Last weekend, I attended the British International Comics Show (BICS) here in Birmingham, and it was a really enjoyable weekend. The venue, as it as has been for the last couple of years, was Millenium point, a giant, grey building that looks like it should be in Mega-City One. this means that the two guys dressed up as Mega-City judges looked right at home when they were milling about the place.
Our friends Jamie and Theresa came up to stay with us for the weekend, so this meant Jamie and I could go to the show whilst the ladies went shopping. They also went to see Fame at the cinema, and apparently it's a load of shit. What a surprise.
When you get there, you have to go into the lift to get to where the event is being held. This must've been the right place, because sharing the lift with us was a stormtrooper. Not the historical Nazi-type, you understand, the imperial type, from Star Wars. After we got out of the lift, Jamie, who is a Star Wars nut, saw a group of blokes dressed up as various types from the space saga. There were Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers, Mandalorians (well, a couple of guys dressed as Boba Fett, anyway)and TIE-fighter pilots. He gave me his camera and then went and asked them if he could have his photo taken with them, and they duly told him to get on his knees and pointed their blasters at him. As usual, I pressed the button and nothing happened. I have a real problem with digital cameras. It's as if my hands turn into cow's tits.(That's why all of our holiday photos have just me in them!) It's a shame, it would've been a cool photo.
After we got in, we had a mooch about, and there seemed to be quite a lot fewer stalls than there were last year, but this meant there was more room to walk about. Unless you were stuck behind the Dalek, which seemed to revel in blocking the gangways. This year, as I didn't really have anything new to sell, my plan was to show my portfolio around and hopefully get some work. Everyone I showed my work to really seemed to like it, and I've already had a couple of emails asking me if I'd like to do something.(more on that when I know more myself!)
The main reason for going to these things, however, is to catch up with people you only ever tend to see at these things or shoot the shit with the creators you've worked with before. I tend to find that you hardly ever talk about comics with comics creators. The main topic of conversation seemed to be how shite the launch party was. I was glad I didn't go. It was held in the Panama bar, which is off Broad Street (Birmingham's 'Golden Mile' , which is only golden in the same way a stream of piss is golden.) I read somewhere that BICS special guest Howard Chaykin described the women he'd seen on Broad Street as “the sluttiest, trampiest women” he’d ever seen. Sounds about right.
As usual, we met up with Andy Winter, my collaborator on Septic Isle (still selling well), and moaned about the state of the world, as we tend to do, and we arranged to go out for dinner later on. I also showed him the two pages I've done for the four-page web comic I'm doing for him right now. (preview panel above) Also, over the weekend, I bumped into a couple of people I've not seen for a couple of years. Firstly, there was Michiru Morikawa, who was on the StripSearch course with me way back in the mists of time, and anyone who lives in Brum will be familiar with her art, as it is her work that's on the back of many of our buses, asking people if they want to adopt. Anyway, she's gone back to live in Japan, but she was back to promote her book Buskers, published by Imsomnia Publications. Her work is fantastic, pick up a copy. It's worth it.
I also bumped into fellow Brummie and Villa fan Ben McCool, who wrote the script for the Stuffed comic, which included my very first published comic art. He lives in the Big Apple these days, writing for DC. As usual, he had a stinking hangover when I saw him. He told me that he was taking his DC editor to Villa Park for the match against Manchester City. That's got to be a culture shock for the poor sod. He probably now knows very well what Karren Brady gets up to of a night-time, after having it sung at him by 40,000 people.
I also had a couple of stints manning the MC2 table, which was right next to Diamond Distribution's table, which had loads of free comics on it. During both of my stints, I never sold any books, but I was asked about sixty times 'Are these free?' by punters looking at the Diamond table.
On the Saturday night, Me and my glamourous other half, Jamie and his, Andy Winter and Andy Radbourne (creator of Brit Force, another comic you should go out and get) all went out for dinner and a few drinks, and a cracking night was spoiled when I got home by me not looking where I was going in my garden and ending up falling into some bushes and skinning my knee. The less said about this the better.
We went back on the Sunday, after being forced to watch Strictly Come Dancing, which seems to go on forever. There have been wars that have taken less time. Most wars are probably less psychologically scarring, too. I showed my portfolio to the people I didn't get a chance to see the day before, and again, generally positive feedback. I ummed and aahed about forking out for some Copic pens. They were very expensive, and despite hearing 'they're what Adam Hughes uses' at least twenty times, I decided not to, as I'm not Adam Hughes.
Generally, though, it was a great weekend, and I'm hoping it happens again next year, which is likely, as more people came this year, apparently. More normal-looking people, too! Since I've been going to Comic-cons regularly, I've noticed that the clientele is getting more and more normal-looking; glamourous, even! The days of the BO-stinking hunchbacks are long gone.