Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bristol Comics Expo - Review

What an excellent weekend…

Hi Everyone,

Well, my wife, Margaret and I attended the Bristol Comics Expo at the weekend and I have to say first of all, a heartfelt congratulations to Mike Allwood, whose hard work and hard working team made the weekend the most successful one yet according to most of my fellow creators and the dealers there.

I hadn’t attended one as a guest since back in the late nineties. Back then the general mood of the professionals, dealers and indeed the fans was one of dire and impending doom, following the implosion of the comic industry in the states back in 1994, following on from the inflated sales figures generated by the speculator boom back then.

This weekend was like stepping back in time. I was fortunate enough to catch up with a great many old friends in the business, although some I didn’t get around to chatting to for long – that will happen at the next one, and also to meet some new ones.

Folks I met up with again after the long hiatus from the comic book world included:

Jon Haward, Barry Kitson, Liam Sharp, Dave Taylor and his girlfriend, Lew Stringer, Charlie Adlard, Mike Ploog, David Lloyd, Simon Furman, Steve Cooke, Dave Hine, John Freeman, Dave Windett, Lee Townsend, Mike Collins, Mark Farmer, Carl Critchlow, Kev F Sutherland, Dougie Braithwaite, Nigel Dobbyn, Mark Millar, Mike Conroy, Staz Johnson, and Bryan Talbot, who sold out of his Alice in Sunderland books on the Saturday, amongst others - sorry if I have missed you out - I must still have jet lag here.

It was also my pleasure to meet up and chat with Gary Erskine, whom I had never met before. Like wise with John Watson, what a nice guy. I also managed to meet up with Jack Lawrence, on Friday evening, although we didn’t get a chance to chat for long. I spoke on the Saturday evening with Martin "Biff" Averre and his friend, whose name I sadly can’t, unforgivably, remember – sorry – after their Eagle Awards dinner and presentation. Gary Reid and Dave Hitchcock were sat next to me during my time spent sketching on the Sunday.

I also met Wakefield Carter for the first time and it was nice to finally meet up. If you haven't seen his Judge Dredd replicas - do yourself a favour and do so. I ended up buying a Judge Dredd replica badge off him. They look fantastic!

I spoke to Craig Johnson of Silver Bullet Comic Books fame that I, sadly, hadn’t realised, and neither had he, that we were sat almost next to each other. The general topic of conversation was how well attended the convention had been and how positive everyone was.

I spoke with Clive Bryant about his new company Classical Comics – an exciting new company producing great comic book adaptations with some great talents on board. I’ll be writing a Blog about the books coming from them soon.

I also caught up with Lorenzo and his brother Bob, from Blink Twice – If you haven’t checked them out yet, please do yourselves a favour and do so, really lovely stuff being produce by them – I was put onto their work last year when Carl Critchlow showed me one of their books.

I spent a short while, at the end on Sunday speaking to Harry Markos of Markosia comics about their plans and their books in general. There is some superb stuff available from this new UK Company and I couldn’t resist buying a few of their collected trades.

We were privileged to see a Dalek greeting folks as it searched the convention at the commonwealth site for the Doctor. Another set of attendees were, Darth Vader, Bobba Fett, what seemed, like an entire squadron of Darth’s Storm Troopers and some other Star Wars folk who attempted to persuade folks to go over to the dark side as they tried to catch their trains and explained they didn’t want to attend the convention…really! The dealers had some great stuff on show and the artist’s alley was always full of folks signing and sketching for the fans.

Saturday afternoon saw me sketching for Andrew Wildman’s charity along at the DrawTheWorldTogether stand.

Sunday was pretty much spent sketching and talking to fans, although I was asked a few times to review portfolios, before saying my final farewells, packing up and setting off on the long journey back home.

What was really great to see after such a long while was the amount of families, kids and boyfriends bring along their girlfriends and vice versa. A massive improvement on what I saw last time I attended a major convention. The convention was buzzing and this was reflected back in the bar at the end of the day when all the professionals met up along with many die-hard fans for a quiet drink or twenty. Even my wife, Margaret enjoyed meeting everyone, although she did retire earlier than me allowing me to mingle into the early hours, but I know it was really to watch the football on TV back in the hotel.

Things seem to be changing within the comic industry at long last and what I heard was encouraging. There are stories coming to the fore containing bright, colourful, heart-warming adventure stories again at last.

I wasn’t going to attend the Birmingham convention, but may do so after seeing how this one worked out. I still don’t think I’ll be attending with the rest of the guys here with a Wizards Keep stand, as I think we are leaving that for next year allowing me to get on with the “Worlds End” graphic novel.

There could be a clear case for the weekend to be longer with either the Friday or Monday being used as a professionals, dealers and industry folks only day and evening, giving us time to chat, instead of it feeling like a wedding or something, with everyone having a brief five minutes brief encounter, before moving along to mingle with other folks.

Before I go I would like to say a very big thank you to the many folks – both young and old – that took time out to discuss the new work, which was on display on the Sunday.

I would also like to thank all the professionals who greeted me like a long lost friend and made me feel like I had never been away – this is how it all started for me all those years ago and although there are some wrinkles, grey hairs and extra baggage amongst our merry troupe of artists and writers, and time as moved on, it was good to be back home again!!!

Below are a few photos I took from the convention and thought I would share with you all.

Also check out Lew Stringer's Blog I know he is going to be covering it all too.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 15th 2007
Me handing over a sketch to a fan of City of Heroes at the DrawTheWorldTogether stand

Me sketching for a fan of City of Heroes at the DrawTheWorldTogether stand

Lew Stringer and Mark Farmer discuss one of Lew's strips in a Norwegian Comic

Barry Kitson - The guy who helped open the doors to Marvel for me

Jon Haward - my buddy - and me

Jon Haward Sketching for a fan

Mark Farmer - Jon Haward - and Alan Davis - ater the Mark and Alan Interview. Alan and Mark are one of the greatest art teams working on Superhero comics today

Another shot of the dynamic duo and Jon - the interviewer

Arty shot of Mike Collins in a worm's eye POV - really just a shot taken by mistake

Carl Critchlow signs an issue of his comic book Thrud the Barbarian for a Fan

Me - just finished with a sketch

Mike Collins and Me

Bryan Talbot signs a copy of his graphic novel, The Tale of One Bad Rat

Me still waking up from the previous night from the look on my face

The Mighty Markosia stand


jon haward said...

hi tim i agree with everything you have said i had a brill time at this years comicexpo too!
great seeing you drawing for the public and great to share a beer with you as well.
great work for "worlds end" looking forward to seeing it in print next year!
jon haward

Tim Perkins said...

It was great as always to hang out with you too, Jon.

We had a great time in your company.

Thanks for the kind words about "Worlds End".

Really glad you liked it.

What a thrill to be back in the comics world and sketching for the public again.

Can't wait for the next Convention!!!

Best Wishes,

Lew Stringer said...

Good to see you again Tim, after so many years. The conventions have a much more positive feeling about them now, than the mid-1990s cons. (I stopped going myself for a few years at the end of the Nineties because it became so downbeat.)

Hope to see you in Birmingham in October!


Shelly Ryan said...

This sounds like a most delightful weekend! It is encouraging to hear that the comic industry is becoming revitalized. I imagine that would be much in part because of your enthusiasm and that of the other artists who are dedicated to bringing their talents to life! Excellent photos, too. They also showed how much fun was had!