Portsmouth Comic Con – International Festival of Comics is delighted to welcome Scottish comic book artist and writer, David Baillie, to the team as Programme Consultant and new artistic lead for the popular and expanding convention held annually at Portsmouth Guildhall.
With his latest creations including the critically acclaimed Glasgow-set dark fantasy series, Red Thorn, for Vertigo/DC Comics and graphic novel, Chopper: Wandering Soul with Brendan (Mad Max) McCarthy, Baillie’s work regularly appears in the legendary British weekly 2000AD, as well as stories for DC Comics, Judge Dredd Megazine and Heavy Metal.
David has also helped devise TV projects for Gaumont, BBC and Ragdoll Productions, and his screenwriting has been nominated for the Red Planet Prize, the BBC Scotland Writes Award and a BAFTA Rocliffe.
We caught up with David about his favourite Comic Cons, dream guests, how he got involved in Portsmouth and his plans for world domination by 2024!
Have you been involved in organising a Comic Con before?
I've been attending comic conventions around the world for twenty years now. And as a guest you occasionally hang out afterwards with the organisers, and they sometimes, out of sheer naivety I suppose, ask us comics pros what we'd change about their event. After a few years of politely saying nothing, more recently I've become a fount of often unsolicited advice. I love comics so much, and conventions by extension, that I always have a million ideas - often to the dismay of a very tired organiser who's already worrying about next year's budget. And now it's time to put my money where my mouth is.
What Comic Cons do you attend regularly/are your favourite Cons? (As a guest and/or as a visitor)
I've been to pretty much every Thought Bubble, Glasgow and New York Comic Con since they each began. I haven't flown out for San Diego SDCC in a few years, but I have very fond memories of beach parties, sunburn and schmoozing with Hollywood Moguls at the last one I went to.
Have you attended Portsmouth Comic Con before and what did you think?
I'm a huge fan of Portsmouth Comicon, and I especially enjoyed the 2019 event, which had a fantastic atmosphere and gathered together a really passionate group of fans in a beautiful location. I also really enjoyed checking out Portsmouth - it's a fascinating city with lots of great nooks and crannies, and some very fine coffee shops - where I usually end up trying to hit a comic script deadline before returning to the fray!
How and why have you got involved in Portsmouth Comic Con?
My good friends Joel Meadows and Andy Coleman performed
a similar role for PCC in the first few years of its life, and one evening in an art gallery in New York I bent both their ears about all the things I would do if I were ever in their position. The artists I'd invite, the events I'd run, outreach, workshops, ethos... I think I bored them into submission in the end and I believe they related my enthusiasm to Andy Gray, the CEO of the Guildhall Trust - who presumably decided to see if I could live up to any of my grand plans.
Who would be your ultimate dream guest to secure for Portsmouth?
'Dream guest' suggests there's something impossible about grabbing them, so I'd have to say either Moebius or Steve Dillon, who are both sadly no longer with us. Two absolute masters of the medium, who could talk for hours about how they made every decision on the page, as if it really were as easy as they made it seem. They were also both very kind gentlemen who'd chat with anyone, regardless of whether they were a fan, neophyte or a fellow veteran.
Who have been the biggest influences on your career?
The answer to that question changes constantly, but what remains unaffected is the example other generations of comic creators have shown, both with their work and their exemplary kindness. For more years than I'd care to admit I've admired Mike Carey, Lew Stringer, Mike Collins, Todd Klein, Mike Perkins and many other people called Mike. More recently it's my collaborators who've inspired me - people like Meghan Hetrick, Anna Morozova and Conor Boyle. I'm grateful for these creators and their work, and that they make me push myself a little harder every day.
How would you like to see Portsmouth Comic Con develop in the future?
With its gorgeous coastal location and taking place in a city with such fabulous history, I'd like to think it could become a British cross between San Diego and Angoulême - a festival and celebration of the medium, drawing fans from all over the globe. Of course that didn't happen overnight for either of those events. But maybe by 2024?