This weekend was Kapow, I only went for the Saturday though.
I arrived bright (and what I thought was early) to the Business Design Centre in Islington... all the same, I spent a very happy half hour queuing with my good buddy (and cover artist extraordinaire) Neil Roberts. We happily chatted our way along the snaking path to the entrance in the glorious sunshine.
Upon entry I was handed the usual crap in a bag. After finding where to hand my portfolio in for a possible review slot and a brief circuit of the con I looked at the programme to discover that time had ticked on. The 2000ad panel was going to start in 15 minutes... where the hell it was it taking place?
I wanted to deliver John's commission to him before that began... With mobile 'assistance', I located John, at the front of the queue for the 2000ad panel (huzzahs!)... Then blushing from all the kind comments from members of the forum I shuffled into the auditorium and hid a bit.
It was interesting to hear some legends of 2000ad speak. The panel comprised of Dave Gibbons, Matt Smith, Al Ewing, Jock, Chris Weston, Steve Yeowell and Brendan McCarthy and for the most part it was as informative a previous such talks I've been to. It was also heartening to hear from Jock that the Dredd movie is on track and looking "really cool".
I'd been sitting with Matt Gibbs and after the panel, he showed me the lovely work that he and James Reekie have been doing on the Ionmonger's Daughter... I honestly hope they find a good home for it, as it looks very cool indeed.
My next port of call after a respectable break was to once again approach Matt Smith at the 2000ad booth with my portfolio... as always, Matt was generous with his time and succinct in his appraisal of my work. He preferred the work I've been doing more recently, particularly Who's Next and my Joe Pineapples strip, because he felt my inking had more "life" to it. He still felt some of my panels were a little stiff, and pointed out a couple of the ones I wasn't happy with anyway... He said to send the samples in for him to put on file and happily that means I'm still moving in the right direction!
I'd prepared a cheeky business card specially for Matt, please see below (photo courtesy of Strontium71 on the 2000ad forum).
It just struck me as funny when I thought about doing it and I hope Matt got a kick out of it. (for those of you who've not seen it before, I originally did this piece for Dirk Van Dom's 2000ad Christmas party themed game)
I bumped into my most excellent friend and co-Tharg-hassler Conor Boyle, who had just been informed that portfolio submissions were now closed... and so he'd missed the opportunity (such as it was). From a couple of reports I've read though, it was oversubscribed and very few people actually ended up being seen anyway (I wasn't either) so I'm not sure if "opportunity" is the correct word...
Whilst Conor cornered Tharg I chatted briefly to Seb Antoniou.
With tummies rumbling, Conor and I headed out to find some food, Liz and Alec Worley in Costa Coffee, via the perpetually jovial Kerrin Shaw.
Fed and watered, we returned to the event, I picked up a copy of the ABC Warriors Special, which I'm sure you've all now ordered here or here from the good folk at FutureQuake. John Burdis, dressed convincingly in a Judge's uniform loomed into view and informed me that someone had been looking for me, the person in question sadly never found me - if you're out there, all I can say is, sorry, see you at Bristol?
Dave Stokes emerged a while later from a crowd and we spoke about the benefits of our twitter accounts and the difficulties associated with getting a break in the comics' industry. We parted with a mutual assurance that we would show our work to at least one more person. Pat Mills was in my peripheral vision and so I approached him... he asked that I show him during his signing later and so I nipped off to buy something suitable, as I don't usually 'do' the whole signing thing.
There was just time to swing by a very busy and record breaking Jim Campbell before getting in line.
I did manage to show my portfolio to Pat, and although again, he said he liked my work, I think it was my 'Blackmailing Tharg' business card that he liked most.
Knackered from standing in the queue, I headed for the Slug and Lettuce, where thanks to Liz and Conor, a nice space had been reserved for the 2000ad forum gang to congregate.
I was glad to put faces to so many names and hopefully I'll see them all again at the next convention I go to. I did a few sketches had a good laugh and didn't drink nearly enough to feel a woozy as I did before running to catch my train home.
A final thanks, goes out to the lovely Pete Wells of the 2000ad covers uncovered blog for letting me into a little known secret I'd been missing... a little motion blur and the judicious use of red, can really add the finishing touch to a piece of work.