So much for the Bristol International Comic Expo being a smaller, more sedate affair this year. From start to finish, the gig was thirty pounds of crazy in a ten-pound bag. Both days were exhausting, and I was blown away by the amount of interest shown in Cancertown over the entire weekend.
Stephen Downey and I kicked off Saturday with a flurry of book signing - something I still haven't got used to and hopefully never will. By the time we'd worked our way through half of the stack of pre-orders Insomnia had brought along, we were already getting a queue of people asking for the book in a show of interest that continued to grow steadily over the course of the day. The whole thing was just utterly bewildering, and far more than we'd been expecting, or even hoping for. Nic was kept busy throughout the day, meeting creators and making their comics-related dreams come true. I had a chance to speak briefly to Jimmy Bott and the Geek Syndicate crew, but most of my time was spent talking up Cancertown and generally having the time of my life.
I had a particular stroke of luck in meeting a creator called Ollie Masters, who goes to the same university I used to. Not only is the man apparently a very promising new writer (so Nic tells me, and she doesn't say things like that lightly), but he's also a perfect human reference for Mr. Green, a major character from Slaughterman's Creed. Stephen got him to run through a few poses. If you've never watched an artist attempting to get a model to mime urinating into another man's mouth, you've obviously never been to a UK comics convention.
Had another odd moment when I met Doug Bradley in the hotel toilets. For some reason, I suddenly couldn't think of anything to say...
Insomnia co-founder, Alasdair Duncan, had brought the Crosshair standee we'd used at the library gigs we did a little while back, and Paul Cartwright's astonishing rendition of the character drew a lot of attention. Alasdair was again getting people to propose a line of dialogue for him, and the entries we got were suitably perverse. I'll see if I can get a list of the better ones from Al at some point. Stephen Downey and his girlfriend, Aimee, stuck close to the Insomnia stand most of the Saturday, and it was impressive to see how many people were recognising Aimee as the model for Cancertown's femme fatale, Babyface. Simon Wyatt was also sketching at the stand for a lot of the day, and he more or less made Nic's convention for her by giving her a drawing of his character, Rax.
In the afternoon, I got talking to Scott from Comic Book Outsiders. By this time I was largely incoherent, having just been told that we'd sold 97 copies of Cancertown off the stand that day, but things are looking quite hopeful for an appearance on the podcast at some point. Exciting stuff for me, as I've been a listener for some time.
I should make a quick mention of Rich McAuliffe here, as a preview of his upcoming Damaged Goods anthology was on display at the convention. Judging from the sample story, this book's going to be a monster!
Final total for Saturday was 105 Cancertowns sold and around 50 of the Layer Zero: Choices anthology. Unbelievable, and the number of Cancertowns would actually rocket to 150 by the end of the Sunday - despite the fact that Insomnia didn't even have a stand to sell from the second day! Retired with the rest of the Insomnia crew for an evening of cake and contract signings. The Ragged Man and The Indifference Engine are now set in stone, and watch this space for news of Cancertown 2...
Tired beyond the capacity for rational thought, I was nevertheless offered one final laugh-out-loud moment as we all left the hotel on Saturday evening, as Monkeys with Machineguns' Chris Lynch lurched out of the bar area in a flashing Batman t-shirt with the cheery greeting, "What up, gangsters - I am full of the booze!"
I like that guy.
Sunday offered me my first real opportunity to scout out the Ramada side of the dual convention. I checked in with Harry Markos, who had set up an impressive display on the Markosia stand, and I finally met my Waste co-creator, Ben MacLeod (who turned out to be awesome). There's some hope of another collaboration with Ben in the future, depending on his other commitments, which would be fantastic.
The major event for us on Sunday was Nic's appearance on an indie press panel with Ed Deighton (Com.X), Richard Emms (Ardden), Harry Markos (Markosia) and Classwar writer, Rob Williams. The theme of the panel was "Change or Die", and I'm pretty sure the general consensus was "change". Nic put forward the most constructive appraisal of the way forward, and did an excellent job of backing her points up with solid facts and professional experience. The panel was recorded, so hopefully it'll crop up in podcast form at some point. I rewarded Nic for her heroism with the latest Owly book in hardback. She made a happy noise.
So, yeah - it was a bit of a blinder, all things considered. 150 copies of Cancertown escaped out into the world, and the rush of orders resulting from the book's subsequent mention on Lying in the Gutters has wiped out Amazon's stock of the book for the second time. Long story short, I've got no complaints about my life right now.