Usually, as regular readers of this blog will know, journeys to comic conventions with Russ Payne are long winded, seemingly never ending affairs that take us hours longer than they should. This time was different, we arrived when we were supposed to. It was a surprise as neither of us had bothered to print off a map nor knew the name of the hotel we were staying at.
Jeff had organised the meal for the Friday at a Turkish restaurant...in hindsight not an ideal place for a vegetarian to eat. What I ate was grey and had a cheesy topping...still, Jeff and Bub are amongst the very few UK con organisers who care enough to provide meals for their guests. Everyone else seemed to enjoy the squid and meaty stuff that was served! Russ enjoyed the grey stuff judging by the way he inhaled it in seconds!
A photo of me with a pre convention commission!
My friends and I played 'the sketch game' in the bar on Friday. The idea of it is that a person nominates an artist and then everyone takes it in turn to say what comic character they'd have the artist draw for them. The round ends with the person who nominated the artist choosing a character. Then the person next to them nominates an artist and so on. Also, the artist nominated would be drawing the sketch at their peak artistically, this creates a few arguements, for example, was Kirby at his peak around FF 50 or on the New Gods run? It's a fun game, the disagreements are pretty cool too. Basically it's a load of comic nerds chatting about a topic they care about for a few hours.
It can get embarrassing when someone doesn't know the artist who's been nominated. They get tagged as a civilian. Elitist? Yes, of course. Occasionally there are heated outbursts. For example, I said I'd get Frazetta to draw me a Shining Knight on Winged Victory sketch. That counts as two characters apparently. It took half an hour to resolve. I still say I was right.
Another pre con commission
...and one I drew beforehand to sell
The game petered out after Larry announced he didn;t know who John Buscema was. He started talking politics so I started a counter chat about football. Russ thought about jumping into the river...
The convention was at a new venue due to a booking clash with the new owners of the original venue. However, the rugby ground was pretty good. All the artists, and there were many, were in one room and the talks and panels, Brian K Vaughn, Garth Ennis, were in another. There was plenty of space for people to walk and a steady flow of traffic. It was a short walk from the town centre. Jeff put some decent food on during the day!
Staff were helpful and communicative, a massive plus if you've ever attended certain cons in London in the summer and experienced the opposite! It really makes everyone's con more enjoyable.
Russ wasn't doing any panels this time so he decided to help out at my table. I really can't talk and draw at the same time so it helps to have a co-pilot. Appreciated.
I didn't walk round much as I was busy sketching but everyone seemed to be happy!
Another one I did to sell on the weekend
And another that I did as a commission. What I liked about this commission was that when I asked if he wanted a Cardy or a Perez Wondergirl he knew what I was talking about.
Saturday night Barry Kitson thought it'd be a good idea if he, I, and a few others (Russ, Mick, Rich, Tony and Simon) went for a quiet meal together. We ended up at an Indian restaurant which served fine, and very reasonably priced food. Barry regaled us with industry stories and we ended up in a Wetherspoons until 1am.
When we got back to the hotel there was still a lot of activity in the bar, Jeff, obviously was still around, Ian Churchill and his wife Sasha also. Ian decided he liked my jacket and asked to try it on. I tried on his striped blazer (most people said it was an ice cream salesman or tv gameshow host blazer. I thought it looked a little like a '60's Mod jacket). Ian decided he wanted to trade permenantly...to be fair, he looks a lot better than me in the jacket (in his too)...but still. At 4am he went off with a group to find some chips, with my jacket. I was starting to worry it was now Ian's jacket.
In the meantime people were beginning to notice just how terrible Russ' shoes were. They were awful, white with black swirls on them and what looked like hemp soles. They cost two pounds. It wasn't money well spent...Bob lost it. He started screaming at the shoes, pointing at them and swearing at them. He was right, they deserved to be destroyed.
Ian eventually returned to the hotel to Barry Kitson announcing that 'Ian Churchill must die'. Ian's response? 'I have the reflexes of a mongoose.'
I got my jacket back at 5am. I went to sleep at 5.15am. I woke at 5.30 as Russ had started snoring. I panicked, convinced that everyone in our part of the hotel was awake because of it and at any moment the door would be kicked in. I pressed a pillow over my head and sometime before dawn I grabbed a couple of hours sleep.
Jeff only attacked me twice over the weekend. Both times it was unprovoked. Both times it was done in a nice, if frightening, way. Thanks, Jeff.
A Grant Gustin Flash
Sunday was another day of sketching and suchlike. Also, unusually for a con, it was busy until the end. Often the attendance at cons dwindles sharply after midday on the Sunday as everyone has got what they came for and wants to make a quick exit and make it home in good time. Russ did a professional job assisting me. He actually fell asleep at the table.
It was great to meet up with Barry Kitson and Paul Renaud again and also meet Paul's girlfried Marion too. Paul's work is awesome, enhanced by the wonderful colouring he does. Nice to see Doug and Sue Braithwaite again as well, although I would have liked to have spent a little more time with them!
And another Grant Gustin Flash, a pic I've used before...but not on a sketch cover!
The journey back was incredibly quick! We chatted mainly about a book we're co-authoring...we overcame a few continuity problems and figured out much, most of which is now forgotten!
More about the book soon. I've finished my half, I finished months ago (to be fair, I have to do a small rewrite on the last chapter). Russ keeps cutting and pasting the same paragraphs into a different order to convince me he's done some work on it...you're fooling nobody, Payne.
A few days later I was off to Baltimore...