Hi-Ex started when Stonebridge was working at Eden Court theatre, doing an animation project. She was encouraged to also invite illustrators and cartoonists to a book festival event being held by the theatre. The event was such a success that it spiralled into what is now an enormous convention, and the only one of its kind to bring sci-fi, cosplay, comics and cartoons to the north.
Stonebridge tells us the first Hi-Ex event was a steep learning curve, and was almost scuppered by snow that had blocked roads. It was only the sheer determination of people who travelled long distances over several hours that made the event successful. Hi-Ex serves a unique function in the region. ‘People were hungry,’ says Stonebridge. ‘It can be very isolated in the north. You have television and the internet but the impression is that it’s all happening somewhere else.’
Bring the kids
Hi-Ex now has a strong reputation as a family friendly event, with children just as excited as adults by the comics and costumes on display. This success might be down to the attitudes of the organisers, who aim to make comics as accessible as possible to everyone.
Stonebridge says one of the upcoming events will be a drawing class in which people in cosplay costume will be encouraged to sit for an audience of scribblers. There will be a short talk before it, to explain what cosplay is. It’s a much-needed approach to bridge the gap between the diehard fans and new audiences.
Panels and talks
A full list of panels and talks will be announced on the Hi-Ex website over the next few days. ‘There will be no women in comics panel though,’ says Stonebridge. ‘Just women on every panel.’
Hi-Ex is at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on 31 March and 1 April. Graphic Scotland has a table - do come and say hello and talk to us about what we are doing, or what you think we should be doing.
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