This weekend the London Underground Comics (LUC) launched their first full convention classed as No Barcodes. The event packed 50 artists (both from small press and web) onto 12 tables and created a whole new experience for conventions much like Caption later in the UK.
This time round instead of comic creators manning their stalls, all baying for people’s attention and money, the tables were focused into specific areas and took itÂ in turns not only to sell their own stuff on the tables but other artists they only met a few minutes ago. It sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it did.
The LUC are known for having fun. Most weeks they create new videos (mostly including dancing, lots of dancing), they have a laugh and it’s not only a social event every week for the guys who run the stall but also a way to get comics into the hands of new people.
Oli Smith, one of the few guys who started the LUC and the stall itself, commented about why it’s such a success, “The great thing about the stall is the atmosphere and the sales. It’s always fun to be down on a Saturday, choking down coffee from hangovers and selling almost as many comics a week as you would at a convention- enough to pay for the drinks after if not the groceries.”
So when the convention No Barcodes became an idea, Oli changed the way the LUC convention was run, “It meant an almost forced socialising aspect within the groups- as well as giving people the ability to leave their sales behind and just go out and have fun during the day whilst other people took it in turns. This relieved the pressures of selling and left people free to walk around, get food and meet new people. Coupled with the lack of chairs this seemed to me to give a more ‘community’ aspect to the event rather than the ‘territorial’ nature of some conventions where people start fighting over who gets what inch. It also enabled us to lower the price drastically, fit more people in and easily integrate people for whom this was their first convention.”
Quite a few regulars turned up as well as some new members of the comic community who not only was their first time at a convention but also for the event itself, their first ever comic book form. As cheap as it was, it produced a lot of profit with most of the comic holders.
The most fun was had, not only by the artists themselves but also by the people who wandered around and joined in some of the activities. But afterwards, even at the after party in the local pub, talk was on the next convention. Upon asking Oli whether anything else would be coming up, the words “Yes, but no comment for now” were the only things he uttered.
Look out for the Camden Comic Stall every Saturday at Camden Lock Market and any future events on their website.