As you know, I've been in Bristol all weekend, for the comics convention, and it was a great weekend. A bit weird sometimes, but fun.
I got there Friday afternoon, checked into my rather posh hotel (I'd got my tickets at a special price, it was £59 a night rather than the £139 it said a room was going to cost on the sign behind the counter), and as is usual in every hotel I've stayed in, the receptionist was a foreigner with a heavy accent. (Probably because a lot of the hotels I have stayed in have been abroad!) This time she was French, she gave me my key said I was in room 401 and that I was on the fourth floor. What I heard though, because of her accent, was 'feurce' floor, so I went to the first floor wondering why room 401 wasn't there. The room number itself should've give me a clue. Ah well, I found it in the end.
The night was spent with my old schoolmate Mark, (who defected from the People's Republic Of Birmingham to live in Brizzle), his wife, and her friend. The ladies left us in a rocker's pub, called The Hatchet (which, according to Mark, has a door which is covered in human skin. It's a pub which dates back to the 1600s, apparently, and they used the hides of flayed pirates. The door itself doesn't look like human skin, it does look all gnarled and black, but who knows what happens to human skin after four centuries?) while they buggered off to somewhere civilised.
Whilst in there, a woman latched on to us and between her rants at other patrons of the boozer told us all about her sexual fetish for SS uniforms and Hentai. Later on, she introduced us to her friend, whose name I didn't catch, but it was a very tall transsexual, with giant shoes on, making him/her seem even taller. A seven-foot tall bloke with tits and a shocking pink dress on certainly sticks in the memory. At this point, the ladies came and got us, with a strange look on their faces that said 'What the fuck's going on?'
We then went to the Academy to see Mark Ronson, and if you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like, but it was alright, not really my cup of tea, but there was beer there and gyrating females, so the time passed reasonably pleasantly enough.
Got back to the hotel at around two in the morning, hotel bar was closed, so I went up to the room and watched the end of Theatre Of Blood, in which Vincent Price forces Robert Morley to eat his poodles in a big pie, and Diana Rigg dresses up in a ginger afro wig and a stick-on 'cockduster' moustache. It's brilliant.
Got to the convention hall at about 11.30, had to wait to get my Exhibitor's Pass, but got in and sat down at the Midlands Comics Collective table, which was directly opposite a Dalek. It was a proper dalek from the TV show, and it moved around and said stuff and frightened children. At one point, the bloke operating it got out, and let kids gathered around the stall have a go on his microphone/headset thing that you speak into, and the dalek says it out loud in a Daleky voice, and his lights all blink and stuff. A couple of kids said 'exterminate!', one just said his own name out loud, but one kid grabbed hold of the mike and made the Dalek shout "Doctor Who Is An Arsehole!" Made me laugh for a good while, that did. It's the kind of rich dialogue that is sadly lacking in the so-far lacklustre third series. Because we were directly opposite a dalek, mostly all I saw while I was at the table, were people with their backs to me, taking pictures of the dalek, or pictures of their mate draped across the thing. Subsequently, they weren't looking at our books. Saying that though, the hall was packed, numbers were up significantly on last year, and we sold far more copies than we did at the Birmingham show in December.
Also, this year, people in costumes were let in for free. There were 'Cosplayers', (a manga/anime thing) Star Wars characters (all bad guys-Boba Fett, Vader,Biker scouts, stormtroopers, etc., The SS fetish lady from the night before would've had a field day if she'd have turned up, which, thankfully, she didn't.) There was a young lady on the stall behind ours dressed as the Black Cat from Spider-Man, which was nice.There was a half-woman/half-fox thing, a bloke in a silver gimp suit and carrying a silver surfboard (I assume he was being Norrin Radd) which was quite impressive, as it was exceedingly hot in there, and his knackers must've been swimming. For all the good costumes, though, there are some that let the side down, such as a Nightcrawler whose face was only half-blue. There was a lad carrying round a big crucifix wrapped in bandages, and no-one I asked about it knew what it was supposed to be. Considering I was surrounded by comics creators and comics fans, doing something no-one had heard of is some achievement. I suppose it might've been his look, and he carries around a big crucifix all the time.
When I wasn't at the table, I went round to the stalls of the people I know and have worked with, to catch up and get my comp copies of the books I'm in. Everyone seemed to be doing alright, selling a few books, and having a good time.
In the evening, A few of us from the Collective went for a Chinese meal with Jemima and Dave from Hi8us, the current batch of StripSearchers, and John McCrea, Hunt Emerson, and Tony Bennett (not the crooner, the bloke who runs Knockabout Press), so there were over twenty of us. we went to a restaurant next to the Old Vic called Cathay Rendezvous, which has hundreds of pictures inside of celebrity patrons they've had, politicians, film stars, footballers, thesps, musicians have all been in there. Funnily enough, they didn't want my photo. A great time was had, anyway. This would turn out to be the only proper meal I'd eat all weekend, as I mostly lived on liquids and fags. Thanks, Hi8us!!
We went back to the Ramada hotel, which was hosting the Eagle awards, had a little chat with Glenn Fabry (I later managed to cadge a fag from him as well) saw little random bits of the Eurovision song contest, such as a big silver man, and some French blokes running on the spot (they'll probably be checking me into my hotel next year) I had a theological argument with a Christian, in which we amicably agreed to differ. I am right, though. Congratulated Andy and Dec, who had just won an Eagle award for Hero Killers, I kept getting asked by Tony Bennett to tell mates of his a joke. He was well impressed by my vast repertoire of low quality humourous stories. I bumped into Mike Molcher, who used to publish the now sadly defunct The End Is Nigh, and sat and drank with him and Simon Bisley, and I also vaguely remember drawing a picture of Nightwing on a girl's back. She asked me to! I wasn't wilfully scribbling members of the New Teen Titans on complete strangers all night. I had to try and remember what Nightwing looked like, and seeing as I'd been imbibing all night, it probably wasn't my best ever effort. If the girl is reading this, I'm sorry. I'll be practising drawing Dick Grayson all year, now, and I'll be ready next May! (I was telling Dan Cox, who wrote Why Can't I Be You? for me, about this episode of me scribbling on females, and he remarked how 'Rock n'roll' it was. I said it would only be Rock n'Roll if I'd scribbled on her front rather than her back. It's a start, I suppose.)
It got late very quickly, and because I wasn't a resident of the hotel, I had to go up to people I didn't know and ask them if they'd get me a drink. Two very nice married ladies got me drinks, and they also refused to let me pay for them. Which was nice. I got back to my hotel as dawn was breaking, around half-five.
I spent a lot of Sunday feeling as rough as a badger's ballbag, but we managed to sell a few more copies. I bought my eldest a manga-type T-shirt, and my youngest an Alien facehugger plush. That might sound weird, but it is something she's wanted for ages. Alright, it is weird. Saw the guys from Doctor Who dismantle the dalek and put it in the back of an averaged-sized car whilst I was outside having a smoke. Its head was on the passenger seat. What was funny, though, is that there was a car waiting to park behind them, they had nothing to do with the convention, and I was wondering what they thought of a bloke spending ages putting bits of dalek into his car, wasting their time. Simon Bisley was next to me, having a fag and said "Even in bits it still fucking freaks me out." Now, Simon is built like a brick shithouse, I wouldn't have thought anything would intimidate him.
I left the con to go home at around three o'clock, said ta-ra to everyone, and stood waiting for my slightly delayed train (Wildfowl on the line, apparently. Bloody Virgin trains.) standing next to the half-woman/half-fox type-thing who was getting the train home in full costume. I don't think I saw her real face at all over the weekend. That's dedication, that is. (There's a picture of her on the MC2 mySpace, I think. It's part of the slideshow on there.I think my left hand makes an appearance in one of the pics. fame at last!) Spent the train journey home trying not to fall asleep and wake up in Preston, (I'd only slept for about six hours the whole time I was in Brizzle) and trying to use my WAP phone to get the football results, but my phone decided to not work. I got home, looking lke a drowned rat at about half-five. It'd been a good weekend. I might just need a new liver, though.
The Villa drew 2-2, if you're interested.
Hi to all the peeps I met out there, and might read this,(Steve, Ez, Andy, Dec, Ian, Dave, Dan et al) good to see you.