’s also why we have major American publishers like Dark Horse Comics exhibiting alongside British indie publishers,” says Chebsey.
All of which makes it an appealing event to trek to – and here’s hoping that I’ll be making the full meal of it this year, instead of just the one day. It was one of my big regrets of 2015, not sticking around for the full enchilada, and I’ll be making damn sure that I’ll be stuffing myself full of all of ICE’s heavenly delights this September. (Holy crap, I’m hungry.)
To book tickets or to find out more about the International Comic Expo visit their website at: www.thecomicsshow.co.uk
A full day early bird pass from 10am to 5.30pm costs £12 with discounts for students and free entry for children. VIP Tickets including an after show party are also available. (Yes, I’m be trying to get to that as well.)