Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bristol Expo Report

Bristol is one of my favourite shows on the convention circuit. Not because of the big announcements, huge guest names or flashiness you’d expect from MCM Expo or the recent Kapow, but precisely because of it’s small nature. It’s very much a creator’s con and feels like a fun clubhouse for a weekend. Unfortunately, this year saw it squeezed between the aforementioned giants, and I fear for it’s future, as attendance definitely felt down on last year. However, sometimes quality wins out over quantity, the there was spades of the former over the weekend.

Below: A lovely dinner with (left to right) Gary Spencer Millidge, Dave Shelton, Flix, Joseph Melchior and Roger Langridge's forehead.
Highlights for me were hosting the Alan Moore: Storyteller panel with my old mate Gary Spencer Millidge (see above) who has written the definitive book on the titular bearded one. I would defy anyone to write a more comprehensive and fascinating book on the man. The panel showed spreads from the book and we discussed everything from Alan’s sense of humour to magical practices in his work. You can tell if you’ve managed to get everything across in a talk by the lack of questions, and we only had three, which means we must’ve covered pretty much all the bases! The book comes out on 18 July and comes with a CD of Alan’s performances and music. Even if you have just a passing interest in comics, or in the creative process in general, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and you can pre-order it here. Plus, here's a video of us in action, talking about Alan's involvement with the book and his schooldays. More Moore videos to come.
The Just a Comic Pickin’ Minute panel exceeded all my expectations and hopes and was a thing of hilarity to behold. Taking part were Gary Erskine, Jimmy Broxton, Paul Cornell, Si Spencer, with Joseph Melchior taking scores, timekeeping and blowing his whistle with much aplomb. The whole show rattled along at a rate and it was hard to keep the whole thing on track as I was laughing so hard most of the time. Topics including Hostess Twinkies, The Strangest Event I Ever Witnessed at a Convention and The Cosmic Cube. Gary went to some dark places revealing he delayed paying his mortgage so he could buy a Milo Manara book, and Paul’s excellent verbosity and way of weaving every single element of each subject into a longer narrative was wondrous. The final scores were James Hodgkins: 4 (but I put that down to his cow buzzer not working properly), Gary Erskine: 11, Si Spencer: 22 and Paul Cornell: 24. So, a very close match with the latter two really wanting to win, which added an excellent frisson to the proceedings! It was so good and so much fun, that I’d like to do it at every con!

Other highlights for me were interviewing the lovely Rick Vietch, a creator who’s work I have loved and admired for years, and seeing the whole Comic Book Alliance team growing, developing and really becoming a solid organisation. Good stuff.

Saw loads of old friends and made some new ones, like Stuart of UKComics, who’ll be printing the CBA’s Spirit of Hope anthology, and rising star Des Taylor, who I'd finally—but briefly—met previously at Kapow. 
Above: A beautiful Vesha Valentine sketch that the ever smiling Des Taylor gave me. What a gent! Check out his brilliant work below and here 
Below: An exquisite piece of art by Glyn Dillon from the Ashcan edition of the forthcoming Nelson anthology from Blank Slate books. I consider myself very lucky to personally know 27 of the talented 50 artists contributing to this unique Sisterson-like experiment that follows the life of a girl from 1968 to the present day. This is what makes British comics great—experimentation, original creations and a wide range of creators at the top of their game! This amazing book will be out in November 2011 and the profits go to the homeless charity, Shelter.
I managed to pick up David Hine and Shaky Kane's very excellent The Bulletproof Coffin, which I must admit, had me worried that it was going to be a case of style-over-content. Happily I was proved wrong and it is a fantastic piece of metafiction that really delivers an excellent  punchline. Thoroughly recommended, but I suspect I'm preaching to the converted here as I appear to be about the last person on the planet to have read it! Sorry, guys!

Overall I had an excellent time, despite getting wrecked in the bar with Simon Bisley (again)!

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