Time to celebrate – 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1st UK Comic Convention
Of the many anniversaries this year, this one is something special. Back in 1968 the first ever UK comics convention took place in Birmingham on August 30th to September 2nd. Which means this year marks the 50th anniversary.
That very first Comic Convention for the UK was organised by Phil Clarke, Steve Moore, and Kay Hawkins, with art for the con from Mike Higgs. Held in the Midland Hotel, Birmingham, with less than fifty registered attendees, this none the less marked the start of what has today become a massive part of the UK comics scene. Attendees included comic artists Higgs, Paul Neary, and the late Jim Baike. Founders of Titan Distribution Mike Lake and Nick Landau were also there. As was Derek Stokes, later to become the owner of the first UK comic shop Dark They Were and Golden Eyed. And not attending, but listed as a supporter, a certain fifteen-year old going by the name of Alan Moore.
I’ve a particular connection with all this, although I wasn’t even born when that first con took place, is that many years later I began work at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham, owned by that first convention organiser Phil Clarke. Nostalgia & Comics was one of the very earliest comic shops in the UK, and seeing as I spent nineteen years there, boy and man, working holidays and Saturdays even when I’d found myself a proper job, it’s always going to be my favourite. Nostalgia & Comics is now proudly part of the Forbidden Planet International group.
So here’s to Phil Clarke, a hero of the UK comics scene. First UK comic convention and one of the earliest comic shops. We really need to make a big deal of Phil Clarke this August.
EXTRA… A REQUEST, A QUEST…. ON THE SUBJECT OF UK COMIC SHOPS….
Now, when I was writing this out I initially referred to Nostalgia and Comics as the second comic shop to open in the UK. And then immediately started questioning myself about this. So I got onto Facebook and Twitter and asked the question… what were the dates of the first lot of comic shops to open in the UK?
And you know what? There’s a fair bit of confusion over things. Over the past week or so, with the help of various folks online, I’ve put together this list…
Dark They Were And Golden Eyed – London – 1969? 1970? (Owner: Derek Stokes)
Sci-Fi Bookshop – Edinburgh – 1975
Nostalgia & Comics – Birmingham –November 1976 (Owner: Phil Clarke)
Forever People – Bristol – 1976 (Owner: ?)
But here’s where we need your help. Tell us anything and everything you know. Lets put together the definitive list of the opening dates of UK comic shops, along with the men and women who were involved. Get in touch. You can comment on this post, or simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @richardbruton on Twitter.
Thanks to: Lew Stringer for the ad pic from a 1968 copy of FANTASTIC. John Freeman’s Down The Tubes for the con booklet pics – the Jim Baike cover was the planned one, but the art didn’t arrive in time, meaning Phil had to rush the final cover together in a couple of hours. And finally, thanks to Padraig O’Mealoid for extra info.