Thursday, 23 April 2015

The First Birmingham Comics Festival


Accent UK have been to a good number of 'first time' Comic Conventions over the years, and we always expect them to have their organisational and logistic problems. We always expect attendance to be a little lower than we'd like and therefore do no expect great sales. You have to allow these Conventions the room to breathe and grow, so there really is no value in giving the organisers a hard time.
So, expectations low, Accent UK (Me, Colin, Gary and Jemma) were pleasantly surprised that this convention was, without a doubt, the best 'first time' Comic Convention we'd ever been to.
The advertising beforehand was impressive.
The organisation on the day seemed to be flawless.
The way the organisers treated the guests and exhibitors could not have been better.
The number of customers...., well, OK, the number of customers were actually typical for a new Con. The numbers weren't fabulous, but that said, there was always a steady trickle of people wandering around, stopping at the stall, chatting about our comics and buying stuff.
Jemma gives Colin a talk about sales targets and
 expectations before the doors open.
The quieter Cons allow us to meet our creative friends, sometimes for the first time in the flesh, which is always great. I won't try to list everyone but it was great to chat with Dave Hitchcock, usually we are both too busy to spend much time talking but at this Con our tables were back to back, Matt Soffee (who is doing such wonderful work colouring our WesterNoir covers, Andy Winter (who has been away from the comic scene for quite a while now) and Patrick Scattergood (who makes his own comics as well as reviews those of the likes of Accent UK).
A quieter Con also lets us have more time to chat with the people the other side of the tables, as the whole thing moves at a slower pace.
All in all we had a really enjoyable day, and for the record we sold 4 times as many comics as at any of our other 'first time' Conventions. I think this Con is going to grow into one of the great Cons and we've already signed up to come back next year.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Accent UK titles on sale in Macclesfield.

Last weekend I took some Accent UK stock to a new comic shop that has opened in Macclesfield (on Chestergate), The Comic Geek Shop, so if you're local and would like to try out our books then pop into the store.

It's great to see new stores popping up, and even better when they're fairly local.

Birmingham Comics Festival next weekend, and other stuff.

It's been a busy few weeks and now we're all focused on next Saturday's comic festival in Birmingham. It's the organiser's first event but they've certainly been putting in a lot of time and effort promoting the event through the web and SFX magazine. It should be great.
From an Accent UK perspective, we've had to reprint issue 1 of WesterNoir as the first printing has all but sold out, which is great news. We've taken the opportunity to also change the cover slightly to bring it more in line with later editions, so the second printing cover looks like...
Also, great news that co-creator and artist of WesterNoir, Gary Crutchley, has been invited as a Guest of the event, let's hope it doesn't go to his head...
We'll be giving away a free print to the first Magnificent Seven customers who buy a complete set of the first WesterNoir mini-series (4 issues), and as usual there'll be plenty of other great books to pick up, including the first issue of our new 7 issue Stephenson's Robot series, with limited edition Tarot Card.
The focus of last month was the 50th birthday of Accent UK co-founder Colin Mathieson. I clubbed together with Gary and Colin's family to buy him a gift that we knew he would really appreciate ...
...I think we hit the mark there. Certainly the biggest present Colin has ever received... now he just needs to find somewhere to hang it...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Welcome To The Machine.

Last night a group of me and a group of old friends went to see the Australian Pink Floyd's Welcome To The Machine tribute to Wish You Were Here.
We went to see them about a year and a half ago when the theme of their show was Dark Side Of The Moon, and whilst that record (it's what came before CDs to anyone under 20) was the first LP (don't worry about it if you're under 20) I ever bought, I think Wish You Were Here is probably my favourite...
...maybe.
It's difficult for me to choose between the two but I still play them more often than any other CD (as you can't play LPs in your car) I possess.
I guess the fact that I went back for more tells you how good I think these Aussies are. They let themselves wander a little at times, not playing things exactly as they appear on the CD, but not enough to bother me and actually, I quite like it. I'm sure Pink Floyd themselves allowed things to change a little in a live performance. Otherwise what's the point ?
The first set was all Wish You Were Here, after the warm up song.
Fabulous.
After a 15 minute break they were back and mixed up Dark Side Of The Moon with tracks from The Wall and even a track from their last album... the one where someone actually sings.
...and of course there was the Australian version of the big pink pig that graces the cover of Animals. A huge inflatable Kangaroo... it's a shame that they couldn't let it bounce around the audience. It did look pretty big and wasn't filled with enough helium I guess. It probably would have hurt someone.
And then the Kangaroo took a bow and we knew that a great evening was coming to a close.
It was a shame that the audience all looked to be 40+ as I think a lot of younger people would get a lot from a concert like this...
It's a great way to discover Pink Floyd.
I'm looking forward to the next tour.

Friday, 27 February 2015

WesterNoir reviews.

Well, the new comics haven't been out that long, one having been at two Cons and the other only one, but we're starting to hear what people think of them.
Patrick over at Curiosity of a Social Misfit has reviews posted of both WesterNoir Issue 5 and Tales of WesterNoir Issue 1. It's great to be able to say that he liked them both, and like myself can't wait to see the next issue.
Both WesterNoir Issue 6 and Tales Of WesterNoir Issue 2 are in production. 'Tales of' has two new artists to the series, Joe Campbell (who illustrated Missing : Have You Seen The Invisible Man) has illustrated a story by Gary...
and Mal Earl (who produces the inspired Bulletproof Nylon) has illustrated a story by myself.

Two very different styles, both featuring Jim Wilson, making for a very interesting read.
Gary is working on the cover for this book and we'll get it in print as soon as we are able to.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Stephenson's Robot starts to get some interest.

As we found with WesterNoir when we brought out Issue 1, it takes a few issues to really start to build a little buzz around a title.
And so it is proving with Stephenson's Robot.
Everybody that sees it on the table at Cons stops and picks it up. Some of those people are not into Steampunk or Robots and comment on the art and quality of the book before putting it down and moving on.
A larger percentage however are intrigued by what they see behind its cover, and pay the £3 required to learn more.
Patrick Scattergood over at the Curiosity of a Social Misfit review site has enjoyed most, if not all, of the Accent UK books that he has reviewed and Stephenson's Robot is no exception. Pop over to his blog and see what he thinks.
Stephenson's Robot isn't available in many stores, as we haven't taken it to Diamond yet (so email me at accentuk@btinternet.com for details if you'd like to buy a copy) but it's great to see it on the shelf with all those other great titles.
At Millennium Comics in Northwich it has pride of place sat next to Andy Bloor's Midnight Man ... great company indeed.

Monday, 16 February 2015

DemonCon 9.

It's the start of a new year of Comic Cons.
We now have an ongoing series on its 5th issue and another just starting out.
We've listened to the advice of our friends, both competitors, customers and our printer (Stuart Gould) and have decided to heed their advice and change the look of our table.
We've decided to move away from having a table full of all sorts of comics to having one that focuses on displaying the ongoing series, and whatever we might have that's new.
This meant putting all of the old books into a box on the table, making them harder for potential customers to spot when passing the stall.
DemonCon 9, being our first Con of the year, was where we tried it all out.
We had some new WesterNoir Standees.
We took my little Accent UK modified Lego figures.
We had Gary's great sketches.
We had to try it.
Gary awaits the first customer.
It was a long drive down, and we met Graham owner of the Grinning Demon comic shop and DemonCon event organizer as we were setting up. He was worried that the event wouldn't have as many customers as last year, there had been a problem with printing the fliers in time, and he wanted to apologize up front. We were pretty relaxed about it though, we were here and we were going to enjoy ourselves.
We were happy with how much less cluttered the table looked, and in fact I'm not sure we could have fitted everything on if we set it up as we had in the past.
The standees were great...
...giving a nice third dimension to the table. We will certainly be getting more of them made for future Cons.
The whole WesterNoir side of the table was a pleasure to look at. It's amazing having 5 issues of a title on sale, and interest in them was pretty constant throughout the day. A good number of customers bought all 6 titles (they picked up Tales of WesterNoir as well), and it was great to have customers from last year pick up the latest issues with a contented smile on their faces.
It did seem a little quieter than last year, but the customers that we did have more than made up for it and by the end of the day we'd increased our sales by 10%.
WesterNoir 5 ... can't wait for Issue 6 now :o)
The box of back issues also seemed to work, with a good number of customer looking through it and some pulling out and buying our older stock.
So, all in all I think the new layout is pretty successful. We'll no doubt play with it over time and modify it here and there, but on the whole it'll stay pretty much as is.
My little modified Lego Figures were also a success and drew a lot of people to the stall. The kids had great fun matching the figures to the comics, and also demonstrating their knowledge by telling me which bits of which figures I'd used in their construction. I also got a top tip from a father who was often trying to find that illusive final figure without spending a fortune and amassing hundreds of doubles.
A great day. A great little Con.
We'll be back next year for certain.