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Melksham Comic Con 2013 was this past weekend and I thought I’d share my experience.

I can’t comment too much on conventions having only been to the last two Bristols.

Is Melksham like Bristol? Well, yes and no.

Let’s get the ‘no’ out of the way. This is a SMALL event. But, y’know it’s crowd-funded, it’s in it’s second year and in a town which Wikipedia describes as “medium sized”. It’s the fifth largest town in Wiltshire – 4th is the metropolis of Trowbridge!!? There were 47 tables in the hall plus a small panel room.

Okay, so it’s a new event in a small town, with a small venue, but small can be beautiful, and this was.

I drove about 90 mins to get there, and arrived about 30 mins after the door opened. And it was packed. I did my tour of the tables. Picked up titles like Hero 9-5 (pro-level stuff from what I’ve read so far!), and the Journal of Time Travel second issue (5 stars every time!), and then spoke to the three writers I was really there for. So having spoken to Si Spurrier, Kieron Gillen and Rob Williams (that’s just the order I spoke to them – nothing more!), and had some bits signed I was pretty much done.

I swung past the Disconnected stand for a good NFL chat with Conor Boyle – Rob Williams and I like to have a similar chat once we get comics out of the way!

And that was me done… in about an hour.

Now what follows is a lesson, for me as much as anyone, but anyone who goes to cons and have just a great day shopping and nothing more.

I’d had a long week at work (how does a 4 day week become such a loooong week??) working extra hours every day, (shifting) deadlines to meet, and still lifting at the gym three times. So, there was a large part of me that was thinking that really it was all too much effort to even go, and when I was talking to people at stands I really wasn’t interesting or eloquent and conversations would stall as I failed to recall things I wanted to speak about. So I could have bailed after an hour, but the sun was out and there was a writer’s panel at 3.30 to stick around for. So I went for a walk, bought some coffee and sat in the sun and had something to eat…. and tried again.

I went round and round the hall a few more times, had a really nice chat with Lizzie Boyle of Disconnected about possibly writing for them in the future – that sounds like it’s a sure thing, believe me I have a lot to prove to work for such an esteemed pairing! But again an hour later I could have been done. Another walk and we were approaching the writer’s panel. Right, do that and you’re done I thought to myself. The panel was fun, well run but only 30 mins, so here I was a 4pm thinking ‘shall I just go home?’.

Now we get to the lesson (finally!). The panel finished at 4 so that they could do the raffle. The whole hall stopped and some amazing prizes were handed out and the whole community of the con became apparent. There was whooping and cheering from and for the prize winners and 15 mins later we were told to enjoy the last 45 mins.

They also announced that they had already booked the venue for next year, AND they were going for two days! And again you saw the reaction from the room, and you realise what a great community this little con has.

Anyway, inspired by all this I headed back to the trio of writers with a plan.

I started with Rob. A quick word of thanks, enjoy the NFL season and “… any chance you’d do me a favour? Would you do a five question email interview for me for my blog? Y’know process stuff. Nothing hard.”

“Of course,” he says “No trouble. Email it over. There’s a risk I’ll ramble on for ages.”

“I’ve no problem with that” I said, beaming from ear to ear.

So next I go to Kieron and Si’s table. Another set of thanks, a bit more process waffle, and then the same pitch, but now with Rob’s endorsement!

“Could I ask for a favour? Rob’s just agreed to do a five question email interview for my blog. Would you mind doing one for me?”

Instantly both agreed, but admitted that there was a good risk of it going in the inbox and nothing ever happening. “Why don’t we sit down and do it in the pub across the road in about 10 minutes?” they suggested.

So, ten minutes later Si Spurrier buys ME a drink, and we sit for 30 mins in the pub garden talking process and his working day – 25 mins of which we recorded.

Kieron arrives towards the end, sits nearby essentially waiting for his turn and I record 45 mins chatting to him.

And there is the lesson: talk to people. If you are polite and pleasant and have some interesting questions, and listen to the answers, then they’ll talk to you. Don’t be ‘Comic Book Guy’ and tell them what they’re doing ‘wrong’ or should be doing.

So, there endeth the lesson: you get back the square of what you put in, and if you don’t put much in, you get back the square of not much. Make the effort and you get so much out of it!

And Melksham? Small, but thanks to Kieron, Si and Rob at least as big as Bristol!