Thursday, November 12, 2009

Malta Comics Convention 2009

Part 2 of the first Maltese Convention…

Hi Guys,

Well, there we were at the start of the first ever Malta comic convention, which for obvious reasons was a historic event. The organisers were obviously worried that it would turn our okay and that our needs as invited guests would be catered for.

They need not have worried as the coming hours would prove.

Outside the venue the sun was beating down and inside the atmosphere was red HOT with anticipation.

The doors were opened to the public and very soon the place began to fill up with visitors.

The time of the opening was 10:00 a.m. and our tutorial sessions were due to start at the same time, so there was scant time to sit at our tables for Mike and I, before we were both whisked off to a side room near to the cinema inside the venue to begin our work with the children.
It had been decided to run the three sessions, one for the 4–6’s another for the 6-8’s and the last for the 8-10’s. The sessions went down a great storm with all the children and Mike and I were a prefect double act. We both enjoyed doing them so much and got such a great response that I have asked Mike to come along to one of the Fantasy Art Unlimited sessions to do the same kind of thing with our group here in Blackburn.

Below: The Hotel Santana in, which we stayed:

There was a little time to attend our tables between the sessions, but not much and for me one of the organisers helped initially to look after things, whilst I was away and then Peter, the father of 13 year old artist, Inez Kristina Baldacchino took over the mantle for me, which was extremely well appreciated by me. I laughed as each time I left the tables he had folks he had spoken to on my behalf and went to find them for me, so I told everyone he was my Maltese agent.

Inez Kristina was very shy and retiring when I first met her and must have felt in awe of everything around her, amidst the whirlwind atmosphere of the convention. There are some examples of her work still up on the convention website, But I thought I would share a couple of them here on my Blog with you guys amongst tomorrow’s photographs too.

Her parents are obviously proud and supportive of her and I am sure she will one day be one of the rising stars from the Maltese comics scene.

The atmosphere was electric and full of folks having fun and was it great to find myself wrapped up inside it all. Folks everywhere were smiling, although I have to say here that everyone I met or saw on Malta was constantly smiling and seemed to be enjoying life, so the convention was I suppose bound to get the kind of reaction it did.

Once again I have to commend the organisers for their none stop attempts to make sure all the bases were covered. Okay there were a couple of small things which they are now aware of and which they will benefit from next year in hindsight, but these were very small and can be built on. There was nothing which hindered the otherwise excellent running of the convention.

Once the sessions with the children were over Mike and I returned to our respective tables and began to sketch for the fans. This did not last long however, as we were all whisked off for a late lunch in the venue café/restaurant, Inspirations.

The food was fantastic and came in large portions.

I ordered a lasagne, which came on a large plate, and I liked the look of Warren’s Pizza. The only disappointment of the day was the Inspirations waiter forgetting to order David’s food from the kitchen. He had a little of Sean’s lunch, but then headed back to the convention. We made sure after this that all the meals were ordered by the waiters. To his credit, David was very gracious to the waiter about it, when the embarrassed employee asked if he wanted to re-order it when we were part way though our meals.

This was our regular haunt for the duration of the stay and proved a great place to eat and chat for us.

After our late lunch we went back to our respective tables. I found myself sketching for the Maltese fans and also sold some Ashcans, Malta-Exclusive Posters, A2 Posters and Sketch Books. There were also some fans asking for autographs on sheets specially prepared for the event, which contained all our signatures, I was given books of my old work to sign, and asked for photographs to be taken with them. The overall atmosphere was a fun-filled one and one, which had the fans showing us all the greatest respect.
We were graced for a short period of time with the presence of local superhero, Fat-Spidey, who proceeded to have his photograph taken with lots of the folks there at the convention.

Below: Some of the nearby fortifications showing some cannons outside the venue:

Below: The St James Cavalier - Arts & Creativity Centre - Yes it's a fort!

Below: The Convention Mascot at the entrance to the Convention:

Below: The arrival of us UK guests:

Me sketching for the fans:
Some of the sketches I drew:
Some of the fans proudly showing off their sketches:

Below: Some of the Cosplayers:

They were a joy to be amongst and showed me the big difference between the way comics and their respective creators are looked at outside of the UK and the USA. It was a much welcome change to have guys who genuinely admired the stories and artwork for what they are. I felt humbled by my experiences that day.

Towards the end of the first day’s events came the Cosplay competition, which is a commonplace event at most conventions nowadays, in which the fans dress up as their favourite comic, or manga characters.

They had great fun and the host of the event, Fabio Agius, did a fine job of entertaining us all, as the competition took place, directly across from my table.
Some of the winners can be seen in the pictures above on this Blog.

Well the first day went by like a whirling Dervish and we soon found ourselves with our tables packed away and in storage for safe keeping and awaiting our ride back to the hotel, where we were to have our evening dinner.

Once again the food was excellent and consisted of an “eat as much as you like” running hot and cold buffet. We stayed and chatted for a while after the meal and then went along to the after convention party set up by the organisers in the hotel bar area. It was a much more civilised affair than those I have been involved with here in the UK.
For a start far fewer people where there, mainly the organisers and UK artists and some local artists and a handful of fans, which was very pleasant to be amongst. I remember sitting next to Mike Collins on a two-seater soft leather sofa and having John Bamber asked us both jokingly if it was an intimate enough seat for us. After the last two days of flying and whirlwind activities we both said it was comfy and we not going to be moving.

Below: The after show party in the hotel bar - with special guest appearance from local Malta superhero, Fat-Spidey:

The rest of the night was spent chatting and discussing the day’s events, any slight tweaks we could see for the next year’s convention and comics in general, amidst the act of us all getting to know each other better. Then we were surprised by the reappearance of the local superhero, Fat-Spidey, aka Chris Le Galle, one of the convention organisers. It was this kind of fun-filled activity whereby we saw both the serious side of organising the events and the humorous side of things when the guys wanted to let their hair down.

Joining the resident Maltese superhero was The Crow, Hell Boy, Death, and Satana. Well after all it was Halloween and I have to be honest I would have taken my own costume had I not been preoccupied with the weight issues of the baggage I was taking along for the trip.

Well we chatted into the early hours and as folks began to drift off we joined them and retired for bed. It had been a very busy and enjoyable first day and the guys reckoned we would see even more folks through the door, as it was Sunday. Something, which happens in reverse here in the UK with folks through the doors at these kinds of events.

I was looking forward to another day sketching and chatting to the fans and to the all-ages session Mike and I were scheduled to do that morning.

But I will leave that for the next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
November 12th 2009


inkdestroyedmybrush said...

again with the great pictures! Sounds like a fun time. Great con report!

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Charles,
Glad you like the photos.
We had an absolutely marvellous time!!!
Both the organisers and fans alike were a joy to be amongst.
I cannot wait to go back next year.
Thanks, glad you liked it.
Lots more photos at 00:01 a.m. this coming Friday morning.

Lew Stringer said...

Excellent report Tim! Glad you all enjoyed yourselves. Looking forward to your next blog!
(PS: Fat Spidey?! Hahahaha!)

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Lew,
Thanks for the kind words, mate.
Glad yo enjoyed the Blog.
Yes, we all had a great time.
Knew you would like Fat-Spidey.

Dean said...

There I am!!!!! The Crow!!!!! Nice meeting you tim, hope to see you next year

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Dean,

Yes, there you are in your alter ego as "The Crow".

Definitely see you next year.

Can't wait.