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Shiny Happy People : March 22nd Comics Bits
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What follows is a few of my wee notes on what I got up to on March 22nd 2008. Fuller coverage can be found elsewhere including the brilliant video floating around YouTube by our director Oli Smith.

Well, I put my theory to the test. I invested £20 in The Thing, and got a £2 return. I put £2.40 into Camden and got that back with £10 extra.

London Underground comics invested £60, and got an extra £80 on top of this.

I'd previously hinted there will be a large Camden comics festival in June and this has been confirmed. I'm under embargo to talk about it any more at this point, though there were a number of leaks from Oli, so start talking to people ! Its expected that the cost to individual exhibitors will be £3 each, or may run on the Caption 10% Sale-or-return model. I've already said a fair bit !

The Camden Thing - My Photo Album (hyperlink)

Jack Brodies disappointed a number of people with a mysterious unannounced closure.

The Thing seems to have been considered an alright day this year FOR the cartoonists who attended. Between two and four reports of cartoonists making back their table costs so far.

On the way to Mile End, Andrew Stitt quips, "We have eight minutes before the train. Maybe we could all draw a six minute comic". Luke replies, "Stitt, you're on !" Sally Anne Hickman, Jenny Linn-Cole and both Andrews dive for their paper and pens and do it. Right there on the platform. Oh yeah. Giggity giggity.

There was a panel this year though there appears to be some controversy as to what it actually was. The decision was taken eight hours before opening time.

Associates seating rose on the day from £3 to £4, equalling entry cost - but not replicating it.

There were unfavourable and neutral content reports about the curator's behaviour on the day.

Jim Medway had a great Thing, and got very sad when I referred to a "seriously improper immoral and unethical distribution of capital". We agreed that a festival organiser should get paid, so the whole bunkum that I might be a communist sympathiser was put to rest. He gave me his new book which is full of darling fairies and some rocking smart tattoos. Emphasising the rock.

Daniel Merlin-Goodbrey and Sean Azzopardi are working on a story which includes a most awesome black helicopter.

Jeremy Dennis has a new comic out which has shiny objects on the cover. Cliodhna Lyons comic has curly bit on the cover.

Here are some pictures from the Mile End Pubcon (hyperlink)

Daniel Merlin-Goodbrey and Sally Anne-Hickman will be exhibiting at the Oxford Jam Factory, August 2nd-30th

As well as keywords, 'manifesto' and 'union', catchphrases for the day included Grave Graham Bettany and Peter Lally's 'Cashback !' and the phrase 'Thats Good Lester' which is still on my arm in perma-marker.

Gary Northfield got very drunk.

I did not get a good deep tonguing.

The private comics party, Bailliecon included a reception meal of potato fillets, before a pop culture and entertainments seminar. The morning activity 'Headache Surprise !' and the traditional Lebanese breakfast followed. The afternoon ended with a second seminar loooking at Furman's Grand Unified Theory of Transformers : Perception and Consciousness, and Jack Hargreaves Jenga.

BaillieCon 2008 Photo Album (Hyperlink)

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You mentioned the June con saturday night and it sounds great but I'll be in New York for pretty much the whole summer so will sadly miss out.

I have to say I've yet to have anyone who was exhibiting at the thing tell me they did very badly on the day and I was speaking to a pretty big chunk of them in the wetherspoon after. I'm not saying that everyone made money or anything but other then the weather being shit and the hall being cold [and honestly no one can really be held to blame over the weather] the vibe was fairly positive all round. I covered my costs plus some and given I flew from another country thats ok going. I've pointed out a couple of times before I'm not defending the cost of Thing or how its run but con exhibiting in general and as usually I'm left confused by the over focus on the money aspect - I understand that it costs alot to print and exhibit [hell I've one con a month on for the next 4 months and all cost more then the thing] but it has never been a focus of con attending for me [or most of the cartoonists I know]. Maybe try heading over to something like MoCCA, SPX, Stumptown, APE, or even on of the big French cons to get a wider perspective on exhibiting.

I enjoyed Caption last year and I hope to make this years but if ever con was like caption I more then likely would only bother going to one a year - its nice to sit around with other artists and draw and chat but I like working my own table, and the idea of pubcons hold no appeal for me what so ever - you made a comment saturday about the thing being one of the few festivals without a bar but none of the festivals I've got coming up [Stumptown, MoCCA, SPX] have bars. I had a blast saturday night but if the whole con had been in a pub again I'd prob only hit one a year - I certainly wouldn't fly 6000 miles to portland if it was a con like caption or a pub con.

Yeah thats a fair point. But by equal measure, if there are so many cartoonists like yourselves who claim to love this sort of thing why are they paying such extortionate rates merely to say to the world, here i've got something good for you. We both know it works the other way around.

I've been able to afford one transnational trip in the whole of my life and that was last year. I'm 34, I'm working class and I simply can't afford that sort of lifestyle. Some of my audience can, some of them can't. As for your audience, well I've reviewed your books before and I'd state the same is true of your audience.

I'd like to have sold more than two comics. Obviously its a bonus for all if the artists is there to sell them, but it shouldnt be a prerequisite. Which in my case it quite clearly was.

At least 4 people who were exhibiting at the thing are heading to the Stumptown fest in portland next month - I think the nature of international travel has changed a great deal in the last decade that it really doesn't take much as one might think. My flights to portland are costing me just over 400 euros [just over £300] which might sound like alot but thats to fly to the west coast of the states so its not to shabby I remember flights to spain costing that much 10 years ago - I'm staying with friends [who I made via other comic cons] so accommodation is free and staying with people who live in the city means we'll be eating in nice cheap eating type places. The thing was cheaper for me this year as I shared a hotel with people I'd met at lasts years con and I've got free accommodation for the Bristol con thanks to the lovely Mal who I meet via the thing and the lovely Mal will be coming to the MoCCA arts feat in new york to share a table with me and staying with me [and I'm sure Mal would class herself as "working class"]. I spoke to a whole bunch of people saturday night who are also heading to either MoCCA or SPX [and a few are heading to both] - you don't need to be some sort of international jet set person to hit these cons - most people start with cons near them [for me it was MoCCA as I lived there at the time] and as they get experience and make friends they hit cons further away as they share tables, hotels, car rentals etc etc.

Angouleme is one of the biggest comic festivals in the world and its only a ferry ride away in France.

A table at MoCCA might cost $300 but split between 4 people [the tables for MoCCA are much bigger then UK cons and 4 people who have plenty of space for their work] thats not bad for a 2 day con that gets over 5000 people in each day. I am certainly NOT rolling in money - I work as a freelance illustrator and consider going to these cons as part of my work and not some sort of hobby, the money I spend on them I would view as an investment in my career. I go to these cons to network, to get work - I don't make money from selling my prints or comics that I can live on, I might cover my costs that way but I get illustration/comic/animation jobs via people I meet at these cons - people working in independent animation and film work the same way. I just finished working on an animated feature film and the money for that was raised by the director hitting animation festivals all over the world with some animated shorts and networking with producers and finding one willing to back a feature film by a studio with no track record in feature film. The thing is prob a bad example as other cons would have high numbers of editors and art directors wandering around but I did get something out of the thing last year as I got to go to the Bristol con for pretty much free thanks to friends I made at the thing.

I'm not sure what you mean by "some of my audience can, some of them can't....afford that sort of lifestyle" I'm not planning on seeing the same audience in portland that I just saw at the thing, if I was why bother heading over there?

I was homeless two years ago. I suspect you might trade or sell some comics with someone in Portland who was also homeless two years ago. I can't be any clearer than that.

So you up for taking part in my study ?

not wishing to sound uncaring or heartless to your situation honey but I'm sorry I don't see what that has to do with a discussion on comic cons/exhibitions - I've sold/traded comics with many different people over the years of many different backgrounds and I'm sure some may have been homeless at some point in their lives. I did work for world war three illustrated when I lived in new york whose founder and my boss, Seth lived in a squat for years [read War in the neighbourhood] as did many of the artists who did work for the magazine.

Well yeah we're talking two different aspects that like everything else in this universe are connected.

I'll put it vaguely : at some point, financially priced festivals threaten the cartoonist who lives in a squat.Cartoonists who might otherwise be entitled to priveleges for their talent. Its some strain of knowledge that goes right back to Seigel and Schuster or further.

Another more linking note in the rhythm is that of content : a preference for a cartoonists agenda which focusses on real life relevance issues which reflect audience investments in the here and now. (a readers/reviewers view)

I responded as such because you asked for clarity on the matter. Are we on the same page now ?

As to the other, my study, which for myself and most of the cartoonists, its not a convergence point yet. I'll be fairly active in comics for the next year and studies of this area seem like a practical use of time. After a year I intend to take a few years out of writing about and drawing comics. The plan, as with the last time I did it, is to come back to a progressive community with better representation and rewards x

no don't think we're on the same page at all.

Bugger. I did my best.

You were writing about someone called Seth - Palookaville Seth ?

With titles like "You Don't Have to Fuck People Over to Survive" I got that ones work to look forward to !

I'd be interested in a thread on The Thing forums or elsewhere that declares were table costs were made back. And at any other festival.

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