Con Diary: OK True Believers, Take Two

OK True Believers

On the sixth of February, OK True Believers had its second outing. My local convention. I went.

I wrote last time about the values of local shows, and I think that’s reflected in the nicest thing about OKTB: if you get there early, there’s no room. Everybody’s also there, and the queues are too turgid, and it’s a trial. Isn’t that nice? I love it. Everybody’s keen.

I am also keen… but I was not there early. So I can tell you that while the signage was a little better than last year, without streams of people to follow it’s not entirely easy to find the way in, if you don’t know where it is already. The racecourse, where it’s held, is pretty unwieldy. Of course not as unwieldy as this big bastard fire hazard, which admittedly is very nicely moulded.

OK TRUE BELIEVERS comic con 2016, cheltenham, pictures by Claire Napier

But I knew where to go so no worries. Once again entrants to the foyer were met by a very tall man in a suit; is this some sort of security hologram? The queues were much smaller at half past twelve (the floor opened at ten), but they were still queues: interest had not dried up. The reception area had been done up with posters again, and a map, and apparel decorated with comic panels, and Harley Quinn shoes. It’s a small detail, but it’s pleasant. It shows a level of care, and thought. It shows welcome.

OK TRUE BELIEVERS comic con 2016, cheltenham, pictures by Claire Napier

OK TRUE BELIEVERS comic con 2016, cheltenham, pictures by Claire Napier

As with last year, the balcony area above the floor was open to attendees. In my opinion, a very valuable asset. While I can’t be sure that access for the mobility scooters and electric and non-electric wheelchair users is too good up here (I believe there is a lift to the upper floor, but the cosplay catwalk and crowd take up a LOT of room between here and there), it’s a welcome area of watchful respite for, you know, shy nerds. Like me. There’s also an in-house Costa booth, which was running, right by the doors to the balconies. Last year there were tables up here; this year they’d been replaced with high circular tables and stools, upon which one could eat a poppyseed muffin and read longbox findings. Like I did.

Because this year really was mostly about the rummaging, for me. For fun… AND PROPHET AHAHA

A good proportion of the second-hand sellers weren’t shops or businesses, just collectors — getting rid of duplicates, or making space, and willing to say things like “yeah I know they’re selling it for silly money cos the movie just came out, but you can have it for a pound, mate, I’m not here to rip you off”, making my sweetie very happy indeed (it’s terrible when you’re favourite’s first appearance shares an issue with Deadpool’s second one). Which isn’t to say they weren’t organised.


I’ll dally with the indies for a minute. There was some good stuff showing, from people I’d heard of and people I hadn’t (and some I didn’t know I’d heard of, but had). It does a local con proud, to be honest.

There were radio dramas-


And comics that I’ve seen online but look really good in print, and that was my opinion before I realised that a) I’d seen them online and b) the artist is my friend. Poor man: clearly I’m a bad friend. But the books do look good.


I love an odd shape of book. In fact that’s why I approached the table in the first place; one of Ian Sharman‘s other comics (Hypergirl, below) is mini, a manga-ish size. Apparently they tried larger digest but it just wasn’t right. Shaman’s a pretty prolific author-publisher; he was tabling with Holly Rose, who heads their project Ray Gunn & Starburst and who had a well-made Mort cosplay going (both my pictures came out fuzzy, but believe me).



There were a number of art students from Cheltenham university about; none of them were showing comics but they all seemed to have a pretty decent handle on themselves. I’d show you pictures of their youthful faces, full of potential, but I forgot to write down anybody’s name and all my business cards got mixed up.

Excuse me lad but is that shield really yours
Excuse me lad but is that shield really yours

Three tables standing out in my mind are Steve Sims, Sammy Boras and Yoyo Zinters.

Steve cartoons his own projects, such as Battle Badgers (think late-80s TMNT & Usagi Yojimbo, but badgers, and cod-europe) and an adaptation of the Lambton Worm story (which I recommend, he’s put some neat creative twists to it). He’s also one of a small pool of illustrators drawing for Beast Quest, which means he is a machine of some sort because one of those books is published every minute. If you like animals who talk like people, boisterous humour, and supporting indies: get at Steve Sims. He also knows a lot about wrestling and SNK video games — I can recommend him for chats, if you also like these things.

DSCF9651DSCF9650 DSCF9649DSCF9653

Sammy Boras is a big zine producer and had a table laid out like a pro — so many books! So many projects! And such a unified aesthetic. When an artist puts forth a self-deprecating foot, like Sammy did when I asked about this and that, I get a terrible urge to push and find out what they value about their own work. Here? Inking. And for good reason, cos it’s super. Clean even at original size, which gets reduced down to A5 for issue printing. Get in.

DSCF9660DSCF9662Sammy Boras, ART ANGELS zine

As for Yoyo, here’s what I got:

Yoyo Zinters, BABY BUN, 2016

Baby Bun functions both as a mini comic and a business card; I have never imagined I’d gladly pay for a business card but here we are. I LOVE this comic. It is so cute. Effectively you watch a baby bunny hatch out of an ice block over a few pages — it’s incredibly soothing and delightful and I adore it. I keep it by my bed, for emergencies.

That’s OK True Believers. Indie cartoonists on the up, students, established creators (Paul Cornell, Emma Vieceli, and more), comic shops showing their wares in a new location (the owner of Comic Connections in Banbury, for example, could be seen buying other people’s backissues as regularly as he could be found at his own table) and old hands clearing out dusty, pleasantly smelly storage boxes. “Comics” at large, represented, and that’s great. No gatekeepers (except for the tall, suited man, but he was more of a doorkeeper), no True Fan nonsense, just a damn good Saturday.

I’ll leave you with such more of my longbox favourites. Gotta go read that giant Yashakiden novel I found going for half price…

Jerry Only, that u?
Was really tempted to buy this just for the rad cover
CHECK IT OUT, Angel Sanctuary in actual paper form. Far out!
This one I REALLY wanted for the cover... but £2.50 for uncheckable inside content is a bad gamble.
This one I REALLY wanted for the cover… but £2.50 for uncheckable inside content is a bad gamble.
Do you call that a cover, you bastard
Do you call that a cover, you bastard
I wanted this so bad but I went to fetch money... and it had gone.
I wanted this so bad but I went to fetch money… and it had gone. What IS it
The booth (shop?) was called FANDOM STRANGER. That's cute. And check out the lovely odd-shaped British comics!
The booth (shop?) was called FANDOM STRANGER. That’s cute. And check out the lovely odd-shaped British comics! I want them all!

Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money