Starting a new convention, or any big event, is an incredibly hard thing to do. I've never done it, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about that. But I've just spoken to Mark Millar and he's a very happy man tonight. Kapow 1.0 has gone incredibly well, possibly much better than some expected, and everyone I've been speaking to has really only had positive things to say.
While all of that was happening, over in the Gallery Hall the comic book stuff was ramping up - at the Millarworld panel, Mark Millar revealed details of four new projects he's working on right now - titles to add to his current impressive lineup of 'Wanted', 'Kick-Ass' and 'Nemesis'. Turns out he's bringing out a 'Hit Girl' spin off - so she'll have her own comics, plus 'Super Crooks' - a heist story with supervillians that he's doing with Leinil Francis Yu, which sounds like a brilliant idea. It's about a group of supervillains based in the US, who get so fed up getting caught by superheros all the time when they rob banks, they decide to move to Madrid instead, where there aren't any superheroes. Millar told me later that he's already working with a mystery Spanish director, to make a film version of the comic at the same time as the comic is being made.
There's also a collaboration with Dave Gibbons in the pipeline, but we don't have details on the title or premise yet - and a huge, 12 issue superhero epic with Frank Quitely - apparently with a cast of over 100 characters.
Meanwhile on the mezzanine, the comics, toys, and memorabilia was all still selling well, games were being demoed, cosplayers were about, and big queues for signings were commonplace. (Mark Millar told me tonight that the retailers have said to him that Kapow! was "literally the best money they've ever made at a show." He puts that down to the fact that they kept the whole focus on mainstream super hero comic stuff, so everyone came for that - and so nearly everyone wanted to buy what was on offer.)
Back in the Auditorium, the most talked about event of the weekend was about to start: the premiere of 'Movie X' - which had insanely long queues for fans eager to see whatever it was that was in store for them. Rumours had been flying all weekend as to what it would be - Thor? X-Men? All we knew is that it would be a 'summer superhero movie' starring a guy with a funny name. So, Thor, right?
But when the lights went down we were treated to the face of Rainn Wilson - and what followed was the movie 'Super'. I know this has had a limited release in the US already, and it's out soon on DVD as far as I know, so I won't give too much away, but I will say that it was no disappointment, even for those who had waited all weekend hoping to see the god of thunder in all his glory on the big screen. 'Super' was amazing. Like a grown-up, mind-bogglingly violent Kick-Ass, it was very very funny, but staggeringly graphic. Rainn Wilson puts in the performance of his career, and Ellen Page continues to earn her place as one of my very favourite actresses working today. She is utterly convincing, but also so unafraid to look silly, or unsexy, when the role demands it, in an effortless way that really puts her apart from many other females in the business. I think she's brilliant, clever funny and perfect for this role.
Simply put, 'Super' is a film about a guy whose wife (Liv Tyler) falls back into drug addiction, and into the arms of dodgy dealer Kevin Bacon. This makes our hero so angry with the world, and with crimes out of his control, that he decides to adopt the persona of 'The Crimson Bolt', make an outfit and fight crime wherever he can find it. At first he can't find much, then he finds nearly too much. I'll stop there, I really don't want to ruin it. But if you are the sort of person who had no moral issues with the events in Kick-Ass, then you'll probably enjoy this. You also need to be cool with seeing pieces of brain flying all over the place, brutal head smashing in and violet cranial trauma being inflicted on a wide scale. Not always in a funny way too - in fact, if we're going to really get down to it, Super is a film about loneliness and depression. Don't let that put you off though - it's a triumph. Go and see it immediately, is my advice.
When we emerged from the screening, the weekend of Kapow! was finished. All that was left was for me to head over to the adjacent hotel and sit down for a pint and a chat with Mark Millar about how it had all gone for him. I'll write up the interview in full as soon as I can.
It's only fair to raise a very few negatives about what overall has been a great weekend. First up, the lines for the screening and Q&As were often very very long (the people in the gallery above the floor in the photo below are about a third of one line), and I heard a few grumblings about the fact that the auditorium in which all the biggest stuff was shown only holds 500 people. Lucky me with my AICN VIP pass, I didn't experience any issues, but I can understand the problem. It also would have been nice to have a presence from some of the other big superhero events of the summer - I'm thinking X-Men and Captain America.
But I don't want to dwell on that, it really was minor compared to the whole experience, and if you check twitter, you'll see just how happy everyone who went is. This was an incredible thing to have pulled off in its first ever year. Again, congratulations to Lucy and Sarah for putting on such a great event, and to Mark, for opening his contacts book.
Next year, expect some even bigger names, and even more exclusives. Mark tells me that the next one "will have to be a monster", because of the list of comic book superhero movies on the horizon for release in 2012: Spider-man, Superman, Avengers, Dark Knight Rises. He's right, that's a pretty insane lineup. He says that last night, after day one, he had a lot of emails from all the big studios, already keen to sign up for Kapow! number 2.
But he's keen to keep the same scale. He says that it was be easy to get greedy, but he's not someone who does this for the sake of money ("this shirt I'm wearing now cost 3.99!"), and he's just glad that the British comic scene has a focal point again.
5,500 people per day at the con is nice for Millar - he says it means fans can actually meet the creators - with no ropes in between them - and everyone can meet up in the same pub after the doors close, and the stands are packed away, as they now have been for 2011.
One final note, the weather's been amazing for Kapow! - sunniest and warmest weekend of the year so far here in London. "Yeah, I made some calls about that" says Mark Millar...
Until next time - be excellent to each other.