ArcadeCon & Arena

I’m very much looking forward to this weekend in Dublin, where I’ll be one of the special guests at ArcadeCon.

It’s a multi-media convention so there’s a variety of geeky interests for the fans: cosplay workshops, anime, comic book discussions, pop culture exegesis, music, as well as interviews with actors and actresses from genre TV and film.

The FAQ and programme of events is online, and you can even download an Android app with all the details you’ll need for your weekend of fun and entertainment.

There are a couple of events starting on Thursday, but the convention kicks off properly on Friday afternoon.

I’ve also been asked to appear on the RTÉ Radio 1 Arts show, Arena, this Friday evening to discuss Neil Gaiman.

Neil recently announced he’s returning to write a five-issue prequel story for his iconic The Sandman comic. It will be called The Sandman: Overture, and will be drawn by the outstandingly-talented JH Williams III. We’ll be discussing that and Neil’s career in general. It’ll be roughly a ten minute slot during the hour-long show (7pm-8pm).

It’s always enjoyable to get the opportunity to talk about comics to a more mainstream audience. Last week at the Hay Festival I was struck at how many people still view comic books as a niche market, but also that people are intrigued if you talk about comics to them.

Almost everybody encounters comics and cartoons as a child, but many people leave them behind as they get older. A stubborn cultural notion persists that comic books are easy entertainment for young people, and they somehow don’t address the complications of ‘grown-up’ life. This despite the huge commercial success of talented creators such as Posy Simmonds, Marjane Satrapi, Joe Sacco, Art Spielgeman, and Mary & Bryan Talbot among mainstream and literary audiences.

Yet, what we encounter as a child resonates deeply with us throughout our lives. I think there are amazing opportunities to bring larger audiences to comics if they get the chance to understand that there is an incredible array of material – suited to all tastes – available today.

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