Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My trip to Bristol part two: Saturday

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!

Andy and I at the Moonface Press table. Note the Aston Villa wristband, which, apparently, is a fashion faux-pas according to my girlfriend. A fashion faux-pas? At a comics convention?! Strange, I know!

The hall was hotter and sweatier than Lucifer's balls, and though it was just about bearable by where we were (we were by a door) at the back of the hall it was roasting, and there was a lot of sweating, judging by the funky aroma at the rear of the hall. We were kept hydrated by my lovely lady, who kept bringing us water, bless her! And I know this doesn't sound like me, pessimistic sod that I am, but everyone I met at the table were really nice, including the four really nice Muslim girls who each bought a copy of Septic Isle because of its anti-Nazi/BNP stance, but then me and Andy started worrying that the sex scenes, swearing and extreme violence might offend them, and we'd forgotten to warn them about it. oops!

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.

Also, as usual at these things, the costumed types turned up. There was a garrison of Star Wars stormtroopers accompanied by a Boba Fett, a Snowtrooper, a Death Star Gunner, and a big Biker Scout. They were a very game bunch, posing for photos and raising money for charity and they must've been sweating buckets under all that armour. Then there were the Cosplayers, mostly teenage girls (though there were some lads doing it too) dressed up as their favourite manga/anime character. I found some of the costumes a bit inappropriate for fourteen year-olds to be wearing, I'd never let my daughter wear that kind of gear, but then that's me probably being out of step with what kids are like these days. Also, I must mention the one girl (I think it was a girl, anyway) dressed as a polar bear, or a snow-wolf or whatever (just imagine a big white furry animal thing with a big head) it shows dedication to walk around in the oven that was Bristol Commonwealth Rooms covered in fur. Especially when most people looking at you don't even know what you're supposed to be dressed as. There weren't many people dressed as actual superheroes. There was an Elektra hanging with the Cosplayers, but that was about it. Actually, at one point Kev Sutherland accosted three of these Cosplayers by our table, there was Elektra, a girl dressed as what appeared to be a giant Warhammery tank thing with knives for fingers, and another general Japanesey type costume and asked them if they wanted to take part in a video he was making. He set up the camera on our table, put on a Benny Hawkins-style woolly hat and two sock puppets on his hands to become his alter-ego 'The Scottish Falsetto Sock-Puppet Theatre' then he explained to the girls that he would sing 'my name is...' and that they had to shout out who they were dressed as. Then he said(in a decidedly Sid James kinda way) 'I'll take you one at a time'. So then he proceeds to play out this patently ridiculous act three times in a row, while me and Andy look on wondering how weirder the day was going to get. I was worried I might get roped in, so I buggered off for a tactical fag. I had a T-shirt on that had the 70s Batman comics logo on it. So, while I was outside smoking and waiting for the ridiculousness to end, a lady photojournalist said to me 'Excuse me, Batman? Do you have a light?' This is the first time I've ever been accused of being a superhero, but I made some shitty joke about telling her not to call me that name in public, and I lit her ciggie for her before I went back in. Luckily, Elektra, General Japanesy, Warhammery Tank and the Jock Socks had all done one by the time I got back. Phew.

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.


Andy Winter said...

Since our film conversation in the Hole In The Wall I've remembered what my least favourite film is: Donnie fucking Darko. Although I stand by everything I said about The Shawshank Redemption and Closer!

Mick said...

I liked Donnie Darko! As much as you can like a movie without actually knowing what the fuck's going on, anyway!
I also like Shawshank, but I'm with you on Closer. Not actually seen it, but JULIA ROBERTS, JUDE LAW and NATALIE PORTMAN in the SAME MOVIE?!!! Aaaaarrrgggghhhh!!!

jamie said...

molested by a fat sweaty twat in a star wars shirt,you lucky thing!
great memories of the weekend,and your lovely girlfriend,heather... who,by the way,has redeemed the name of heather after the drubbing it has recieved at the hands of heather 'lady mucca' mills mccartney and heather 'the fat bird off eastenders'.
btw,we're in birmingham at the very end of this month,if you're both around.

Mick said...

Lady Mucca and the fat bird off EastEnders ruined all the good work done for the name by Heather Locklear at the end of the 80s!

Not sure if either of us will be around at the end of the month, but if I am, it'll be cool to catch up. Get my email off Andy and we'll try and sort something.

Madeley said...

'Excuse me, Batman? Do you have a light?'

'Nope, but I do have a signal.'

Mick said...

Madeley, that's brilliant. I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and say that to the lady.

Madeley said...

The cleverest comments always occur after the fact, mate. Every time.