Maps At The Crossroads Part 2

Over 2008 I wrote weekly for, 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.


(Previously, on ‘Maps At The Crossroads’)

If you fancy a more off-track London comics Day, well there’s plenty happening. At the end of last week’s column I previewed my newly constructed London Underground Comics Tube Map.  Working from St. Paul Gravett’s events guide I’ve included all the comics events taking place in London on March 22nd (15 of them !) and added information and hyperlink tags. If you fancy a look click on the links below.

A print out version is available here but you’ll need to add addresses and opening times.

You self-publishers are all aware its dissertation rush month at the  printers, right ? Good ducking and diving out there !


The Uk Web and Mini Comix Thing did something I’d not seen in comics festivals. It encompassed the family fun day out principle. The total carnival experience. Guessing the amount of sweets in the glass case would wn you a bundle of comics, just like school fete days. And it were that generation who made the mini-comics, on A5 canvasses for bargain prices – it gave greater fresh air to a world outside of slick Americanised prints with all that were good about ceremony. Freshly struck ink everywhere, a dusty academic hall sped Blake-like through the museum transformation, accelerating into a new age representative of modernist comics. Coke and crisps and prize draws on sale ballot like, weren’t there even tombolas ? Dealers tables makes up most, if not all of the attraction, but hey, the school fete bric-a-brac table host would be unlikely signing curiosities. Bar situated five minutes down the road for the crowd.. Genius, I will miss the W&MC Thing. If you’re going there, have a great time, and exchange your cash, comics and ideas about what the future holds for selling.

The Thing took this shape and form not through one or a small group of co-ordinating individuals, but by a large group of most every exhibitor there who understands the importance of mints and cakes, and clay models and paper bags individually hand-decorated, and badges.  Comics were only ever the main attraction. I wonder this year will some ace-in-sleeve arrive with a clothing rail looking after bags and coats for 50p ? Or will these be stored if you promise to review said creator’s comic, you know it’s good. Those little 79p Glade Air Freshners planted out around the place with some hot little comics jumping out from its side. I saw a wonderful remote controlled helicopter last week – it was going to be let loose in the venue flying my team’s colours. Maybe kids have some remote control cars for smart mini-comic distribution ! Of course the entrance to the venue is very important: Christening those banners with party popper streams ! Hit the laminators ! What possible activities could over one hundred comics trade creators union possibly get up to ? Free seating for the weary.

Entrance to The Thing is £4, or £3 through advance booking. If you have any problems finding The Thing, or want to check any fine details, the website lists the contact details as stuff (at), or by telephone at 07745 466608. The nearest tube station is Mile End, on the Central Line


Josceline Fenton stopped by the London Underground Comics Camden stall today with her new book, about 52pages, a hybid of manga and zine. Its called ‘Circle’ and you can get more details from her website Sally Anne-Hickman also dropped by with her new gorgeously crafted comic, with unique papering as she does, to give it that only-one unique quality. Both Sally and Josceline will be at the LUC Camden thing next week.

We’ve got three confirmed tables and we hope to get all of our stock out on the day. Ordinarily LUC will alternate stock, on a number of different principles – randomly, London-based creators, new stock, creators manning tables on the day. In addition to that we may have stock from Smallzone Distribution and Factor Fiction Press. Oli Smith really is a sung hero, each week he’ll go through the amounting stock in his room, carry it down the road pre 9am, tally the results at the end of the day and get in contact wth other creators to update them on the situations. It’s anybody’s guess what will end up on the tables this week given the habit of  LUC surprise guest appearances. I think I’m correct in saying that LUC is trying to discourage people leaving large stock quantities with Oli, and future stuff should be presented on the day, or at the core salespeople’s discretion.

I’ve been sworn to an embargo on some of the fantastic stories coming out of London Underground Comics, but I will be talking to people about the Beagle Awards on the 22nd. Should mention at this point that the views expressed at Sheridan Cottage are not necessarily the views of London Uncerground Comics, and are my own opinions and feelings. Here’s how I see the Camden LUC Event running, the co-administrators on the day, Oli Smith and David Baillie, their views may differ. I’ve suggested LUC Camden may be a victim of its own success, if only it were the success of its principles ! I’ve noticed a few things – avid comics readers gathering around the table may turn looser comics habituals away. I suggest you take your five or ten minutes or whatever to soak in the table spectacle if you’ve not seen it before, then wander around the market looking at the other fine goods. Alternately, the Lock 17 Bar is conveniently situated upstairs so make use of it for socialising in a warm environment. If you’d like a go at manning the table on the day, let Oli or the other regulars know and we’ll do our best to get you sorted out. None of this should be taken as gospel though. Admission is free.

Oli Smith Northern Line

For contact details email Olli at chocolatewednesdaycake at yahoo dotcom, or myself at drewdotluke at gmaildotcom. I’m happy enough to be reached by phone on 07979053419. Though please be patient as we’re most likely deep in the business of outselling hot cakes !

Speaking of cakes, the Jack Brodies Launch Party  was put back to …well creator David Bircham had been talking about March 22nd. Yep. Thats what he said. When I pointed out to him London was looking a bit comics-heavy that day, he seemed astounded. I’ve been unable to reach him for comment or confirmation this weekend. Talking to staff members though, I was told that the 22nd would have a heavy StarWars-Stormtrooper presence, and Zorro will be in attendance…..

London Underground Comics is situated halfway between Chalk Farm and Camden Town on the Northern Line, Jack Brodies is closer to the latter. Camden station tends to get very busy at certain times on a Saturday so if you’re not a fan of the mass crush I’d recommend Chalk Farm. There are ATMs en route, though you will need to backtrack a bit if coming from Camden tube station. (See previous column for more detailed instructions)
You can travel between Camden and Mile End easily as with anywhere on the tube. The Northern Line from Camden to Tottenham Court Road will allow you to change for the Central Line to Mile End.
If you’re coming in at Euston, you’re already only a few stops from those cool dancing comix selling homeboys of Alan Moore.


Had a very nice chat with John Wilson, the Press Agent for Orbital Eastercon. The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) is connected with this festival, which is in its 59th year. Run by different committees with a long conrunning experience, John was able to tell me there will be various items on self-publishing, writing your own literature, and submissions advice fitting rooms. There may be a re-arrangement of some rooms to deal with overflow “though only very minor changes to the programme are expected  (The programme also contains a fairly good map to the hotel) For a programme highlighting the comics events of the four days see last weeks column.

Orbital Eastercon 2008 has a fairly big dealers room, fully booked, with approximately 50 tables between 30 different dealers. Various sources seem to confirm a small press presence, though nobody knows who or how many. A lot of dealers will be doing sci-fi material, as they do at sci-fi cons, but also paintings and jewellry.
You can pre-book if you do so before Wednesday. Costs are paid on a daily ticket basis. For adults, Friday, Monday (£15), Saturday and Sunday (£20) If you’re a junior you can get in for Fri/Mon. £5, Sat/Sun £10. Alternatively the four day event is £65.
On the door that price structure is £20, £25 per day for adults, and £10, £15 for children.

If you get lost or want to get a finer clarity on details John tells me you can contact him on 07811605140 or email at info(at)orbital2008dotorg. Or go here You can reach Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line.

Orbital has a public bar, as well as two or three festival only bars, one of which is a ‘Real Ale’ bar. Sounds good. I’ll of course be over at the Wetherspoons Mile End Pubcon on Saturday evening. Big questions, big questions folks. Is London ready for this March of Cartoonists, and will the bars of London survive ?

My new comic, The Party, a collection of my writings on comics from 1999-present, the eponymously titled ‘Sheridan Cottage’will be on sale at Camden and The UK W&MCT.  You may also want to pick up my ‘Play, Work, Rest and Work’ collection, ‘Optimus and me’, and my 24 hour comic, ‘Gran’.

‘A magnificent and sensitive meditation on mortality and bereavement. Won’t win an Eagle award, but should if there was any justice.’ – Matt Badham

If you’d like to donate to Andrew Luke’s pen fund I do accept Paypal payable to drew(dot)luke(at)gmail(dot)com

If you have any stories about interesting comics social events or innovative ways of selling your comics, do get in touch. Next week there’ll likely be no third part or one of my Sheridans here at all as I could do with some more holiday time. See you at the bar, or meet you at the mailbox!

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