This July, writer Paul Cornell and artist Marika Cresta explore something near and dear to the hearts of comic book collectors everywhere: the comic book convention.
And while conventions have certainly changed over the past fifty years from dusty Knights of Columbus halls to the biggest venues imaginable, the AHOY Comics mini-series entitled Con & On presents a somewhat satirical and somewhat serious look at one particular convention called the Vista Al Mar Comics Festival.
The Festival will seem quite familiar to anyone who has attended an eerily similar one that takes place in San Diego, as two close friends and up-and-coming comic creators (Eddie and Deja) traverse the maze of the convention floor and the comic book industry.
We got a chance to speak to Cornell about the new series, and his own experiences at the classic and modern comic convention, in this exclusive interview.
You cover a ton of ground in your examination of the life of a very familiar comic convention. How did you plot out the story?
Paul Cornell: I worked out what I wanted to talk about, what aspects of the changes across decades in the comics industry I wanted to satirically comment on, found characters that could wear those stories and marked points in their lives where big things happened.
Was there a particular era that you had the most fun writing about?
Cornell: I love how *different* the world of the early Nineties is, and how people don’t realize how fast change has happened. No mobile phones unless you’re ultra-rich, and a huge comics event for which you have to wait a whole half hour to pay on the door!
What does artist Marika Cresta bring to Con & On in terms of how she portrays the characters?
Cornell: She’s got great acting, and her character design was perfect right away. Also, she’s very good at portraying, for instance, how it feels to wait in line for many hours for a big media panel.
Without giving too much away, is there a character in the series that you relate to more than others?
Cornell: I think I kind of didn’t make the most of my opportunities at the Big Two in much the same way that Eddie blows his chances at the big time. I messed up, which was entirely my own fault, but at least I didn’t, as Eddie does, betray a friend along the way.
Mind you, I’m also actually *in* the comic in a later issue, because we portray one of my own experiences, and the joke is at my expense and I thought I might as well just have it be me.
What is your personal experience with the evolution of the comic convention?
Cornell: I’ve been going to NYCC and San Diego for several years, and they’ve kind of got into a groove during my time there.
Is it difficult to keep the comics in the comic con in 2023?
Cornell: No! There’s still a billion panels about comics, whichever big con you go to. I’ve never had a problem with movies and TV at comics events. It’s not like all the panel space or time is being used up!
Cornell: I’m running a sequel to my best-selling Witches of Lychford rural fantasy series, Night of the Gnomes, as a serial on my Substack! And I have two stories in a forthcoming AHOY anthology titled Project: Cryptid.
Con & On #1 will be available at your local comic shop on July 12.