“This year, comics are better represented than ever – there are more comic book films out this year than there ever have been before and more comic conventions around the country. It’s a fantastic year to be associated with them in any way at all.“

Dan Crawley, who owns the comics and collectibles shop Meanwhile, Across Town in Watford Market, is a man who knows his comics, and he is half of the brains (a nice, graphic, comic 
book-y visual for you, there) behind Comic-Con at Watford Museum next weekend.

But while most comic book conventions feature your Spider-Mans, your Batmans and your Iron Mans, this one has a slightly different focus.

“We’re celebrating Watford’s artists and illustrators,“ explains Dan. “We didn’t want to just go after big names for the sake of it because when you’ve tremendous talent on your own doorstep, it’s important to promote that, to show that off.“

To that end, Comic-Con, which is organised by Watford arts collective Papermouth, will feature comic books and illustrations by local artistes such as writer and artist James Green, illustrator Jordan Glancy, who is Dan’s girlfriend and co-owns the comic shop with him, and Bushey artist and illustrator Carolyn Storey.

Also appearing at the convention will be writer, artist and colourist Jon Scrivens, who has a penchant for drawing people zombie portraits when they visit his stand; illustrator Ade; artist and illustrator Luke Ridge; and cosplayers and character performers Illyria and Taisie (I had to look cosplay up too – it’s short for costume play, where fans dress up as characters).

As well as the exhibiting illustrators, there will be merchandise available to buy, a raffle, live music, kids’ drawing workshops and – wait for it – a sci fi disco. Dressing up is most definitely encouraged.

“There are a lot of comic fans in Watford,“ continues Dan, “lots of what I’d refer to as casual fans, who are more into the films and the stories without getting into the collector side, but then there are also a lot of collectors as well, who want every issue of Batman, say. It’s one of those beautiful hobbies that you can either immerse yourself in totally or just go and see the latest film and occasionally pick up a book. You can enjoy it in lots of different ways.“

Comic book heroes and baddies may well be gaining a bigger audience thanks to the big Hollywood blockbusters, but does Dan think parts of the wider population still see the books and the people who produce and buy them as, well, maybe just a little bit geeky?

“There’s a part of me that very much hopes it’s all still seen as geeky,“ laughs Dan, who has been conducting a life-long love affair with Daredevil. “I love the idea that it’s becoming more ‘popular culture’ than ‘counter culture’, but after a while, well, you don’t want to share anymore, do you?

“I think people are beginning to realise that it’s truly great stories that are being told, it’s phenomenal artwork, and these days they’re written by prize-winning authors and illustrated by multi-award-winning artists. This isn’t the days of a little strip in the paper, these things are produced with care and love, and the quality of the products they’re coming out with is just insane.“

Dan and the people at Papermouth have gone out of their way to share this message with the people of Watford at Comic-Con, and are hoping to attract the vaguely interested as well as the die-hard, dressed-from-head-to-toe-in-the-outfit fans.

“We’ve made it our mission to make this event as all-round as we possibly can,“ says Dan, whose love of comics was sparked by finding a copy of Eagle at York Meade Primary School in Croxley Green when he was a seven-year-old pupil there.

“We’ve got music from Lobby Lud and the Luddites, merchandise, toys and games, hand-made items, artwork – it’s going to be a great place to hang out.“

  • Comic-Con is at Watford Museum, Lower High Street, Watford, on Saturday, July 19, from 5pm to 10pm. Details: 01923 232297, watfordmuseum.org.uk, facebook.com/papermouth