Monday, May 14, 2007

Best. Bristol. Ever.

I've been an attendee at the Bristol Comics Expo, in its various incarnations, for six of the last seven years, and have to say the 2007 vintage was the best yet. And I'm not just saying that because Hero Killers won an Eagle Award, although it certainly helped.

The Saturday was just absolutely crammed with fans, and most notably far more women and kids than I'd seen at Bristol before (the lure of manga publishers such as Tokyopop being the main reason, I suspect). Punters had also been encouraged to come in costume (it guaranteed free entry) and they certainly rose to the challenge, with the fella dressed as the Silver Surfer (complete with silver surfboard) being particularly impressive. He must have been absolutely boiling...

The Moonface Press table did pretty good business for most of the weekend, even though we had absolutely nothing new to sell. More importantly, it was a good opportunity to review some portfolios and sign up new artists for future projects. Of everyone I saw, there are three artists I'm definitely interested in working with, including someone who'd fit my manga-influenced one-shot perfectly.

As ever, I didn't get much of a chance to attend panels but Joel Meadows was kind enough to invite me on to his Tripwire panel to talk about the magazine's forthcoming resurrection. To be honest, Tripwire is Joel's baby and I didn't have a great deal to contribute other than a few bits about my interview with Alan Moore. It was also nice to meet artist Duncan Fegredo, who was Joel's other panel guest.

Hero Killers artist Declan Shalvey and I had a blast at the Eagle Awards dinner. We were on a table with about ten other people, only one of whom I'd ever met before but we all got on like a house on fire. Most of them came and bought copies of Hero Killers from us the next day!

Of course, the highlight of the entire weekend for me was winning the Eagle Award for Favourite Black and White British Comic. I really thought the 2000AD-linked Future Quake would beat us but for once I'm glad to be wrong. When the comic's name was read out as winner I genuinely had to restrain myself from crying/dancing/high-fiving Dec and generally making an utter tit of myself. What was particularly gratifying was the thunderous cheer we got when the nominations were read out. To paraphrase Sally Field's much-mocked Oscar acceptance speech from 1985 - they like us, they really like us!

No sooner had Dec and I sat down with our very nice Eagle-shaped trophy than a bottle of champagne arrived on the table, courtesy of Mike, from Aberdeen's Asylum Comics and Books (Dec's studio is in the store's basement). Cheers mate!

Because you're encouraged to keep your acceptance speeches to no more than about 10 seconds, I didn't thank all the people I would have liked to on Saturday night. So... thanks to Daley Osiyemi and Gary Spencer Millidge (for their sage advice), Regie Rigby, Kelvin Green and Ambush Bug (for writing nice things about Hero Killers), Mike Carey (for all his help and support) and Ben Cornish at Diamond (for taking a chance on the book in the first place). Done!

There are a full list of this year's Eagle Awards winners here:

The following day was, as ever, a rather more muted affair but punter numbers were still up on a typical Expo Sunday. And that was despite torrential rain hitting Bristol for most of the day.

My eldest son Dylan accompanied me for a couple of hours in the morning but spent most of his time being variously menaced by a Dalek, a variety of Star Wars Storm Troopers and a woman impressively costumed as a weird manga fox thing. And that was before we even got to the Expo - he said, trying to end on a decent joke and failing utterly...

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