Birthdays Today: TitanCon Showrunner, Nordie Shore actor.

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I’ve been giving a bit of a hand to Ian Lawther, the on-the-ground showrunner of TitanCon. With three weeks to go, Ian is, I think scheduled for some fairly major surgery, so trying to organise a major Game of Thrones and pop art media festival must be a royal pain in the hole.

Ian has a good heart, so cool and mannerly that I’m fairly sure he might just be one of the Legion of Doom. He has helped me outof a few pits this year and made me feel very welcome in among a new group of friends.

Ian has a history of con-running being involved in salvaging the last few MeCon events.

TitanCon is running from Friday September 6th this year at the Wellington Park Hotel in Belfast. I’ve been invited to do a comics workshops and I’m pleased to announce here there’s a comics panel on adapting Irish myth featuring Paddy Brown, Will Simpson and special guest Rich Clements.  It’s a great programme (I’ve sneaked a peek), and features many Games of Thrones guests and crew, panels. There are a lot of progressive local authors attending too, including publisher Blackstaff House, who opened their doors across genre earlier in the year.

Give Ian and TitanCon your support and you’ll get looked after in return. 

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Jordan Dunbar

 

How do I know Jordan? How do I know Jordan? A fast food coffee, a friend of a friend? Jordan plays Dean, the in-your-face, animated pox, STD-riddled, alpha male antagonist chav/spide in Nordie Shore.  Oh eck.

Northern Irish sitcoms have a track record of being badly managed, bottom-feeders. The BBC wouldn’t invest and UTV would only market the Julian Simmons ‘family uncle queen’ type. (Much as Julian does it brilliantly, it was not something to base all original programming on) Shows trying to appeal to all, but appealing to none and inspiring as much hate as they seek to soothe. Nordie Shore was a different beast. Sure, it used the reality show pleaser at it’s base, but Nordie Shore: funny.  A barrage of comic gags, mini-stories, freakshow exhibits, surrealist trips, capturing the yobbish under-class of Belfast (or any major city), relatable to as had never been related before; oddly. Nordie Shore has that Uber-Viz-like quality that’s not to everyone’s taste: at times it’s like being in a whorehouse with a flooding toilet.

Past the excessive crudeness  there’s a good work there and a hint of the grass-roots comedy resurgence springing up around the city.

Hinkin a happy birday m8.

TitanCon links Fandom, Indy Comics and The NI Economy

Last night I attended the press launch for TitanCon which “promises to be the biggest SF and Fantasy literaty, media and gaming convention in Northern Ireland”.

Initially run as a non-profit event for fans by fans, it has benefitted from part-funding by Arts Council NI. The move came wth the Council’s interest in HBO’s Game of Thrones which has given the city a strong economic and tourism boost.

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A three day series of events, the third day, a Game of Thrones Coach Tour has already been sold out. Friday festivities overlap with Belfast’s free Culture Night and including walking tours of the city and in McHughs Bar, readings from Ian McDonald, Guest of Honour and winner of the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for The Djinn’s Wife (2006)

The event on Saturday costs £10 admission and is held at The Europa Hotel. It includes tabletop gaming and RPGs, as well as a fighting workshop, and the launch of Boyd and Bradshaw’s “Guards! Guards!”, the Discworld boardgame with the blessing of Terry Pratchett. Local authors T.A. Moore and Peadar O Guilin will also be in attendance, along with film-maker George Clarke, of Battle of The Bone.

Miltos Yerolemou and Kristian Nairn, who play Syriio and Hodor respectively on Game of Thrones will also be in attendance. In contrast to some other conventions, photos with guests are not charged for, and attendees are asked to make a donation of their own choice to Action Cancer. Will Simpson (Batman, Dredd, Hellblazer) was one of the storyboard artists on Game of Thrones. His appearance gives perspectives on local involvement and behind the scenes representation.

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Simpson, began working in comics with his contribution to the Belfast indy Ximoc in 1980, with the strip Cuchulainn the Hound. TitanCon looks to reward that with the recognition of two other independent cartoonists as guests. Paddy Brown, a fellow author of the Cuchulainn tales in the form of The Cattle Raid of Cooley, has been active in comics arts and media since 1994′s A Virtual Circle. His cartooning and comics research has been internationally recognised by the respected Lambiek encyclopedia, and closer to home, by academic Paul Gravett and industry magazine Caption. There are unconfirmed rumours one of Brown’s illustrations are to feature on the front page of the official programme. I began creating comics several years after Brown, with contributions to a number of journalistic bodies, the acclaimed Caption and Barcamp un-conferences, and winning the UnLtd Millenium Award for my work on Absence. (See my CV at the footer for a fuller picture)

There’s also a fourth link to the world of comics. TitanCon has scheduled an evening with The Wireless Mystery Theatre. The Theatre “transports the audience back to the Golden Age of radio… as they present radio plays live on stage” The group has received some critical acclaim and includes Reggie Chamberlain-King, an occassional contributor to the online comics and mixed media site, Talesofthe.com. When announced at the press conference Ian McDonald reached to the person sat next to them and whispered, “they’re very good”.

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McDonald told the assembled reporters and representatives from the Arts Council and NI Screen to “There are a lot of fantastic science fiction roots in NI Culture: CS Lewis, James Shaw.. I ask that you support today’s local writers, be it in cinema, novels or comics.”

With the direct market and the growth of self-publishing having shattered the UK and Irish comics industry, TitanCon‘s adoption of the form at this crucial time is noteworthy.

The event is run by Brotherhood without Banners (a George RR Martin fangroup), Studio NI (Northern Ireland’s largest arts and culture group), and The Other Ones (a Belfast science fiction and fantasy society). Studio NI celebrates it’s 7th anniversary as part of the weekend’s festivities.