Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Birmingham Comic Festival and Peggy the Car.

The second one day event co-organised by our good friend Steve Tanner (of Timebomb comics) took place last Saturday.
The Accent UK crew this time around consisted of the old guard; Colin, Gary and myself, and as is typical we organised the transport to optimize comfort and minimize cost. Colin therefore drove to mine, parked his car in front of my house and transferred his stock to my car. We then picked up Gary, taking a small detour, before joining the M6 and heading down the 50 minutes or so stretch of motorway that took us to the Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
As usual we were set up very promptly, with Gary overseeing things..,
...he does like to see things set up just so.
The day was pretty much like last year really, Sales were OK, we chatted a lot about all sorts of things, bumped into old friends (great to see Jason Cobley back on the scene) and, well, had a good time.
This year seemed to have even more families attend than last and the Festival did have a really good feel to it. The Lego version of our characters drew plenty of attention as always from kids and adults alike, with the focus shifting from Kingdom to the Co-joined Twins.
It was a long day and we were pretty tired when this monster of a Cosplay wandered past. I'm not sure what he was looking for and we were all too afraid to ask. Fortunately he carried on passed our table...
And then the day ended.
We did a quick count up and found we'd done a little better than last year, which is a good sign.
We stopped off on the way back and have a Cantonese Buffet, which was excellent and a perfect end to the day.
Only it turned out not to be quite the end.
On getting back to my house, having dropped Gary off, we found that Colin had left his lights on all day. Peggy, his car, was dead. The batteries totally flat.
I took Colin home and returned to mine in the knowledge that tomorrow would see me meeting the RAC. It turned out to be more complicated than that and I got to meet a locksmith too, but that's a story for another day.
Would we go back for a third Birmingham Comic Festival ?
Yes, we would.
Would I check that Colin has switched off his lights next time ?
Yes, I would.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Stephenson's Robot #3 is with our friendly neighbourhood printer.

Things hot up as we follow events of the other robot created during Stephenson and Brunel's competition to each beat the other to win favour with Queen Victoria.
This issues back story is illustrated by co-creator of Missing : Have You Seen The Invisible Man ?, Joe Campbell and tells the story of Beauty.
All wrapped up in the great design by Andy Bloor.
And if all of that isn't enough, there is a tarot card to accompany the issue, illustrated by Stephenson's Robot co-creator and main story artist INDIO!
 Hopefully both of these will be available for the London MCM at the end of May.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Edinburgh Comic Convention.

We'd heard good things about the previous two Edinburgh Comic Conventions but due to clashes with some of our regular events we'd never been able to make it up to Edinburgh before. This year it had moved to its new venue at the EICC.
It's a long way from Crewe to Edinburgh.
It's a 4 hour drive or, as Colin found out, a 5 hour train journey.
Anyway, let's not focus on the negatives. Let's talk about the positives.
The new venue promised to prevent any of the over crowding complaints of the first two Cons and the very central location made this very easy for fans to find. As a relative newbie to Edinburgh even I managed to find the place. Finding the loading bay proved more of a challenge though, but it didn't defeat me.
Saturday morning then found us all ready and raring to go. The one table meant that we had to leave some titles at home, notably my little hard covers but the table still looked great, with a wide range of titles.
It was your typical slow start but at around 11.30am it got really busy and this period pretty much lasted until around 3pm.
During this time we sold out all but three of the WesterNoir - First Season Sketch-packs.
At 3pm however it went very quiet and sadly that lasted for the rest of the day until closure.
Saturday night saw us in a Curry house talking about the day. The Con had a really good feel to it. Plenty of people were interested in what we were doing, everyone was there to have a good time and whilst the Scottish Mr. Fudge seemed to be doing well, he hadn't sold out, which for me is a good sign as it says people were wanting to spend their money on other things ... like comics.
Sunday was actually almost a duplicate of Saturday, almost down to the number of comics we sold.
The main difference was that there were more families on the Sunday.
Having learned not to send Colin for coffees, as they are always
cold by the time I get them, I asked for water this time.
I found him chatting away as expected, and discovered that
lukewarm water is almost as bad.
There wasn't as much cosplay as there is at other events, but I think that'll change over the years ahead. The costumes that were on display however were pretty impressive. This one of Baby Groot was fabulous and she even did the dance.
And it's always great when someone in SteamPunk clothing buys a copy of Stephenson's Robot. OK, I gave this lady a copy as a thank you for the photograph, although she did buy a couple of anthologies which was nice.
At the end of a thoroughly enjoyable two days we'd met a lot of new customers, met a few who we'd seen before in Glasgow, chatted to a lot of very interesting people, seen some great costumes and had customers come and buy more on the Sunday having read of their purchases from the Saturday.
Yep.
A great show that we'll return to.
Once we've recovered...

Monday, 21 March 2016

Liverpool MCM... another first time Con.

Accent UK are enjoying the MCM shows.
They are so full on, thousands of people in all sorts of costumes, stalls that range from T-shirts to Lego figures, from stars signing photos to comic books.
We've been to MCM events in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Belfast.
This weekend we were to add Liverpool to the list.
As we can drive from my house to Liverpool, Jemma and I left around 6am to pick up Colin, Scott and Steve Tanner (Timebomb) who was staying at Colin's, before heading off to the venue which was at the Exhibition Centre. Steve had set up his stall the night before, so finding the loading bay and table were easy and before long we were all set up and ready.
MCMs tend to draw large crowds and whilst this venue is smaller than the Manchester and London, meaning that there would be fewer people let in due to Health and Safety, it felt pretty busy for most of the day. Sure there were quiet spells, there always are, but it also got pretty busy.
Mike Garley was there with his Kill Screen and Samurai Slasher, and he showed me a sample copy of his oversized hard cover limited edition Kill Screen and it certainly got me thinking ... an oversized hard cover edition of WesterNoir would be cool.
All in all we had a pretty good first day. We spoke to a lot of new customers, some returning customers from the Manchester MCM (which was unexpected) and also just people who were enjoying the event and wanted to know what we were up to.
The day ended on a bit of a worrying note when we were informed that tomorrow a lot of the surrounding roads would be closed as the Liverpool Half Marathon was taking place.
Ah well, we thought, we'll arrive well before that starts.
There shouldn't be a problem.
Sunday morning then saw a convoy, well Steve's car following Colin's, heading from Manchester to Liverpool's Exhibition Centre. We got so close that we could see the venue, several times. Each time however we came across a barrier, with people and sometimes police, pointing us in a different direction to the one we wanted.
Our 'hour plus' contingency evaporated.
The following car evaporated. We lost Steve at a junction. We later found out a policeman had stopped him as he tried to follow us into the race.
Yep, for a hundred yards or so we were actually "driver's side wing mirror" to shoulder with the leading pack.
We decided that we'd better leave the race as soon as we could though, although I quite enjoyed waving to the crowds, and we ended up heading out of Liverpool in an attempt to approach the docks from a completely different direction.
Replacing TomTom with ColCol.
It took a while and a few U-turns.
But we did it.
Not only that but having parked the car and walked from there to the venue doors we saw that we'd actually beaten the winning runner.
Rather than try to claim our prize though, we decided it would be best to go and man our table, as we were already 30 minutes late.
As we entered the hall we discovered that the race had had no effect at all on the number of people who had turned up for day 2.
We also discovered that Steve Tanner had beaten us there, having abandoned (parked) his car somewhere and walked in.
Sunday was actually busier for us than Saturday had been.
We spoke to more people and sold more books.
My Lego adapted figures were a success, getting lots of interest, particularly Lillian and Gillian.
We sold our last copies of Who On Earth Was Thaddeus Mist ? and sold a good number of the other anthologies...
...yep, nothing daft about our Robots anthology.
All in all we had a great Con, enjoyed catching up with some of our fellow creators, ended up entering the Half Marathon and met some great people...
..including the Justice League, although I do hope the movie version of Wonder Woman looks better than this one.
We look forward to the next one.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Strange Times Book 2.

Well it's finally happened.
I've finished Book 2 of Strange Times.
Andy Bloor helped make give it the same feel as Book 1 and I'm really happy with how it came out.
I'll just have to see if anyone remembers it now :o)
Oh, and as is traditional, here's the adapted Lego figure to accompany the book.
Not as scary as the last one... I think.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Our first OxCon... well, THE first OxCon.

After the recent Bolton Con Colin and I were a little apprehensive about going to the our first Convention in Oxford.
Sure, the organizer Leonardo appeared to be doing a good job from email exchanges and the Facebook presence, but you just never know what these new Cons are going to look like until you get there.
We set off early, stopped off for breakfast at a motorway service station, got lost in Oxford, swapped Tom Tom for Google Maps, found the venue, offloaded where it looked like we shouldn't, parked the car (in an expensive car park) and were all set up in time for the start.
Oxford is a beautiful city and familiar in a Morse and Lewis way. It does feel like you are entering a different world somehow and conjures up those cities that you come across in many a Fantasy novel.
There were people milling around outside when we arrived but no real queue to talk of, despite all the tickets reportedly having been sold out, but that's normal in these types of Cons, where they are in the city centre and people tend to wander in and out all day.
So we weren't worried.
Much.
The interior of the venue was as impressive as the outside. Wood panels and paintings of famous people from as far back as George III (although his painting was mysteriously missing) or older (I didn't actually check all the dates though) and the table space was generous, as was the space between tables.
Yep, it all felt very relaxed.
There was even comic book themed music.
And it seemed that they'd even put up special signs for me.
The early pass ticket holders started to wander in and look around at the stalls.
Unlike Bolton the stalls were all much more closely linked to comic book and film, no Mr Fudge here then. We were next to our friends of TPUB with their great Twisted Dark books (look them up if you haven't already done so).
It was a slow start but around 12 the doors opened for the rest of the ticket holders and it got fairly busy.
We met some really interesting people and sold comics to Finance professors (thanks Dr. Noe), research post graduates and even...
At the end of Saturday we'd done pretty well. Not as well as at some of the more established shows but certainly very well for the first day of a brand new convention.
Sunday was pretty much the same really.
We didn't sell as much, which is typical for us at Conventions, but there were plenty of interested people and we really enjoyed the day.
My first ever photo-bomb... sorry Colin.
And as the day closed we agreed with all of the dealers we spoke to, that we'd had a really enjoyable convention and would certainly look to come back and repeat the experience next year.
Hats off then (especially if you hat is very big and very red) to all involved in organizing the event, it was a great little Con.

Monday, 22 February 2016

WesterNoir #6 in Lego.

This one has been a real challenge.
As Gary and I come up with the characters in our story I sometimes dread the time when I'll probably have to make a Lego version of them. Such was the case with Lillian and Gillian the co-joined twins in issue 6 of WesterNoir.
I had to make them in such a way as not to scare the children (and an earlier version looked like something from The Thing) who love looking at the Lego characters at Conventions.
Hopefully what I ended up with is OK, I guess we'll find out.
Lillian and Gillian are very strong and very central characters, the daughters of an even more central character... I'll say no more for now.