Getting International

I enjoyed the first day of the International Alternative Press Fair at Conway Hall last weekend.  There was lots of good work on show from various places, and it was nice to meet some familiar and some new faces.

I was on the end of a table with my regular comic neighbour Joe Decie and three ziners squeezed in besides who had to take turns at the chairs. There’s so much talent at these fairs there’s sometimes not much room to move; one thing I always enjoy at these events is seeing fully-grown adults crawling underneath tables.

It was a quiet day for sales of my own, but I didn’t have a piece to point and shout at “this is new!”, unlike Joe whose new collection The Accidental Salad is now available in shops, from Blank Slate Books and here today and looking awesome, a great lot of sweet and odd ink-and-wash observations and stories, short flights of fancy and walks with pretty scenery.

I was also pleased to be able to buy the new comics from James Nash (whose latest annual diary collection of daily drawn thoughts, conversations and musical interludes Something Reductive uses a new newspaper format that shows off well the bold flow his art is taking), Steve Tillotson (Chris Sandwich, a short work of weird and slapstick three-panel strips starring an unfortunate young professional and a glowing skull) and Gareth Brookes (The Black Project, a compelling and darkly funny illustrated story of maladjusted adolescence) and the new issues of top anthology papers Paper Science (a science fiction special) and the fast-becoming-essential Comix Reader. All recommended. Some perhaps for mature readers only.

The best brand new thing I saw was a collection of various illustrations in all kinds of blues. I think it was called Blue Suede Shoes although it featured a lot of other things apart from blue shoes or indeed a blue Elvis. My least favourite was a collection of black-and-white photographs on yellow paper of a skateboard and a bunch of bananas. I didn’t buy either of them though.

I went along to a discussion staged by big cheese comics journalist Paul Gravett with Phillippe Morin of the Angouleme comics festival, which raised some interesting points on how the comics scene in Britain is becoming more successful, helped by events like today, and how it’s similar to France 20 years ago, where they really love their comics. Both men started out by writing fanzines. Paul Gravett kept having to ask the audience not to steal the examples he’d brought along from his beloved collection.

I enjoyed drawing a page for the Zine-in-a–Day which was compiled from pages which contributors brought along or created that day, and printed by the Footprint Workers Co-op down from Leeds. Our table was nearby and the rhythm of the risograph was an inspiring sound to have in the background, maybe I should start working in a factory.

There was a boy selling his own comic called The Zoom (with his mother’s help). He had one strip showing the same character throughout history, in different clothes, and it reminded me I used to draw the same thing when I was little. So I sort of stole his idea for my Zine-in-a-Day page, but I’d had the same idea first.

Afterwards I retired to the Crown with the Banal Pig gang and small press cub reporter Dickon Harris, who confused the barmaid by talking about comics and her expecting us to tell jokes. Then to Orbital for the exhibition of Slovenia’s top sequential art organ Stripburger. And home quite early due to not having had any dinner.

Next time I will have a new comic and some more food.

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