I'M delighted to say that this year's Birmingham International Comics Show was a massive improvement on the one at the tail end of 2007. First and foremost the venue was excellent - the show was held at a place called the ThinkTank in the city's impressive Millennium Point building.
The ThinkTank is a kind of miniature version of the science musuem in London, full of moving, talking, whirring, clicking technology from the past, present and future on four or five floors. There's even a planetarium. It would be a great place to visit even without the comic show.
The other good news is that the venue, convention hotels and public transport were all within easy walking distance of each other. It may seem like a tiny thing but I spent a small fortune on cab fares last time which is an expense I could have well done without.
The event was a success in terms of punter numbers too - the main event room, which is probably only a bit smaller than the one at Bristol, was absolutely packed all day Saturday and pretty damn busy on the Sunday. I took a fair bit of cash and sold most of the comics I took up with me but, more importantly, I was able to catch up with all the people I only ever get to see once or twice a year.
It was lovely to see SBC columnist Regie Rigby who had just signed a contract with Markosia to publish his Sunset mini-series. Really delighted for Regie who's one of the nicest and most supportive people I've met in the five years I've been doing this.
Also good to see Phonogram writer Kieron Gillen whose bullshit-free attitude to his work and recent success make talking to him an absolute pleasure.
I was surprised by just how young Hassan and Rachid Otsmane are. They're the guys behind the indiereview.co.uk website for which I write a column, and I was expecting them to be the kind of grizzled 30 or 40-somethings that UK comics fandom is full of. But not a bit of it - I'm old enough to be their dad!
Sean Azzopardi was kind enough to keep me company on the Moonface Press table for practically the entire weekend and sold a fair few of his own comics too. It was funny because although we're mates, our work has bugger all in common. Sean's stuff is the kind of thing likely to get picked up by Top Shelf or Fantagraphics whereas mine is far more influenced by a lifetime reading very mainstream Marvel and DC books.
Anyway, Sean has a trade paperback collection of his brilliant Twelve Hour Shift comic coming out soon and you should really check it out. You'll find information here: phatcatz.org.uk
... and here's the cover...
Also caught up with a host of collaborators and soon-to-be collaborators. Confirmed with Declan Shalvey that Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag is going to be full-colour. Don't think I've mentioned it on here before but Dec will be the artist on the Skinner one-shot. It will be our follow-up to the award-winning Hero Killers and I'm currently entertaining a totally mad notion to launch it at San Diego 2008.
Mick Trimble showed me all the Septic Isle pages he's done so far and it's looking terrific. That will probably be our big launch at Bristol - a 52-page, perfect bound graphic novella with a wraparound cover by the aforementioned Mr Shalvey.
Briefly met with artist Simon Wyatt about a three-issue mini-series we're hoping to get together early next year. Working title: Pendragon. Also confirmed with Duncan Nimmo that he's still up for illustrating Kurss, the one-shot title I will be writing as soon as the Skinner script is finished. I've been promising him the script since Bristol 2006!
And that's about it really - as per usual I didn't get to see any panels or talks and didn't do nearly enough after-show socialising. Still, there's always next year...