Well, it was another early start for me, as the Hotels were full by the time I finally got around to sorting my accommodation out. I had mistakenly thought that this was being organised for us. The WONDERLANDS event was being held on the same weekend of a Rugby final, so all the accommodation for miles around was taken. It was actually fortunate for me though, because I was struggling with the workload for Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall, so time was precious at that moment in time as it continues to be.
The plan was to go along with my assistant colour flat artist, Gaby, but when I arrived to pick her up in the wee hours she was ill, so as with all the best laid plans, I made my way off to Sunderland. Poor Gaby, she was more upset than I was that she couldn’t make, but she would not have made it to the venue in one piece, so her debut alongside me for a signing session remains somewhere in our futures at this moment in time.
It was dark when I set off and the Sat Nav decided to take me on the scenic route and would have continued to do so had I not recognised where it was taking me. I quickly sorted this and continued in good speed to the event.
By the time I was half way there, towards Harrogate the sun was up. It looked like the previous week or two’s inclement weather had broken and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky by the time I arrived at the University in Sunderland.
The venue, like the one at the True Believers Festival, had great access for loading and unloading and so in no time at all, with my sack truck doing the donkey work, I found myself inside the venue setting up – yes I was the first person there again. LOL
I had been initially invited along by my friend and fellow comic creator, Bryan Talbot with this first foray into a UK Graphic Novel Expo. It was worth a look at this experiment and I was keen to play a part in this inaugural event.
As I set up I was met by one of the two organisers, Hannah Matterson – I would meet the other organiser, Richard Callaghan a little later that morning. We chatted for a while and then as she went about her hosting of the event and I settled into setting up I was joined by my old pal and fellow comic creator, Jeff Anderson. We hadn’t seen each other for years and had only communicated via email on occasion, so we had a lot to catch up on. Then, as we looked at the time and realised neither of us had set up properly, we set about doing so and arranged to chat further later in the day.
Eventually all was set up and there was a slow start to the day and so I took the rare opportunity, albeit for a short time only to chat to some of the other creators and publishers. As I say that didn’t last long and over a short period of time, a nice steady flow of people came by and I was very pleased to say that lots of people bought the graphic novel as well as lots of our other products, but they stopped to talk about the books as well as Wizards Keep and Worlds End in general, which was lovely. I found myself doing many sketches during the day and whilst drawing one such sketch a newspaper photographer came by and took a photo of the young boy, whose sketch it was and me. This appeared in a piece in the local paper, a day or so later.
Well, the day passed quickly and before I knew it I was packed and sitting in a nearby pub along with lots of others awaiting our pre-booked Indian restaurant reservation a short drive away. The meal and the company which I shared during it was superb. It had a lovely atmosphere.
The drive home was again marred by motorway hold ups and the weather, which had been great up until that point had now turned nasty. The detour, which again was badly signposted again also added a further two hours to my journey – I think we went via Canada. Eventually, exhausted and the car unpacked I retired for the night about 5:00am – yes, it was light although grey for as far as the eye could see.
For me it was a resounding success. Selling the graphic novels and our other merchandise is always the goal of these events and we did that by the bucket load. Obtaining new readers, whom we now call our, “Wizardlings” is also always one of the things we are looking to find and here again we were not disappointed.
The great news following was that it is all going to happen again next year, which is wonderful.
Thanks to Hannah and Richard for asking me along and to Bryan for asking me in the first instance. It was a pleasure to take part in this inaugural event and I look forward to doing it all again soon.
And now a few photographs:
Next Time: MaltaComicCon 2013 and 2014 – The Combo-Blog
Until next time, have fun!
August 3rd 2015