The actual show itself was impressive, if constrained a little by the layout of the venue.
Walking into the place the only access is through a tiny corridor, past the 3 event rooms and the toilets. Then onwards into the main arena.
This was where everything was. Dealers, small press, artists and writers. The works.
And having them all together like that does work. One criticism I kept hearing of the Custard Factory show was that the plentiful small press stands were dumped into a smaller room, effectively turning them into a no-go zone. Happily for the small pressers at this show, they were completely integrated into the main room here and the traffic at their tables reflected this.
It just wouldn't be a show without these brave souls willing to make arses of themselves all day and, given the temperatures in the hall, possibly risk heat exhaustion as well.
One potentially embarrassing thing did happen though. My old, old boss at Nostalgia & Comics was at the show, since being bought out of the comic shop business, he's started selling artwork and seems to be doing alright out of it. He certainly looks better than I remember him looking. We said hello and he asked me what I was doing now. That was when it hit me that the answer should have included the following:
1. Moved to Yorkshire,
2. working at a primary school,
3. reviewing comics for FPI weblog
4. Oh, and writing a blog where I spent a great deal of time and a not inconsiderable number of posts describing some of the terrible business decisions you've made in the past.
Instead I just left out the last bit.
That was probably the first time I was relieved that someone DIDN'T read the blog.
Especially when he then proceeded to tell me that one of the things he was planning on doing in the future was producing another book of comic art, very much like the financial abortion that was Nostalgia About Comics, but this time dealing with 1950s comics. I nodded politely and made my excuses and left. He even had copies of Nostalgia About Comics on sale at the show. God bless him, I wish him well and all that but sometimes it would be nice to think he could learn from the mistakes of the past.
I had meant to take in some of the panels during the day, but hours of wandering and chatting, together with a very late start to the day means I didn't see a thing all day. Which means I missed out on some really interesting panels including: the 2000AD panel, the Mike Mignola interview and the charity auction.
This gorgeous convention cover artwork by Mike Mignola and Kevin Nowlan was the highlight of the auction. One of our very own Nostalgia & Comics customers was in the bidding for it. He went up to £500 but was completely eclipsed by the eventual winner - paying a princely £1400. All in a good cause as they say.
The Erotic Comics presentation was meant to be very good as well, although it ran over terribly late. Possibly cleaning up the mess on the floor? And the Matt Hollingsworth colouring masterclass, although highly technical was a huge draw.
Mike Mignola and Kevin Nowlan were the undoubted draws for the crows. At one point the queue for Mignola threatened to overwhelm the walkway until security stepped in and sorted it out. Very big blokes tend to be able to organise queues of comics fans very quickly.
Weary and with aching feet I headed back for a shower and change of very sweaty clothes - that's the one thing that never changes about these things. There's either no air conditioning or it's completely ineffective. Given that the room is packed to the rafters with comics people this is not the best idea, after a few minutes most of us were wandering round with delightful and very attractive wet patches under arms. Yuck.
Luckily the night out on Saturday was a much quieter affair, for me at least. I had a couple of old friends to catch up with and had a quiet and sedate night out, getting much needed sleep. On the way home we wandered past Bennetts to see more comics folks imbibing lots of beer.
Not something I imagine others managed. The rumour is that the previously mentioned Mr Ben McCool, soon to be comics pro and drinker / networker extraordinaire took a host of pros on an extended drinking and sports session. I imagine he and they were very, very drunk by the end of the night's festivities.
More of the the same. Again, made it to the show a little late. Again, saw no panels until the very end. But lots of wandering, lots of chatting.
Final panel of the day was Ben McCool's Play Your Comics Cards Right with questions set by Nostalgia & Comics own David Dearn. It was, to be kind, slightly disorganised. But in a fun, chaotic, end of show type of way. Mark Farmer, Staz Johnston and Al Ewing were joined on the quiz by a very enthusiastic and slightly out of his comics depth young man. But somehow, after what seemed like an eternity - Ben would have read the rules but he probably wasn't seeing straight after Saturday night - somehow the young lad won the game. We all cheered for the biggest fix of the weekend.
Everyone seemed extremely happy with how it had all gone. Sure, there were a few minor problems, but certainly nothing to put people off. I was talking to James Hodgkins, one of the organisers and he seemed really pleased with it all and positive that it would all be happening again in 2008.