Part 1: Black Panel Tour

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

Black Market CQAF

May 2:

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival brings to Belfast a wealth of creative acts each year. Traders turn up to the fat gazebo at 10am, rather than 11:35, for the midday start. Big black tent. In retrospect, quarantine zone and reflection of the darkskies. The only lit area is a huge spotlight which spends the day trained on my retinal damage. Paddy says I’m being grumpy today, I think (later), that’s his expression of the same. A room-sized sound system scalps my ears, steals my notions away from the quality of talking with customers. I’m worried the cognitive connect will place us at the marquee, rather than the usual venue. Paddy and I make the same money as a usual day, but not so the artists we’re stocking. I have two days migraines.

Black Market Marquee

The event lasted for only four hours. I wish I’d noticed that before setting my alarm.

Good stuff: I liked the painting wall and peanut butter cupcakes. Ok, the music was okay.

Black Market Marquee 2

Lesson to event organisers: Think about what works. Don’t hit small markets with formed standards of big markets. It’s wanky and regressive.


May 5: We’re invited at short notice to be part of the Black Market for kids special but decline. Ri-Ra, two issues to date, is a great Irish language comic with great artists. Less than half our indy comics are suitable for kids, Ri-Ra and Hilary Lawler’s SuperHillbo are the only ones with an aim close to them. Paddy issued a call for more kids comics last year on his blog. The event was held in a marquee somewhere.

May 6: Belfast Comics Pub Meet is turned into a Drink n Draw. At the request of Stephen Downey I script a quick Batman comedy. Animator Ann Harrison of Celtic Dragon Studios is lashing down pencils and erasers of female characters. (The Pratchett visual opposite is from Ann’s blogspot) Paddy Brown speed-draws Iron Man and Stephen Downey is photographing everything in sight like a contortionist with part tricks.

Email comes through. Upcoming Black Books is our final one. By and large our comics stall has been successful, but we’re the exception. The event is cancelled as a regular bit, asides from a Trans July 18th event. (Trans aim to offer an alternative to Ulster July-festivals, away from the drumming and burning of stuff. They facilitate both the Black Books and Black Market events).

May 8: Interview with Phil Barrett, our best-selling cartoonist. You can read that here.

May 16: The final Black Books and again we draw in the crowds and the cash. I’ve begun to gather a fanbase and get a few sales of ‘Absence’, including off the back of my previous 24 hour comic. I don’t have any photos of this, so here’s one from a previous gig. (missing again)

Left to Right: Andrew Croskery (Kronos City), One satisfied punter with my comic. She also picked up a copy of Cancertown by Stephen Downey, and on the end next to him, beside the comics and handbags, my stall-mate, Patrick Brown.

June 2: Back from the pub meet where PJ Holden is seducing us with his “Ippad”. The printer on loan from a writer friend has been buzzing all week, replenishing stocks of the sold-out ‘Absence’. Map and bus ticket? Check.2D

June 3: The Derry Verbal Arts Centre for the 2D Comics Festival. Gary Erskine is looking over my thumbnails and generally being quite helpful and enthusiastic. Garry Leach comes over for a look too. The twenty other students making up are busy at their thumbnails.

Walking along the walls with organiser David Campbell I’m treated to a view of Phil Barrett‘s new collection which has been run through his printing and publishing service. Also joining us on this downhill trip are Pat Mills and the unexpectedly stable and attuned Glenn Fabry. I’d expected him to be drunk and cursing about women. A total pleasant gentleman.

Before I know it I’m in a sort of green room: softly lit comics celebrities across the skyline. I don’t know any faces to names and spying Barrett in the corner, make my way across before security turfs me out. At dinner, we’re joined by Colin MacNeil who is also pleasant. I don’t know where all these tortured artistic psychos are that I’ve heard so much about.

Then, it’s off to Sandino’s Bar. Glenn has heard it’s a socialist conspiracy venue full of rant and rage. I miss the first panel as I stop for a Guinness outside in the evening sun. It is to be a harbringer of things to come.

Look for Part 2 of The Black Panel Tour in a few days on Alltern8 as Andy tries to sell his work at three comics markets in a week. If you’re in Dublin on Saturday, you should join in. Details here.

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