Tuesday, 7 October 2008

BICS '08 Convention Report Day Three: Juggernaut vs. The Blob – Solved by Science!

With all the fuss and fury of the previous day, we'd managed to miss one of the key attractions of the weekend – the Geek Syndicate panel, featuring Dave Gibbons, Mark Buckingham and Paul Cornell. So, still smarting from losing out on the Saturday, Nic and I made damn sure we arrived early for Karl Byrne's “The Science of Superheroes” talk. As I suspected it might, this turned out to be one of the top highlights of the event for us. Like a lot of reformed professional magicians, I'm a committed science cheerleader and critical thinking advocate. Karl's talk was thought-provoking, hilarious and pretty much ticked all the required boxes for me. I even got to participate in a very minor way, contributing a pulse monitor to the cause. The fearless Stacebob, from the Comic Racks podcast, and the Geek Syndicate's Barry Nugent took more active parts in the lecture, and the whole event had a relaxed, co-operative atmosphere.

I got a chance to talk briefly with Karl later, confessing my conjuring roots and explaining why I think his new podcast, Science Friction, is precisely the kind of voice that needs to be raised in a world where rationality is under perpetual assault and scepticism has become an insult, rather than a virtue. He suggested that he might like to pick my brains at some point, and I'd be very pleased to bounce ideas around with him any time he likes.

As I'd staggered into the venue that morning, a publisher had collared me to say he had a project I might be interested in, and that I should catch up with him later. I'm not yet so rich or successful that I'm turning down work (with, to date, one unavoidable exception), so I nodded agreeably and made a mental note to chase it up.

I was glad to finally meet Hal Laren and his (I think) brother Raul, of Reaper Comics. I'd exchanged comments with Hal on Smallzone a couple of times and, on seeing samples of his artwork, quickly suggested that he might want to pitch for a run on Starship Troopers. With a little luck, I'm hoping to be working with him soon.

Another particular highlight was chatting with Monkeys With Machingeguns' Chris Lynch. I'd met Chris at the last Bristol gig, and so I took an opportunity to tag along to an informal meeting he was having with Nic. A couple of things he said really caught my imagination and, as it turns out, a collaboration is not out of the question at some point.

With the convention winding down, Nic and I grabbed a passable Italian meal with Tet, Ferret, Stephen Downey and his girlfriend, Aimee. Toward the end of the meal, it occurred to me that I'd slipped into a pitch for a story I've been holding onto for a while. I must have done a reasonable job of it, judging from the reactions I was getting as the smoke cleared. Who, knows – maybe I'll start slinging that one around for real pretty soon...


  1. Do you find your pitches have to ferment for a bit before you can present them for real? Or is it more of a rehearsal? I am never entirely sure if I like hearing them, you sell me on a story then take FOREVER to pitch it for real. I have to wait and well, that just isn't fair :) If my opinion on this is worth anything, having heard the pitch a couple of times, I think it's ready to fly.

    PS. don't you dare stop telling me them :)

  2. Yeah, I usually find that a story sits in my head (at least at the conceptual stage) for a while before it's ready to go - and it's only the ones that survive that process and keep me excited that then get developed to the point where I can talk about them.

    There's also the simple fact that pitching opportunities can be hard to come by. I've been very fortunate in that regard - particularly recently.

    The story I thundered through at the restaurant is one that's been rattling around for a couple of years, as you know. I think it's pretty sound, but it's also HUGE, so the format needs careful consideration.

    That said, an opportunity has been presented to me and I might be in a good position to blast a publisher with it very soon...

  3. I think the transformation of mild mannered podcaster Stacey Frost into Super Soldier Stacebob was my favourite thing of the whole con.

    That and the sight of an indy publisher and one of his artists running the wrong way down an up escalator as the angles of the Think Tank architecture finally drove them both mad in true Lovecraftian style.

    Oh- and the baby oil stealth shield - that was pretty cool, too.

    Ferret - you have no idea of the atmospheric disturbance the creation of these stories causes! You do know that we once had a cloud in our hall? A real cloud! In the house!

    In any case, you know when a story is done by sticking it with the "pitch fork" and listening to the sizzle :)


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