I was going to call the subtitle of this little series of Blogs “The Windett Curse”, but I won’t spoil the fun of things to come...
Well, following a night of working on the Worlds End graphic novel, where I found myself just shy of the half way mark, but with some new products to take along to the event (These will also be available on the Wizards Keep Website too soon), I proceeded to pick up the prints of the posters and portfolios and had some prints made of the new pages to the stage they were now at.
With that done I had only to put more credit on my mobile phone pack the new prints along with the new T-Shirts and then I was off to the train station, which would take me to the airport. I had chosen the train as the method of transport this year due to the time of the flight.
I knew Dave Windett a fellow guest would be catching the same train from Preston and would meet him at Bolton. There was only a five minute gap between trains and things were fine until we stayed in one of the connecting stations for longer than was scheduled for some reason. By the time we arrived at Bolton the other train was just pulling away.
After a short half hour, or so wait another train pulled into the station, but this one was packed to the rafters and it was standing room only. I had to create room for myself, because the folks in the carriage doorway, seemed a little against anyone invading their space, but as I “insisted” I managed to get a place there and lo and behold, who was standing there, or rather trapped at the other side of the passageway, but Dave Windett, who showed me his hand luggage and its snapped handle, which had only happened when he was boarding the train. There's that Windett Curse...
He told me this was following his having to dash back home from Preston train station when he realised he had forgotten his passport. He had had to walk back part way to his home and deciding on the best course of action drove back to the station, whereupon he left the car on the station car park and was expecting a £30 + charge upon his return, so things had not started well for him on this trip.
The short journey was an uneventful one, which found Dave and I chatting about recent events and trips, etc and we soon found ourselves walking along the travelator to the airport departures check-in. The queues were quite large this year and the check-in area was full of people waiting for flights all over the place. As we stood and chatted for a while we found ourselves joined by another of our party, Liam Sharp.
Once we had checked our baggage in and passed through the customs area we regrouped at the other side, or should I say that we eventually did so, as Dave seemed to be eternally stuck inside of the scanning equipment. Just to warn you guys this was when I realised this was the defining moment when we all knew this was to be a portent of things to come and how the trip would work out for poor Dave. There's that Windett Curse again...
At last, however, we all three were making our way towards the departures lounge and some food, which we chose to eat in Burger King, of all places. We ate and chatted about current projects and about the trip to Malta last year and what the guys could expect to see and do once we arrived there.
Our repast taken we looked at the time and wondered where Gary Erskine was, as he was supposed to be joining us for the flight after his connecting flight from Scotland. I sent a text to his mobile and found he was nearby, working on a page of art at a bar. Once together, we stayed a while, Dave tried unsuccessfully to get onto the Internet with his laptop and we all caught up with things again before making our way to the departure gates.
We soon found ourselves boarding the plane, but were split up, as Gary had checked-in separately to the three of us that had checked-in as a party of three. The flight was pretty uneventful and we continued to catch up with things work wise and family wise, but I soon found that the workload of the previous week was catching up with me, especially the all-nighter I had just pulled to get everything ready for the trip.
I found myself with a headache too, but soon fell asleep, only to be told when I re-awoke, by Liam that I had only been sleeping for around five minutes, or so and yet I felt totally refreshed and the headache had gone – talk about a power nap!
It didn't seem long before we found ourselves touching down and passing through customers in Malta’s airport. The first thing I noticed, yes, it was again much hotter than back home, which had become much colder in recent weeks and once we walked through the gates we were met by the convention organisers and their broad smiles.
We were met by three of the organisers, Mike Quinton, Fabio Agius and Chris Muscat and once intorduced we found we still had to wait for the fifth member of the UK contingent, Sean Azzopardi, who, like me last year, was travelling alone. His flight from Heathrow was due in some forty-five minutes after ours and so we went to one of the airport cafes and had a drink and chatted, whilst we waited.
The time passed quickly and soon all five of us were being whisked off to the hotel, or at least we were when the Windett curse struck again and we found Chris Muscat one of the organisers trying desperately hard not to receive a fine for a lost ticket, which he had only bought a moment, or two before. Eventually after a search the ticket was found and I realised that the curse had seemed to be warded off, but there was more to come...
It was as I was about to get into Fabio’s car that he gave me my first copy of The Golden Lizard – the very first ever graphic novel produced in Malta, which I had created the cover for. It was one of those moments, which stay with you. There was tremendous pride in Fabio’s face and I knew he and the others in the creative team that are Tin Can Comics had come a long way since the books inception and I was really pleased to have played a part in that journey. I was to spend a large part of my time at my table signing dozens of the books for the fans.
We soon found ourselves at the Hotel Santana and after unpacking I fell into a relaxing sleep. When I opened my eyes next it was to look for my mobile phone from where I could hear my alarm sounding. I turned on the lights and fan and air-con once more as it was very warm in the hotel room and then heard a loud boom from outside...The Windett Curse again, I wondered and yes it was continuing to pursue an active role in our trip as I saw it was raining heavily outside and the sound was thunder, which was accompanying the early morning lightning.
Undeterred I took a shower and prepared my things to take along to the convention, which was most of the stuff inside the main baggage for the flight. I met the other guys including some of the organisers, Chris Le Galle and his wife, Joanne, Fabio Agius and Natalia, and Mark Ellul and Elaine Muscat. They looked worried because in Malta when the weather is bad the Maltese people stay indoors.
The breakfast was great and much needed and we soon found ourselves about to brave the weather, which had calmed somewhat by this time. It was still raining, but much less than it had been, although once we set off we witnessed a return to the words torrential and The Windett Curse. In the hotel reception area we met with Renee Wittestaeter and Claudio Castinelli for the first time that trip and for me personally, the first time ever.
This year saw us being transported by mini-bus, driven by Antoine, although everyone called him “Topsy” instead of Mike Quinton, who did most of the transportation duties last year. We had not been on the road for more than ten minutes, or so, before the heavens opened and I looked to where Dave sat and I have to admit I wondered...
It was torrential and certainly not what we were expecting, especially in light of the wonderful weather that Sean and I experienced last year.
We hit a large road junction and the roads were flooded in a matter of minutes and everyone was joking about sunny Malta, despite it all. It was incredible to see cars with rushing water up to their wheels in such a short space of time.
The venue of the fort of St James Cavalier was enough to impress the new visiting artists though as it really is a wonderful building and perfect for the convention to held in. This year the main convention was held on the lower floor and this meant that everyone was on the same level, expect for the talks, gaming and workshops and was a definite improvement on last year’s event and I had thought that would be impossible to better. The local artists had made sure it was even more colourful and even better represented by their artwork, as the work on display was even better than last year.
By the time we arrived we were about twenty – twenty-five minutes late and the convention had already opened its doors, so I hurriedly set about displaying everything, before I would be whisked off for the first of the children’s workshops. It didn’t take me long to set up and I found myself for the second year running sat next to Inez Kristina Baldacchino and her father, Peter who, at the time, was manning her table for her.
It wasn’t long before I was being taken to the workshop by Mike and Peter very kindly offered to man my table too, after I gave him a list of what was what. Then it was a quick dash upstairs to the same rooms as last year...only we hit a snag at the top of the stairs, where we found the lighting was out and the children stranded above on the street level at the back of the venue, unable to come down the steps, which once long ago saw knights on horseback riding up and down.
The Windett Curse had struck again...
Below are the few photos of the trip I took this year up to this point – I guess there was more talk this year, for me, as I was not flying on my own, hence to this point there were not as many photos taken..
I’ll post more details of this year’s even bigger convention along with lots of photos, soon when I publish MaltaComicCon2010 – Part 02...
Until next time, have fun!
October 24th 2010