Updated: Saturday, 11th July 2020 @ 7:39am

Ka-pow! Manchester Comic Con sidekick 'Mancstercon' helps city take on London in geek capital battle

Ka-pow! Manchester Comic Con sidekick 'Mancstercon' helps city take on London in geek capital battle

| By Liam Geraghty

Manchester now has a dynamic duo to take on London as comic convention Mancstercon is set to pen a new chapter in its short history next week.

The Robin to Manchester Comic Con’s Batman, the convention celebrates ‘sequential art’ focusing on comics, manga and animation.

The convention is turning the page on a successful first year and is coming back bigger for a second year, handing a debut to indie game developers for the 2014 iteration at the Mad Lab.

“The convention is about celebrating local talent,” said Mancstercon co-founder Arun Hackett.

“We started it after a discussion about what we think about this country and creative minds and this view that London is the place to be.

“We wanted to showcase talent up here that is not being accepted.”

The Manchester comics scene has just one headline event make its mark every year, while London has several.

Mancstercon is aiming to redress the balance and put Manchester firmly on the same page as the capital with plans for the three-day event to be repeated in other seasons rather than being an annual summer spectacular.

After scooping a crowd of 300 for the inaugural event last year, Mancstercon aims to top that ‘encouraging’ figure this time around.

“It just goes to show that Manchester wants more comics,” said Arun.

Top of the bill for 2014 is Manchester artist Andrew Tunney, whose self-published debut comic GIRL&BOY was nominated for Best Comic in the first ever British Comic Awards in 2012.

Other exhibitors include freelance illustrator Jem Perks and Irish-born artist Stephen Morton, who specialises in ‘the absurd, the fantastic and the grotesque to explore issues of morality and sexuality’.

Arun, 27, expressed his intention to have a ‘trilogy’ of conventions – ala The Dark Knight before retiring the Mancstercon name and evolving into another edition.

He also plans to launch events in the dead of winter to give Manchester comic enthusiasts something to look forward to once temperatures begin to plummet.

And after spearheading the Mad Lab’s Graphic Novel Group for the last four years, the convention chief knows his way around the place.

But Arun, who founded Mancstercon with fellow comic devotee Florence Okoye, is yet to show his face at Manchester Comic Con itself – although he insists there is no rivalry and that he has no arch-enemies.

“It’s just been a case of time,” said Arun.

“This year, I was on holiday and graduated but I’d love to go in the future.”

Now a newly-qualified teacher, Arun has plans to take his passion from the drawing board and into the classroom – citing how he has used issues of Tintin in classes and donated old Beanos and Dandys to schools in the past.

And it’s not just future generations who will be learning from the Scott Pilgrims, Spidermans and Silver Surfers of this world – Arun credits comics with encouraging his love of reading.

Hampered by learning difficulties as a child, comics provided an easy introduction to mastering the written word before he could move on to novels in more languages than one.

“Comics are much more accessible,” said Arun.

“I found it difficult to read as a child but comics kept me going and I read a wide variety.

“They even helped with modern foreign languages to help me learn French.”

Away from the page, the convention is making the move into showcasing independent video games for artists who are as talented with a joystick as they are with a pen and ink.

“The question is whether video games are art and I think yes they absolutely are,” said Arun, who acknowledges the rise of PC game store Steam and indie title like Braid.

There are a lot of links between comics and animation and there is a lot of crossover between comic fans and games.

“They go hand-in-hand, but I haven’t been organising that so I’m looking forward to see what gameplay we have to show.”

Mancstercon runs from August 8-10. Tickets are available at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mancstercon-2014-tickets-10414539167