Posts Tagged ‘comic convention’

London Spex-po

March 6, 2011

I’ll be exhibiting for the first time in ages at the new ‘London Comic & Small Press Expo’ next weekend. I’ll have a host of cards and comics to sell (also available from my website!). There will be a bunch of great artists there including Twelve-Eyed chums Joe Decie and Shug, Sarah McIntyre, David O’Connell, Lizz Lunney and many more.

The fair takes place at Goldsmiths University in the wilds of East London, from 10am-5pm on Saturday 12th March. Afterwards there’s a panel discussion between Dave McKean and Lorenzo Mattotti which is sure to be interesting. There will doubtless also be a trip to a nearby pub.

I’ve been working on a new collection of Amusing Paper, which may be finished, copied and collated ready to sell at the event… or may not. In the absence of new comics here’s a picture of my workspace:

The Secret of the Unicon

April 27, 2010

I was intrigued and excited to hear about the Unicomics event. A comics festival at the University of Hertfordshire, just a short train ride from my own town!

I did wonder what it would be like, though. While London events attract a wide number of visitors from across the metropolis and beyond, this was a small fair at a campus on the edge of a satellite town. Who would be there? Students, I supposed…

Unicon took place in a covered area known as The Street, with the stalls conveniently located for traffic, though somewhat oddly positioned in wide gaps along its length. Decorated with international flags and large portraits of university staff, this corridor played host to talent from the UK comic scene large and small – from X-Men to Beano to DIY small press. I met some local comics enthusiasts, a number of families (brought to the event by a Ben 10 cartoon showing and a comic-making workshop courtesy of Sarah McIntyre), some visitors on a faculty open day and a random old man… and a few students. Not sure where everyone else was.

Though not a very busy day, it was a pleasant time. Give me free cups of tea and I’ll always be happy. It was good to catch up with the comics folk, including my regular table buddy Joe Decie, and I even attended an interesting panel discussion, which I rarely take the time for when manning a table. In this case, I may not have missed much table action even if I’d been at all the talks, but hey, I’m not complaining. The topic of Comics & Music was one which the panellists – writers Kieron Phonogram and Matt Sheret, and comic creator Sean Azzopardi – admitted was too broad to tackle entirely successfully, but they did cover some of the links between the two forms, the crucial difference in these media (time in reading dictated by the reader), and their attempts to capture music in their art (e.g. each page of Phonogram #2.7 choreographed to ‘Wolf Like Me’ by TV on the Radio, and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound influencing a dense panel grid). And not once did they resort to the cross-culture cliché of ‘dancing about architecture’.

The panel ended with inspiring talk of how one subculture can influence another, with mention of Kieron’s DJing at Thought Bubble, Sean’s prior involvement in the late London Underground Comics market stall and Matt’s We Are Words & Pictures group’s touring small-press table, and how these regular meetings encourage each other to produce new and better work (with Tom Humberstone’s Solipsistic Pop anthology an excellent and up-to-date example, launching this week). Certainly makes me want to be more ambitious with my own comics.

I also picked up today a copy of Striptacular 2 by Francesca Cassavetti (an entertaining account of the appearance at the French comic festival Angouleme by Francesca, Sean, Oliver Lambden and Dan Lester, under the name B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S); Sarah’s hilarious Dear Diary mini-comic illustrating her teen journal entries; Many Happy Returns by Jan Wheatley, the effective first part of a serious comic set around a family in the 1970s… and I also bought a second-hand Chris Ware book from Douglas Noble.

After fun at the pub I watched Watchmen (the Director’s Cut, which was good, but very long) before going the short distance home. Although when my friend dropped me at a station I just missed a train, and had to wait an hour for the next one. At least I had plenty to read.

I hope this was just the first of many UniComics festivals; they have the enthusiasm, facilities and location, they just need more promotion. Keep an eye on their activities by clicking here or joining the Facebook group.

My next fair will be the London Zine Symposium in Shoreditch on May 29th!


March 28, 2010

I’m pleased to announce I’ll be selling my comics at the Unicon fair next month. Unicon is part of a brand new comics festival which takes place at the University of Hertfordshire (my own local shire, that is).

UniComics boasts a panel discussion by 2000AD alumni Pat Mills, Dave Gibbons and Kevin O’Neill; a screening of the Watchmen Director’s Cut; a workshop by comic maker and children’s books illustrator Sarah McIntyre and many other events. The Unicon fair happens on Saturday 24th April at the Atrium on the University’s de Havilland campus in Hatfield.

For more details look up the Unicon page here!

Thing 2010

March 28, 2010

I remember the first Thing I went to, back in 2005…  I’d been reading fanzines for years and producing my own A Cheery Wave from Stranded Youngsters, but didn’t know so much about DIY comics aside from REET!, its Hull-based precursor Lobster and a few titles found in the small-press section of Gosh! (does anyone remember Living Room comic?) I think I’d found out about the Thing from a flyer in Gosh!, and it introduced me to a wider world of underground publishing. I took along a few copies of my brand new Amusing Paper and I swapped and bought comics from Richard Cowdry, James Nash and Paul Rainey, all of whom are still doing comics now… I remember being a bit in awe of them. These days I’m used to being on the other side of the table and am possibly becoming a jaded old veteran!

It was a tired Team Twelve Eyes that set up stall in the Great Hall at Mile End on Saturday morning – neighbour Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine had travelled down from Yorkshire through the night, while I was just a little sleepy after being out to see art-rock-band Youthmovies the previous evening. My comic-making spirits had been perked up by reading the final issue of Phonogram, but it was a slow start to the day. My first sale was achieved through friendly desperation. “Feel free to browse my comics. Please?”

When Joe Decie arrived and we set up our shared table, I had trouble fitting on all my comics and postcards; if doing the Thing again next year, we might have to expand to our own tables as our range of titles grows. Oddly, though, I’ve found that while I have more issues on offer at each Thing, I’ve sold fewer comics in total. I suspect this is due to there being fewer Thing attendees rather than a decline in my product quality…

The hall certainly seemed less busy than previous years, and perhaps its visitor numbers have declined due to the number of other events at which it’s possible to buy small press, increase in Thing entry cost, or lack of so many ‘big name’ exhibitors this year such as Kate Beaton or Rene Engstrom. Or maybe potential new visitors just didn’t know about the Thing – I hadn’t seen any flyers in comic shops this year, and while it’s hard to gauge how much it helps to advertise, it wouldn’t do any harm.

A major attraction in favour of the Thing though, for exhibitors and visitors, is the themed Anthology produced every year, to which all are encouraged to contribute new work and which is sold cheap at the event. This year’s dinosaur-themed book is a whopping 131 pages, containing more dinosaurs than is entirely sensible, and is well worth a read.

I had a quick scout around the other tables and was pleased to see plenty of products new to me: especially impressed by a glossy mag full of weird illustration by John Miers and an odd little zine called Melon Shrub which drew me in with its eccentric drawing style and clever use of colour. I also bought the latest instalments of David O’Connell’s fantasy detective story Tozo, Paul Rainey’s Milton Keynes-set time travel epic There’s No Time Like the Present and Shug’s comedic end-of-the-world series Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep. It’s obviously effective to publish continuing stories!

A new addition to this year’s Thing was the Dino-Saw-Us passport game thought up by Lizz Lunney and Timothy ‘People I Know’ Winchester. Collecting our stickers seemed popular with kids of all ages. It was also a good way of getting people to stop at our table while we attempted a sales pitch! Most common response: “I’m just browsing, I’ll be back round again later”.

Team Twelve Eyes were pleased when customers actually did come back when they said they would, and when one gent bought a big pile of comics from each of us. He even brought a checklist of previous purchases, so he’d know not to buy the same issue twice.

After a long day, we showed our faces at the ‘Schmurgencon’ (a rival convention/ pub gathering, thrown by mystery Norwegian ‘Schmurgen Jonerhaffs’) before retiring to the traditional Post-Thing Thing for beer and burger and talk with various comics creators, taking in bad puns, dangerous print techniques and Shoe People. We were also treated to free copies of an International sampler comic from German publishers Zwerchfell, which looks and even smells great. Thanks!

It’s always good to see folks and their new wares; so while not a vintage Thing, it was a Thing worth doing.

What do you call a dinosaur with twelve eyes?

March 13, 2010

Team Twelve Eyes

It’s Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine, Joe Decie and me, sharing tables and selling comics again at this year’s Thing. If you were there last year, we’re in the same place so you’ll know where to find us. If you weren’t there last year, look out for three guys with glasses…

The Thing brings together over 80 exhibitors of small-press and web-based comics, selling books, zines, merch and such, taking part in panel discussions, and doodling to order. There will also be the probably-exclusive opportunity to buy the Thing anthology (this year’s theme: dinosaurs) and put together your own comics passport from various creators (see the Dino-Saw-Us blog for more details of this great sticker-collecting scheme!).

I have postcards, stickers and some brand new greetings cards… and I’m working on some comics.

The Thing takes place at Great Hall, Queen Mary University, Mile End, on Saturday 27th March from 10am- 5pm (NB. Mile End tube will be shut part of the day, so use Stepney Green instead, if you’re coming to the Thing, that is).

To the Thing!

February 27, 2010

dinosaur on his way to London

The next big small-press comic event is the Thing. Held for several years at a university hall in Mile End, it has a reputation as one of the busiest gatherings for web and mini-comix… as its name suggests.

Besides over 80 exhibitors’ own wares, you can also buy an Anthology full of their contributions on a given theme. This year’s theme is Dinosaurs. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has drawn and to see my own strip in the book!

To whet your appetite you can download a PDF copy of previous books from the Thing, which includes my pages on Mars and Giraffes.

And to add extra fun to the event (and incentive for attendees to visit every table), Lizz Lunney and Timothy Winchester have created a great collecting game for the day! Pick up a passport when you arrive, and collect a stamp or sticker from each artist involved to make your own exclusive souvenir. You can see the list of those involved at the Dino-Saw-Us Blog.

The Thing takes place at Great Hall, Queen Mary University, Mile End London, on 27th March from 10am- 5pm. Swiftly followed by the traditional After-Thing Thing in the ’spoon’s down the road.

Brighton Zinefest Zinefayre

February 27, 2010

I had fun last weekend in Brighton!

I travelled down with Shabs (Alternative Press designer, comic-maker and stand-up comic) and Dickon (Zine Picnic chef and Panel Borders interviewer). We entertained a stranger on the train with some zines. Or maybe we just confused her. As it was a rare sunny day, we took a quick detour to the beach before going up to the Zine fair; here’s a sketch I made earlier…


The fair was part of a four-day zinefest including gigs, films, cabaret and social events organised by a special collective in Brighton. It seems to be a very healthy scene in the city. Unfortunately I didn’t get to any of the other dates, and while at the fair I spent most of my time behind my own table, but such is the way of small-press.

On sale today on two floors of the Hanover Community Centre were self-published comics, personal zines, political pamphlets, a few of the better (more humorous) art books (see Coachwerks anthology from a converted bus garage), and even good old-fashioned music mags (I picked up Shebang on a previous trip). I was sharing a table and candy-striped cloth with Steve ‘Rum Lad’ Larder and Isy Morgenmuffel (unfortunately Herman Peaks Comics, who I was due to share with, couldn’t make it to the fair). Both are well worth looking up – Steve’s output is part travel diary and part sketchbook and wholly attractive to look at, lots of detail in his handwritten articles and ink drawing. Isy too draws accounts of her own life at punk / DIY / protest events but in the form of cute comic strips. They have a shared zine ‘Rum Muffel’ if you want a taste of both.

The fair was busy throughout the day and I sold quite a few comics, with my Music Paper #1 being especially popular – unsurprisingly as it’s all about the life of a zine editor. Brighton was more of a zine fest than comic fest, though I think the distinctions between the two terms are quite blurred: there is more of a political edge to the zine scene than the comics world, but there’s crossover between them (zine publishers Last Hours, for instance, have just put out a few comic anthologies, including Excessive Force which is an anti-Police collection).Comics can be as personal as zines, they just use more pictures; zines can be as silly as some comics. It’s all small-press, it can be whatever its creators want.

After the fair, a large number of our small-press army invaded a neighbouring chip shop then a local pub. Subjects on the table included the most offensive cartoons we’ve ever thought up, and what happens when arts graduates meet boxers.

Later, I visited friends and fell asleep watching a Vincent Gallo film. Next day I bought a bunch of second-hand Tintin books and a Gabrielle Bell comic half about doing comic fairs and half about being kidnapped by a giant. It was raining, so then I went home. But it was a good weekend.

Below is a cartoon based on observations at this and other fairs…

Thanks to the Brighton Zinefest Collective for their work!

Small-Press Scene, no. 1

February 27, 2010

comics and zines

Alternative Press Fair

February 14, 2010

I had fun at the Alternative Press Fair yesterday. I was sharing a table with long-term small-press advocate Gavin Burrows (whose ‘Lucid Frenzy’ blog covers a variety of alternative culture and is well worth a read) and Tom and Joe from Mallard Small Press. Sales were reasonable, comics were discussed, beer was drunk.

Highlights of the day included:

– watching how eye-catching my Friendly Demon comic seemed to be. Either colour covers are the way forward, or small press enthusiasts are all Satanists

– thinking we were onto a sale when a girl in front of our table opened up her handbag… but pulled out a phone and went away.

– embarrassment in mixing up the members of the Mallard team, Chris (who writes dense and intriguing prose fiction) and Joe (who draws cartoons of stick men). Joe’s postcards seemed to sell well, but sadly the zines didn’t move so fast (you can read more on their blog)

– Saban ‘Shabs’ Kazim’s stand-up comedy set – the open-mic and poetry evening was a little hit-and-miss this time around, but Shabs’ true-life stories are always worth hearing

– buying some new comics: Pissing in the Wind by Joe Decie (a collection defining uses of the word ‘piss’); Birdsong/Songbird anthology by Will Kirkby, Sarah McIntyre, David O’Connell and friends; and James Nash’s 2009 Diary Comic, in which I was amused to find myself making a small cameo at a Bearsuit gig…

Thanks to Peter Lally, Gareth Brookes, Jimi Gherkin and the rest of the Alternative Press team for organising another fine day!

UPDATE: Richy K. Chandler of Tempo Lush fame also has a blog report complete with pictures: see if you can spot the difference between my cartoon and his photo!

Fun at the Fair

January 17, 2010

Next month sees the return of London’s premier gathering for all things underground and printed, the third Alternative Press Fair. There will be small-press comics, zines, artist books, radical literature and nice merchandise sold by as many creators as can fit in the venue. I’ll be there with comics and postcards; here’s a little flyer from me:

It’s also the first birthday of the Alternative Press team, so they plan a celebration after the stalls have packed up, with music and open-mic for all.

Also in my diary is the Brighton Zinefest on the weekend of 20th February, and a little further off, the annual celebration of comics that is the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing in London on 27th March. See you there!