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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Granite City Comic-Con Press Event

GCCC's Colin Penny (front left) & Morgan Black (2nd right)
I'll be honest, there was a brief moment when I misunderstood the invitation from Granite City Comic-Con (GCCC) saying that they were pleased to invite me to their very special press event on Monday 16th March at Transition Extreme. This event would see the Comic Con organisers being (nearly) all present, correct and available for interviews plus there would be photo opportunities to be had with a number of Cosplay-clad superheroes. To top it all off there would be representatives available from GCCC's chosen charity, CLAN.

Now, the subjects of this (very) brief miss-understanding was that for a nanosecond the world of Planet Stuey thought that the invite was purely for me and me alone. Blimey, I thought, The Fifth Dimension really is becoming the leading force in all that is good in witty and incisive Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror writing. Of course, sanity and reality soon prevailed (for once in my life) and I quickly realised that there would also be one or two others at the Granite city Comic-con press event. Particularly as rather astoundingly this is the first Comic Con of this scale that Aberdeen has ever held. As a consequence it's fair to say that since the announcement last year of the intention to hold a celebration in the North East of Scotland of all that is good in geek, well the interest has been nothing short of phenomenal.

In my defence, apart from my evidently rampant narcissism and self-obsessed existence, I have been wrapped in the sweaty and sticky arms of a rampant cold bug this week. So besides the fact that this has seen my usual razor-sharp intellectual skills being slightly blunted, I have also sneezed up enough mucus to fill the Mariana trench. I know. Attractive, eh? If you must know, I'm still not very well. However like the trooper and brave little soldier that I am I'm battling on heroically. I foresee songs and poems written someday about my intention to keep on blogging through the pain of this quite frankly fearsome cold bug. Move over, Beowulf, there's another hero in town.

Prizes will be awarded on the day for Cosplayers -
 best get out my Capt Kirk outfit then. 
Anyhoo, for those of you who haven't heard (and just WHERE have you been?!) the inaugural staging of Granite City Comic Con takes place in Aberdeen on 30th May 2015. 

The aim, stated from the very start from the organisers, has been their wish to highlight Scotland's immeasurable contribution not only to the comic book industry, but to pop culture in general. The problem had been that this part of the North East of Scotland had little or nothing in the way of showcasing this talent. The nearest to us being Dundee, and well, I mean, Dundee....

So back in the not too dim and distant past some plucky geeky fellows decided to band together and put a show on themselves. The fact that none of them had much, if any experience of doing something on this scale didn't seem to put them off. This, if you ask me, is a clear case of collective insanity - just who in their right mind would try anything to bold? Especially when there are some in the 'I love Star Wars more than you love Star Wars' brigade just waiting to complain about any efforts made to put on an event such as GCCC, especially when the people involved lack any experience of doing so. I did wonder whether the organisers,  Morgan et al, were beginning to feel the strain of this endeavour – hopefully I would get the chance to ask them.

So far a few tasty nuggets of information have been released about the specific events which will be taking place (for NO entry fee) with a variety of guest artists and writers, children's activities, cosplay, retailers and Independent publishers. More of which later in this piece. Oh, and I'll be there on May 30th too....... But don't let that put you off.

I was balancing precariously on a step ladder to take this - 
how I suffer for my art!
Me being the intrepid blogger and researcher that I am, I took myself along to where both the press event and the main event itself will take place in May, Transition Extreme. And what a marvellous evening was had by all. In attendance there were representatives of the national press, local press & radio.....oh and little ole me. Not only that but there were Cosplayers practically everywhere and possibly most importantly of all - there was free coffee and tea. Well actually, I'm doing the evening something of an injustice, because it was much more than just 'marvellous', it was bloody brilliant madness.

For a start the press event itself took place in the ground floor foyer of Transition. So not only did we have the sight of a veritable plethora of most excellent Cosplayers in all their glory, but occasionally there would be a couple of the general public passing by on their way to some energetic pastime of Judo-ing or skateboarding. Quite frankly, the amounts of comic double takes from people as they walked by on the way to their energetic business were priceless. The comments too were wonderful, with kids passing with their parents insisting they ask if they could have their picture taken with Batman, Wonder Woman, Storm trooper et al. In fact I will never forget the look of the small boy who was so heavily engrossed in conversation with his dad that he hadn't noticed that stood right beside him was an Imperial Storm trooper in all his glory. The boy's face of surprised joy is something that I will never forget.

If that wasn't enough we also had the surreal and rather wonderful Cosplayer photo call in the Skateboarding/BMX arena. Once again the appreciative double takes (of the Cosplayers, not me) were a sight to behold. Try as I might I attempted to get a picture of the assembled players at the moment a biker when flying by behind....but alas I was unable to get my beloved IPhone to play ball. However the show off from the local press did manage to achieve this feat. Which brings me onto the 3rd part of the brilliantly mad evening.

Me, taking a picture of the press taking a picture of a judge, a trooper & a Bat.
For the GCCC organizers weren't simply happy just to settle for a local blogger like me to help promote this marvellous event (quite rightly), it also seems that the comic-con interest has also gained the attention of the local and national press. You could tell who the real media professionals were at this event - because they were the ones (as opposed to me) who really knew what they were doing, were the ones to organise the best pictures and were the first to grab the organisers (Morgan Black and Colin Penny) for an interview.

But give the organisers their due, they manfully kept things going throughout the couple of hours, no matter how daunting a visit from the national press may have been.

Morgan was kind enough to give me some of his time in this busiest of press do's to share a conversation about some aspects of the event.......

FD) Right, OK. So how’s it going? This is just madness isn’t it ?

M) (laughs) This is crazy, this is the 3rd type of this event that we’ve done. We’ve got people who’ve come along to give exposure for the comic-con & the CLAN & transition as well. This has been the busiest one, we’ve got national press here which is quite daunting. But it’s all great.

Every superhero needs to sit & chill at times.......

FD)  What about the special evening event that you’re planning?

M) Yes, well the main Granite city Comic-con event Transition is a free event, no tickets, we’re just going to ask for donations to CLAN. Now in the evening we are putting on a paid event (£8.50 a ticket) with all our guests appearing; Alan Grant, Shane Rimmer….everybody.

FD) Will that be a Q&A thing?

M) Yeah, there will be a panel event. Were also going to be showing Judge Dredd: Superfiend, which is brilliant! So that will be a paid event at the Stratosphere which is literally a stone’s throw away from Transition. Again all the money will be going towards CLAN.

FD) So how will people be able to get tickets?

M) Tickets will be going on sale in the next 2 weeks, we’ll put a link up on the website. It is going to be limited due to the space we have

FD) How many spaces are we talking about?

M) We’re still trying to figure that out, within the next couple of weeks we’ll have a specific figure of the amount of tickets that will go on sale. What we can say now that the cost will be £8.50 for definite & all the guests will be available for the Q&A’s, photo’s autographs.

The legend that is Shane Rimmer
FD) I’m VERY excited about Shane Rimmer, I must admit. I can’t wait to meet that guy!

M) So am I! It’s going to be good. I mean with the likes of Shane Rimmer and Paul Blake who played Greedo in Star Wars and who’s going to get that ‘uncomfortable question’ which I’m sure he’s fed up of answering?

FD) Yeah, but that’s why he does these marvellous things, people still want to know.

M) Exactly.

FD) Are there going to be any other guests that you may be hoping for or that you haven’t yet been able to confirm to the public? Any surprises?

M) We’ve reached our limit. This year for us, because it’s been more charity driven, we haven’t had the budget really. We’ve had to make the money by selling tickets to the pre-events, doing the evening event and selling t-shirts on our website. But we’ve still got some good guests.

FD) So next year, I know we haven’t got there yet, but will it be a full-blown making some money type thing and taking it to the next level?

A) Yep. We are definitely doing 2016 where we’re planning a two day event. We’re looking to get an event venue in Aberdeen which we’ll announce soon. But we need to get this one over and done with!!

Next year will be bigger and will be in a bigger facility, not to say that we won’t be using Transition because we’ve had a good partnership with them but we’ll be doing some smaller events here as we’ve developed a good friendship with the guys down here.

Just your everyday photo call in a BMX arena....

FD) There’s been a huge interest for this hasn’t there??!!

A) (Laughs) I know - Crazy!! We’ve got 3000 people plus on the Facebook page!!

FD) Are you sleeping at night??!!

M) No No!! (laughs)

FD)  I’m sure it’s going to be great, mate. I can’t wait


I would like to go on record in offering my sincerest thanks to Morgan & Colin in inviting me to this most enjoyable and illuminating of press events. In fact if the next press event doesn't have a photo opportunity in the middle of a Skateboarding park I shall be putting forward a letter of complaint.

It's not long now, people until the vent takes place so let's keep the interest and momentum going. Also keep your eyes peeled for news of the special evening event I discussed with Morgan..........Oh, and there may be even a rather interesting (I know, for once) feature or two still to come from me in this blog so watch out for a possible special offer from me.

Whatever happens next, Granite City Comic-con 2015 is going to be one fabulous event. I have nothing but admiration for this group of people who, without having any experience of a venture such as this, have put together something that the city of Aberdeen should be very proud of.

If you don't go to GCCC, then my mate here will 
track you down like the rebel scum that you are....

The Granite City Comic-Con website can be found RIGHT HERE

The Merchandise page when you can buy some easy GCCC goodies (remember, proceeds go to CLAN cancer research) is at

The Facebook page for Granite City Comic-Con can be located HERE

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