The weekend just past saw this years annual Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival (Posh way of saying "Comic Con") and for the third year running, Team Scannon was in attendance.
Jim and I headed up to Leeds early afternoon on the Friday (Kris followed in his own car later that day after he finished work) to make sure we had time to chill in our hotels before the start of the convention on the Saturday. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go to plan, as there were severe roadworks on the M6 and we got stuck in traffic for so long, that we ended up hitting the rush hour traffic too. Eugh.
By the time we reached Leeds and checked in to our hotels, the last thing we wanted to do was just sit around more... (I was originally supposed to be sharing a bed with Jimbo, but thanks to my very generous friend @Sweena not being able to make the con, I was able to have her room. She's a star.).
We met up with Jim's sister, Katie, who just so happens to live in Leeds. She showed us car parking facilities and took us to the most amazing place to eat- Trinity Kitchen. Seriously, this place was awesome. They seemed to do every kind of food and I had some of the best pulled pork I have ever eaten.
I'd received a phonecall just before we got to Trinity Kitchen off Steve "Moon" Penfold who told us about a pre-con party going on in a nearby bar. So after food, we hooked up with him there for a bit. Jim and Katie took off earlier to get to sleep. Jim had driven for near on 6 hours and was wiped out. Penners and I stayed longer, debating the pros and cons of the superhero comic. Chatting about the best stories of recent years AND some of the worst until we both left to go to our own hotels.
Saturday morning came (As it does) and Jim and I got to the Allied London Hall by Royal Armouries shortly before Kris did and we set everything up. I thought the hall had promise but I was sceptical as it was around the corner from the other two halls that made up the rest of the convention AND it wasnt particularly well signposted. The hall was very cold, looked unfinished and in the early morning, looked foggy due to plaster dust falling from the ceiling and just... hovering about. It's ok kids- it's nontoxic. Apparently.
Now we had had to book in this hall as, for the first time ever, tables for the original two halls at TB sold out within two hours. Insanity... But it seemed to me that a lot of folk didn't really seem to know that the hall was there. As you can imagine, this made for very slow sales. VERY slow sales.
I kinda expected it to be honest. Leeds is always our worst convention for sales, but we love going and have a real laugh there, so we like going. Though Kris wasn't feeling it. Already ill with the flu, poor sales just contributed to him being a (self confessed) grouch for the whole weekend.
Jim and I on the other hand, had a helluva time! We thought it was a lot of fun.
Luckily though, Jim and I had done a series of prints under the Pencil Pirates banner that we put out on sale and these seemed to sell REALLY well. It's something I have noticed with Thought Bubble in previous years- there are a lot of stalls that almost seem to revolve around craft as opposed to comics. Prints fit in to this really well and seem to sell pretty damn well too.
|Pencil Pirates prints by Bampfield and Harris|
One woman actually commented on how she loved the idea of the Pencil Pirates. She loved everything about it. The name, the logo. She thought it was a really clever idea. This was quite nice to hear.
Prior to the convention, I had been asked by G-man of the Comics Anonymous lot, to draw up a Lou Scannon Commission. I was more than happy to do so. He's enjoyed the comic and given us incredibly positive reviews. I ended up drawing what I think is one of the best pics of Lou I have ever done! I gave it to him on the Saturday at the convention. It was good to see him! I'm looking forward to seeing the photo his wife took of us all together! Should be funny!
Anyway, here's the pic I drew up for him!:
The Sunday was even slower than the Saturday. Which came as no surprise. Kris slumped further into his pit of despair. Which came as no surprise. Jim and I remained jovial. Which came as no... Wait... ok, It was a little surprising. Aren't I normally hungover at Thought Bubble? Ah, the joys of having given up drinking!
To pass the time, Jim and I did some sketching. Jim did a wonderful little drawing of BatFleck that is available for purchase if anyone is interested:
and while Jim was drawing up that bad boy, I started a piece in the style of some of my other prints. It's Daryl from Walking Dead. This is still available for purchase right now (Though I have had a few interested parties so it might not be available for long...) and can be yours for just £10 (plus £1.50 P&P)
With Sunday being even shitter on sales than the Saturday, it gave plenty of time to go wandering and taking in the other sights and delights that are small press. I'll write up a review blog for some of the titles I picked up over the weekend. I really lucked out and bought some incredible stuff.
There was only one thing that sullied my experience in small press that day. There's a small press title that I have followed from its first issue. I decided at the con to pick up the latest issue as I actually did really enjoy the earlier ones. As I picked up a copy and approached its creator, he was in the middle of dancing with an illustration partner of his. Fine, I have no problem with that! People are there to have fun, so I love seeing this sort of thing going on behind the tables. To a punter, this could make you seem more approachable than if you're sat there looking miserable with your arms folded. What I didn't like, was what happened next.
The comics creator turned and saw me, laughed and walked over to me. Again, this is all fine but then he said "Oh, sorry about that. It's a publisher thing. You wouldn't understand."
"You wouldn't understand"??
I'll spare you the expletives that ran through my head immediately after he said that. If I hadn't already bought the first comics in the series, I would have put down the latest issue and said "No thanks mate, you just lot yourself a sale there."
Now this creator has met me a couple of times. Chatted with me. Sat next to me at another con!! But I don't mind that he didn't recognise me. I've changed my beard a few times, it's been a while etc etc. So him not knowing who I am, I couldnt care less about.
I DO take exception to the "You wouldn't understand" though. If you don't know who I am, you certainly don't know if I'm a publisher or not. I could have worked for Image. Or I could have just had an extensive knowledge of how print works. The arrogance of it astounded me. He's a self publisher. He has a couple of titles out but not so many as to make people even think of him as any different a publisher as the rest of us self publishers. Get down off your high horse chuckles. This isn't some exclusive world to which you are privy that the rest of us are not. It just made him come across as a jumped up, self important, Hipster dick.
That said though, folk often say things without thinking. It just struck me as rude. Particularly at a festival where the small press is king.
So all in all, with that aside, I had a great time. Unfortunately, I got home only to realise I had caught Kris' dreaded con lurgy and I spent all day Tuesday in bed, feeling sorry for myself and playing GTA V.
As a final note, there's one thing I want to mention that I have noticed now from doing the con circuit. Autographs. Signatures. However you refer to them. Buying small press titles, I have noticed that a lot of the time, the comics creator will ask you if you want the comic signed. Now personally, I think this is wrong as it puts you, as the punter, in the position where you feel obligated to say "Yes". I think that it should be in the domain of the punter to ask for one rather than be asked if he wants one. Some people may genuinely want their comics unmarked but don't like to say "no" to signatures. Some might just think "It's small press. Enjoyable but no need to get it signed". Whatever the thinking, I think it should be up to the customer to ask for a signature if they want one rather than feeling pressured into having one. We on Team Scannon don't offer them to people. We get asked a lot to sign them though. This is cooler and feels less like you're putting it on the punter to have it signed. So please, please, please guys, wait to be asked for your signature. Don't offer! Just my own personal opinion. If you want to know more of my reasoning, or have an argument against my logic, please feel free to comment and let me know! Or message me on Twitter or something.
So despite poor sales, I will definitely want to attend Thought Bubble 2014. Hopefully we can get back into the New Dock hall then and better sales will follow. If not, maybe more folk will be aware of the third hall. Either way, at least Jim and I will be in attendance! Even if Kris hasn't got out of his funk and decides not to go...
Anyway, there will be a couple of review blogs to follow. For now, toodle pip!