Homespun Fun Comics

I managed to take some time last month for a social trip around England, kicking off with the Midwinter Comics Retreat, hosted by Sophie in her family home. This year was a bit different as I joined Jay Eales on the writing duties, shipping out scripts to seven artists. The experience was true to the MCR ethos of ‘fun comics’ and I feel enthused and inspired about making comics in the future. Crisis on Infinite Captions should be out from Factor Fiction Press later this year. Thanks particularly to Sophie, Jenni & Richard,  Arsalan, Glenys, Sean, Ciaran & Adrian and Suzanne for making it a holiday I won’t forget.

Helen Gomez runs The Girly Comic Club, an event in which she opens her home to trusted friends to draw comics two or three times a month. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? To come off wet streets and get handed a cup of tea, some cake, and draw comics in comfortable surroundings! Four or five people collaborating on a mini-comic or two, within hours! I’m hoping to try hosting something similar soon. It’ll be a LGBT-friendly called Boys Club, of course.

If you’d like to see what we’ve been up to try a wee comic-zine about Houses, or ones about Jeans or Monkies.

Sam Finnegan has attended a few of these. He’s a cartoonist in Bangor, NI, working out of Boom! Studios, and now SyncSpace in Dufferin. Sam has set up a zine and comics library there, with a great gallery, a regular Flea Market event (on Sundays), and some prog art exhibits planned.

An update on the Axel America coverage in form of a reading given at The Book Reserve. It’s from Chapter 10 a.k.a Masculinity Under Threat: The Effeminate Ephemera of FEMA. I also got a nice column in the February edition of Writing Magazine, and a mutual love-and-anger chat with Rob and Janelle Alex of the Authors Talk About It Podcast. And you can now buy Axel America at SyncSpace!

 

Treading the Boards

If you’re near Glasgow this week you can get along to ‘Guide Gods’, were performer Claire Cunningham explores religious narrative and faith through dance, live music, humour and audio interviews with religious leaders, academics, deaf and disabled people, and me.

Guide Gods

Claire’s website has a list of this week’s dates  and according to Composer Derek Nisbet on his Guide Gods blog, the show “is part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, and will then travel to London’s South Bank Centre and on to Belfast Festival.”

Recently I’ve struck up rather nice working relationships over Open Mic sessions with musician Jim McClean  and actress Lindsey Mitchell. To this end we’re working on a play together, a condensed Game of Thrones play. We’ll be performing the comic act at the Sunflower Festival, TitanCon and are talking of a screening of the play at a well-known Belfast gallery.

Writing this, I’m surprised that my voice is making the transition to theatre. This last year, it’s been all about the writing. Writing prose over, scriptwriting for comics, feels refreshing and liberating. I feel like I can earn some money if I work hard enough. Unlike comics. a beautiful medium, were grossly underpaid workers are slowly subsumed by a culture of silverfish turned woodworm rot.

Ahem…

Writing prose is enough of a departure from scriptwriting to enthuse: I feel like an amateur who can achieve professionalism and a paycheque. Knowing I have a lot to learn is a great feeling. I’ve been encouraged by the Belfast Writers Group and open mic audiences at Skainos and Lindores. Last month, I applied to return to university on a Creative Writing Masters so I can up my practice.

Parting shot to the world of comics (for now), is the short, Bottomley – Brand of Britain. The product of much research, it’s been adapted with care by artist Ruairi Coleman and letterer John Robbins. Here’s how editor Jonathan Clode pitches it:

Horatio Bottomley, patriot and publisher of John Bull, the newspaper of the people. But behind his rousing public speeches and staunch support of the troops hides a conspiracy that would reveal one of the greatest swindles of WW1.


That’s Bottomley’s mistress, Peggy Primrose, in Panel 4, putting her hat back on after it was knocked off in the squash.

The tale appears in To End All Wars, a remarkable 320 page graphic novel with  stories by a number of established underground comixers. It features the return of the  remarkable Steven Martin of WW1 comics series, Terrible Sunrise, as well as Jenny Linn-Cole, The Pleece Brothers, Sean Michael Wilson, Joe Gordon, Selina Lock, Steve Earles, Robert Brown, John Maybury and shedloads of others.

The book is released on July 17. Copies are available for pre-order now on Amazon or, at the same price, direct from publisher John Anderson at Soaring Penguin Press. Costs £18 all inclusive and proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

FragmentBlog: Comics as Rock n Roll, Belfast racism, Monster Fun Day

richard cowdry 1 richard cowdry

Actually, I mis-remembered. Jimi Gherkin was the driving force behind those Alternative Press fairs, though Richard definitely brought some muscle. An upcoming documentary appears to look at the spirit around their endeavours. Here’s the trailer,

Comics Are My Rock And Roll: Trailer from Daniel James Baldwin on Vimeo.

The Facebook page is up with a Kickstarter coming.

Graphically offensive images and downer text coming up. Scroll down if you’d rather not see them. If you plan to use them, please credit me as the photographer.

It’s been eight months of erosion of Unionist Northern Ireland now through the barbarism of people who claim to be standing up for that cause. It’s largely happening in Belfast. Sub-simple minded herd thugs are  manipulated by, well, damaged individuals, cult brainwashed kids and a small group of bloodthirsty fuckers speaking the language of business. The worst of these is a bloke called Jim Dowson, who one suspects might be an undercover BNP man. He was certainly behind the racists’ first ventures here as a main centre for administration and electioneering for BNP candidates in Stormont. His views and activities on abortion are visually as pronounced as the Westboro Baptist Church and he’s none too fond of homosexuals either. Dowson has spent the last year playing the Jabez Bottomley, the rent-a-cause emphasiser, whipping up the mobs here under the cover of political rights activist. He’s targeted those afflicted by the troubles. Give his lieutenants Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson some sympathy/empathy and it’s not too tough to see how he has manipulated their vulnerabilities to co-opt their followings. The photos below show a rare scene. They were taken in a street near were I live. [Belfast Telegraph link]

Belfast Racism 1 - Credit Andy LukeBelfast Racism 2 - Credit Andy Luke

Northern Ireland during the Troubles has traditionally had a rather low ethnic population. There wasn’t much violence towards Indians and Chinese here, but probably because of the Troubles, I heard frequently we  topped Europe’s most racist capital listings. A joke used to do the rounds about how a black man would walk down the street here and we’d be lined up the windows to look, as many of us had never seen one. Since the Troubles, there has been an influx of Polish immigrants  which has been sometimes depressing but mostly refreshing. People bringing  new foods, new stories. These people have seen more of the world than we have. If I never get out of here, I want to have heard these different accents, seen these different skin tones and mannerisms, I want to share laughs with these alien others and notice the things that are exactly the same. I want to know about foreign McDonalds, working men’s clubs, the good music and the painters. I’ve no problem with the Unionist-Loyalist people getting more organised, better managed, but for fucks sake, why do it by payrolling one of the most powerful men in what is essentially Britain’s Klu Klux Klan? There are lots of good local community business managers who can do the same job far better without brains bleeding out the windows of Royal Avenue shops, friends.

And don’t tell me Dowson makes no money from this.  I have the figures here. He’s a rich man, and he’s two decades from living in a row house.

Right, I banged this out quick, so it’s a bit scabby.

monster fun day

No Barcodes Comics Market / Mike Allwood, and Comics Village at the Bristol Expo

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 Sheridan Cottage, updated nearly weekly through to June. I’ve been looking at social and economic aspects of comics as typified through festival and distribution. Today, the small and large – from the growing phenomenon of the mini-comics-con to a look at Comics Village at the Bristol Comic Expo, and an interview with organiser Mike Allwood.

The London Zine Symposium takes place next Saturday in London where people can buy their word and pic tonerifficks and exhibit one comic or zine free of charge. And I guess there’s nothing to stop you dealing discreetly and politely out of backpacks, or talking to members of the public about your wares. There’s online radio, workshops, readings, exhibitions, walks and talks to entertain. Filmscreenings and screenprintings. That’s Sunday April 27th at The Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ. There are more details on the website

The Brighton Artists Book Fair at The Phoenix is up this Friday 24th May, and if you can’t make that the exhibition runs accross Brighton from next Saturday (26th) until June 7th. More details athttp://www.phoenixarts.org/exhibitions.htm

Hot off the presses
, the comics entrepreneur pragmatic Oli Smith announces No Barcodes, the Camden Comics Mini-Con from 10-6pm on Saturday 31st May. Featuring cheap food, glorious scenery (see video for more on this). sketching tables, entrance is free, and exhibitors a small fee. There’s also an after-drinks event. If you’d like to exhibit, email camdencomics at hotmail dot.co.uk

Press release available here
Facebook Event listing here

BICE website header

The Bristol Comic Expo runs from the 9th to 11th May this year, and will feature a number of high profile guests and events (http://www.comicexpo.net/ for full details). Comics Village will be on-site with their very own room, opening at noon on Saturday when there’s a comics-related family fun day of sorts. An expo treasure hunt, Guess the Stack O’ Comics, and Design-a-character competition all offer prizes in The Comics Village Fete.
Comics Village Mayor Craig Johnston, “design a brand new character, or a new interpretation of an old favourite, colour in the template and have it pinned on the wall. The judges will pick their favourites and the winners can choose from a large selection of prizes kindly donated by Diamond UK. Colouring pencils and templates will be provided at the Fete, and prizes will be awarded in various age categories”
Theres also a Bric-A-Brac table;
Craig: the cupboards have been cleared out and the shelves are now bare. Superheroes, manga, SF, from hardcovers to paperbacks, it’s a chance to sample something different, to try something new, for a low cost.

The Sunday will retain elements of this at the Village, though feature a more critical edge with a Sheridan Cottage panel, possibly with representatives from Caption, Bugpowder, London Underground Comics. Expect it to include discussion of small venue/large venue, unionisation, and tickling analysis. I’ll also be distributing a special print-only edition of Sheridan Cottage – a biting manifesto that will bring critical cries of “that’s uncalled for”, “that’s harsh, man”, and “Well he kinda has a good point – maybe this is the way forward”. Copies of my comics and the collected Sheridan Cottage print book will be available throughout the weekend. Stay tuned…. If you’d like to be involved contact CraigJohnsonEsq at aol dot com or myself at drew dot luke at gmail.com 

I’ve traditionally kept a low profile at the Bristol Comics Expo so I thought an interview with organiser Mike Allwood might help put the event into perspective.

Andrew Luke: Who is Mike Allwood ? A google gives me someone associated with ‘weed management’, and I know you’ve been involved in comics for absolutely ages.

Mike Allwood : Weed Management? That is what Bill and Ben do is it not?

I did spend over 12 years working in Bristol Comic shops albeit I was involved in shows before then. Now I do not work in the industry, I’m semi retired and am back working with an Interior fabrics company.

The show is a ” hobby” if you like, love doing it and will do as long as it’s FUN to do.

Andrew: How many years have you been running comics events ? Could you take us through a speed history as a participator and as an organiser with some hint to depth and scale ?

Mike: 1ST show was in Taunton 1992 Sci Fi & Fantasy Fair, all of 10 tables and one guest artist!
In 1998 UKCAC had closed its doors and Kev Sutherland suggested that maybe Bristol would be a good place, so Comics 99 was born and we worked together till 2004 when Kev went off to work for the Beano and his school work shops. I took over the show, changed the name to Comic Expo and have been running the show since.
I have over the years been involved with Sci Fi Cons, Doctor Who shows, Marts, the Animated Exeter Festival for the last 4 years, produced the only Arthur C. Clarke convention in 2004. Shop signings etc etc.

Andrew: Can you let us in on a few basic statistics ? What sort of region of footfall have you traditionally seen at this event ?
Mike: Last year over 3,000 fans turned up! Best yet. Previous attendance was circa 2,000 plus.

Andrew:
 How many dealers tables are there ?
Mike: We have over 200 tables and 25 Booths

Andrew: How many of these dealers tables are small pressers tables ?
Mike: I have around 50% off the hall as Indie Press, now we do not use the small press and have not for a couple of years, the standard is waaaay beyond the old term of small press which has that 90s Photocopy feel about it, so we coined the term UK Indie Press.

Andrew: Is there a variation on table prices ?
Mike: Yes Indie Press pay ½ of the Dealer rate

Andrew: You’ve got a film night, and there’s the Eagle Awards dinner for those who can afford it, but can you tell me about the other deliberately inclusive social activities ? What’s the bar atmosphere like for example ?

Mike: We have the ART JAM on the Sat night as an alternative to the dinner. We do not try to have too much organised events outside of the panel programme. There are plenty of Clubs, Bars and much more in Bristol to do!

Andrew: What’s coming up at Bristol new this year or of particular choice in personal recommendation ?

Mike: The HUGE Manga spotlight, we have creators from Japan, China, Germany, USA and Sweden this year. The Panini X factor talent search is new and the winner gets to see his / her story published by Panini. Really there is a packed programme, over 30 hours of talks, events, interviews and I believe one of our best line ups. The 3 headliners, Jim Shooter, Walt Simonson and Jim Starlin are all on stage at some time over the weekend for 1-2-1 interviews.

Andrew: The Expo has a very open-door attitude to the under 16s: kids in for free, 12-16 yr olds for a pound. Do you see much of a move beyond the perception that 30somethings are ‘the last comics generation’ ?

Mike: Yes and No, The fan base is getting older, a lot of us did start reading in the silver age and we’re still around!  Getting the Next Gen long is vital to the show and the industry, what better than free or a £1 way to do that. For the 1st time this year we have DC Thomson along and we have seen adverts in Dandy and Beano, another 1st for the show.

Andrew: How does festival management structure break down in terms of people ? (Is there a shared consensus of responsibility ?)

Mike: Every man for himself! No the show is pretty much what I say I would like to see at a show. Then the team have their say and then we all agree I was right in the 1st place!

Andrew: 
Could you talk a bit about the promotional steps involved related to the expo ?

Mike: 
Advertising is the key on as many levels as we can manage to do, Adverts this year in CI, Neo, Sci Fi Now, Imagine FX, Markosia comics, 2000AD. Huge local press coverage in the lead up. We know the hard core comics fan will be there, it’s the Schools out reach programme, the What’s on guides etc to spread the word! Even local radio, newspapers…..
The website is vital as is all the net based groups, we have the support of a preview site and the comics village in getting the word out across the net.

Andrew: Do you manage to turn a wage for yourself by the festival’s end ?

Mike: That would be nice, but no. The show covers its cost and that is the UK is as good as it gets, Yes the US shows with 70-80,000 fans have full time teams …we get 3,000.
As I said I do not even work in the industry anymore but the support from the Pros / Publishers et all is FANTASTIC. It makes putting the show on a pleasure and I get to meet all my favourite creators!

Andrew: Would you agree that the DIY small press comics scene is predominantly representative of the productive UK comics industry ? And if so how do you go about catering to this ?

Mike: The Indie Press guys in the UK are in my opinion are 2nd to none. That is why half the hall is turned over to these guys. I will cap the number of dealers but will never, while we have space, turn away a Indie creator. I could turn the show into a big mart with guests, but that’s never going to happen at Bristol. They produce work of such quality and the opportunity to work in the Pro UK market are slim, so what a way to showcase these talented people.

Andrew: 
Could you tell us some more about the Diamond UK day and how small pressers could plug themselves into that ?

Mike: The Diamond Day is aimed at the shops and stores, so not really for the indie press. However Diamond have taken space in the main hall, for the 1st time ever just so they can talk to the Indie guys. Again a sign that the Indie press is a force to be reckoned with in the UK!

(There’s word to the contrary from an unrecalled source – To book a place at this small pressers should email Mike Hollman at hmike at diamondcomics dot co dot uk  More details here – Andrew)

Andrew: What sort of comics do you yourself enjoy ? And are there any products or projections you’d like to give a mention to ?

Mike: …Time at the moment is tight and I am going “retro” with my current buying, the DH Magnus reprints ( did you know Walt Simonson has done the Con Book Cover this year, it’s Magnus and yes he’s my all time fave character!)
Dan Dare from Virgin is a delight to read, Death of the News Gods from DC has been superb.
The show will give me the chance to catch up on so many titles, last year I returned hone with long box of Indie, mainsteam , Manga and some cheap Batman packs!
Talking retro I am so looking forward to the new Flash Gordon!

Andrew: Are there any words of advice you’d like to give out to folks planning promotions of comics within a public venue ?

Mike: You have got to WANT to do it. I have been involved,  albeit the voice of caution at the end of a phone ! with Birmingham and the Inverness shows and more than happy to talk about all aspects of running Comic Conventions. Creator based is and always will be my remit. I said above 30 plus hours of events at Expo.

Andrew: Are there things you’d change about the festival that you’ve not had the time to implement this year ?
Mike: This year, well no would not change anything to be honest, after 10 years I would Hope / Think / Pray that the mix is good to go. A lot of the familiar but a few new tangents being added, More Manga, Film Night, DC Thomson along, Diamond talking to the Indie guys. Got to shake it a bit…It’s going to be fun!

Fuller details on the Bristol Comics Expo as and when they emerge at http://www.comicexpo.net/index.html

Grow Your Own Comics Festival

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

(Originally written 11 March 2008)

Creating a comics festival is piss-easy. When I initially pitched this column to comicbookresources.com to try and secure a wage, I included a proposed two part fortnightly piece. The first part would see me announce a comics festival with no prior preparation, the second would be the review of said festival. Can you believe they turned me down ?

Okay, okay, so I like Keith Giffen too !

It is though, it really is easy.

The Caption Model

Caption is seventeen years this year. Its been there through the immediate Watchmen wave, through Fleetway’s Crisis, the comics-go-bankrupt phase, the dawn of Chris Ware, and the subsequent resurgence of the form in the present. Travelling from Northern Ireland for my first festival (Brumcab97), the clamouring support and enthusiasm about Caption was so vocal I had to attend. It left inescapable impressions in the few years ahead. Far from the backpackers converted hotel halls of masses of paper, Caption allowed for a laid-back fun social. I didnt know who any of these people were, such was the anonymity of zine roots, but I quickly got the impression it were the sort of place I could talk to a creator from Crisis, or 2000 AD or Comics International, or some hot indy trickster over a pint. There were name badges, but no tables loaded with portfolios and standing queues. Just picking up a beer and a chair and asking to join in. It were small and intimate.

My first few years I almost never joined in at the wonderful panels and workshops by the likes of D’Israeli, Al Davison, Jeremy Dennis and the greatly missed Andy Roberts and Steve Whitaker. My shame. I did however attend the presentations by The National Theatre of Earth Prime, a ten minute Condensed Shakespeare style company adapting comics classics. Watchmen in ten minutes ! The X-Men, with Magneto wearing a bike helmet and Wolverine’s sideburns represented by weetabix. Caption also had a light festival booklet with information and maps, and each year it was themed which helped to make it distinct. Oxford is also a prime location of beauty with its natural light and greenery. Also owing to (alledgedly, by the powers of Jenni Scott, weather shaman( Caption has had one rainy or bad weather weekend since its inception.

Caption has a gallery exhibition each year, encouraging creators to contribute large and small art items. There are usually auctioned off in order to fund the following years event, or to contribute towards some charitable fund. This usually occurred at the tail end of a shared meal of pizza and wine, and has a real joviality about it, due to audience participation and in the previous decade to the showman skills of auctioneer Alex Williams who manages to be highly amusing and entertaining.

Asides from the social networking opportunities offered creators theres been very retail power in the concept of The Caption Table. Rather than the traditional route of spending money on table hire and being confined there for the weekend, Caption takes your comics from you. If you don’t sell any comics over the two days, theres no loss – if you do, Caption will take 10% of your earnings. Its a very simple, fair and popular deal and a model which its most loyal admirers would love to take to other venues. The London Underground Comics  ethos is perhaps the closest arrangement in terms of establishing a financial balance, though it is more successful when comics are pitched to the audience by the creators. However London Underground Comics may just be the victim of its own success – stall staffing finds a difficult balance. Cartoonists appear to be converging on it several hours after the all important 9am set up, and the stall becomes crowded with cartoonists and newly available comics. The reluctance of comics creators and activists to export the ethos to other market venues (eg. Spitalfields) is in part responsible for a good traffic system which may become blocked.

Pubcon

My first comics festival were Brumcab 97. ‘Brumcab’ translates as ‘Birmingham Comics and Beer’.It were held in a bar, the top floor of which had been rented out by the organisers Dek Baker, Jez Higgins and Pete Ashton. There Dek sold his highly acclaimed Kirby homage, ‘Wargods of Atlantis’, colour print outs and posters decorated the walls and there were even pub quiz opportunity. I seem ro remember my first comics, ‘Brookside’ and ‘Bobs’ being sold there, the organisers were particularly excited by the free tea bag and the individually hand marked mylar bags, untidy tape and rotter brown cardboard. Although we had downstairs too, I don’t know how some fifty cartoonists managed to fit into such a small space. We did, and the body odour level were quite tolerable. Bookings were taken during the day for a nearby balti house which we left for around six. The rest of the night was a blur.

No venue was rented for the Sunday (intentionally), people simply showed up. I remember crowds of folk gathering around Mitzy (aka Jessica/Mechamitzy). In terms of energy Mitzy were the Oli Smith of his day, and could be among those credited with propagating the trend of the Brit Manga style.

This is how easy it is to organise a comics festival. Central cost here came to rent of one room in a pub, badges and posters. The event occurred on the weekend of Diana’s funeral which probably had an effect. The organisers made their overheads back very easily as the cost of a weekend was about £3 per attendee, after which they could sort transport, eat food and buy beer and comics.

Internet acceleration inclusive of social networking has made it much easier to organise an event such as this. By the time this column sees print, it will be a day or two after the Gladstone Mini-Comic Con. A free entry festival held in a pub featuring “Glenn Fabry, Paper Tiger Comix, Dr Parsons, The Bedsit Journal, Danny Noble, The Sound Of Drowning and many more comics creators from Brighton and beyond!” Did you miss it ? I will.. It had comics for sale, drawing workshops, drink promotions, live workshops and animation screenings. Have a wee think about how you might go about achieving those things.

The squatcon derivative of the pubcon is already established – utilised that Sunday in Birmingham, and at the Uk Web and Mini Comix Thing – one of the few festivals without a bar, it has become normal to adjourn to the nearby Wetherspoons as an extension to the event. Again, this would cut the cost of a festival considerably.

Its not that difficult a leap – talk about comics in a pub, pubcon. If you’re well connected, you’re well placed to announce a venue. Ideally, people show up en masse. Worst case scenario, we drink the bar dry again. Comics are dealt out of the back of rucksacs. And if you don’t know were your local comics community is- why not find out ?

(I’ve set up a map on Google for creators to put their positions on. Its open for placement, though it seems once details are entered they can’t be edited)

You’re set. Comics festival.

There are rumours of a pubcon coming out of London Underground Comics Camden sessions at Camden Market in June (2008.) The event is likely to be held at Lock 17 bar, Camden Lock, London, NW1 8AB and feature a table used for comics sales along the lines of either the Caption or standard LUC model, and perhaps a few panels and community drawing activities.

Housecon was a term used by members of the Rainbow Bridge APA in the late nineties, A few would gather, have some drinks, watch some videos and some comics. We’re full of options.

You don’t need £2k to rent a venue.

Though in next weeks column I present an alternative model I’ve been tinkering with that suggests a way of approaching just that ! And it hasn’t got quite as many words as this one !

Maps At The Crossroads Part 2

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

(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 !

Map2A

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) ukwebcomixthing.co(dot)uk, or by telephone at 07745 466608. The nearest tube station is Mile End, on the Central Line

Map2B

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 www.mildtarantula.com 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.

Map2C

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!