Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Paul Trimble

I heard that our next interviewee had some big plans for this June so I asked him if he’d like to give us some details. The organiser of one of my favourite conventions. It’s 7 Questions With… Paul Trimble.

What was the first convention you were involved with?

The first event I was actually involved with was the first NICHE (Northern Ireland High-Tech Expo) run by South West College here in Enniskillen back in May 2014. NICHE was planned as a series of workshops, panel discussions and keynote addresses on animation, character design and games development and I was asked if I could invite some comic creators to be a part of it. 

NICHE was very successful and it was shortly afterwards that I joined a couple of friends to explore the possibility of organising a Comics Festival in Enniskillen.  Eventually that would lead to the first Enniskillen ComicFest in May 2016.

What is the biggest thing you have learned since that first convention?

Just how much work is involved in running a Comic Convention! Thankfully we have a good team and everyone’s individual strengths go into making the Enniskillen ComicFest the best it can be.

What’s the process for organising a convention?

First of all be prepared for worry, stress and sleepless nights!  Decide on a date which doesn’t clash with another event, which is now no mean feat as there are so many conventions, and book a venue.  However you are funding the Con make sure you do your sums thoroughly and be prepared for countless last minute problems- and unforeseen costs.  Arrange whatever Guests you want to have and promote accordingly, then pray they don’t have to cancel at the last minute.  Take requests for tables at the Con and be prepared for complaints that their table isn’t adjacent to the superstar creator Guest you’ve managed to get to appear.  Hope that your Guests turn up when the Con is due to open after a night in the hotel bar. After all that keep your fingers crossed that enough punters turn up to keep everyone happy.  Then, if your nerves aren’t completely shredded, start planning for next year!

What influenced you to get involved with conventions?

A love of comics first of all.  To me comics are every bit as important a storytelling medium as novels, film and television and should be treated as such.  Around 2012 some memorabilia shows rebranded themselves as Comic Conventions when actually the comic content was, and remains, minimal.  I have been travelling over to England and Scotland for Conventions since 1982 and wanted the Enniskillen ComicFest to focus on comics and present them to the public as positively as possible, emphasising the art and storytelling.

The 2d Festival in Derry was a major influence and I really liked the way that they involved schools  and the local community in the shows.  The 2d organiser, David Campbell, was incredibly helpful with advice and encouragement when we were trying to get ComicFest off the ground and for that I will always be grateful. 

Our slogan is “It’s all about the Comics” and as long as I’m involved with ComicFest the comics will always be front and centre.

What are you working on right now?

We weren’t sure about running ComicFest this year at all with the ongoing Covid situation but then an obscure Comic writer, originally from Belfast, called Garth Ennis wanted to launch his new Battle-Action hardcover special and proposed coming over from New York for two promotional launches- one in London and the other in….Enniskillen. Not the sort of offer you get every day and it just couldn’t be passed up, so this year it will be the Ennis-killen ComicFest!  With the support of Rebellion, publisher of the special we’re going to be presenting the Irish launch of the special with Garth and a group of artists who’ve worked on it – PJ Holden, Patrick Goddard, Mike Dorey, Keith Burns and Declan Shalvey.  What a line up – I’m still pinching myself – and what an honour for ComicFest!  DC and 2000 AD writer Rob Williams will also be appearing as well as original Battle, Speed and Eagle Editor Dave Hunt, for his first ever Convention appearance,  who played a big part in the development of classics Johnny Red and Charley’s War.

We’ll also be hosting some of the best Irish small press and self published creators so a very exciting  show!

When is your next convention?

Enniskillen ComicFest will return after a two year absence on 18th June.  It will be a smaller event than previous years due to the ongoing Covid situation so apologies to all those we just cant accommodate with tables, but, as detailed above smaller doesn’t mean a drop in quality. 

What is your favourite Irish comic?

Not having been to a Con in a couple of years I’m a bit out of the loop Im afraid.  I run the Battle Fans page on Facebook and have a longstanding interest in War comics so Nazferatu from Rogue Comics really blew me away, a stunning graphic novel by Wayne Talbot and Kevin Keane. Ive also loved the retro fun of Stephen Mooney’s  Half Past Danger comics right from the start- keep them coming Stephen please!  Have also been very impressed with Bog Bodies by Declan Shalvey and Gavin Fullerton and Write It In Blood by Rory McConville and Joe Palmer.