I travelled, once again, with Russell Payne and a friend, Darrell, who was there to help Russ with his Kirby panel.
The journey itself, after some inexplicable stoppages on the M6, was ok. We got to the hotel before the beginning of the con (I was meant to be there at 6pm Friday, there was a preview night) despite me forgetting the address of the hotel we were staying at (it was the Ibis in Shepherd's Bush by the way, it was a really nice hotel, clean with helpful staff, a car park attached that was very reasonable pricewise)
The con itself was at Earls Court. About 1.5 miles away according to Google Maps. So we figured we'd ask some people how to get there and walk, we had time and not too much to carry. The first person Russ approached flinched and looked like she was going to throw herself off the bridge to our right. The next person recommended the bus. C1...stop just across the road, £1.35. He told us not to walk, it'll take ages...Ok, cool...We waited for 15 minutes, the bus came. Apparently you can't pay in cash on buses in London anymore...
So we walked.
The con was pretty quiet in the comics section on Friday evening. I should explain here, the con was split between Earls Court One and Earls Court Two. The film and TV people, all the retailers (including all the comics retailers), the Young People Book bit were in Earls Court One. The comic creators and the talk stage were in Earls Court two.
Me signing some Son of M comics for a fan on the Friday night
So, it was pretty quiet. I set up, filled up most of my sketch list for the weekend and met some people who actually read and enjoy this blog. Also, Brendan McCarthy came over, I'd never met Brendan before, nice man as well as being a great artist.
Whilst waiting for the car to take us back the the hotel I bumped into Mike Mayhew. I've always liked his work and had a great chat about different artists we like, Marvel, the industry, the usual stuff really. I spent the rest of the weekend bumping into Mike in the hotel bar and the pubs and streets in the surrounding area. He was working, I think, for 48 hours straight to fulfill his commission list...
I was up for pretty much 48 hours over the weekend too. But I wasn't working. I was kept awake by Russ and his monstrous snoring. His wife had a great weekend at home.
Saturday. Missed breakfast, the con started at 9. Very early for a con. I tried to take it a bit easier with the number of sketches I did this time and I did ok in that respect, I actually finished the ones on my list for a change. I met a lot of fans from different European countries, Hungary, Spain, Italy, France, Finland, Norway...and so I saw a variety of foreign language collections of comics with my covers on them that I've never seen before.
Also, I signed a number of copies of hardbacks from Marvel's Classics Series, the Son of M edition.
I'd not heard of it before. And a lot of the people I signed it for were sent over to me by David Hine, the writer of the series, who was a couple of tables down. People didn't know I'd done the covers on the collection as I'm not credited anywhere in the book. I'm used to not getting a copy of anything my work appears on, or in, from Marvel, but it'd be nice to have my name in there really.
I sold pretty much all the film or TV based sketches I'd done for the con (in fact the only ones I have left are a Quinto Spock and a Capaldi Dr Who that Russ insisted I draw 'because people will go crazy over a Capaldi sketch')
To the left of me all weekend was a guy called Mr Garcin. He was selling posters of some comic based collages he'd done. He wore a wrestler mask all weekend. And the odd thing is, I didn't find it that odd. We had an interesting chat about football (him being French and me having a Schweinsteiger Germany shirt with me we touched on the France/Germany game), the state of the French and English teams and who we thought would win the final...he must have been pretty hot in the mask though.
Now I wanted to accomplish only a couple of things at the con. I wanted to sell some art. And I wanted to get authors Charlie Higson and Holly Smale to sign a couple of books for my daughter Maia (and, if possible, get a quick video message for her). She's 10 and is fanatical about reading and it's something I encourage, obviously.
So, being very busy with sketching, I sent Russ and Darrell over to the other building with a short script to meet Charlie Higson for me. I regret not going myself...but anyway, they returned nearly 2 hours later with a signed book and a video message. What a nice guy Charlie Higson is.
Charlie Higson, Comedy Legend, Author and a great guy!
Russ and Darrell had queued for over an hour in searing heat amidst what seemed like a million people to fulfill my demands. I was thankful and at the same time, felt pretty bad having put them through that.
Actually they'd had and awesome time using their guest passes to take photos of themselves with movie stars. Also, Russ bumped into Robert Rankin in the book section. Turns out Rankin had read (or heard of*) Russ' book. So his massive ego, usually under wraps, was running free again...
*I've not heard Russ tell the story the same way twice yet...in one telling Rankin had plagiarised Russ' book...
I had a cold all weekend so decided to take it easy and get a reasonably early night, not the usual 4am affair. Forgot to take into account the snoring horror next to me in the room. It was exponentially worse on the Saturday, probably Robert Rankins' fault for inflating his ego...
Sunday AM, leaving the hotel car park on our way to the con.
Sunday was a bit quieter. Upon entering I shared the lift with Chewbacca, he was shouting and making a plethora of Chewie style noises. Probably died later in the day from heat prostration...
Sketching on the Sunday morning.
I wasn't that bothered and continued my search for gifts. I bought motion and sound activated Tribbles in the end. Awesome. Russ sauntered into the room having flashed his badge and sat down with Milo, had a nice chat. Milo said he'd call Rosie and say hi. But she was at work* so he let Russ film a video message.
*He didn't know her number.
Russ had another great experience. Darrell went after we relieved him from guarding the tables and met a whole different set of people!
I went back myself, but that was to meet Holly Smale for Maia, she's her favourite author. Again, really pleasant, very approachable, and I have a lovely video message too.
Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series
Just before we left at the end of the day David Roach pointed at my t-shirt and said it looked like a Bob Oksner cover (I had a t-shirt of my Star Trek Binky' Buddies #1 cover printed and was wearing it). Turns out he's a big fan of Oksner. At the next con we're both at I hope to be able to talk more in depth about Oksner with David.
The plan afterwards was to eat in a pub and watch the World Cup Final. It'd mean getting home at about 2am...and since Russ and Darrell both detest football I figured we should just go and I could watch it the next morning having avoided the score. Thankfully, that happened!
A couple of people I want to mention. Ben Le Foe. I've met Ben many times at cons over the years. He's a big Legion fan and we like a lot of the same artists. What I didn't know about Ben, until the weekend, was that he's in a band, A Body of People Ben asked me to give the band a 'like' on Facebook (if I liked the album he kindly gave me) but I'm not on Facebook, so check out the link. They're pretty good! And if you live nearby, go and watch the band live! I'll do a seperate blog about the band sometime soon. For now, my initial thoughts were that it was going to be West Coast Psychadelia in vibe, which it is...but there's an element of Folk and also Punk in there too!
And, I want to mention Posetastic. I had an interesting chat with a guy called Mark at the con who's developed an app that allows you to pose accurate digital figures. You can control the camera angle and also the lighting. The perspective looks authentic. It goes live in a few weeks. It's something I think will make my life easier, check out the link above....I need to buy an Ipad now.
The next con I'll be attending will be NICE in September. It's the third year and it's well worth going to. I'll be sketching. I'm supposed to begin charging for sketches...but I'll be doing them for free again. I will have some more finished pieces for sale though!
Another example of a movie based pre con commission I did for LFCC