Monday, October 06, 2008

Birmingham International Comics Show 2008

We have woken up rather late in a post convention fug of confusion and laundry. I have managed, however, to upload some of our pics of the weekend, and will endeavour to report on all the thrills and spills, bargains grabbed, pints drunk and gossip. Okay, not the gossip, I'd get in trouble.

Friday we got a coach down to Birmingham, which was fairly quick, very cheap and meant I could stare out of the window at things instead of swearing at the traffic on the M6.


We went to Wagamama for dinner which has become a minor obsession of ours when we go to cons, mainly because they serve Asahi Dark beer, which is very more-ish.

Our hotel was always going to be a source of fear and pain, because we have an unerring knack of booking the worst flea-pit noisy unhygenic dives wherever we go. Last year we stayed at the Britannia, which had terrible street noise (including bagpipes at 8am) and a door on our corridor which had a mouldy roast dinner on a tray behind it, and nothing else.

This year we thought we'd try again and booked the MacDonald Burlington down the street. We were trepidatious that it would be another hotel where the website makes it look like a palace and then its the Bates Motel, but I am happy to report it actually was a palace. Friendly staff,breakfast of kings which never ended, walk in wardrobe, huge huge bath and the most comfortable bed in the whole world. See what i mean?




So, after we recovered from the shock of our good fortune, we headed over to Bennet's bar for the launch party. Hunt Emerson's band was already playing up a storm by the time we got there, so saying hi to people we knew became a lip reading contest.
Several people nearly lost their voices before the con even got going, just from shouting to each other. The music (including the comic creator super group "Giant-Sized Band-Thing") was great, and all it goes to show, is that we are just reclusive wusses not used to the noise of being out of doors. It was pretty relentless though.

We had a lovely gab with Paul Cornell and Caroline, the indie manga girls, newlyweds Emma Vieceli and her lovely husband Pud, Lew stringer, Vicky and Richmond from Hi Ex, Barry Renshaw, Declan Shalvey, Adam Cadwell, Nick Setchfield, PJ Holden, Al Ewing, Ian Sharman, Jamie Mckelvie, Si Spurrier, Tony Lee and many more, guzzling beer all the while. I was so plastered i congratulated Sean Phillips on Charlie Adlards drumming...and I have to say we walked back to the Burlington in a zig zaggy way, and John even had an escapade trying to find chips. All that, and we'd only been there a few hours!

Saturday started with amazing breakfast and view of the shopping folk below. Only a short walk and we were at the Millenium point. It always feels kind of isolated stuck outside the main shopping streets, but thats all to the good, as there are loads of signs pointing there from all over the city, which there isn't when a con is in a hotel or whatever.

The con was much better laid out than last year, much less overcrowded, and less like a nerd-sweat soup than normal. We had a slice of the Accent Uk table (huge thanks to Dave and Colin again for that, and to Gemma for opening the cash box for us!) and we got our books set up and then went off to see what panels were on.

We went to see Paul Cornell, Mark Buckingham, Doug Braithwaite and Dave Gibbons doing the obligatory "breaking into America" panel, but in the form of a podcast with the guys from Geeksyndicate. It was nice to see a panel in a room designed for it for once, and it all got a bit Kilroy there, with the guys running about with mikes.


We did our signing with Staz Johnson, Mark Chiarello and Shane Oakley, and had a couple of people come to get things signed, me and shane made the most of our good looks...


then we headed back to the Accent Uk table to give the chaps a break while we tried to flog our books, saw Cliodnha Lyons although i failed to buy her excellent charity book "Sorry I can't take your call right now, I'm off saving the world" , and also the excellent Dinkybox table, where i got an amazing brush pen if you want nice markers or cute toys...go to their site now! Also grabbed some nice things from The Beepbeep car company. The afternoon flew by pretty fast, and we arranged to have dinner with a gang of mates.

The dinner thing is almost as scary a point as the hotel thing, because when you run about all day doing con stuff, the only thing in the world you want is a heap of nice food and a sit down with a beer.
Often con organisers will put on a main "Guests Dinner" which you may or may not be invited to depending on how far up your name is on the con playbill, but everyone else divides off into little subgroups and run in different directions for different meals. It can be hard to grab the right number of people and all head somewhere everyone will like, and everyone can afford. In the past we have been to lots of cons in different cities and countries, and dinner is sometimes odd, expensive, inedible or just very far away.

This time it was a bracing rainy walk through dusky brum to a glittery curry house and a very very nice meal indeed. We then popped in to the "Diamond Party" in Malmaison, which people thought was a party paid for by diamond, but was actually a normal pay bar, and comics people in some rooms. Nice enough, but it was miles from our hotel and the drinks cost an arm and a leg. We returned to Bennets, like it was the scene of a crime, and resumed where we had left off the previous night, albeit in a hungover slow motion way.

The main buzz at the table, and the con in general was the Eyecandy iphone application created by PJ Holden and written by Al Ewing which is so innovative, and cool and fun to use, it made everyone at the con immediately start thinking of things to do for them. Download the first issue for 99c (0r 50p) here, and watch them like a hawk in case you miss a second of their meteoric rise to fame and stardom!

Sunday, more huge breakfast, then packing checking out and getting to the con. Huge heap of luggage under the table at the Accent Uk stand (sorry chaps) and then off to see what panels there were.

Gegged in to watch Dave Gibbons' "Watching the Watchmen" talk which was awesome. I am fairly familair with Watchmen *ahem* but it made me nerd out to see all the early concept art, and dads typed synopsis up there on the big screen. Dave is certainly the most entertaining man to see do a panel in all of comics (anyone better? no? thought not) so it would have been ace to just sit and hear the anecdotes, but seeing the pages of his book (designed by none other than Chip Kidd) made me want to rush out and buy one right then. Dave says you can get it in the shops later this month, and I would recommend you do so immediately.




Stayed in our seats to see Rufus Dayglo do a one man show on 20 years of Tank girl, which he hadn't expected to be only him. Tank Girl's creator Alan Martin had a family emergency so couldn't come, but Mr Dayglo made it look like he'd been planning it this way all along. Interesting and entertaining tales of the Deadline starlet's trajectory over the last 20 years, and then passed his portfolios round so we could all get an ogle of his artwork. Lovely stuff sir.


Had a stint behind the table for long anough to see Tim Pilcher, Ian Edgington and Mike Collins, whose marvellous adaptation of A Christmas Carol from Classical Comics was talked about all over the con, and much admired, but which I also failed to buy (sorry Mike!), we also bothered Barry Renshaw, Adam Cadwell and Emma Vieceli for sketches...because they rock!

After that it was the usual Sunday slide into oblivion, with everyone nervously checking to see if there's likely to be a last minute surge in wealthy comic fans at 4pm, or whether they should cut their losses and make a run for it, we managed to get an amazing shot of Ian Edgington's daughter constance showing her approval of Raise The Dead and then we ran off, lugging all our unsold books...i mean 'residual stock' all the way down the road to the coach station.


Bumped into Adam Cadwell again just as we were about to keel over under the weight of our luggage, and then jumped on a crowded coach of doom back to Liverpool. Couldn't read by the futuristic roof lights, so shut our eyes and listened to everyone's phones going off and then their conversations for the rest of the journey.



Got home at half nine last night and watched the first episode of the new season of Heroes on BBC 1, which was as big a disappointment as you can get. Who wrote it? I have no idea but someone stop them before they do it again!

today, slept in, dressing gown day, unpack, and blog. We bottled 20 litres of Home-brewed stout though...ready for John's brithday later in the month.

whew. That's it folks!


budgie-uk said...

Lovely to see you and John, Leah... didn't realise you were both at the Burlington, or I'd have grabbed brekkie with you!


PJ Holden said...

Just wanted to say: while I designed the application - the actual hard work of programming it was done by Phil Orr, our programmer - and top notch he is too...



Emsie said...

You guys were a huge part of what made our weekend awesome, it was great chatting nonsense with you. I can't believe what a fab write-up you managed so soon - I'm rubbish! hahaha.
Anyways, you guys rock; I think we HAVE to stay at the Burlington next year; and Buddies here we come!

Rufus Dayglo said...

I just wanted to say how lovely it was to talk to you, and again, Thank You for your zen-like goodwill and ability to see the funny side.
I hope we can have a drink and natter at the next show... i owe you many drinks..

Yours...very humbled.. ;-)
Rufus Team Tank, Idiot Division

chebbo said...

Great report Leah. You are very kind to the show, and I'm glad you enjoyed your weekend in Brum.


Azure said...

It was nice meeting you thanks for the mention, blog shout outs always make me so happy. The party had such a good atmosphere. I wish we could have stayed longer.
Rebecca- IndieManga