The weather had sorted itself out by Saturday morning and it was an extremely sunny day. I got to the Commonwealth rooms (where the con was being held) about half-nine and already the queue was all the way down to the bottom of the street. None of that queueing for me, as I was an exhibitor, so I joined the much smaller queue of other exhibitors and waited to get my pass. In the queue I met Hunt Emerson and Tony Bennett (from Knockabout Press) and shot the breeze with them as we waited to get our passes. This was organised very haphazardly, and I ended up with a pass that just said 'Temporary Pass' written on it in biro.(Actually, it just said 'Tempy Pass') But, I got in, and met up with Andy Winter and got ready to launch our book Septic Isle. Our table was directly opposite the Forbidden Planet stall/toyshop, and we were at the end of the aisle, and it was a fantastic spot.
We had a good day. Septic Isle was selling very well, Andy and I were signing books all day, and I've never been asked for so many sketches before. I think, over the weekend, I did a couple of Marley (Our book's hero, as it were), a Sontaran from Doctor Who, The Phantom, Conan, Judge Dredd, Superman, and a few more I can't remember. I do remember how stained my hands were because of the inks from the pens I was using, though! A tip for budding artists out there; Don't buy those 99p black felt tips from WH Smith. they lose their point after about five minutes and they leak all over your fingers!
Heather had devised an excellent escape plan for herself by inviting her friend Jane down to a)meet me and b) rescue her for lunch for an hour or so. I wish I'd thought of something similar but I've not got any friends! I did manage to escape for a bit and had a drink (hair of the dog; still a bit rough from our rainy drinking session the night before) with my girlfriend and her mate. This drew stares of astonishment from most of the punters because it was weird that a bloke emerging from that hall actually knows some women.
A good thing about these conventions is the fact that you get to meet and catch up with friends that, for one reason or another, you only see at these things. Great folk like Keith Burns (Blood Psi), Declan Shalvey (Hero Killers), Dave Evans(Futurequake) and Steve Tillotson (Banal Pig). Plus you meet and make new friends too. I met Jamie, who is a frequent commenter on this very blog, and his lovely wife Theresa, for the first time and we got along like a house on fire. (Probably a bit too well-see picture!)
Keith, Andy, Declan, Jamie and I all arranged to meet up and go for dinner at the end of the day's festivities, and so we did, after I went back to my hotel and changed my by-now stinky Batman T-shirt for a Kirby Hulk one (my cache of nerdy T-shirts is almost bottomless!) whilst watching the generally disappointing 'Doctor's Daughter' episode of Doctor Who. We went to a pub/restaurant called The Hole In The Wall where it took ages to get served because the poor lad serving us all had a broken arm. I asked him whether they forced him back to work, but he told me he volunteered to come back because he was bored. Jamie then replied something along the lines of 'I understand, well, you can't have a wank, can you?'
The meal was a good laugh, conversation basically consisted of us slagging off each other's favourite movies. well, except for Declan and Heather who agreed on almost everything. We also found out that, in the case of The Shawshank Redemption, Andy was 'on the side of the guards'. We all had to leave when Declan remembered he should've been at the Eagle awards because he was up for a gong for 'best newcomer artist'. We tried to convince him it would be cool and a bit rock n'roll not to turn up, but dec was having none of it, so we all headed to the nearby Ramada hotel where the awards ceremony was being held.
To Declan's relief, we got to the ceremony just as it started, and the rest of the group who weren't nominated for anything stayed at the rear of the hall, by the bar, and watched the ceremony and generally tutted at the announcement of most of the winners. All the people I knew that were nominated for awards came away empty handed. Pity. I think that the Eagles should celebrate British creators more, maybe have a couple of 'international' categories, because most of the time the awards were given to people who weren't there, because they're in the USA, and probably don't even know they've won. Still, it was cool to see legends like Walt Simonson and Dave Gibbons (who weirdly won 'best letterer'; to my knowledge he only letters his own art) up on stage. After a bit of commiserating with some of the losers, (although I didn't buy any of them a consolation drink as it was nearly FOUR QUID a pint!) we all went into the Ramada bar proper and 'shot the shit' with all the other artists, writers and general geeks I know. Random topics of conversation included Jimmy Saville's sexual proclivities and whether 'Lobster Thermidore' is a viable first name for a girl. After spilling most of last pint down my aforementioned Hulk T-shirt (I wasn't that pissed, I was nudged) Heather and I decided to head back to our hotel while it was relatively early. This was one o'clock in the morning!
Me in the Ramada bar, after the spillage incident. Notice how my coat is done up?
Still, it had been a fantastic day.