Maps At The Crossroads Part 1

Over 2008 I wrote weekly for  ComicsVillage.com, during a very exciting time in the UK comix scene..

My columns are concerned with four aspects surrounding comics – social community, economic factors, festival and exhibition coverage and modes of distribution.

sherridancottage

Welcome to the first in a multi-part column looking at the build-up to London Comics in March, when three festivals, and several exhibitions run on the same day in the nation’s capital. Saturday 22nd March, here it comes.

Firstly though, a plug for myself : Comics Village can’t afford to wage me from these columns and the paypal contributions to drewdotluke at gmail dotcom have been non-existent. What’s a nickel ?

Anyway I am brilliant, and newsworthy. So heres my plug:

7comics7weeks

Weekly comics in March : Yep, that’s the empowerment of Camden people !
(I’m told Dan Lester has considered the same. Hes currently producing a 24hr comic every month in 2008)

Jack Brodies 

I write this section on a pleasing seat, with a deep coffee beside me, loud ambient working beats and a very pleasant bakery aroma. Perhaps the UK’s first ever comics shop, café and gallery, saleable frames and canvasses taste up the walls. Outside one of the staff, Ryan, takes great delight shouting, “Comics and Cakes”. The front entrance contains a rack of Brodies Law comics and collections, a poster flipcase, and customers are actively looking at about 400 different graphic novels and a selection of toys. There are no doors on this venue and its warm. It’s not the completed work as setting up shop is still going on, work is commencing on the basement section of toys and graphic novels. New comics too, I pick up a copy of the first part of the Ennis/McCrea JLA/Hitman.

Jack Brodies Comics Cafe Camden - Andy Luke

Setting up at Jack Brodies

Creator David Bircham talks about the catering aspects of this new distribution,

“We thought the idea of a themed cafe for Camden would be ideal. We are going to offer hot food (rice and jerked chicken with Coleslaw) at the front of the shop outside and a selection of deserts from our sweet pantry… I believe comic books would have greater success if placed on the high street and I am happy to provide this service, I have strong beliefs that this idea could be potentially great!”

Jack Brodies’ gallery is presently open for business with an official launch party this Saturday 15th March. No more details are available at this time, though keep an eye on Bugpowder during the week.
[Correction: The launch party has presently been postponed, due to a few difficulties, but Jack Brodies is as I writ, very much open for business !]

The name taken from the comic book character in Brodies Law, Jack Brodies is situated at 267 Camden High Street, on the crossroads with Jamestown Road.

Why am I boycotting the UK Web and Mini Comix Thing ? In a nutshell.

Clambering over the personal attacks thrown my way in forums and emails, ‘Mr. Thing’ made cautionary essential points in last week’s interview about small running costs mounting up to his bill of £3k of little things. I believe that profit consolidation comfort ability represents the problem of The Thing in lights of comix sellers there. Put that against ‘little things’of those exhibiting: cartoonists pay £40-£66 per table, £3 per assistant, £5-£40 in travel fares, £10-£20 in food and drink (or £40 as its comix and beer), and £20-£60 lets say in producing their comix and related items:some costs are retrievable, many are not. Do the maths yourself, before you enter the toll booth of ticket sales. A venue paired with friends but a clustering of market competition. I predict three people will do better than break even from the day: Pat (Mr.Thing) Findlay, John Allison (through merchandising), and an unknown third (My bet on the Rubins Sisters if they have a Dark collection up their sleeves)

At the end of the day, we’re all big boys and girls and most of us knew what we were getting into. Next week I’ll cover the travel arrangements for those who would like to attend several of these events. In the meantime, if you’re ‘locked in’, be it Camden, The Thing (or Orbital) on the dot of 3pm, don a V mask, to show some solidarity to your fellow cartoonist at another event. Alternatively, Oli Smith is a big enough media figure that his image is plastered everywhere. If you have the time why not copy and print out his image, or draw your own rendition, and get the whole punch and head-tie material to create an audience of Olis.

{What is the correct plural term for multiple Oil Smiths – A mosh of Olis ? A Live Aid of Olis ? A ransack of Olis ? A rucksac of Olis ? A parade of Olis ? A rave of olis ?)

Francesca and Oli

?, Francesca and Oli

London Underground Comics – The Camden Thing

Doors open at 9am and aren’t in the least visible until 6pm. Theres a facebook event been created and cartoonists may put their self-published comics on the tables were practical for £3 for the day. Stock is always circulated.
Comix Guests besides Oli and I probably attending include –

David Baillie (Judge Dredd the Megazine, RedEye, CI)
Leon Hewitt (RedEye Magazine)
Dan Fish (Bugpowder.com)
Shane Chebsey (SmallZone)
Tim Keable and Andy Cheverton (West)
Alex Fitch (Resonance FM)
Jay Eales and Selina Lock (Factor Fiction Press)
With more surprisers to manifest !

Above the “not four but three stalls”, and beautiful scenery of Camden is the bar and restaurant, Lock 17. Its in the line-up as the expected venue for a larger comics Pubcon Event held sometime in June is expected to be discussed in more detail at the Camden Something Event. I’ve also been hearing a lot of rumours that an alteration of the Creators Manifesto will be discussed in preparing for mounting festival charges, as well as the creation of The Beagle Awards.

Manhua


Solidly recommended by a whole host of folk including curator Paul Gravett, Chrissie Harper, Pat Mills  and many other talents. I really enjoyed this and were surprised to find Chinese comics had more in common with British and American independent cartoonists. I will be back for a second helping of the likes of this,

Theres also live drawing events and study workshops coming up in the near future. See the ever excellent resource  http://www.paulgravett.com/events/events.htm for more details.

Orbital Eastercon

Friday 21st through to Monday 24th March are the dates of this traditional fan convention event. Held at the Radisson Hotel, Heathrow, enchants with its headline guest, Neil Gaiman..

Their programme hasn’t gone up in anything other than a pdf flyer so here are the details of my sifting,

Friday 4-5pm 2000AD: A British Institution with Amanda Kear, Padraig O’Mealoid, James Bacon, SMS, Bryan Talbot
Friday 7-8pm A hitchhiker’s guide to web comics with John Coxon, Joanna McKenzie, Dave Mansfield, Andrew Ducker
Saturday 10-11am The use of mythology in fantasy with Neil Gaiman, Nic Clarke, Maura McHugh, Sarah Singleton, Liz Williams
Saturday 12:30-2pm Fantastic London with Neil Gaiman, Graham Sleight, Geoff Ryman, Pat Cadigan
Saturday 2:30-4pm Alice in Sunderland: talk by Bryan Talbot
Saturday 4-6pm Autographs session with Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, China Miéville, Charles Stross
Saturday 10-11pm A Sensation of Vertigo: How British writers changed the face of comics in 1980s with Bryan Talbot, John Medany, Mike O’Toole, Kellie Takenaka
(Theres also Torchwood Bingo !)
Sunday 1-2pm Gung-Ho Comics with James Bacon, John Medany, Maura McHugh, Alex Ingram
Sunday 10-11am Novel Discussion: American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Mattia Valente
Sunday 2-3:30pm Guest of Honour: Neil Gaiman
Sunday 5-6pm Myth, history and dream: Greece and Rome in the Sandman talk by Tony Keen
Sunday 7-8pm Writing romance for the small press (workshop) Julia Jones
Sunday 8-9pm Comics as Collaboration with Matt Brooker, Padraig O’Mealoid, Paul Cornell, Bryan Talbot
Monday 1-2pm Crisis of Infinite Civil Wars : Tony Keen, Roz Kaveney, John Medany, Mike Abbot
Monday 2-3pm Diversity in comics: Why are there so many dumb white guys? with Jon Baddeley, John Medany, Roz Kaveney
Monday 5-6pm Do comics make good movies? James Bacon, Tony Lee, Steve Kilbane, Roz Kaveney, John Coxon

More details on Orbital Eastercon through their website. 

I may yet decide to attend on the Sunday or Monday. In terms of reporting on this, a press pass has been denied to Resonance Fm’s Alex Fitch who was directed to agents for interviews.

The Uk Web and Mini Comics Thing

For five years now this has been a stable feature of the Uk comics scene. It enjoys a soft spot in creator’s hearts as in its early days it revolutionised the comics festival scene, placing the phrase ‘mini-comix’ loud on maps, and acknowledging that together with webcomix this be an area of contextually powerful significance. Obviously at £66+ I’d urge those who have booked not to bother. The Thing boasts a show of some of the more productive non-professional journal UK cartoonists doing their stuff for the likes of it. I really hope it succeeds to get some of the non-comics reading public through its doors. Of particular note is the festival booklet which is a well bound with some colour over 100 pages showcasing most of the artists exhibiting. After paying the £4 entry charge, this book is usually available for 50p which is a real bargain.

Doors open at Mile End 10 – 5pm, exhibitors can set up their crafts from 9am and are expected to be gone by 6pm.

The website has a good accommodation list at http://www.ukwebcomixthing.co.uk/2008/venue.php and ‘Mr.Ting’ has recently posted on the message boards that Travel Lodge are doing a special Easter offer of rooms from £19. I’ve verified this, go ahead and check it out at https://www.travelodge.co.uk/saver_search/search.php

Ordinarily I use Smooth Hound to find accommodation but if you’ve no luck with the Travel Lodge offer I’d recommend http://www.laterooms.com/ and http://www.hotel.com which a good source tells me offer cheap accommodation at short notice.

Undisclosed sources have told me that this years Thing may certainly be the last, which contradicts the organiser’s statement. I’m inclined to go with my sources on this one – say goodbye to the venue for me.

Mile End Pubcon

I’ll go onto chat about pub cons in a future column, but for now heres some the details.
Many of those taking part in Camden Thing and Uk Web and Mini Comix Thing will be congregating at The Mile End Wetherspoons after the close of business. (6pm? And 7:15?pm respectively)
The food and beer is cheap, the length of waiting time is appalling and the social craic is absolutely marvellous ! In previous years we’ve seen Camera Showdown, Tattoo frenzies, and prohibited leprachauning. This year should be a good one, as long as folk don’t form a picket line around the bar or chant scab.

In Part 2 of Maps At The Crossroads I’ll provide specific travel details covering travel between and around festivals, which those of you not familiar with London may find helpful. (preview) I’ll also be updating on any new news, including reports on this Saturday’s launch of Jack Brodies.

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