Sunday, 6 April 2014

Birmingham Memorabilia and MCM.

Accent UK had a stall at last month's Memorabilia and MCM event in Birmingham. These MCM events are typically pretty different to your typical Comic Conventions in that there's more Cosplay and Star signings and less Comic books, and certainly very few, if any, professional comic folk. But we enjoy them, for lots of reasons.

As they are typically not as busy as Comic Conventions, although sales can be as good, we get a chance to wander more and also talk more to our peers about the industry in general and each other's books and future specifically.
At this event I got to meet the voice that narrated Mr. Benn, Ray Brooks (and get this signed image)...
as well as THE voice of Marvin, the paranoid Android, from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Stephen Moore...
Pop over to the Accent UK blog for a full report of the event itself, we had a great two days and are looking forward to the next MCM, which is in London on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of May.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sunday, 16 March 2014

I must be getting old...

I'm not going to post about the years that have passed and where they have they all gone, there's no value in that.
What I wanted to post was about how lucky I am to have made so many good friends over the years, and how nice it is to share in some of their special moments.
This week saw us celebrating the 50th Birthday of one of my good friends (of more years than either of us would like to count), Shaun O'Donnell (or SPOD to a number of us).
His wife had arranged a secret Curry session with 11 of us joining him.
But Shaun, whilst being one of the most genuinely nice people you could ever hope to meet (I actually doubt he has ever done a bad thing in his entire life), is no slouch. I've played AD&D with Shaun for more than a decade and his characters are the complete opposite of him. Now, I can't believe that someone can create such characters from nothing, so I believe beneath that really 'nice guy' exterior is a mind that doesn't miss a devious trick and can play act as good as the next person, probably better.
Could Bernie and his family keep this from him ?
Honestly ? I doubted it.
Gary, Joe and Me ... forgetting that these new
devices can do wide angle photos.
The night arrived and there I sat at a large table drinking beer and waiting for our guest. I kept an eye on the door and was glad that I did. I saw Shaun as he entered with his wife and daughter for what he thought would be a quiet family meal. I saw his face as he spotted me at the table, and he then registered that actually he knew all the people sat there looking at him. I've never seen Shaun so surprised or lost for words before. A priceless moment that even he could not have acted.
Chatting and chilling.
What followed was a great evening eating Curry, chatting about all sorts and just chilling out amongst friends.
I can't remember who took this ... I must have been a little drunk by then...
We ended up drinking through a rainbow of coloured shorts.
Shaun receives his Crazy Zoo.
Shaun and I both selected a desert called Crazy Zoo, because it had a toy in it, and when the waiter returned to say that he had only one left, Shaun, typically, said that I should have it as I chose it first. It was his 50th though and I declined, swapping mine for some nutty ice cream thing.
Shaun realises that he'd have to make the toy.
But Shaun wasn't finished being Shaun, and he gave me the toy.
The instructions...
I was busy making this when Joe Mace ate my ice cream after polishing off his own. I didn't mind though, I love making these little Kinder-toy-like things.
The toy ... a seal with ball and wagging tail.
It was a great night, and I didn't care that I'd be suffering a bit the next day.
I think a sign of getting older is that you gather more and more good friends as you go.
I must be getting old then because I'm lucky enough to have so many.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The WesterNoir Book 4 Lego figure.

As is traditional, here's the modified Lego figure to accompany WesterNoir Book 4. This one is of Greta Anderson as it's a significant issue for her.

I took delivery of the boxes of WesterNoir Book 4 on Saturday, so we've now got plenty in stock for this years Cons. Speaking of which, our next Con will be the MCM event in Birmingham on the 22nd and 23rd of March. It'll be here before we know it.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Start Of A New Chapter.

It's been a very busy month.
I've started my new role at Lloyds, sorted out a new car, worked out how to get to Wythenshawe, kept in touch with a good friend from the Co-op and met up with some old ones from Barclays.
In the background I've also managed to do some more grey-scaling on the From Super Zeroes To Super Heroes book, sort out the printing of Issue 4 of WesterNoir and go to our first Comic Con of the year.
So, starting off with my new role, I'm happy to say it's a pretty good fit for who I am, what I know and how I operate. I'm part of a great team of people and really like where the company is going. I've been out and about already with trips to London and Halifax (thanks mainly to Tom Tom).
As I promised myself at the back end of last year, this time I'm not going to allow all of the friends I've made at the Co-op just fade away.
I spent a very enjoyable evening catching up with Claire, I can't believe that so much has happened in just a month. Claire's daughter Olivia, amused by my attempt at a beard, has supplied me with another, updated, portrait with some great use of colour. Thanks Olivia.
A bearded Dave West by Olivia Smith.
I've also met up with three co-founding members of my old Barclay's Sci-Fi group, The Undiscovered Country Club. I'd not seen Sandy, Roger or Rod for about 3 years but it was as if we'd spoken only last week (well, OK, we had on Facebook but you know what I mean). We shared a geeky chat over food and beer, reminiscing over old times and bringing each other up to date with things. We've all been pretty busy.
A grey-scaled sample of Seba's artwork on the
Polara story in From Super Zeroes to Super Heroes.
From a comic book perspective, I've been too tired to do too much creative work on Strange Times Book 2, as I've had plenty of reading to do for my new role, but have managed to fit in some grey-scaling on From Super Zeroes To Super Heroes. Artist Seba Velez's artwork gets better with each story and whilst it is a time consuming process I'm really happy with how the finished story pages are looking.
WesterNoir Book 4 has been printed, and looks fabulous. A great cliff-hanging end to the first mini-series this book was launched at our first Con of the year, DemonCon7 in Maidstone. Pop over to www.accentukcomics.blogspot for a report on the Con day and also pop over to curiosityofasocialmisfit.blogspot.co.uk for Pat Challis's very early review of the comic itself.

So, all in all a pretty busy and productive month. Next month will see us at the Birmingham MCM event on the 22nd and 23rd. Should be fun.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A very tough week...

Last week was my last week at the Co-op.
Last week I had to finish handing everything over to those who would carry on my role, which made it pretty busy.
Last week I had to say goodbye to a number of really good friends and a whole load of great people I'd spent the last 3 years working with.
The day itself came far too quickly and I inevitably I soon found myself being surrounded by friends and colleagues for the traditional leaving presentation. I received the speech and my presents and I think I managed to give my little goodbye speech without too much emotion creeping in. As I said in the speech, I began the process of leaving the Co-op nearly 10 months ago. It was at a time when I was being put into a role that I was neither too familiar with nor one that I wanted to move into as a career choice. Since then I've had a number of interviews with Lloyds and I like what I've seen and heard. The role they offered suited me much better. During those 10 months however I have learned the Co-op role, become part of a very large programme and more importantly, built a number of very strong friendships. As I said in my speech on Thursday, if I was asked at this point in time, I wouldn't even  be considering leaving the Co-op. I couple of extra years on the programme doing a role that wasn't my first choice would have been fine. But, I have completed the process with Lloyds, and I do like the look of the role they've offered, so there really is no turning back.
Having organised a leaving present or two myself in the past, I know how tough they are to keep on top of. At the Co-op we are spread across three buildings in Manchester, which makes it all the more difficult. I'd like to thank Claire for all her hard work last week, taking on a number of my tasks, making sure I handed over everything in time and on top of this and her own work, for sorting out my leaving present.
The very generous collection bought me a copy of Ralph Steadman's latest book (and a very big book it is) Proud Too Be Weirrd. It's something that I will treasure forever. There was also a little box of things that'll help me survive in my new company. The vital stuff. Biscuits. Earl Grey Tea and an emergency light and whistle. And of course the cards with some lovely comments, an some cheeky ones of course.
I had decided to have my actual Leaving Do the next day, on the Friday night, taking the day off to collect my hire car (a lovely white it is too ... well .. it was) and going into Manchester later in the day to meet up with those who could make it out that night to make sure I didn't have to drink alone. Again the event, which was in the Terrace bar in the Northern Quarter was organised by Claire and was a great night that went off without a hitch, apart from me being a little late... sigh.
It was really nice that so many managed to come along, some even by way of Barclays (they had left the Co-op a number of months ago). I had a lovely evening chatting to people who I really do hope, and plan, to keep in touch with.
At some point I wore Claire's hat...
Claire and Neil - pose for the camera.

Neil goes one better and poses in Claire's hat and scarf.
As people left one after another the whole thing became more and more real for me, the beer helped to keep me from getting too sad.
At the end Matt, Neil, Claire and I were the only ones left. We stayed for another couple of pints. I confessed to Matt that the only way I'd managed to beat him in the Team Fantasy Football League the year before was by getting another friend of mine (an old Barclays friend who Matt would never meet (for his safety)) to manage the team for me. I've always been a believer in accepting your own limitations and finding creative ways around them. Matt was a little annoyed, but mostly relieved to know that he wasn't beaten by a Sci-Fi geek.
Matt just couldn't believe I had been so devious.
And then I found myself making sure Claire got her taxi home safely and a slow lonely walk back to my hotel (I decided a few weeks ago that I wouldn't be getting a train home after drinking as much as I knew I would be drinking).
Thanks then to everyone at the Co-op who made the last three years so enjoyable, and particularly those on the Jupiter Programme for bearing with me as I got my head around the Lead Solution Architect role. I'll miss you all.
I'll leave this posting with the best role title I had in my time at the Co-op. At one point, on the Mars programme, I was Dave West, Data Architect of Mars ... look out John Carter.