Monday, August 29, 2016

Blogtrotting with Bentley – Series 2

The Stone Age – BOGTROTT-UM

Hi there and welcome to my Dad’s Blog, which I am lucky enough to be taking over once again, as he is so busy creating the second volume of Worlds End.

This second series of Blogs are going to look at my family tree and an eventful one it is with a great many well-known folk heroes amongst their names, so I have a lot to live up.

I am going to start off with the earliest of records for the Bogtrotter line – The Stone Age.

It is now a well-known fact that Stone Age man kept a dog and recent studies of genes and behaviour show that there are ancient ties for man and mutt.

Caves at Bogtrott-Um

 Evidence of Bogtrotters at Bogtrott-Um

Bogtrott-Um Scroll

One well-known fact is that dogs are good at reading human signals to find food. The story of man’s friendship with dogs goes way back into pre-history. There have been new studies mad, which suggest that dogs shared the warmth of a fire and a bed with early Stone Age humans and trotted or Bogtrotted in our case beside them across the Bering Strait into the New World when it was all connected as one. This kind of domestication has also turned dogs into keen readers of human behaviour. Well, when you are with someone 24/7 you kind of get to know each other, don’t you? Just like Dad and me.

Stone Age humans were probably the first to tame dogs breeding them originally from wolves in East Asia around 15,000 years ago.

They now say that dogs from at least five domestic lineages probably accompanied humans across the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska and down into the Americas around 12,000-14,000 years ago. Well, there is actually a sixth one – The Bogtrotters, my lineage.

Experts say that they are unsure when exactly dogs arrived on the scene accompanying mankind is still uncertain and that they could have shown up as early as 40,000 years ago. They are actually wrong because archaeologists have recently found the ancient caves of Bogtrott-Um, which show evidence through cave paintings, archaic artefacts and the incredible, but little spoken about Bogtrott-Um Scrolls.

“These artefacts and accompanying fossils date from about 107,000 years ago,” says Clinton Wise-Smythe, an expert on the history at the Zoological Sciences Society of London University, adding, “Which is a most incredible thing to find out and is still being looked at, especially the use of scrolls, which were thought to be only in use several thousand years after this period of time.”

The companionship of men and dogs have led to a deeper understanding of one another. Dogs pick up the smell of hidden food incredibly well. It is amazing that even puppies are excellent at following someone’s gaze or pointing to food, even if they have had little experience of being amongst humans.

Although the usually time-period given by scientists to the domestication of dogs is around about 15,000 years ago that does not mean there were no dogs around before that time. And some recent research points to a 33,000-year-old Siberian fossil being related to modern dogs and wolves based on its DNA. Now with the finding of the caves at Bogtrott-Um this information has all been turned on its head.

Looking at the scrolls you can see that the story that unfolds on them shows a close-knit bond between the Bogtrotter and his Stone Age owner. He was taken for walks, fed and given a bed in the cave, just like we are today.

There are several scrolls and wall drawings, which depict several adventures with them two, although they have not as yet been given public scrutiny and as such I am sworn to secrecy, until such time as they have been studied to a suitable conclusion by archaeologists.

This would seem to be the origins of the Bogtrotter line, so my earliest relative on my family tree lived in a cave. I am so lucky to live in a nice big house with my Dad; spending many happy hours in his studio and then going out for walks or trips out in the car with him and the rest of the family – much better than a cave, especially in winter up here in the North of England.

I am extremely proud of my wonderfully exciting heritage as a Bogtrotter I and hope to be having some more of my own adventures real soon.

In my next outing, Blogtrotting, we will be visiting my relatives that lived in the Roman Empire; a relative called Bogtrottius.

I will now add, just like Dad does.

Until next time…

Have Fun!

Bentley Bogtrotter.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Jack Kirby – my biggest influence as a kid.

Hi Folks,

JackKirby would have been 99 years old today.

The world may have lost a great comic artist, but his legacy lives on.

I thought I would celebrate his birthday with you all again today by looking at yet more terrific artwork from this genius of the comic book worlds.

Thanks, Jack, for everything you taught me without us even having met.

Next up, tomorrow, Bentley takes over my Blog for the foreseeable future with his Blogtrotting with Bentley – Series 2 Blogs; starting with The Stone Age – Bogtrott-Um.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…

January 8th 2012

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Preston Comic Con - 2016

A Review of the multi-media event

Hi Everyone,

Well, you can tell how busy it is here at the Keep, because this is the first Blog I have managed to write since the one I wrote about Jack Kirby way back at the start of the year in February. Even Bentley has been so busy that he hasn’t had time to write his Blogs about his family tree, as yet. Well, a recent convention has made me make time to write one.

A while ago I received an invitation via Facebook from Darren Wildman, one of the main organisers, to ask if I would like to attend as a guest at this year’s Preston Comic Con. I had already heard good things from comic creators that had been to the show in its previous two incarnations and so decided it looked like something I would enjoy and so agreed to go along there.

Nowadays, with the workload being split between creating my “Science Fusion” graphic novel series, Worlds End, creating new products, alongside my new co-created Creative Curriculum Comics with Joe Mugan and the day-to-day running of WizardsKeep and its many websites and networks, conventions have to fall into a certain area for me to attend them. Preston sounded like it fell exactly into that area and this last weekend proved those theories correct and then some.

Unusually, especially this year in the North of England, the weather on the Friday morning of the trip over to the Holiday Inn was beautiful – warm and sunny. I only live about fifteen minutes away from Preston and was surprised when I was asked to stay at the hotel. Initially thinking maybe they want the comic creators to network and once there I realised I was right. Not just the comic creators though, but the actors too – all of us just one great big creative community of like-minded thinkers.

I have been to lots of multi-media comic conventions like this one where you are all in the same event, but all the others bar none have been segregated affairs with the comic folks in one place and the actors in another and never the twain shall meet, so to speak.

Well, Preston was different right from the off. The hotel was great, as were its staff and I was made welcome from the moment I arrived. As I got out of my car, having driven the few miles to the next town, or rather city as Preston has become, I saw fellow comic artist, Kev Hopgood and Femi Taylor, from Star Wars, getting out of their taxi from the train station.

After checking in, unpacking, and refreshing, Kev and I arranged to meet downstairs in the bar for a catch up over a few drinks. As we spoke it became very apparent just how much time had passed since we both began working in comics.

Well eventually the afternoon, spent reminiscing, had passed us by and we were joined by firstly my good buddy, Jack Lawrence, whom I hadn’t seen for a few years aside from our chats and comments on Facebook and Twitter and the like. Then, after being joined by my good pal, Bryan Talbot and his wife, Mary and soon afterwards, Sonia Leong and Laura Howell, we were taken through to the pre-convention meal, which was tremendous.

Pretty much all of the actors were there too, just prior to the meal and all of them were really accessible and all of them said hi. It was just such a great atmosphere.

After the meal we went back to our table at which we had spent the afternoon and early evening at the back of the bar and decided to play pool. You can tell how much time is spent by comic artists upon viewing their abilities… or lack of them. LOL.

The son of one of the organisers was stood nearby watching and I asked him if he wanted to join in – well that was all the encouragement he needed and he joined in the fun until it was time for him to go to bed. My exploits on the pool table were noticed by, Darren who decided to play in the stead of our youngest player… a misspent youth, I feel – or rather perhaps a hustler. LOL.

During our games of pool, former Doctor Who, Colin Baker – yes the very same one that has sat on my settee (couch) at my home arrived. We spoke briefly and then he retired to his room and the rest of us continued to play pool.

Folks started to drift off to their rooms to grab some sleep before the morning’s early rise for the convention and so I went along with Bryan to the bar area to re-join Jack and Lee Bradley and his partner and met Ross Mullan for the first time. Ross, originally hailing from Canada, has played many parts on TV, but it was as the one of White Walkers from Game of Thrones that I was most interested.

As folks who know me well will attest, I have been promoting the TV series since its first episode a few years back, which my good buddy, William Simpson has been creating storyboards for, following his time as a concept artist on the show.

Well, we all chatted Game of Thrones and Comics until one by one they all retired to their rooms leaving me with one of the organisers, Paul. We chatted together for another half hour to an hour or so, before deciding to get some sleep ourselves.

I awoke a few hours later and saw the sun peeping in through the curtains – it was another lovely sunny morning with hardly a cloud in the sky. Showered – repacked to check out of the hotel and ready for breakfast I went down in the lift (elevator to my American friends) and was shown to the area, which had been allocated to the convention folks. I chose my table and saw I was sat next to another Game of Thrones actor, Roger Ashton-Griffiths. Like Ross his list of credits for appearances on the TV is as extensive as it is impressive.

I resisted the urge to be a fan-boy and went to get my breakfast from the help-yourself area. Coffee was brought to my table and as I began to eat, Roger was joined by Ross, who said hi. As we all three ate breakfast I found myself amongst lots of actors from shows such as Game of thrones, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Primeval and the like. As I said before the other cross-media type events have kept the actors and comics folks separate from each other and this was such a refreshing change for me – if not a little surreal at times.

Here I was, chatting over breakfast with two actors from my favourite TV show. It was great and I have to admit I really enjoyed the short time that was available to us to do so.

 After breakfast and making a quick pick up of my things from my room, I checked out and went outside where I switched my stuff from my car to one of the awaiting taxis that had been provided for all the guests. I was joined in the taxi by both Ross and Roger and so the chatting continued.

Upon arrival at the Guild Hall in the centre of town, a stone’s throw away from the hotel, and seeing the amount of stuff I was manhandling from out of the boot of the taxi, Roger and Ross offered to give me a hand with the baggage. Normally I arrive at the conventions with a two wheel truck and much more gear, so I was much more concise with the packing this trip, but there was still a lot of stuff with me for the event.

Ross and Roger forged ahead of me and I was offered a lift by a comic fan and his daughter, whom I didn’t catch the name of, but to whom I am eternally grateful – thank you so much. If it was you, please drop me a line to my email address; it would be great to hear from you.

Once inside the venue I was shown where to go and found my stuff ably dropped off by the two actors already waiting for me at my table. It was a rush to set up, as we were pretty much the last of the taxis to set off from the hotel. That said I was soon all ready for the opening of the event to the early bird ticket holders. The announcement came that the doors were now open to them and the fun began in earnest. I was sat between Bryan and Andy Fairhurst, whom I had only met previously on Facebook and Twitter and so any small breaks in the day, and they were far and few between, was spent in conversation with these guys.

Early on in the show my good mate, Naz the owner of The Batcave, Blackburn’s resident comic shop, turned up at my stall to let me know he was with his son in the hall below us, where he had a table, and so if I needed anything to just drop him a text and one of them would sort things, which was really nice. Thanks, Naz, that was a really nice touch, mate. Luckily that wasn’t needed, however as the organisers had that fully under control all throughout the day.

I did get chance for a moment or two to speak briefly with Jack, Kev and Sonia, but that was only in passing as I made my way past them occasionally. In fact I was so busy I took only a handful of photos.

The fans were fantastic and I had a terrific time speaking to them and of course selling them my books, which is always a nice way to share the worlds within those books. We spend an inordinate amount of time working on them, so it is always great when the response is like this. I cannot thank the folks that took time out to come along and check out the books and speak to me about them. It was also nice to see folks bring along old comics that I had been involved with and to sign them for the folks involved. Some of them looked ‘well-loved,’ which again is a good sign. My little mate, from the pool games the previous evening, came around asking if I needed water or anything. I thought it only right to produce a sketch or two for my little pool buddy, which went down a storm with him – so Deadpool was the order of the day for that lad.

At lunch time Darren told us that there was a green room for us to go to and eat. I made sure a couple of comics fans were sorted at my table and then went along there. It was a lovely buffet spread and again both comics folks and actors were sat side-by-side chatting away over a brief lunch. I didn’t spend long in there though, as it was a hive of activity outside in the halls. I met Roger again and he asked if I had seen the stuff he and Ross had dropped off at my table for me and I told him I had and thanked him for doing so. Thanks again to both Roger and Ross for being such gentlemen and helping out an artist struggling with his wares.

Roger, Ross – if you ever need your swords carrying on set you know where to come…

Just after lunch a good mate and staunch supporter of mine, John "Gilly" Gillmore the afternoon show host from BBC Radio Lancashire called round to see me and took a photo for inclusion on Twitter - Sorry I spoiled you photo, John, mate. Thanks so much for coming over to see me at my table.

A little later I needed a loo break and on my way there I saw Hannah Spearritt looking a little light-heartedly flustered. I asked her what the problem was and she said she was looking for the room for her interview. I showed her the rooms that were a part of the event, but added I wasn’t sure, which was which. Giggling away, she shot off towards one of the rooms I had pointed out. I hope she made it there in time.

All day, during the event, the organisers were constantly coming over to check if we needed water or anything. It was really well organised. Towards the last third of the day I was pleased to see my Dad’s cousin, David Maudsley, who came to the show to see me. David we need a proper get-together soon, mate.

I was gobsmacked at the length of time one comics fan spoke to me, on and off throughout the afternoon, and even more gobsmacked by the illustration he showed me on his phone, which he had drawn using biro – it looked photo-realistic. Needless to say he and a few others are now Facebook and or Twitter friends with me now. It really was a great event to meet people. I think his wife was even more gobsmacked and she did try to pull him in a different direction a few times during the afternoon. LOL.

The footfall was a constant steady flow of folks all day and there wasn’t much space between visits from people to our tables. Just after I had spoken with David, Roger from game of Thrones came past and smiling, as he passed by some folks looking at my books, nodded towards the opened double-page-spread showing Worlds End, which I had on show on an easel, adding, “Your artwork is beautiful.” I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. One of my heroes from my favourite TV show had not just gone past my table and acknowledged me, but had endorsed my work to me. It was one of the high-points of the day for me, if not the highest.

Thanks again, Roger, that really did mean the world to me and I am still buzzing even now.

It was such a busy show for me and so successful that it was over in a flash and when the announcement came over the tannoy that the show was closed the place became a whirlwind of activity as the comic creators and vendors in the same hall began to feverishly pack up their wares. I managed a fond farewell to most of my fellow comic creators and those that mentioned it to me, I will be in touch with my best buddies at MaltaComicCon to advise them of your interest in attending the show over there.

Paul, came by and made sure I was okay and sorted me a taxi and a helping hand to it with my gear. I said a few last goodbyes to the organisers and then made my way back to the hotel to pick up my car and switch over the baggage.

It was all over in a flash, as I say and tired, but with the adrenaline still pumping, I was excited to have been asked to be a part of such a wonderful show, which was due in no small way because of the treatment given to us all by the organisers.

The fun didn’t end there, either, as I whizzed off back home to get showered and changed in time for a family engagement and a few drinks with them all, and to regale them with my exploits of the last two days.

Before I sign off there are a few folks I would like to say a massive thank you to:

Darren, Neil and Paul and the rest of the gang for all you did for me on the run up and on the day of the event. You really took care of me guys and I really appreciate all you did for me and the others. Everyone I spoke to said exactly the same as me, you made our trip well worth our while.

The staff at the Holiday Inn for a great stay. My stay was just perfect.

The staff at the Guild Hall for their help in getting me to my place through the crowds. It’s been a long while since I was in the Guild Hall and my time there was brilliant.

The man and his daughter that helped me get the main baggage to the convention hall. If you read this, please do get in touch.

Ross (now a Twitter friend) and Roger for taking the time to chat to me and for helping to carry some of my gear into the convention and dropping it off at my table. That was a really nice gesture and much appreciated, I can tell you.

Roger for his lovely words as he passed my table towards the end of the show. It really was lovely to hear that.

And all the folks that took the time to drop by and pay me a visit to chat and especially those who purchased a book, or two in some cases, without you guys none of this would work. I am lucky enough to continue with my career, chosen as a child, because of guys like you.

If the organisers of this show run another convention, and I know they are doing, get yourself along to it – especially if you like having fun and meeting the stars of Comics and of TV. I can guarantee you won’t regret it. For me this is THE best convention I have been to here in the UK for many years and as I mentioned in one of my Tweets last week, it is up there with my favourite convention on this planet, MaltaComicCon, so you know it must be good.

The next one that is being hosted by these same guys is going to be Blackburn ComicCon in my hometown of Blackburn – yes in my home town. The first guest has been announced and I can safely say Blackburn will never be the same again, dig out your light sabres, look to the Force, because DARTH VADER is coming to town on Saturday November 26th.

Until next time, have fun!

August 14th 2016