Running Facebook repeats

I wish people would blog. Why Facebook when you can blog? It’s only the ratings game. Stupid planet. I present two recent Facebook posts, for the joy.

18 August

You know those protestors with the pictures of dead babies, maybe the ones standing in a busy Belfast city street? I think we’ll call them the Abortionoids.
Well I had to walk back past them today. My laptop bag has a dangling piece of string, and as I bounced, the ears of a pair of scissors inside became entangled in it. The scissors half fell from my bag and snagged on another piece of string, linking a tree with one of the abortionoids’ signs about doctors who hiccup or something.
Anyway, I struggled to get free, and then the scissors got caught in another sign. Nobody seemed to have noticed, but I thought I’d better go. So I walked past the table with all the signatures of naive young fools who think choosing other people’s bodies are a bit like choosing your favourite crayon. I crossed at the lights, and I went to work. I was just taking my laptop bag off when I noticed two A3 signs about doctors who cough were just dangling from my bag!
Of course, I plan to go around that way as soon as I get off work and see if I can return these signs but everyone might have gone home by then. Ohnoes.
23 August

I am Writer, creator of life, farmer of worlds, blazing bastard comet on dinosaurs and bunnies alike. As I cast my supernatural machinations down upon petri dish people, the dishes build up, the dust grows from thick on carpet to thinner in the heavens of thon attuned ecosphere apartment. The spiders build webs over the sink, the shower walls cry for an old testament toothbrush cleaning, and that wall isn’t going to paint itself.

Yet here my power is diminished. I can make a man or woman of eternal song but I cannot clean thine own rack where the cutlery sits. I can destroy the most malevolent maniacs but I cannot get that stain on the toilet bowl removed.

I’m actually terribly good at cleaning when I’ve people coming round. Moto came to visit a few years back and I spent two days polishing a dump pile of a house into something passable that looked like someone could live in. I wondered if you have the same relationship with house cleaning. Or this one. I love cleaning round friends’ homes, I will visit you with brillo and spray, with vacuum and cloth. Certainly most folk I know have spotless homes, independently developed. There should be a scheme for people like us/me though. I dub this form: CleanShare. Social gatherings planned triggering spit and polish. Social gatherings developing tidy and tinsel. I would bestow gifts of beer and pizza and fags upon the humans and all the animals that pick up a jay-cloth casually, with their watching eyes pushing my hygiene ever forward. You’ve seen it in your own lives maybe. You’ve seen it on TV. Cleanshare. Not as much fun as reading the work of Wilde or Shakespeare between the group, or a night with guitars or movies. But CleanShare. Where is my Cleanshare? Gawddamn.

(Andy Luke is the author of Axel America, a novel set in the social media information age, were news is interactive, and type is movable. Most cursing has been edited out of it. It’s now up for pre-order on Kindle and Smashwords. Axel America Book Launch! is on September 5th at the Black Box Belfast  Free entry to free your minds, apparently)

Axel America’s Day Off

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Took yesterday off, with my niece, well the family; my niece did most of the talking. We ran around IKEA as secret agents – she does a wicked Bond villain impersonation on swivel chairs; I showed her Absence: a comic about epilepsy; we discussed ideologies of the left – she’s ten but remarkably astute; and she showed me Minecraft, which we used to map out some details of my next novel. Remarkably effective, and for where I’m at, quite liberating. Also half-day off. Mother and I liberated two pot plants from the reduced to clear Bargain Corner, somewhere plants should not be.

Axel America and the U.S. Election Race is up for pre-order on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. I’m not sure if the print-on-demand is up yet but it certainly will be within the week. It’s up on Neilsens registry and NI Libraries have mailed to confirm they’re taking copies. I’ve a few boxes of prints arriving later this week. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to reviewers, which is a bit challenging, though some big names TBA have stepped up to that. I’ll be featuring in Spotlight in the always excellent Writing Magazine, and on Sunday I’ll be recording with Downbelow: A Babylon 5 Intro-Cast, talking about Neil Gaiman’s Day of the Dead.

I’ve ditched a small SE England signing tour in favour of a virtual Election tour of podcasters and bloggers; low funds and mental/phys. stress really could put me at risk of seizure. Podcast spots will be more fun than chain-smoking at bus stations, and for play’s sake, Axel America won’t have to be The Sole Focus. If you’d like to have me on a show, or interview for a piece, I’m email-able at drewdotlukeatgmail.

This site now has an Axel America page where I’ll be linking to any podcasts or blogspots on the Election Tour. There’s some advance sheets up there, along with posters and bookmark designs mainly for the oohs and coos. Andrew at AG Publishings wants me to mention that we have a bookmark choice competition. Four signed print editions mailed anywhere, drawn from social media shares.

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• Design A – ‘The All American’. A juxtaposition of the US flag, Liberty and NWO, plus names of cast.
• Design B – ‘The Losing Horse’. This is the boring one. We expect this one to lose. Promotes the illusion of choice.
• Design C – ‘The Broken American Dream’. The publisher’s favourite.
• Design D – ‘The Cover Homage’. Could be a winner this one. Parchment paper background, stencil of cover, red,white,blue.
• Design E – ‘The Controversial One’. We don’t want this one to win, but it might. We can’t control everything. Unlike the US election.

Make sure we can put your name on the list by tagging #AxelAmerica or RT-ing one of the posts at @andrewluke or @AGPublishings

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This week I’ve been working with Andrew Gallagher on his 2nd draft/my 7th draft of Axel America. Yes, novels are usually worked through with proofers and publishers and done six months or more prior to publishing. In this case, I didn’t begin talking with AG Publishings until two months ago. It’s not as if it can be put off either – the story of Axel America takes place between April and October of this year, and a release any later kind of robs it of some of it’s power. You’ll see. We’re in the very unusual position of altering the story up to one month before publication. I think the novel is more functional because of this error of mine and it’s a guilty pleasure too, where I’m able to include in references to current events. It’s also a double-edged sword. Mick Falk is a character obsessed with the European conspiracy, and with the Referendum gone the way it has, I’m currently re-writing Falk’s character in the second half. The second draft is gruelling. Positively stress-inducing aargh, because I’m letting go, delivering the bloody baby. The third draft will be a final check for typos, punctuations etc., should be a dawdle.

So that’s why I’m still writing about editing, when other writers had all this done moons ago.

The advance information sheets are just waiting for clearance, but the promotionals have begun.  I’ve been writing tweets for @TheAxelAmerica and @TruthLive_TV to coincide with the annual Bohemian Grove festivities which start today.

If you’ve been by @andrewluke on Twitter, you’ll see I ran a ’60 Great Small Press’ list of comics that have touched me. These are being collected on John Freeman’s Down The Tubes, and the first part went up a few days ago. 

The novel, Brexit, and the Aran Islands holiday

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Work carries on with ‘Axel America’. Unfortunately the previous copy editor didn’t work out, but on the plus side, it’s being done in-house at AG Publishings. Andrew Gallagher is such a joy to work with: thoroughly professional and a big fan of the book, his support fills me with confidence that we’re going to shift some copies when the novel is released two months from now. As it’s set >now< (now being just after Chapter 7), last minute re-writes are required under Brexit, but we’re getting there.

It’s been a lot of work, and so I took a long weekend away. I did consider asking social media for an update on post EU Ref / Brexit, all the political developments of my week away, but on second thoughts, I’d really much rather have an update on my friends and know they’re coping and surviving it. Westminster politicians aren’t far enough down my caring list, yet they carry on trying to make out this ever-shifting landscape is completely about themselves.

The weekend away began in Galway, and a reunion with Emmett Taylor, cartoonist behind Dope Fiends, and several Dublin Comic Cons. Emmett was one of the first comics creators I worked with, and it’s been fourteen years since we saw one another. Here’s us in a famous Salthill pub enjoying the craic.

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Sarah and I set off the following morning for Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands.

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I’d fun meeting the locals, including John, a talented muso seen here playing the bars.

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John and other musicians regularly hang out at this island cafe run by Roland and Angela, who make a mean morning smack-me-up brew.

Our B & B, Ard Mhuiris came as part of the Aran Islands ferry package, worth finding. A homely little place near the harbour run by Cait, who came over as very sweet, attentive and likeable. No pictures snapped but for this rather unusual 3d picture on the wall, which resembles both a horse and the face of a strange old man.

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Oh, right, you liked the ones with fields and sea…

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There’s no barriers or handrails up there. Beautiful? My legs were like jelly. Dun Aonghas is 300 foot cliffs.

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The fort from another angle. The Burren, the stone-field in foreground, is all over the island.

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The road to Dun Ducathair (The Black Fort), includes twenty minutes of walking on stones.

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Right, I have to get back to work now. I’ll leave you with a photo with less stones in it.

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Condensed Game of Thrones

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Four seasons, five actors, 15-20 minutes.

Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones makes use of  an excellent compressed version of the Joffrey arc.

I wrote one too, and it seems a bit redundant now. I tried to produce it for Titancon in 2014, and again in 2015, with two different casts. I think the best thing is just to put it out there. Read it, enjoy it, if you want to perform it (including edits), I’d be happy to hear how you get on.

I should note thanks to Jim McClean, Wendy Duly, Cat Jones and Alex Groves, each of whom suggested a few lines.

Download PDF version  /   Download .doc version

Game of Throneses c. George R.R. Martin and HBO respectively

Probably the best bus ride I’ve ever been on

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Titancon is a fan-organised event mixing Game of Thrones with the best of Northern Ireland’s Horror, SF&F literature. From it’s first outing in 2011, they’ve run a Game of Thrones coach tour, chasing down new shooting locations. There’s great camaraderie, too. Organiser Phil Lowles’ habit of assuring passengers “They were only ten minutes away,” formed the basis of a poem I co-wrote with Cat Jones and Stephen de Meulemeester, which has become something of a favourite.


The two coaches have built up some rivalry over the years. This year it boiled right up, including some small trolling by yours truly. I created Twitter accounts for the coaches, and automated tweets where Coach 1 would routinely name-drop it’s direct line to the GoT stars, and Coach 2 would tweet about how it had hit an iceberg.
Over breakfast, I’d bragged to Titancon’s security man Ade Beattie about the twitter stuff. Ade was called out to pick up Miltos Yerolemou (aka Syrio Forel), who was running a little late. As they sought to catch up to us, the pair of them set up an account  for their journey: Coach 3 account.

Meanwhile, I gave Coach 1 people passwords to both twitter accounts so honest updates went out, as well as on personal handles giving us hashtags like #coachinthenorth and #miltosiscoming
Add to the mix, Cat, and Pebble, had decided they would make Coach 1 a sure extension of the Friday/Saturday format. Grabbing the on-board microphone (and one they’d brought with them), they arranged an improv con. The programme included:
Panel: Aragon economics

Crowdsourcing: What ghastly aberration will befall Titancon this year?
(Seals with rocket launchers, parallel universe collapse etc)

Tutorial: Milting
(Came about from a pun on Miltos’ name. It turned out we had an academic specialist on board for an informative talk and Q&A. Milting is fish sperm, sperm poured over eggs and grown in a box; the male dies. This also formed the basis of the sandcastle competition, photos on Werthead’s post below.)

Singalongs:
Popular tunes with the word ‘love’ replaced with ‘bum’. Other replacements included ‘Prostitute’, and ‘Hodor’.
SF Author Paedar O’Guillin teaches us An Poc Ar Buile (The Mad Puck Goat)
The Rains of Castamere – Rehearsals of the Red Wedding Song, for freaking out Coach 2 at the banqueting hall at the end of the day.

Game Quiz:
Google random images and assign as kitten or boobs

Limericks by Coach Poet Laureate:
Coach 1 is the greatest / We’ve songs and literary theatres / But Coach 2 know / Nothing like Jon Snow / Nothing like Barcelona waiters!
Champion blogger Adam Whitehead (aka @Werthead) has collated the best of all the Twitter activity at https://storify.com/Werthead/titancon-2015-coach-trip
Phil Lowles has just announced Titancon’s return for 2016. You can book for this year’s day event, at http://titancon.com/ and be sent an announcement when coach trip seats open later on in the month I imagine.

Blogging Axel America: Me and A Publisher

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The week of the 16th May began with a meeting with Pieter Bell, an affable bar-fly of Belfast stores which stock comics. At the Enniskillen event under much lager, Piet had unmasked himself as an editorial bod and was keen to try out proofing the MS. Also from Enniskillen, an interview lining up with Andrew Gallagher for May 22nd. Initially, for guidance, but I couldn’t resist asking the purveyor of well composed sensationalist literature in neat smooth bound form would be interested in publishing Axel America. So, I push on with re-drafting. The daunting, dull task was tidying up the timeline which was a major challenge. I marked cut-off dates in the chapter listing and altered the temperature on a few details. Plot seeds and plants of different growths were uprooted and re-flowered and all other relevant small gardening metaphors. I shared the document link with Andrew and with Pieter on Wednesday, two more days to go.

Not in my notes was the fact a minor character disappeared from the final third of the book. He wasn’t essential to the plot but his character, like Axel, calls out for attention. Again, back to the chapter listing and marking up where he should be seen and what he’d be doing there. One final speed read over I see another characters doesn’t have traction to action demanded. Eventually, more spell and grammar, format and punctuation, (damn those commas wriggling into prohibited areas,) finally its done. 46k.

THe meet with Andrew Gallagher got off bumpy with my epileptic absences flaring up. On the plus side, Andrew is now a big fan of Absence: a comic about epilepsy. He dealt with it as a gent and both of us were so revved with lists of questions for one another that we made short work of the time. Andrew guided me through the process of publishing as he saw it, reeling out figures and processes with nary a glance at his laptop. A very productive day. I’d highly recommend would be authors to hire Andrew for a consultation. Having done a fair bit of self-publishing already I was able to bring enough to the table to compliment and enhance what Andrew has on offer.

So, I’m pleased to announce AG Publishings will be putting out Axel America, on September 5th.

And here’s a copy of Sean Duffield‘s mock up of the cover:

Axel America Finished Rough_Hi_Res_600dpi

Pretty cool eh? He’s been sending me bits and pieces of the finished version and it looks ace!

Axel is a patriot with questions. Torn between two loves: his family, and his one-man media crusade, news won’t be the only thing that’s breaking. Axel seeks to regain the love of his children and to cover the Presidential race. However the satanic forces he’s been warning about all his life come out from the shadows and are determined to pull him in.

25/05/2016: Joyful deadlines: Blogging Axel America

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Axel America is set around the November 8th U.S. elections, so I’ve plenty of reason for getting it out there soon.

Some authors disparage deadlines and writing for the market. Underneath those there’s structure, definition. In the emotional storm times, those can be something to cling to, a way forward. Late April, early May, the time between drafts, took a lot out of me; demanded time to recover. Time I’d set aside for scratching my arse and watching Babylon 5 repeats was replaced with great mourning and celebrating. When I was ready to go back to work, there was plenty, but thankfully I had lots of plans.

Richard wasn’t keen on a show-down in Chapter 4, between Axel and his foe Morgan Rump. “It comes out of nowhere,” he said, and he was right. I printed out the chapter list and decided a re-shuffle was in order. My solution was to bring forward Chapter 5 re-establishing Rump as a threat, but as Chapter 3, thus better establishing him in the rising action. Chapter 1 is an ensemble piece, but doesn’t focus on Axel. (A surprise, as Axel dominates every scene he’s in.) I was loathe to create a new Chapter 2 and alter the opening act structure, being as how I’m at third re-draft but starting out from the vaguest scenario, Axel in studio, I got building, centralising his own world of chaos, and complimenting the new arrangement. The new Chapter 4 also benefited from an extra few pages settling the reader into a more casual read. The original chapter 3 was also set-up, but got pushed back, which is alright as its non-essential, except for being a real peach.

Above: Sean Duffield’s thumbnails for the characters on the cover

My redraft.txt detailed three vital sub-plots I’d identified as not getting their due. Re-reading the MS, I made notes on the chapter listing where they’d been mentioned, and where they could be grown and expanded on. Then, I wrote those in, and noted that I had. Then I discovered spelling mistakes. And more spelling mistakes. The whole document, infected with them! A look under the hood revealed my version of Open Office was not playing ball. Everything got exported to Word. Spells and grimoire re-working took much less time than expected; two days. I think this must be the easiest re-write I’ve done for the reason detailed notes were kept, the sort a scrutinising editor or proofer might hand me. It always seemed another job had to be done, but I knew what the job was. I ran across new tasks on the way there. In one chapter I’d scrupulously pinned down location details. When I put the address in, I realised the text could be made so much better by capitalising on why I’d chosen that location above others, and so strengthened the atmosphere. Spell and grammar checks on new lines and paragraphs, the document by now edging towards 43k.

By now, its May 16th and Sean had sent through the finished rough cover which looks incredible. I’m talking with Enniskillen author Andrew Gallagher about the route to publication on his own books. I met Andrew at the Enniskillen Comic Fest selling his fictions, ‘Escape from Fermanagh’ and ‘Fermanagh Exorcism.’ Both are published out of his own house, AG Publishings. The books are well formatted and clean, the stories are easy-read riveters, horror hoots. We talk about my visiting him for a chat to see if he can’t talk me through the process, which frankly I’ve not had a handle on since carting ten supermarket trolleys of Absence to the post office. There should have been a photo of that. Self-publishing is all fun and games until somebody loses control of a cart on a kerb. Thankfully Andrew has an iron grip and a peer talk will help steer me right. Enough puns. I’ll leave it there for now and update again in a few days.

20/04/2016: Blogging Axel America

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Written back in April…

I’ve just laid down a chapter of Axel America, the final one, and wanted to share with you some thoughts and experiences on process. The novel’s an adaptation of my 2011-2012 comic book Hold the Phones, It’s Alex Jones. The comics were written through a series of story sessions with my best friend and longtime collaborator, Richard Barr and along the way attracted other co-conspirators: Benjamin Stone; Adam Lively; Geoffrey Wessel and Sean Duffield. We produced the comic over two ‘seasons’, and collected them behind a madly wonderful cover by Richard. Bleeding Cool covered the digital launch. That same night, Adam and I were drinking when we learned Jones had gone ballistic on Piers Morgan’s show. A Google image search for Alex Jones led with Richard’s cover for hours, and our main ebook seller, Myebook registered 15,000 previews. Sadly I later learned they were going through bankruptcy and we got nada cash. Further suckiness? Our collected comic just got too expensive to produce. (Though, the Kablam version looks great.)

Fast forward a few years. I’m writing prose shorts, about thirty to date, and gearing up for a book. I’ve a special one in mind, a favourite child if you will, but I wondered if it might be possible to ressurect Hold the Phones and put those stories out quickly as a novella. Well, there’s no such thing as a quick novella. Not a good one. I missed my own deadline by three months, but it’s happening. Richard was happy enough to let me run with what builds around the Co-Opted story he wrote, and which Adam drew. It’s about Alex nee Axel’s manipulation by a news network’s chosen Presidential candidate, and Axel’s children on the run. Adaptation can get pretty dull without new material so I crafted a Season 3 of stories that linked it all together, and introduced new characters. Axel insisted on seeing real enemies everywhere, so to give him a break and me a story, I should created a few. My own epic from the collection, ‘Global Agenda 2012,’ didn’t fit the feel of the novel, but I knew I wanted to include his fellow conspiracy theorists. Pretty soon they went from two chapter supporting characters to part of an ensemble.

Re-drafting: I’m quite happy to admit I’m good at this, but it’s laborious. In this case, it’s been the most fun I’ve had writing anything. I’ve laughed uproariously at my own jokes again and again and that’s not a bad sign. I made good time on the second novel draft, each chapter contained simply in a .txt. file. Richard saw about a third of the .doc and was keenly enthusiastic and critical. Fingers crossed, there’s a few back-lines to plant and a character to re-name as noted in my re-draft.txt. Also, two extra scenes to write because the piece needs them and Richard wants another go round, so we’re breaking those later in the week. Of the other authors from Hold the Phones, I could only bring back Sean Duffield (working on the cover), but there’s a strong sense the spirit of collaboration had something to do with how well this has turned out. Concerns? Getting it out before the November U.S. election; making a decision on publishing – once your first book is out, certain doors are closed. Overall? No disposable quickie, this book affirms why I chose to be an author. As a reader to another, you’ll love it.

Andy Luke, 20/04/2016

Gosh, that was only a month ago. I’m surprised how hard I’ve been working on it since then, and where it is now. I hope I can put out another of these this week. I’ve got news!

Too much happening lately

My new friend, Andrew Gallagher, iron grip author of 'Escape from Fermanagh'

Since last post here, the world lost John Grandidge, a dear friend off exploring the flora and fauna of the after-life, looking out posthumously from future poetry collections of those he influenced; he peeks out from between the panels of my last few years of comics, of which he was an audible fan and supporter. He was my favourite drinking buddy; he warmed my soul when it was cold and weeping. He touched a multitude of people in the same way and he did it with style and love. He told us he’d cancer a few months ago, thinking it was an upset stomach. When it claimed him, it was years ahead of what many of us thought. He was at home with friends and a cat.

I’ve written a lot about John in pro-active grieving, which might find it’s way out, but he’s glimpsed beautifully in verse by Becca Heddle. If you didn’t know him, I’m sorry for your loss.

JG, John, Leonard Rat, Grandidge, John Wood Dragon, Jackfirecat – probably not all the names.
Poet, artist, cleverclogs.
Approaching fast, long-legged stride, black coat flapping, sweeping you up with a surprising hug.
Expressive hands full of knots and angles, drawing thoughts in the air.
Skewering pretension, dissecting hypocrisy – ach, rrr – cutting through the crap.
Delighted swift turn of the head and dart of a smile aimed just at you.
Red Shift; Little, Big; Possession; Robert Graves.
Doing everything with all of him, glint in his eyes, walking moors, riverbanks, hills.
Glorious in spleen, generous with love, hating sentimentality.
Energy, spark, fire.
New conversations, not repeats – ‘No, we’ve done that one.’
Yes, Genesis, Brand X, Billy Bragg, Prince, the Stranglers.
Snakeshead fritillaries.
Notes in Elvish; gifts of poems, drawings, time, jokes, joy.
Suddenly standing, black bag to his shoulder, ‘Bye’ – and he’s gone.

Less than a week later, I’m at the hand-fasting of Margaret Dalzell and Richard Barr; Richard being my nearest and dearest. It was at the beautiful Ballygally Castle and an informal gathering of old friends. Sarah and I, no we’re not a couple, stayed at Cairnview Bed and Breakfast, with Adam, and I heartily recommend it to anyone  visiting the place, just on the coast outside Larne. Adam and Sarah looked after me above and beyond the call. Margaret was full of empathy and humour, so much so I had to laugh behind plants when she’d make jokes about people right in front of us. Richard, who hates being the centre of attention, handled it as the professional gentleman I’ve always known him to be, even taking time out to share his latest thoughts on our novel, and suggest a few web researches.

Richard and Margaret.

Oh, and they both looked wonderful.

Then to Enniskillen, which is where Sarah’s from, and the town’s first comics festival. There I met the brilliant five-man committee and after some painting polystyrene shaped rockets. I’d a lovely chat in the pub with Hunt Emerson, Laura Howell and my boyhood idol, Lew Stringer, with Hunt making us laugh with his Frank Miller cover versions. On Friday, we’d a screening of Judge Minty, introduced and summarised by Mr. Michael Carroll, very entertaining. I’d a pub chat with lovely Sue Grant, struck up a friendship with Enniskillen horror writer Andrew Gallagher and wowed at the appearance of Pieter Bell, who I’ve known over twenty years, but rarely seen outside a comic shop. “What? Is there something going on here?” he asked. “No seriously, we just came from the caravan. What’s going on?”

Photographer: Do you think you could flirt a little bit? No, not you, Kitty. I mean, Andy.

Photographer: Do you think you could flirt a little bit? No, not you, Kitty. I mean Andy.

Saturday morning was unloading of comics from the old Black Panel distro, which creators had donated to the event; then preparing to host a morning self-publishing panel featuring Jenika Ioffreda, Una Gallagher, Danny McLaughlin and Austin Flanagan. The main venue was in McArthur Hall, actually a church hall, a real part-of-a-church hall, (ie the comics fest was in a church), and the panels were in the nearby library. I set out in good time, and fell badly down several stairs. The pain was brutal. It cleared up Sunday but I have a massive ankle swelling, though can get about. The panel was small press + first event of the day = poorly attended, but we made up for it by inviting the audience to join us and make a roundtable. Those arriving early for the 2000AD panel were just a little envious on finding Una Gallagher holding court on tales of families aural tradition of storytelling.

Glenn Matchett made this video for the panel, on writing for comics.

And a few hours later, my big turn: Alan Grant and an audience with.  I’d met Sue and Alan on Thursday night, shortly after we arrived. (Sidenote: The guests came from the airport via a party bus, which had disco lights and a dancer’s pole.)  The three of us (who had not met before), were shattered, awkward small talk shared between ciggy puffs. On Friday, Alan and I kept missing one another; resting or walking or taking smoke breaks at different times.  Sue was absolutely lovely and among other things, talked about the comics festival in their home village, which I’d love to get to.

I mean, just look at that guest list.

I mean, just look at that guest list.

Moniaive Comics Festival programme: packed!

Moniaive Comics Festival programme: packed!

So, Alan and I got to chat a few hours before we were due at the library, and the rapport picked up right away. A massive relief, because I was more nervous than I knew.  On the panel, I went through half my pre-written questions on Anarky, deadlines, research, philosophy and got gratefully off-track talking about living with John Wagner, writing horror and romance. The audience were wonderful, filling up the room with questions about 2000AD’s Strontium Dog and Ace Trucking, The Bogie Man, Lobo, and afterwards a number of people came and shook my hand saying what a great job I’d done. Alan was very generous with his experience and his time – we sat twenty minutes late, and considered sitting on but I didn’t want us locked in the library.

The organisers were brilliant: Stephen Trimble gave me a bed for a night before they put me in the hotel. James Eames took us to his home where his parents treated us to coffee, biccies and chat. Chris Fawcett was funny and cool under pressure with the pub quiz; Mark Kenyon flowed between committments. Organiser Paul Trimble did a lot of heavy lifting but still found time to celebrate 30 years of his Banbridge comic shop, Thunder Road, perhaps the first in Northern Ireland. Oh, and Matthew Gault, a tiny Quentin Blake illustration of good humour and muscular intellect. And sometimes, he drinks way too much.

"But at least he doesn't snore like a chainsaw." Photo by James Eames.

“But at least he doesn’t snore like a chainsaw.” Photo by James Eames.

The event was a great success and I join with the other guests in thanking the organisers for brill treatment. A few more quick snaps.

My new friend, Andrew Gallagher, iron grip author of 'Escape from Fermanagh'

My new friend, Andrew Gallagher, iron grip author of ‘Escape from Fermanagh’

Beer Garden: Andrew Gallagher, Ryan Brown and Glenn Fabry

Beer Garden: Andrew Gallagher, Clint Langley and the debonair aristocats, Ryan Brown and Glenn Fabry

Organisers James Eames and Matthew Gault, and Aaron.

Organisers James Eames and Matthew Gault, and Aaron.

Mark Bromage, Paul Trimble, myself and Pieter Bell.

Mark Bromage, Paul Trimble, myself and Pieter Bell.

I’ve another funeral to attend on Friday, my adorable god-mother’s mother. She passed away this morning. I didn’t know her terribly well, but of course, people I love did.

I wonder if part of growing old is not that you slow down, but that life comes and goes faster and faster. If you read this far, thanks. Love with all the heart while you can.