Let’s be honest. The major attraction of DICE 2013 for the regular comic book fan was the star power John Hendrick and his team attracted. This in itself had benefits for the up and coming Irish creator. It gave them a chance to interact with established creators and gain insights into the craft of comic book creation. The crowd was large but still allowed most people time to interact (Something which the big names were more than willing to do). I learned one or two things about Manga Studio and other artistic tools from listening to newcomer Ruairí Coleman and Stephen Downey chatting about a page of Noe: The Savage Boy (thanks to them both for letting me ease drop on their discussion). Additional information was available at panels in the very comfortable surroundings of Screen 2 of Movie At Dundrum (one of a number of excellent new ideas this year). Panels of particular interest to new creators included The Business of Creator Owned Comics, Breaking Into Comics and The Colouring In Comics Panel but all of the panels were well worth attending (and, as seen by queues for tickets, I wasn’t the only one who thought so). The Rise and Rise of Irish Comics showed what can result from attending a DICE con as panelist Will Sliney is now a Marvel artist and how more is to come as Will announced further Celtic Warrior books and Dave Hendrick announced his new book with O’Brien Press, Queen of Storms with Luca Pizzari (who he had been introduced to at last year’s DICE).

Artists were able to show their portfolios to people like C.B. Cebulski, Talent scout for Marvel Comics, as a part of a number of well organised portfolio reviews. There were even reviews of colour portfolios by colourists Matt Hollingsworth and Jordie Bellaire. Thanks to Jordie Bellaire in particular, I have gained greater respect for colourists and their craft and these reviews were an important addition to the con’s timetable. A number of established artists and writers did portfolio reviews on top of the timetabled ones. From talking to them, I found that established Irish creators seemed very interested in seeing what the new artists had to offer and wanted to find the next big thing or someone who was going to offer something different. I had the chance to watch a couple of portfolio reviews and learned a little bit about putting one together so I can only imagine the great advice artists gained from their reviews. Writers had a chance to put their books in the hands of people who could help these in the hands of editors or just offer some feedback and meet new artists and colourists for future projects. I think one or two artists made connections with writers for future work.

Space gained from moving the panels to the cinema was occupied by Small Press (see a list here) and stalls selling comics and merchandise. This area had no entrance fee so passersby (which the Dundrum Shopping Centre has a lot of) could drop in and spend their money on, amongst other things, Irish comics . This was a hotbed of activity for most of the weekend. There were a number of new books released for the first time at the event (David O’Leary covered them here) and, listening to people at the con and discussions on social media, people did some of the best business they have ever done at a con. I know Lightning Strike Comics sold out of issue 3 as I was unable to get my hands on it. A good thing as it might of ended up in the hands of someone who wouldn’t go to a comic shop and I can pick it up somewhere at a later date. I did manage to get quite a hall of books (at least one of which I intend to review).

DICE 2013 did lots of things right but I think the most important things they did was highlight Irish creators and comics, bring them an audience and help sow the seeds for the future. One final thing. I got to interact with a number of newcomers. I’ll be hoping to follow their progress on Facebook and Twitter and I, and the rest of the Irish Comic News Crew, will be trying to highlight their work and promote their books in the future.

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