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Adrian Hieatt Gives Us His First Daily Report From KAPOW! Comic Convention! ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER! Stan Lee! Joe Quesada! Mark Millar! Scott Snyder! And Many More!

Greetings from a cloudy but pleasantly un-rainy London town.

Several things to update you all on from the first day of Kapow! 2012 today, including news about upcoming Marvel projects, the winners of the Stan Lee awards, unseen footage from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and an unlikely appearance from a TV and comic star in the wrestling ring...

First of all though, a bit of background about the convention itself...

Kapow! is now in its second year, and after the experiment in 2011 paid off, it's now bigger and better than before. Still located at Islington's Business Design Centre, the comic and movie event has managed to attract even more big names, vendors and showcases, but has still managed to balance that with a sense of calmness and intimacy that can be missing at some of the larger cons. Big name writers and stars walk through the hall, past dozens and dozens of great comic stalls with all the titles you can imagine, chatting with fans in a really laid back atmosphere, that has pretty much everything you'd want, but isn't overwhelmingly large. Big credit to organisers Lucy and Sarah, and of course to Mark Millar, for bringing this kind of experience to the heart of London. There were some gripes about queueing again today, and unfortunately there was a big problem with getting peoples' confiscated phones back to them after the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter footage screening, but overall Kapow! 2012 day 1 has been a huge success.

Specifically, here were some of the highlights from a busy Saturday in North London...

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter footage screening

Personally, my expectations for this film have been quite low, so I initially wasn't massively excited to be queueing up to see the exclusive footage in the auditorium along with 500 others. But I must say I was really very impressed with what I saw. Rufus Sewell, who plays baddie Adam was on hand to introduce the clips to the audience, which consisted first of the red band trailer in 2D, and then several scenes in 3D. 

The trailer was quite gloriously violent, with an enormous amount of axe-spinning from Benjamin Walker, and great vampire biting and jumping around scenes, with spectacular amount of black vampire blood spurting from severed necks and limbs. The emphasis was definitely on the cool action and the gore.

We were then shown several full scenes from the film - including a nail biting dockside showdown which ended with a classic horror moment that had the entire audience jumping out of their seats. Another scene showed that the love story between honest Abe and Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) will be an integral part of the story - particularly how much he allows her into his world of night-time vampire hunting. It was also clear from another scene that political skullduggery is also a key part of the film. Unfortunately for Mr Sewell though, he had only one short line in all of the footage we saw, but it was great to have him there all the same. In a Q&A after the screening, he was asked about the potential for this becoming a franchise, and it's clear that the intention is there for this to be the first in a series of vampire hunting films.

I still think the title of the film will put off a lot of people, and that's a shame. The visuals were really very impressive, and it's clear they've spent a huge amount of money on this one. And I'm saying all of this despite the fact that my active 3D glasses didn't work and just flashed red and green into my eyes the whole time.

Batman: Arkham City Q & A

Probably the best comic book video game of all time (in my humble opinion anyway), Batman: Arkham City had a presence at Kapow! today too, with a full on audience panel featuring the developers and creatives behind the title, and a more public Q&A session with Game Director Sefton Hill and Lead Narrative Designer Paul Crocker. They revealed that there are still plenty of Easter eggs out there which people haven't actually found yet (not really surprising, the game is a behemoth of content), and also that they have many other characters they'd like to use in a future installment. Sefton and Paul were to end the day on a very high note too (see 'Stan Lee Awards', below).

Marvel: Cup o' Joe

The highlight of the day for many of the people in the Business Design Centre today, and definitely for me, was the main Marvel event, one of Joe Quesada's now famous 'Cup o' Joe' events, in which he shoots the breeze with the audience and takes questions on anything they want to talk about. Naturally, there was plenty of Avengers talk. I'll try to summarise the key points in what was a fascinating session in the Gallery Hall...

- Joe talked about the future of comics, and digital comics in particular. He spoke about Marvel's 'Infinite Comic' concept - and said that it's the future of telling stories. By allowing the reader to still control the timing of the reading, they've finally found a good way of transferring comics to the digital world, and he's confident and excited about that. He explained that one of the big problems for a lot of people who WOULD be interested in reading comics ("our culture is ravenous for the material") is that they live nowhere near a comic store - which of course isn't a problem with digital comics. He also says that the concept of everyone showing up on a Wednesday to buy new issues is a very unique one in casual purchasing, and shopping habits will change as the world moves more onto iPads, other tablets and phones. Comics will be able to be released at any time and at variable intervals.

- Marvel is building towards a live action TV show. Now that they have their own animation studio, and the movies are doing so well, they're ready to take the step into the TV world. Unfortunately, Joe wouldn't be drawn on exactly what TV show it's likely to be. Anyone got any ideas?

- He won't be making any appearances in any Marvel movies - that's Stan Lee's thing ("no-one wants to see me on screen!")

- Marvel have a very big meeting in a few weeks about their movies slate, and Joe says they're working on some announcements that people will be very excited about. He couldn't confirm or deny that Ant Man could be on the cards ("if I did, Marvel security would take me out").

- Joe commented on speculation about the Avengers sequel, and before going into too many spoilers about the first film, asked the hall if there was anyone present who hadn't seen the first film yet. Out of about 600 people, no-one raised their hand. Speaking about Thanos, Joe urged everyone to remember that "just because it takes place in space, it doesn't mean that the film will have lots of cosmic characters". So, it sounds like a decent portion of the film will take place in space.

- Mark Millar said that Joss Whedon has a girls name.

- Joe also spoke about Marvel's relationship with Disney - and says it's a very healthy one. He claims that it's been win-win for Marvel, and in no way have they been 'softened' or adversely affected by the House of Mouse. He says Disney are doing exactly what they promised, which is giving Marvel the autonomy they need to carry on doing what they do - and what they do is the reason why they were a tempting purchase in the first place! He also explained that Disney has "amazing international muscle, which Marvel did not have". According to Joe, the ridiculously giant success of The Avengers is partly down to Disney marketing - and that Marvel couldn't have done it like that without them. He says that basically The Avengers was Disney showing the world why they bought Marvel.

- An unfortunate girl in the audience asked whether there might be a crossover between X-Men and The Avengers on film one day, and how that would impact the fact that Chris Evans plays both the Human Torch and Captain America. Mark Millar pointed out that the Human Torch is in the Fantastic Four, not the X-Men, and asked the girl who'd asked the question to leave immediately.

- Right now, there aren't any plans to make any smaller-budget movies, even though Joe has several characters he'd love to make a film about. He explained that "our business now is tentpole movies...that may change in a year or five or ten though".

- Joe revealed that he hasn't even seen the now-famous shwarma eating scene at the end of the Avengers, but told us that he was at the party following the Hollywood premiere, and saw all the main cast halfway through to shoot the scene. "Me and some of the Marvel creators recreated that scene in Soho last night actually".

- There has been some hate mail about having a non-white Spider-Man unfortunately. As Joe said, there are always a few idiots out there.

- In a chat afterwards, Joe told me that he'd love to make a tentpole movie with a female lead, but that he really doesn't think there is an actress right now who could carry it, or a character that would work either. I'm thinking I might agree with him on this one actually.

Jonathan Ross wrestling

One of the sideshows in the main hall earlier was a wrestling ring set up by the Lucha Britannia group - who put on a series of demos of theatrical smackdowns through the day. At one point, as I was on the walkway above the ring, one of the 'villains' of the group was taunting the audience, insulting them, and generally working them up in the way those guys do - he even pulled out a 'member of the public' out of the crowd and proceeded to knock them senseless (obviously it was a plant). At the key moment of over-the-top drama, who should show up at the side of the ring but British TV and (formerly) radio superstar Jonathan Ross (who has of course also recently become a comic book writer, with titles including 'Turf' and the current 'America's Got Powers'). After a bit of seemingly unplanned banter, the audience managed to cheer Ross into the ring, where he engaged in some impressive and well-rehearsed wrestling antics - and I caught it all on camera...

Rick McCallum

The-man-who-many-will-never-forgive-for-the-Star-Wars-prequels, Rick McCallum, was also there today - to show some footage of Red Tails, which I get the impression is probably the movie about which the fewest number of people have ever been excited. But Mr McCallum very kindly signed for fans for over two hours - even though he was only due to do so for half an hour...

The Stan Lee Awards

I was honoured to be asked to be one of the nominators for this year's Stan Lee Awards, which are rapidly becoming the most unpredictable and hilarious awards shows of the whole year, anywhere. Hosted once more by Scottish comedian Billy Kirkwood, the show lasted a lightening-quick 45 minutes, but was a huge amount of fun, and it was great to see the likes of Dan Didio, Frank Quitely, Dave Gibbons, Jock, Joe Quesada and Scott Snyder all sitting on the front row laughing and joking together while plenty of swearing and penis jokes emanated from Mr. Kirkwood.

There was a pre-recorded welcome video message from Stan Lee himself, who unfortunately couldn't actually be with us, but the video vanished from the big screen part way through, though we could still hear the legend's voice. There were plenty of small blips like that one, but that's exactly what the awards are becoming famous for - and the reason they were so much fun!

So, in short, the night basically belonged to Scott Snyder. Now that I have spent some time with the man, I can report that he is without a doubt the nicest man in the business (my friend Tom actually refers to him as the 'Dave Grohl of the comic book world'). Scott really genuinely is a very humble and likeable chap, who is grateful for the fact that he has a job he loves so much. He won three awards - for Best Writer, Man or Woman of the Year, and he also collected the Best Comic Hero award on behalf of Batman, which was pretty cool. Scott told me afterwards that he was so happy and completely overwhelmed. He also promised to do his very best to keep the fans happy and to keep producing the work that's made him so loved by fans of quality comic books. Here's a short clip of his acceptance speech for one of the awards, along with a  photo of me and Scott.

My favourite quote from him tonight was when he was talking about what's so brilliant about the Batman character. He basically said that the lesson from Batman for all of us is that if you try your best and put everything you can into something you believe in, you don't need to have super powers, and you can literally stand up alongside gods and win.

There were plenty of other worthy winners too, including Sara Pichelli (who won 2 awards, one for Best Newcomer and one for Best artist). Batman: Arkham City won Best Game of Toy, which was great news for the guys behind the title who were there, DC won Best Publisher, and X-Men: First Class won Best Superhero or Sci Fi movie. Here's the full list of winners (winners in bold and underlined):

Best Writer

  • Scott Snyder
  • Mark Millar
  • Grant Morrison
  • Mark Waid

Best Artist

  • J H Williams III
  • Greg Capullo
  • Jock
  • Sara Pichelli

Best Series

  • Daredevil
  • Uncanny X-Force
  • Detective Comics
  • Locke & Key

Best Superhero or SciFi Movie

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Thor
  • X-Men: First Class

Best Trade

  • Who Is Jake Ellis?
  • Walter Simonson's The Mighty Thor: Artist's Edition
  • Fables Vol 15: Rose Red
  • The Walking Dead Vol 14: No Way Out

Best Limited Series or Story Arc

  • Criminal: Last of the Innocent
  • Flashpoint
  • Superior
  • The Dark Angel Saga

Best Comic Hero

  • Batman
  • Spider-Man
  • Daredevil
  • Wonder Woman

Best Newcomer

  • Justin Jordan
  • Nate Simpson
  • Sara Pichelli
  • Tradd Moore

Best Publisher

  • Image
  • Marvel
  • DC
  • IDW

Best TV Show

  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Walking Dead
  • Doctor Who

Best Game or Toy

  • Batman Arkham City
  • L.A. Noire
  • Portal 2
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Man or Woman of the Year

  • Jane Goldman
  • Jim Lee
  • Robert Kirkman
  • Scott Snyder

Just as I was leaving today, I caught up with Mark Millar again. He looked very happy and relaxed, and told me he's actually a bit in shock about how smoothly Kapow 2012 went today. Bring on tomorrow - more from me then!


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