The lobby of the Great Hall is one of those wonderful empty space areas, may have been workshop once. The scene is an eye-assaulting congregation overpowering flutter of transactions and disco behaviour of tired but willing inventor clerks not just of comics, but of badges, iPod socks, belts, t-shirts, posters, dvd videos. Folk had brought along mint-cakes, flumps and gum. There were many decorations or attention-getting antics : helium-balloons, bunny ears and a clambering through the mosh pit of consumers by a hard helmeted padded coat pizza security agent. Mini-comics of note include BenT’s Chick-style books and Willie Hewes Goth Boy palm comics at four for 50p.
Boot Error had five copies of their £14 book with them, having been knocked off side by their delivery service. They ran samples from their laptop, covered like the rest of their table in duck tape, and ran a competition arranged to guess the amount used. (It was 41m).
Daniel Merlin-Goodbrey’s Just Another Guy With A Planet for a Head impressed me immensely, enough for me to advance email him requesting his other five booklets. Merlin seated by Douglas Noble, author of Strip For Me, a seductive number of relaxed galleries with poetic harmonies, and the interesting; incredibly likeable David Baillie. He does a bunch of comics too rather than simply being an accompanying attractive one. Theres a sketchbook, and Scribe, and The Indiscriminate Device. I’ve not read his work yet, but ‘The Indiscriminate Device’ has a anti-spoiler tag on, really clever ! I met these guys together at Caption Oxford last year, debating Moore and Morrisson’s approaches in a conversation worthy of a well-scripted city centre lecture theatre. Arrangements made to get to Wetherspoons that evening. Baillie and I are on a panel together, losing our panel virginity, exciting. So after little-known Distributor Promoter and editor Shaun Chebshea points me in the right direction, I take to the other side of the room.
Renshaw, Hewitt and Badham
Theres an amusing thing happens when folk may know one another to various degrees, but haven’t actually met face-to-face, or seen a photo of. Matthew Badham manned the Accent UK table and was giving the sales pitch to myself and a tall traveller, with candy floss hair, cosmetics and a long leather coat. David Bowie may not have been aware of Accent UK yet and Matthew may not have been aware that’s who he was chatting to. He didn’t know my appearance either, despite using me as a prop for his pitch. I shared my identity, and got the chance to say the lots of nice things that need to be said about the great work Matthew has been doing recently in 2000 AD and Bugpowder. I later meet Leon Hewitt and Barry Renshaw, before I did Damian Cugley showed up and Matthew’s pitch revved up again, as he told Damian all about the interviews in Redeye Issue 4 with Malcy Duff, and with Jeremy Dennis.
Leon Hewitt chaired the panel on comics reviewing featuring Bailie, myself, Badham and Andy Winter. I got a free bottle of water. Tescos Perthshire Mountain Spring. I took mine home with me. Perhaps I’ll get into some kind of trouble.
Leon Hewitt was very sweet. He asked me half a dozen times if I enjoyed the panel and I could feel so much sincere and genuine concern from him, I told fibs. I had concerns, from observing the first panel, whether the sound was coming across. I also blanked out a few times due to not taking my tablets and losing some sleep the night before. I didn’t say a lot when I did, and so must have seemed as a boring stoner huckster. Others had a different take on it, and I guess its reflective of reap-what-you-sow. It was very flattering forty people endured this. So lessons learned ? A good way to approach a panel might be to keep the narrative interesting by keeping it flowing. Leon and I exchanged a few emails a couple of days before, and really we should have kept the topic going, a pre-panel panel. I might have brought my notes out, and scribbled some as the others were speaking, so as to come back on a few points made.
I had brought along the following, a blog journal entry type zine based on some of my working methods and memories from TRS2. I think these might be kind of interesting to some people.
Obviously, not everyone can afford to go as far as I did: my heart says they’d be stupid, misguided or just requiring art therapy to have to do that. To get back to the panel advices,
1) Ensure you are in a physical condition of being relatively well awake
2) Keep the conversation flowing
3) Make sure everyone can hear you. Just because you have a mic and on-stage doesn’t mean you are connecting with folk.
4) If you have a primer, get it out as early as possible. Potential revolutionaries that never were waste time, revolutionaries are undoubtedly egotists but that’s only in what matters definitely.
5) Take notes if it helps.
6) Have a fight – The opening sequence of Chasing Amy is a perfect suggestion of how to make an interesting panel and at this years Caption I intend to be hosting a panel in order to draw attention to the comics forms widespread shying away from exposing and disappearing the corrupt Bush-Blair axis of evil. The panel will feature John Robbins, Pat Mills and Warren Ellis and myself strapping a few hundred pounds of semtex to ourselves in order to prove this point. If you can continually make what you have to say more and more interesting, and capture the audience’s attention, then you can awaken the lazier folk, stir up their questions, unwittingly prompt better solutions you may never have heard of, find company in your being the single lone melancholy voice of genius, unexpected enlightening happiness.
7) Look after your co-panellists : Both Leon and David did a good job of sensitively involving me in the panel. Steering questions my way non-pressurised natural to grow me out of my zombie form. Perhaps its cos I’m an allegedly knowledgeable about such things too.
8) You get a free bottle of water. I remember the first signing I went to was the Crisis Tour back in 89. Impressed by Pat Mills sitting comfortably, answering questions up close and knocking back his tenth glass of complimentary wine. If you’re behind a table viewed by a bunch of people its cos you’re smart and this affords you the right to get comfortable. So show off, and do whatever you like. If you’re not a crook, you’re a star. Of course, there was a huge ‘No Smoking’ sign up, but I wasn’t carrying cigarettes with me, and really didn’t want one either.
Thanks to everyone who came to the panel and listened, participated.
The coach journey reading en route consisted of Violent and the rather review-able The coach journey reading en route consisted of Violent and the rather review-able The Powder Room. The weekend debuted ‘Twelve Go Nuts in Gloucester”, drawn at the Midwinter Comics Retreat 2005 (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyluke/sets/1516927/), and it’s a fucking great read, as I expected to be. (Twelve cartoonists in a conflict with a gang of power-mad common squirrels, throw in Dave Prowse and Jeeves and Wooster with good pictures).
Most of the core Caption committee members as it happens were also MCR2005 folk, and Andrew Stitt returning from hibernation, we got to work discussing plans for the UK’s finest comics festival (up until now). It seems the schedule is filling up rather quickly which is kind of exciting. Mmmm, I think I did read someone word ‘Caption looks after itself’. Everyone was full of suggestions.
Related, I saw,
Damian Cugley: tactical photography operations.
Jenny-Linn Cole: Dressed to date Patrick McGoohan with neat pink elephant earrings
I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar…
The gatherings of cartoonists, writers, editors, published and promoters made the day worthwhile for me in Wetherspoons afterwards. There was much sadness caused by the twp hour wait for Shane Chebsey’s chickenburgers, as Jenny Linn-Cole and I drank Spitfire, the £1.55 beer. Daniel Hartwell was mouthing cartwheels about some new deal with the Rubins sisters, so I got up top and asked David Baillie to edit a weekly 28-page comic for a month in the second half of the year. He agreed, and Barry Renshaw is doing something for it too, as is Leon Hewitt, no matter what he says about it.
I told my ouija board story twice ! Firstly with Joel Meadows saying Yes annoyingly every ten minutes. The second time, Renshaw drew the story as I told it, transmuting the years of too-much-thinking I’ve put into how best the tale might look as a comic strip. Bridgeen’s lap-hops, Mondoagogo’s magic hands, my chance to present Douglas Noble with The Luke-Tomlompomlinkinson Award 2006 and Camera Showdown. (I look forward to the latter being seriously tagged on Flickr)
To’d and Fro’d between joining the party of eight returning to David Baillies: i could have been on all night maybe, I don't want to wait to travel until Caption. I'd like to go to London to meet these folk again for drinks. Said goodbyes and let mondoagogo take me across London, chatting all the way. I saw chocolate waffles in a shop window, met two groups of medical students on a bus home, were I had stored my bed. It was 6:30am when I slept….a while.
For the visual guide to the UK Web and Mini Comix Thing (mostly of the Wetherspoons end), http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyluke/sets/72057594080768622/
OTHER PERSPECTIVES ON THIS EXPERIENCE
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mondoagogo - Mondoagogo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleanskies - Jeremy Dennis
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stripforme - Douglas noble
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pdc - Damian Cugley
http://www.flickr.com/photos/44054291@N00/sets/72057594081384143/ -Doug Noble
http://www.flickr.com/photos/phatcatz/sets/72057594082241437/ - Sean Azzopardi
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagthenoggin/sets/72057594080758012/ - Adam Hogson
http://www.strip-for-me.com/news.htm Doug Noble's Thing Review
http://mondoagogo.livejournal.com/20376.html#cutid2 Anna J's Thing Review
http://www.davidbaillie.net/blog/ David Baillies got one too.
http://enginecomics.blogspot.com/2006/03/where-did-it-all-go-wrong-special.html Almost as comprehensive as this.
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=43995478&blogID=97380175&Mytoken=1446AE6E-C79C-AD93-7681100593BB9CE92756389 Vented Spleen
And http://andybleck.com/f-cf-060311_comicsthing_1.htm a seemingly comprehensive photo chronicling of the days events photographed by Andy Bleck aka Andy Konky Kru.