Well, it was a fun con for everyone. The venue at the Steam train museum was a great idea and created a fantastic, classic backdrop to the con. Vintage trains are much cooler to look at than conference room walls. It was also an adventure trying to navigate (the toilets were seemingly never in the same place twice)!
There were a lot of guests, cosplayers and also fans through the door. I think there was something for everyone. I only saw the trade hall on Sunday afternoon and wished I'd made time earlier in the weekend to check it out. Also, the guests were well looked after and supplied with food and drink throughout the convention. So thanks to Luke and Mark for putting it all together. It was a success.
As usual I went down to the con with Russell Payne. He's already blogged about the con this morning, the usual mix of lies and misdirection which you can read about here!
It was an early start, 0430 as Russ wanted to get there for 0930 and the journey South is always littered with mile upon mile of roadworks and standing traffic. Unusually we arrived in plenty of time despite Swindon's roads being a mix of multiple layered roundabaouts and traffic that, for a time, appeared to be American or European in layout. Still not certain how cars can be driving on the right hand side of the road in the UK and it doesn't cause an accident. We just kept going around the roundabouts until we figured it all out.
Russ had somehow been given a table that had a poster above him calling him a 'Comic artist/writer'. Impressive as he's never been either. He is a writer however, just not of comics. This gave him license to draw all weekend. If people are happy to give £3 for a sketch to a man who failed art at school then...ok. Although I did laugh when someone asked him how he got so good at drawing. It was almost avant garde in it's lunacy. And if you happened to buy one of his dodgy Watchmen badges then please make sure your tetanus jabs are up to date.
I'd not previously met a lot of the artists and writers who were sharing the stretch of tables with me. John Chapman, an X-Wing pilot from the original Star Wars movie was at the table next to me and we had a chat about his educational comic book series Jonnie Rocket. Great stuff. Sci-fi fun for kids with a positive message.
I'd somehow never met Martin Griffiths before either which is odd as we've frequented many of the same cons in the past. Had an in depth chat about the industry and different artists we both know or admire with him on the Saturday night.
Graeme Reynolds and Matt Shaw, both horror writers, were very entertaining throughout the day as every time one of them left their table they'd come back to find a book vandalised or a demeaning comment scrawled across something. I thought it was only Russ and me did that...They took it to another level by posting each assault on Facebook.
Russ made a careless mistake as he drew a sketch for someone on a piece of paper that I'd already drawn a picture of him on the back of with 'fraud' written underneath it. To be fair, I did that at a previous con. He really should've checked beforehand...
Also nice was meeting Grant Perkins and his wife. Again, been to cons they were at before but never had opportunity to speak!
When we got back from the event we got lost.The hotel was a only a short walk from the Steam venue where we were parking the car that night. Except we couldn't get back in the car park. I tried running about near the barrier but couldn't set off the sensor so we left the car in the street.
Half an hour later we still hadn't figured out how to get to the hotel as there seems to be an all encompassing trainline surrounding it. Eventually we got in the car and used Dave's sat nav (possibly the most irritating sat nav ever...seriously, how many times can a robotic American voice fit the word 'Now' into a sentence?) to find our way. Dave went for a kebab and we never saw him again.
Russ and I sat in the hotel bar and tried to work on the book for a while. He'd promised a pretty much rewritten chapter one but it was the usual stuff. He'd removed an odd word here and there, taken out a sentence or two and then moved the paragraphs around. He hates losing words from his writing, never mind entire sequences that dontt work on any level. He railed against all the decisions we'd made earlier in the day and justified all his decisions by saying 'but I like it,' or, 'I like confusion.' This was the trip that I discovered that when Russ is tired there's no point talking to him as he turns into a petulant teenager.
Thankfully a quiet, slight man parked himself on the next table next to us and introduced himself. Turns out his name was Paul Warren and he's a creature actor from a ton of top movies including Star Wars Episode 7, Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy. The tablet Russ and I were working on powered down as Paul regalled us with tales from his movie experiences and what it's like to work on Star Wars. The fact it was after 2am didn't bother me! Who doesn't want to chat with an actor like Paul? If you ever see him as a guest at a con go over and meet him, a genuinely nice guy.
I wasn't sharing a room with Russ so I got a decent night's sleep. Sunday was more of the same, sketching, chatting with fans, listening to Russ lie and enjoying the con!
Unusually we made it home before midnight!