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Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Comics nerd 


At the end of last month I spent an enjoyable weekend in Bristol attending this year's annual comics festival. Then this month I spent an enjoyable Friday and Saturday in smelly London attending comics events at the French Institute. I am a nerd and I am not ashamed.

The Bristol do was a little disappointing in that it has, for me, long been a chance to catch up with comics folk I generally don't see for the rest of the year but this time a lot of the usual suspects had decided not to bother. Still, I got to meet new pal Matt Broersma who turned out to be a lovely chap (just as well as we'd arranged to share a hotel room) and loitered around Gary Northfield's table catching up with him - always a pleasure. Likewise Pete Ashton and Roger Langridge whose table I very briefly looked after on the Sunday to give Roger 10 whole minutes when he wasn't drawing sketches for an adoring public. I watched him draw a Joker for some punter and was gritting my teeth in envy at the ease and confidence of his line. Talented bugger.

The "festival" itself is a bit mainstream for my tastes with star guests from the alien worlds of Superheroland and too much emphasis given to dealers flogging back issues. But there's also a lot of space given over to small press comics and some effort made to lure in the young folk rather than just the usual ill-cleansed adolescents. So it's a mixed bag overall, not exactly to my tastes but then I'm not really the target audience for it.

The French Institute events were part of the second Comica festival. There were also a load of Comica events at the ICA (do you see: "ComICA" - do you see what they did there?) but they cost money to go to and/or were inconveniently timed in relation to work deadlines so I didn't go to any of those. Anyway, the French Institute stuff was mostly good, especially a very entertaining chat between the goddess that is Posy Simmonds and French cartoonist Charles Berberian. Other stuff included: a panel on comics distribution (which as someone who used to run a graphic novels section in a branch of Waterstones, I found interesting for old times' sake); various artists cartooning on overhead projectors (a bare chested Lewis Trondheim was particularly inventive and entertaining if rather scarily manic); a discussion of dream imagery in comics between Benoit Peeters, David B, Andrzej Klimowski (who should stick to designing book covers and leave comics well alone in my opinion) and Aleksandar Zograf. This last seemed a bit dull to me but then I might just have been nodding off due to the small amount of sleep I'd managed to grab at Mark Stafford's place on the Saturday night. (I didn't think that church clocks that chimed on the hour ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT existed anymore. I was wrong).

Oh, and I took some photos...





Pete Ashton giving me a "no pictures" look.




The dapperest man in comics, Woodrow Phoenix, draws Batman.




Simone Lia draws a sentient cabbage.



Gary Northfield entertains.


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