Well, recovering from the Birmingham show now and I went for a few basic reasons:
1. To get some feedback on my artwork.
2. To get a few sketches (primarily a John Cassaday Cyclops)
3. Maybe get a few things signed
4. Find Nexus God Con #2 (the last Steve Rude issue I need)
5. The social aspect
So how'd it go?
Well, it started on Friday night at Bennetts, a bar converted from an old bank so it looks quite impressive. Nice pub and it was packed as it was booked solely for the con launch but the music became a bit of an issue. Hunt Emerson's band started off with a selection of classic rock/blues tracks (Elvis, John Lee Hooker, etc) and they were pretty good but so loud any conversation was all but impossible. Next up was DC editor Michael Wright's band, a more comfortable guitar rock sound followed by Liam Sharp and Charlie Adlard's punky group whacking up the decibels again. If you wanted to hear music, it was great, if you wanted to chill with mates, less so. Joining myself and Tone were Beano and DFC cartoonist Laura Howell, her partner Tim and Jason Dennis, one of our mates currently supplying layouts for John MaCrea on the 99.
We took it easy that night as we knew we'd have to be up early for the next morning. We knew from last year that the queue was unholy so we arrived around 9.30 for a 10.30 opening. With only a few people in front of us, Tone and I were straight through as we had pre-booked while it took pals Mark and Lisa another twenty minutes or so to get through, by which time, Tone and I had separated, I'd got two things signed by Michael Golden after a complete circuit of the two event halls and reunited with everyone else. It was a bit heartbreaking watching Golden with barely a soul at his stand all weekend as he rarely does cons and came all this way. However, he was taking commissions for £90 and was busy all weekend (I'd have loved one except I'm planning a trip away in December so couldn't really afford it). Things looked up for him when his panel talk was so rammed with people, we couldn't even get in the door!
I became smitten with a Power Girl print by Golden, which I picked up to join the Alex Ross JLA and Adam Hughes Wonder Woman and Black Canary prints. They looked quite classy framed and my walls are currently unadorned so this was a nice opportunity to decorate them with something a little less basic than basic posters. I was unable to find the Nexus issue (small press stalls far exceeding traders, who mainly carried Marvel and DC with very few additional publishers) but picked up the second Dark Tower hardcover cheap (like the Stand, I'm switching to hardcovers instead of individual issues) and three European graphic novels from Cinebooks. I'm always on the lookout for something new and gambled a chance on three. The Cinebook rep was really great and very enthusiastic and evangelical about his product, all of which have sold a minimum of a million copies across seven territories across the world. I asked about the chances of reprinting Valerian (Tone's a big fan) and he said that they often listen to reader suggestion and enquiries at the Bristol con had led to them acquiring the rights to the series, which will start an estimated 10-year publishing schedule from 2010. I then asked about Don Lawrence's esteemed Storm series but he had not heard of it, so he asked me to drop him a line and he'd look into it (which I did earlier).
In terms of sketches, I walked away with the sketches above: the desired Cyclops head sketch by John Cassaday (who is halfway through the final Planetary issue before taking a break from comics for a while), Astrid from Suburban Glamour by Jamie McKelvie (I really love his graphic style so really like this headshot, one of my favourite con sketches), Shade by Duncan Fegredo (Mark, Lisa and I had a great 40 minutes or so chatting with him about tons of stuff as he worked on sketches for us--later I saw him finishing off a £20 Hellboy sketch, which was STUNNING!!) and Fin Fang Foom by Roger Langridge. I don't really like cartoony art but I've always liked Roger's art (even though it's a genre I'd never usually read) and I love his Fin Fang Foom--I'm actually really looking forward to the impending collection of his FFF strips as how cool is this sketch? Again, another favourite from my collection now.
The weekend involved the usual wandering around, chatting, bemusement (primarily at cosplayers), perusing and sweltering (this event really suffers from the lack of a decent alcohol, drink and munchery venue) and we were also graced with the surprise appearance of Mr Thomas Lennon. He was going to join us for a post-con drink until he realised it was miles away and would involve much trudging back through the rain to his car. At least he was willing, unlike a certain Mr A who wouldn't even come and say hello at the pub as he wanted to stay away from "comics people". Still, Dave pulled himself out of his deathbed and made it on the Sunday, grabbing a sketch of some woman from Criminal by Sean Phillips and an almost identical Fegredo Shade to mine (leading to a playful argument about which was the best--I still say the inclusion of a fish means mine won!). Jason apparently had a near heart attack when Mark Chiarello asked him to provide a Flash stock cover to be use in a "Not actual cover" capacity in Previews. If Jason plays his cards right, I'm assuming this could lead to good things for him!
So what about my artistic endeavours, I hear you. Hold your horses, that's all in Part 2, coming right atcha as this would be too humongous a post in one go.