I'm sitting at what passes for my desk on a Sunday morning, listening to 'The Snow Goose' by Camel and contemplating this blog. I haven't posted much over the last year or so, with what seemed like a dry creative period for lots of reasons. What can I say? I have another job. I'm a very important man. If only.
Yesterday, 23rd April, I had a table at the Birmingham Comic Festival, organised by friends Steve Tanner and Paul Birch, and the possibly even more talented Victor Wright. Paul I have known on and off for years, during which time he doesn't seem to have aged a bit. I demonstrably have. At what was almost the eleventh hour, Paul asked me to chair a panel entitled 'Classroom Comics Capers' at the festival in Edgbaston, which I was more than happy to do. I was a little nervous as, although I'm used to speaking to groups of people, I haven't done it in this context for a while. However, it went well, with thoughtful and entertaining contributions from John Erasmus, Laura Howell and Phil Vaughan, who all work with young people in different capacities to use comics as a learning tool. Hopefully I may be doing more of that kind of thing in the future - there was some discussion later in the day about doing something at the Birmingham Literary Festival in October. Watch this space.
My new car. I didn't manage to get inside, though, before someone in a mask and cape drove off with it. Not sure what happened there. I'd better ring my Bat-Insurance. What you can see in the photo at the top of this post is my momentarily camera-shy daughter, who was with me all day to 'help out'. This largely involved taking and money that I earned from book sales and finding things to spend it on. Star Wars Pop heads are her new thing. We've graduated from Moshi Monsters to Minecraft to now (thankfully, for me) Star Wars. I hadn't been able to persuade her to watch any Star Wars movie until The Force Awakens, whereupon she's declared Rey to be "awesome" and the movie to be "amazing". Job done, JJ.
What money I managed to keep for myself, I of course spent on books. What I was eager to do was catch up on books published by friends, which I hadn't done for a while as I'd been absent from conventions and festivals for the last couple of years. It helps that the aforementioned people actually publish some of the best independent comics around at the moment. I'm a genuine fan of Dave West, Gary Crutchley, Steve Tanner, Andy Bloor and the Futurequake team. As I work my way through my haul, I'm going to post up some reviews. If you're not familiar with these, though, you must at least check out Accent UK and their brilliant Westernoir series, Andy Bloor's Midnight Man, Time Bomb Comics' new Flintlock book, and the perennial Futurequake and Zarjaz magazines. Google them all, internet people!
Well, how was the Birmingham Comic Festival? Firstly, it was supremely well organised as far as I could see. Food options are always limited at such cons, but that's down to the venue rather than the organisers. It was frustrating not to be able to get a decent cup of coffee at Edgbaston. Gawd knows how cricket-loving coffee fans cope. The restaurant offered a fantastic view of the pitch, and at least my 11 year daughter got her healthy option of hot dog and chips. She declared the body painting area as "disgusting" but they were very artistically done, even if many of the young ladies in painted-on superhero costumes looked freezing cold to me.
I haven't seen quite so many Batmans, stormtroopers, Mega-City judges and cross-dressing Supergirls together in one place for quite some time, but there is always something very heartening about seeing such a coming-together of like minds. The array of tables was impressive, but most independent comic creators reported a slow day. It seemed to take a long time for people to filter through in the morning. I peaked with sales around midday, and then things tailed off considerably by mid afternoon. I enjoyed the day and for me it was well worth doing, if only to briefly reconnect with friends and to show my daughter that side of what Dad occasionally does.
I was touched by the positive feedback on Amnesia Agents Book 1. This is certainly going to be my ongoing project now. I'm working on Book 2 and thinking about more spin-off comics. There are some 'deleted scenes' from Book 1 that, if I don't use them in Book 2, will find their way onto the blog here. Sales were slow but evenly spread, with enthusiasm for the Dracula book and, in one case, an excited youngster whose parents bought him The Legend of Tom Hickathrift because he's been studying it at school. Yay - target audience!
'The Snow Goose' has finished. Time to put on... 'The Underfall Yard' by Big Big Train. It's a prog morning.
BLATANT PLUG TIME:
The Forgotten Child: Amnesia Agents Book 1 is available as a print edition with 20% today only (24th April) with the code SHAKE20 from Lulu.com.
You can read a preview here.
The e-book version for The Kindle is available from Amazon here at less than the price of a cup of coffee!
"With his economical but superbly vivid prose, Jason Cobley takes you on an amazing journey you won't dare to forget" - Amazon.