Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bristol Comic & Small Press Expo

So, after my mini-blog this morning, I thought, as one does, that I had plenty of time to run an errand or two, and so of course I almost missed the train I'd planned to catch.
However, I did catch it, and managed to do a couple of other errands in Bristol before heading to the Ramada to register and then to look around.. 

The Con is spread over two hotels - the Comics Expo in the Ramada, and the Small Press Expo at the Mercure, which is just around the corner; they have a symbiotic relationship but are not, I believe run by the same people.  The first things I saw  in Reception at the Ramada were a pair of Imperial Stormtroopers, and guy dressed as Batman, and three slightly bewildered  hotel guests checking out.
always a reassuring sight!
After looking around, and managing to not buy any comics, I headed over to the Mercure. They keep all their conference rooms on the 5th floor, but there was a familiar looking blue box in the reception area, which gave me confidence that I was in the right place!
There were lots of comics (unsurprising, at a ComicCon, really, I suppose), lots of writers and artists, and a small number of panels.

I only went to one panel - 'Women, Politics and cartooning' - this was moderated by  Jasper Bark, and featured  Blue Lou, Kate Evans and a third artist (unfortunately I didn't make a note of her name, and it's not written in the programme). It was very interesting, with discussions about activism, motherhood, guilt, politics and politicians, viciousness, and breastfeeding. Later in the day, in the bar, I had the opportunity to chat further with Lou and Jasper, and to look at more of her artwork. I recommend it. Go look at her site.

I then met up with Cheryl and we went out for lunch in a dodgy pub, where we had some not-very-good beer, and some decent fish & chips, and where we were accosted by a random drunk enquiring as to whether we were east German Stasi. (No, we couldn't quite work that one out either...)
I had thought I might go to one of the 2 o'clock panels but Cheryl led me astray we wandered into the bar, first, where Cheryl introduced me to Paul Cornell and later we wandered around the Expo, and I bought a copy of Alice In Sunderland, in which Bryan Talbot drew me a beautiful Mad Hatter.

Later again I found myself back in the bar, (perfectly sober, but in need of a comfy chair and a cup of coffee) and had lots of interesting conversations - this was when I had the opportunity to chat with BlueLou and Jasper, and with a writer/reviewer named Mark, and Paul Cornell again, and various others whose names I failed to note. 

Conversations wandered from subject to subject - some SciFi / Comics related - Which Doctor Who Episodes deserve to win Hugos, whether Superman and Clark Kent were either or both ever American Cctizens in the first place, how quickly trade paperbacks of comics should become available, and what the chances are of fielding a cricket team entirely made of Doctor Who writers are; Some not - babycare and breastfeeding, government cuts, the tendencies of large organisations to become reactionary, and the excessive cost of coffee in the hotel bar.

I enjoyed the afternoon.
Photo stolen from @MrTonyLee
I stayed on in order to watch Neil Gaiman's episode of Doctor Who -  The Doctor's Wife. It wasn't the optimum  viewing experience - the TV was in ne corner of the hotel bar, but there were a lot of people in the bar who were not watching Doctor Who, and so there was a lot of noise - it took a while before we were able to get subtitles up, and of course subtitles are not as good as being able actually to hear the dialogue, but even with those disadvantages it was a great episode (and good company!)

Once Who was over, I headed back home (where I watched the episode again, with sound, this time, and also watched the 'Confidential' - both very good. A nice end,  to an interesting day.

I had bought a ticket for the full weekend but having a lie-in on Sunday morning meant I left it too late to get to Bristol in time to see the 'Just a Minute' game, which was the main attraction, to my mind, so I didn't go back. Maybe next year.

(EDITED TO ADD: the 3rd cartoonist was Vicky Stonebridge. Thanks to Aldous Russell for pointing that out, over at lj)

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