Last weekend saw the NICE Comic Convention hit it’s fourth year and marked my second trip to sunny Bedford for a con that nestles in the calendar of events as a hidden gem so far……but that’s surely going to change as more people catch on to what this event offers.
While NICE may not be the biggest convention on the circuit, the truth is, it doesn’t have to be in order to be a success. An unplanned venue change saw the event move from Bedford Corn Exchange to the Bedford Blues Rugby Club which may have lost some space but there was still a relaxed flow to the whole weekend as opposed to it feeling crammed…..I may have even preferred this as it seemed to help emphasize the relaxed feeling to the whole event. The split between the main area in the marquee, the main hall at the Rugby Club proving ideal for the panels and an extra hall providing a signing area for all in attendance helped keep the crowd under control during each part of the weekend’s events.
There were big names in abundance though and with this year’s roster including Brian K Vaughn, the returning Garth Ennis, Paul Renaud, Gene Ha, Glen Fabry, Simon Bisley, Steve Dillon and many more – the comic fans were more than able to get that favourite issue signed or get their hands on some original art or a sketch. They were mixed in among a series of indie creators and back issue stalls that provided more than enough chance to fill the gaps in the collection. No limits on signing excited & frustrated in equal measure but the queue’s moved quick and that was without any obvious presence of the events team – a sure-fire sign of just how free-flowing the two days were.
Jeff Chahal & his team brought us an event where everyone just seemed to be soaking in the atmosphere as the focus held firmly on comics……no movie, tv or even much cosplay to distract from the reason behind the event and the passion we all shared…….COMICS! Fans & creators all seemed to be on a level playing field with new fans and die-hard fans getting exactly what they needed from the event. The excitement of drawing and the sense of achievement that welled up on meeting a creator who’s work you’ve always enjoyed combined with the whole vibe over the weekend. The guest list, the surroundings and the whole feel of the weekend is what keeps me coming back and it’s why NICE is one of just three or four events that take up a permanent place in my list of cons for the year…..it’s already penciled in for 2016 for me and it should start to appear on more people’s list too.
Thankfully I wasn’t flying solo at this years event with Fiona Watson Photography on-hand to capture some great pictures and some video that’s being edited as we speak….so more to follow on that over on her Facebook page and the Comics Anonymous Facebook page too.