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.

Comics Pub Meets: Northern England

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

In the final part of this look at comics pub meets across the UK, we’ll be looking at gatherings towards the North of England. The previous three parts have also looked at Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Birmingham, the beginning of my introduction to comics pub meets, and Tony McGee :

“Founded in 1996 by BugPowder’s Pete Ashton and Jez Higgins, the veteran of pub meets is still going strong. What began as a small press meet up now encompasses the wide world of comics, beer and general pub chat. All are welcome to pop along.”
This is in reference to The Old Fox, Hurst St, opposite Birmingham Hippodrome on the last Saturday of each month, between 4 – 11 pm. Here’s a Facebook listing, You can contact Tony at truestories(at)blueyonder(dot) co(dot)uk and oh look, there’s a Dark Weather collection on the way, along with lots of other indy comics classics!

Tony mentions another meet. Seemingly bare steps along Hurst Street is The Dragon, where on the second Thursday of each month, 7:30 – 11 pm, MC2 or the Midlands Comics Collective meet. Tony tells me they “met through Birmingham’s Stripsearch comic art scheme which started in 2005. Although the MC2 have published several anthologies, the current focus is on relaxed meetings and the occasional convention appearance. If you’re a Midlands based creative type, feel free to come along and join in.” He recommends I mail Laura Howell who writes there’s also a “group interest in individual publishing projects”.  The Facebook group is located here or email Mikey or Laura at info(at)comicscollective(dot, as above)

Over in Telford in Shropshire, Distributor at the Crossroads, Shane Chebsey says, “Fraid not mate, unless you count about four of us having coffee in the shop.” Mmm, coffee. The new Smallzone website looks good, Shane. As soon as I’m solvent again….

This next response surprised me. Ten years ago, an active ‘Pool of indy comics, David Goodman updates,
“I don’t know of any Liverpool comics pub meets, I’m afraid. The one I did go to, only a few people went and not everyone could be at every meeting, so it just kind of petered out… It hasn’t been running for several months. Good luck, and if you DO find out about any in Liverpool, I’d be interested in the details too!”

(UPDATE: At time of reblogging, Jan 2013, the Goodmans have a call out for anyone interested in a Liverpool comics pub meet)

Someone, hook a brother up…..please.

The active Manchester Comix Collective have a Drink n Draw once a month at The Sandbar, usually Sundays from about 4pm. Adam Cadwell says,

“The MCC Drink ‘n’ Draw is open to all, artists, writers, readers or anyone with an interest really. ” (source)

You can find the group on Manchester group on Facebook.

There’s also a Manchester Sci-fi Pub Meet at The Moon Under Water on Deansgate, Saturdays once a month from 12pm. Contacts: Taz and Alycia or others on F’Book.

David Nightingale of Thunderbooks, Blackpool mails, “I’m not aware of anything like this happening round these parts!” The closest seems to be in Lancaster, sourced via John Freeman.  Mark Braithwaite of First Age Comics, in King Street, Lancaster confirms this,

“There is a regular comic pub meet held in Lancaster every third Wednesday of the month at 8pm.

The group is called the Uncanny League Of Astonishing Amazers (ULAA) and the meeting place is at the Gregson Centre, Lancaster. As with most groups the attendance from month to month varies however it is always open to newcomers. The conversation features a wide mix of subjects covering anything involving comics (UK and US), tv/film (from modern day or years gone by).

The group is generally advertised on my twitter page  and also has its own facebook section which is featured on the First Age Comics facebook page.”

Orbiting around the shop, Mark says the group helps keep friends and acquaintances in contact who might miss one another during the week.
Sociable Lisa Wood of the Leeds Thought Bubble highlights “Dr Sketchy’s at Travelling Man every other Wed, the dates are here, Plus Travelling man will also be holding regular small press comic nights soon too. Travelling man hold lots of different events in their coffee bar throughout the year, such as cosplay events, comic doc screenings and comic workshops which pop up on there website.”

Both Johnathan Rigby and Lisa point me towards OK Comics’ Jared Myland, facilitator of Doodle-Boozes since at least 2004, according to the BBC.  On the shop forums Jared writes,“There will be another Doodle-Booze, I’m just waiting for a window in Nation of Shopkeepers schedule… “

I like the cut of his jib.

My final respondent is Paul Elke of Amazing Fantasy, way over in more remote Hull : “There’s nothing like that around here as far as I am aware.” It might be fair to recommend folk DIY their own, less centralised areas benefit well from these community links.

Folks, Have a safe drink!

Comics Pub Meets: Ireland

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

In the second of a four part article on creative and social networking and fandom across the UK, we’re going to turn our attention towards Ireland.

After hearing about the success of pub meets in Birmingham in 1997 I fly-postered around local comic shops in Belfast for a monthly meet. Numbers were small, four to six creatives amid ramshackle crowd noise. It did serve as an opportunity to compare reading tastes and art tips and nurtured a few good friendships. Busy workloads meant the group drifted apart as many do. When I returned in 2009, I was welcomed into a new group, which was larger and better organised. The Belfast Comics Pub Meet takes place on the First Thursday of the month at the Garrick Cloth Ear from around 9pm or so. For further details, drop myself or Paddy Brown a wee line.

belfast comics pub meet


“That’s not Ron!” screamed his missus in block caps.

Dr. Sketchys has been replaced by Real Sketchys, which runs at The Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast on the first Thursday of every month from 9pm. The Drink n Draw also offers artists the chance to sell their work. Contact point might be Adam Turkington (@AdamTurks)and Seedhead Arts, here on 

belfast sf


Eugene Doherty runs the Belfast SF Group at the Errigle Inn, Ormeau Rd, Belfast on alternate Thursdays. There’s an emphasis on hard science word has it, but also a bit of craic. Contact Eugene for more details.

“The Other Ones” is a younger (20s-30s) SF,  Fantasy and gaming group meeting alternate Wednesdays at the Metro Bar, Botanic. Their emphasis is largely on the social, those misfits, and their Facebook group is here.

The Dublin Comics Jam is well attended by a colourful bunch, and held around the 3rd Thursday of the month at Lord Edward (opposite Christchurch), Dame Street. This has Drink and Draw aspects although I’d wager a lot of networking and friendship goes on too.  I’m told Kyle Rogers is a good contact, though they have a mailing list which you can join at dublincomicjam (at) gmail(dot)com for updates.

Out on the remote coastline of Galway, Donal Fallon sends me news of the Galway Pub Scrawl,

“The Pub Scrawl started in response to the Drink & Draw in Cork. We get about 10 people or so every week, with more some weeks. We’ve been hanging out in McSwiggans, which is kind of small and dark, so I guess if I got the numbers up we could get some bigger, brighter pub to make provisions for us. It’s fairly informal, we just chat & draw and mess around. Some of the guys (including myself) are into comic book work, but we haven’t discussed it much here. The NUIG Art Society do a comic class of some kind at the moment. I’d have to search around to get you more details, but some of those guys come to the Pub Scrawl. If you see Ruth Campion’s name in the Pub Scrawl group, she’d be in the loop about that kind of thing.”

UPDATE: Since writing this I’ve been invited twice to ComicsWest, a great comics festival run by the Comic Book Society at the University of Galway. They’re dedicated and it’s likely they run a pub meet or two. Here’s the link to ComicsWest facebook page.

“You can certainly list me as the contact, but there’s no formality or leadership. It’s more an exercise in getting people to draw who might not, or getting those who do to share their skills/approaches in a comfortable setting. I’m hoping to get it up to 30 or 40 people over the next few months. Considering we have an Art School and a Comic Shop here in Galway, there should be the audience!”

Galway Pub Scrawl happens weekly in McSwiggans between 8:30-11:30. You can contact Donal or others and get more information through the Facebook group.

The Cork Drink n Draw Cork Donal mentions are indeed on Facebook

Drink safe!

Omitted from the original article: Dr. Sketchys, which no longer runs at the Menagerie. Here’s the original graphic for posterity.


Comics Pub Meets: Scotland and Wales

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

Paddy Brown Pub

(The following first saw print on on given date)


“But, as you know the pub is the natural meeting place for cartoonists” wrote Andy Richmond. It’s a sentiment I agree with: a good pub experience is romanticism, communual congregation intoxicating regardless of chemical intake. My first foray into publishing comics was at the mythological Brum PubCon in 1997. Thrown by Dek Baker, Jez Higgins and Pete Ashton among others, it featured about sixty cartoonists squashed into a tiny rock metal bar. And it did rock.

There are many variations of the Illustration associated PubCon or PubMeet. Among the most well-known is Dr Sketchy’s, where cabaret meets art school and burlesque meets illustration. Founder Molly Crabapple says “As of April 2008, there are fifty Dr. Sketchy’s, in eleven countries and four continents.” (Check out the link for a helpful guide)  I would guess that’s an understating figure. Crabapple’s graphic novel, ‘Scarlett Takes Manhattan’ certainly reflects her love of burlesque and comics.

“Drink n Draw” searched through Facebook in January 2010 brings up 121 results, majorly American: Portland, Washington, San Diego, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, NYC, Boston, Orlando. Listings also include the UK & Ireland, Canada, Australia and Malaysia. I get 121 search results, that’s the short version. Of special note, is the Southern Californian meet affiliated with Eddie Freakin’ Peters and Joenis Norac. Their dedicated not only suggests experimentation and crazed addiction levels. The blog contains evidence and a number of games to try while in the act of drawing.

This page on myspace contains links and info on a Drink n Draw book collection.

The Comics Pub meet has similarities with these three types and I’ll talk about these over this four-part series. To begin with, a look at the various ‘meets’ happening in Scotland and Wales.

“A billion miles north of anyone”, writes Vicky Stonebridge, co-organiser of the healthy Hi-Ex Festival in Inverness. Vicky refers me to Hope Street Studios, shared office space for a collective of professionals based in Glasgow, with the possibility they might have heard of something, though I was unable to follow up fully. Jim from A1 Comics in Glasgow writes, “To be honest I haven’t heard of anything like that happening in this area, might be something that no-one mentions to us or is in association with a college or uni.”

I have more success when I come across the Scottish Cartoonists Society (SCC) and an occasional Glasgow Dr Sketchy’s.
“Burlesque performers do a short turn then pose for 5 or 10 minute drawing sessions. Beer and food available from the bar, and basic art supplies are provided. A jolly way to brush up on your life-drawing and a slightly different setting in which to enjoy a swally.”
The last meeting was Feburary from 4pm to 7pm in The Arches, Argyle Street. You can find more information at the website,

Ganjaman creator Jim Stewart puts me in touch with the comics pub meet,

“..lots of folk just drawing away, and never a dull moment. Check out the comics journal discussion.” (referring to a recent TCJ article on Scottish cartoonists) “The meets are the first Wednesday of the’ll see them in the events..and if there’s a mart we try to advertise it there, doing posters for it.”

Jim mentions that his self-published imprint, Numskull Comix, is 15 years old and you can also join the Ganjaman Presents Ning for recent drawings and news. “I’m about to release Ganjaman Presents 2: I’m thinking of putting it online before i go to print.”
The Glasgow meets usually run from around 7:30pm to 11pm. “Come along and talk shop, or just get pissed, or both.” More details on events all over Scotland at the Scottish Cartoonist’s Ning.

From reading forum posts, it seems as if the Glasgow Group book a room in the pub rather than just showing up and camping down. Something for future researchers?

Ferg Handley writes, “There’s no official pub meets in Edinburgh. Some of us meet up from time to time, usually if there’s an event on. But if anyone wants to set something up, I’d be willing to help organise it.”

Pete and Mark are contacts for the Swansea Comics Collective which meets Wednesdays fortnightly from around eight at The Brunswick Inn. Pete tells me the dates are posted at their blogspot, and you’re also welcome to drop them a line at swanseacomicscollective(nospam(at))

I also came across mention of a Drink n Draw for those based in Cardiff. Information on the Facebook group.
In attending any of these as a newcomer or visitor, get confirmation the meet you intend to join is running that month. It’s worth remembering while some groups have agendas, others purposely don’t and exist as social free-forms. Newcomers approaching may experience some dirorientation. Even when well bonded in among some, trying to listen and to be heard can be a challenge. Drink safe!