So I interviewed Jaime Milner, who is in charge of running Wales Comic Con. I attended the event last year (my first ever convention) and had a fantastic time and was excited to learn that in April that it was coming back even bigger and better. So I asked Jaime to give us a little insight into the event and the organisation needed to make an event of this capacity.
So Jaime, you run Wales Comic Con, how did you get into this project?
My first experience of an event was in Manchester some years ago now, I think I was around 19 or 20 at the time and saw that it was possible to meet all these actors in a place so close to home, I of course ended up going and spending more money than I had planned to but I loved every minute of it – I even went back the second day to be a part of it once more, it was very overwhelming and a great surprise just to find out how long these events had actually been taking place. As I got older and thought about what I wanted to do myself I started getting frustrated having to travel so far for many of the bigger events and always thought “What if this happened in Wrexham, who would be able to do that?” so after seeking some advice from friends and family we took the opportunity and ran with it – our first show had around 200 people attend, I was 22 when I set up the company and of course had very little event experience at the time, it was one of the biggest learning curves of my entire life but from then on it we ran with it, our reputation grew slowly but surely and I have sacrificed a great deal to be here – but here we stand, years later when nobody thought it possible to hold these events in Wrexham – we have done it, and fans travel from around the globe to celebrate everything cool and fun that I want them to enjoy at the event.
How has the journey been? I bet getting guests is difficult? It has been a hard and busy time, having to juggle many different aspects of work along the way has pushed us all to the limit – but we kept digging deep and pulling off great shows with fantastic guests including many surprising first time signers. Around 18 months ago I almost “threw in the towel” and was ready to finish due to severe ill health, I had around 8 months out of working on things and did not think I could carry on running the shows – but I had support from great people around me including the people I love and care about most, I have a fantastic team of crew also who work so hard on these events that we got through it and are now back better than ever. Getting guests is not always easy and takes time – it can depend on a number of different factors including; schedules, work, personal commitments etc and some guests we have worked with for years – this April we have 2 guests that we have been in talks with since 2010 and finally we can bring them to Wales which is of course great, but fans are not always so patient which I can appreciate as I get as excited as everyone else does for guests attending! We enjoy working with great people though and they enjoy our events which is why we get many returning year on year.
Can you tell us a little about the event as a whole?
The event itself looks to celebrate all forms of media and art, a celebration of all the cool stuff in life (of sorts) – the original Comic Con events would be based majorly around Comic books and you now have the huge events in America still celebrating this, but they have also gone on to host so much more with conventions becoming very mainstream these days and in the limelight a great deal more (thanks to shows such as The Big Bang Theory) it is not uncommon to bring other aspects such as movie guests, gaming, exhibits etc to a Comic Con as such – why would you not want to go to one event and see everything that may interest you? If it doesn’t then enjoy the reasons you are there anyway, if it does then even better enjoy it all! I’ve taken some negative and critical battering online from various fans who question the motive as to why but I say “Why not?” – I love comic books and always have, but then I enjoy movies, wrestling and other fun hobbies to watch or take part in so to add that to the event just seems like such a positive move and invites a whole new audience who may not be convinced in the first place.
What is in store for this years event?
Tonnes! We have so much more happening this year than ever before, we are expanding around the University campus (due to fan reaction, as they wanted us to stay in Wrexham) and are thus having to work very closely with the University themselves to host this now global event – one great addition this year I am pleased to welcome is our Gaming Lounge which we have just announced where fans can chill and enjoy gaming, both old and new, hosted by our friends over at Multiplay. We also have a much larger talk arena this year as it is being held in the William Aston Hall (1200 seat theatre) so we are preparing some maps on flyers to help fans get around – abit of walking never harmed anyone!
Any plans for more conventions in the future?
I would love to and have hinted at something, the verdict is still out on that one as many fans are divided on what they want us to do – if I am to do this full-time and full throttle then there will have to be more than one event, where and when that will be I do not know, I would love to run the shows in Wales full-time but the question is not only about the demand but would it split the fans due to extra cost of travel, hotels each time etc I guess we will see the nearer we get to April, I am always thinking different ideas through my head and may have something sketched out for later in the year… whether that comes to fruition, well you will just have to wait and see!
Well thank you Jaime and I just want to say a big thank you for organising this event and the great guests you aim to bring us. I will definitely be looking forward to Nicholas Brendon this year.
For more information on this event please check out http://walescomiccon.com