Page 45 took more money at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 – with under 5% of our shop’s range – than we have during our busiest-ever Christmas weekend.
– Stephen on an all-time high. There will be a great deal of name-dropping!
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 (£0-00 totally free, LICAF) by Julie Tait with the best Festival Volunteers the world has ever known.
A round of applause for Julie Tait, please, for this was magnificent!
Kendal is kindness personified, and I was ecstatic for every second that I spent there.
I cannot think of many other experiences in my life about which I can say that. And I can’t think of any I can say that about when I was so hilariously ill.
I lost my greatest asset – my voice – after the preceding night while projecting in a very loud bar full of creators and customers whom we call friends, all celebrating Page 45’s 20th Anniversary. Yippee! But the more one projects, the more others project and soon the room is one great big Brian Blessed!
TAKE AWAY‘s Lizz Lunney & me:
Jonathan and I were so thrilled with everyone who turned up: shop-floor customers like Lou and Rob Lewis, mail order customers like Craig Naples, Lou and Chris Powell whom we so rarely see, creators we’d known for 20 years like Mary and Bryan Talbot, Ivy and Scott McCloud, Gary Spencer Millidge, the dapper Woodrow Phoenix who pinched my cheek (*swoons*) and THE UMBRAL’s Antony Johnston who’s one of the kindest men you will ever meet! Vijaya and Jeff Smith with whom we’d only corresponded briefly via email or snail mail dropped in; more recent comic buddies from whom we make so much money like Lizz Lunney, Becky Cloonan, Dan Berry, Ian Culbard, Sally-Jane Thompson, Paul Duffield and Emma Vieceli after a nightmare drive up with Pud. Still they both came!
Customers Lou Powell, Craig Dawson, Chris Powell:
THE GIGANTIC BEARD THAT WAS EVIL‘s Stephen Collins & THE SUITCASE‘s Dan Berry:
I met up with reviewer Richard Bruton and his missus for the first time in yonks. His daughter Molly wears MOOMIN, and quite right too! I met Nora from Knockabout. And Titan. And Soaring Penguin Press. And Foyles. And… I’m not sure where Nora doesn’t work.
There were comicbook creators we’ve long-loved but never met in person like Sara Dunkerton, Matt Gibbs, Stephen Collins, Joe List, Rob Davis, Adam Cadwell, Jorg Tittel, John Aggs and the festival mascot creators Jonathan Edwards and Felt Mistress (we may have hatched plans!). I think Joe Decie floated in. Please forgive serious omissions for I got somewhat plastered and I promise I’ll get round to you later!
Even the magnificent Julie Tait, the Festival’s director, popped her head round the door in spite of being so ridiculously busy with final preparations. That was a bit special. We’d been planning Page 45’s appearance since the July 1st 2013 but never once met. I can honestly say that other than Team Page 45 I have never before worked with someone so tirelessly enthusiastic, so ridiculously well organised, so can-do, will-do, imaginative, innovative and generous. None of this would have been possible without her – the entire festival, I mean!
So that was a moment.
We did all this at Ruskins run by Philip Walker (who’s a sweetie) and his staff who were each of them legendary including Nina Pengelly, Fergus Atkinson, Rory Swords, Dane Wallace and Sally Thompson. They presented us with champagne (I am rather partial) and a beautiful cake which blew me away.
Look, here’s J-Lo and me cutting into it!
I think this means we’re now married.
Not a single crumb was left over. Lizz Lunney saw to that almost single-handedly, growling proprietorially every time Felt Mistress came near!
This, then, is my Page 45 Lakes International Comic Art Festival Diary seen from a guest’s perspective. A first-time guest at that! We’ve never done a festival or convention before. It was time to learn stuff. Please click on any image to enlarge.
Warning: this is ebullient!
Thursday 16th October
Boxes of comics on our shop floor, waiting to be loaded. At this point Jonathan phones for a bigger van. They don’t have one.
Thankfully it transpires that our J-LO is a comic box ninja. Total Tetris level-up!
Hint on Twitter that there may be Page 45 20th Anniversary Blog with previously unseen photos of our beardly beloved Mark. My great mate Monkey Marc Laming, one of comics’ most marvellous artists, gets very excited indeed. He is a lovely.
Friday 17th October
8.30am Publish the Page 45 20th Anniversary Blog. Wonder if anyone will care.
Tweet blog, phone taxi, return to Twitter and almost burst into tears. Apparently people care quite a lot.
Thank you for that, by the way.
Taxi to J-Lo’s, quick ciggie and it’s The The, Beck, Depeche Mode and Madness all the way to Kendal.
Arrive 1pm and oh my days, Kendal’s gorgeous! Autumn colours against a blue sky.
Attempt to find The Brewery Arts Centre. Discover the circuitous delights of Kendal’s one-way system. This takes five minutes. Drive past The Brewery Arts Centre and contemplate what another circuit would mean. Jonathan pulls up and reverses slowly down what is a one-way street.
A police van drives past. I kid you not.
We hold our breath but apparently so many heinous crimes are being committed in Kendal that their presence is required elsewhere. Either that, or they’re hungry. It’s lunchtime.
Discover The Brewery Arts Centre. Turns out that’s gorgeous too.
The Festival Volunteers direct us to Kendal’s Clock Tower. Apparently the route is… circuitous. J-Lo parks outside The Kendal Clock Tower and guards the van while I jump out and enter gingerley. I’m really quite shy, you see.
That’s when I meet Sharon Tait, and from that very first second I realise this festival is going to switch from being very, very hard work… to a joyous holiday. That woman, I tell you, is a goddess! I receive immediate hugs, complete reassurance, our festival passes plus a tour to The Georgian Room upstairs which has been dedicated solely to Page 45. Guess what? Turns out that’s bloody gorgeous as well.
I start beaming. I don’t stop for next 60 hours.
The box-carrying cavalry arrives in the form of Craig Dawson, Retail Director of That’s Entertainment and record holder of the biggest single non-librarian spend at Page 45: over £1,500 in one afternoon. And he’s in at least four times a year.
During our 15th Anniversary Booze, Craig and his fiancée challenged me to get their impending wedding blessed by Alan Moore. I don’t know Alan Moore. We’d only met once. But I do know Eddie Campbell and wee Hayley Campbell and a couple of months later I found myself boozing in Nottingham’s Olde Trip To Jerusalem with Eddie Campbell and Michael Eaton who were creating a graphic novel about Charlie Peace which turned into a fabulous play. (Click on that sentence for Eddie’s astonishing stage set designs!) We all went to see it together this time last year with Eddie’s lovely lady, The Time Traveler’s Wife’s Audrey Niffenegger.
Anyway the very next day, Eddie was set to meet up with wee Hayley Campbell and Alan Moore in Northampton. So this happened.
Mission accomplished, but I digress.
Sally-Jane Thompson arrives with birthday chocolates and robot mug and together we decide how to organise the tables to show off the stock and all our creators in residence to best effect. Having a comicbook creator like Sally around is quite an advantage for that! A lovely bloke called Stephen comes in to drape the tables in black, Sally and Craig unpack and I take three whole hours arranging all our gorgeous graphic novels!
Andy Diggle wanders in. Hurray! I’ve never met Andy before. Thankfully he introduces himself: I’ve no idea what so many comicbook creators look like. You’ll remember I said that later! *cries*
Mary and Bryan Talbot wander in and introduce us to Vijaya and Jeff Smith. I’ve never met them before, either. Hurrah!
Ivy and Scott McCloud wander in.
Oh, them I’ve known for just over twenty years. We named Page 45 after the 45th Page of UNDERSTANDING COMICS (for the full story see the Page 45 FAQs here). It’s why they insisted on signing with us at the festival. Lucky us!
Then a career highlight: I introduce the Scott McCloud to a graphic novel that he’s. Never. Heard of: THE RIVER by Alessandro Sanna.
It’s Scott who introduces you to comics you’ve never heard of!
Second career highlight on the trot? A tall man I don’t recognise starts inspecting all our meticulously arranged lavish, hardcover graphic novels. “Oh, these are marvellous, beautiful, fabulous books…” Or words to that effect. I can’t really remember. I think I introduce myself and explain what we’re doing over the weekend. I can’t really remember that, either. My memory’s rubbish isn’t it? Do you want to write this blog instead?
Anyway, he has a French accent so that was a clue. Turns out it was Boulet! And if Boulet believes you have beautiful books… Well, I began to believe we might have brought the right graphic novels!
J-Lo returns from the hotel, we pop up our signs (note for next time: we need more, and bigger ones!) and wander down to reception wondering where Ruskins could be.
It was at this point we began to discover the festival’s greatest asset:
THE LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL VOLUNTEERS CANNOT DO ENOUGH FOR YOU!
Seriously. They bring you tea and coffee and water all weekend round. Ask for anything: an extra table, some tissue paper to absorb the excess watercolour on Glyn Dillon’s brushes… Ask for anything at all and ye shall receive within seconds. They’re constantly and consistently asking if you need anything. One wonderful woman fetched me throat lozenges and I didn’t even ask! She’d simply spotted that I’d started struggling.
There were always several on hand in the lobby with Sharon Tait and outside offering programmes to the public passing by – smiling, never flagging – and one young man (everyone’s a young man to this Methuselah) didn’t just point us in the right direction, he took us to Ruskins – right to its door.
Which, I believe, is where we came in: Page 45’s 20th Anniversary Booze Bash.
Have a photo of Festival Volunteer Alex Valente. I tried introducing comicbook creators to Alex Valente but almost all of them knew him already. He’s that kind of guy. What a star!
Saturday 18th October
We’d been booked in to The Best Western Green Castle Hotel. Hey, guess what? It was gorgeous. Breakfast had quite the view.
There were a lot of comicbook creators booked in there, but mysteriously none of them made it to breakfast quite as early as we did. I’d pop in a wink but it turns into a smiley on blogs and they bug me.
Sorry…? Nope, I don’t get hangovers. I am immune. But apparently not to a ragingly raw throat. I rasped my way right through the festival.
9.30am and our first roster of rotating creators begins to arrive in the Georgian Room. Rotating? Sarah McIntyre positively pirouettes! Here she is with Ivy!
They start setting up their stalls of self-published comics backed up with their books which we’d brought with us from various other publishers. Look, here’s Kristyna Baczynski!
Kristyna with the 24-Hour Comics Marathon maestro, Dan Berry!
Jack Teagle on the right, Joe Decie to his left, with a seemingly invisible left hand!
Warwick Johnson-Cadwell popped in later. You’ll see him in the 24-Hour Comics Marathon photo later on! Ooh, and Oliver East swings by to make sure all ten of issues of his comic THE HOMESICK TRUANT’S CUMBRAIN YARN are on sale in our room. They are, and readers have already been asking about specific journies. (I have to tell you, Oliver is looking so hot these days. I had to tell him too, because some days I have no internal editor).
The public begin drifting in. The public start surging in. The public start browsing our books. The public start buying our books!
One of the most rewarding aspects of this Festival is how many members of general public – The Real Mainstream, many of whom had never come across adult graphic novels or quality Young Adult and Younger Reader graphic novels before – flooded into the Clock Tower. It’s because it’s such an attractive venue in the centre of town and the whole of Kendal is taken over by comics way in advance. Unlike some other conventions, you cannot accuse The Lakes International Comic Art Festival of failing to advertise – they do it months in advance!
Also: NO ENTRANCE FEE! Nice one! Why wouldn’t they meander in and take a look? I would. I did! I might have put in some work.
Another equally rewarding aspect this year was how many of The Real Mainstream who never knew they were in search of Real Mainstream graphic novels like ours then studiously picked them up and leafed through them. Then another! Then another! Not “Oh no, this isn’t for me!”
And then there were families! Oh my days, there were families! Thankfully early on I’d decided to devote an entire round table to kids’ comics because kids’ comics are cool!
Look, here’s Captain Stoopid himself, the gorgeous Gary Northfield, sketching in our copies of TEENYTINYSAURS and GARY’S GARDEN!
That man is a star! He was over in The Phoenix Comic area at the Shakespeare Centre doing workshops with Adam Murphy and Neill Cameron et al, teaching Young Readers and Teens HOW TO MAKE AWESOME COMICS. He didn’t have to zap round to Page 45 and sketch for us too, but he did! And guess what? Over the weekend, we sold out!
Similarly Adam Murphy slipped round early Sunday to sign CORPSE TALK but we were already down to three copies! And then there were none.
It was RAINBOW ORCHID’s Garen Ewing who declared, “Children aren’t the future of comics; they are the present!” Quite right too! Pop quality kids’ comics in front of bright, shiny eyes and they will devour them. And fibre is awfully important in any diet.
10am to 12pm: our Scott McCloud signing!
So that was a thing.
This really is Scott with Aliki Chapple to the left:
It was at this point, I think, that mail order customer Derren Phillips popped in with birthday cards both for the shop and for silly old me. He’d secretly contacted J-Lo to supply him with our logo and typeface and replaced “PAGE 45” with “AGE 49” and “AGE 20”. So cool!
1pm. I announce to a packed room – rather bravely, I thought – that it is time for my first show-and-tell. Like Tom Waits with a loud hailer (I can project, sore throat or not!) “Who’s here for my show-and-tell on The Hidden Secrets Of Graphic Novels?”
Deafening silence. The creators howl with laughter.
Bums, I think, but launch in anyway with the wonderful Jade Sarson helping me unravel Joe Sacco’s THE GREAT WAR to great gasps! Immediately I have an audience! I am utterly astonished. Then on I charge through Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL and David Mazzucchelli’s ASTERIOS POLYP showing them how each creator had so cleverly composed those graphic novels with secret tricks that only the comics medium can muster. I’m not sure how many books we cover. Maybe a dozen, perhaps? I love every minute of it.
Throughout the weekend some of that audience come back and buy graphic novels, asking me to remind me which ones they were. So it worked after all. Never miss an opportunity to spread the good word, I say! Turn every obstacle into an opportunity!
1.45pm and we are approaching our Glyn Dillon signing.
I have publicly declared Eddie Campbell’s ALEC OMNIBUS to be the finest single body of work in comics, and it is. Eddie is comics’ finest raconteur as everyone attending his talk at the festival found out and his autobiographical musings are as profound as they are laugh-out-loud funny. Whenever I spend time with Eddie he is always full of stories and almost always half-convulsed with laughter.
“But enough of Eddie Campbell!” (cries his entire family), we are here for Glyn Dillon right now, and I am rather excited! I have known Glyn Dillon via Twitter and e-mail for three or four years having publicly declared THE NAO OF BROWN to be the book of the year… six months before it was published. I’m rather brash with my public declarations, aren’t it? But I’d already seen enough. On publication it turned out to be substantially more: the finest piece of comicbook fiction of all time.
He’d already shown me so much support and so many behind-the-scenes kindnesses like during the only time I can recall ever having been attacked on Twitter – by someone in our own industry whom I’d always supported. That was an odd evening.
But. Glyn and I have never met. Just as I’m getting very, very excited in walks this well-handsome man with a gentle demeanour and asks how we’re doing.
“Oh, tremendously well, cheers!” I croak. “I mean, look at this lavish room the festival has given us! We’ve a rotating cast of creators all sketching and selling away! We’ve all these jaw-dropping graphic novels the public are lapping up. And. And. In fifteen minutes time we have the great Glyn Dillon not just signing or sketching but painting in THE NAO OF BROWN!”
And this lovely, lovely oh lovely man says, “Who on earth do you think I am?”
If ever you had any doubts (I know you don’t), I am indeed an utter buffoon.
As revenge we keep Glyn busy for a full two hours and I even pronounce his brilliance rather loudly across the room in order to ensure extra sales and make the man blush. Both worked rather well, I thought.
You can buy THE NAO OF BROWN t-shirts we had on sale here.
Next up at 4pm is my Kids Comics Are Cool! show-and-tell and thankfully an audience arrives for that. Smaller than the last one, I grant you, but then I’d already given a private showing to mail order customer Marcus Nyahoe. Marcus Nyahoe is one of my favourite people anywhere in this world. He wanted recommendations for his young son called Max. So I ask what Max likes and he likes ninjas and stoopidity and –
I didn’t have to hear any more. I showed him a lot but I focussed on Jamie Smart’s FISH HEAD STEVE. This is the result: one happy chappy!
Yeah, that’s my favourite photo of the festival as well!
At 6pm Jonathan shows me our Z Read. That’s when you find out how much you’ve taken.
J-Lo has been in charge of the till, by the way. He’d created a hybrid of our original Ronnie Barker ‘Open All Hours’ till drawer (it is rapacious!) and a modern console which thanks to J-Lo’s inexhaustible ingenuity meant that we could take credit cards as well as cash. It might sound like I had been working but while J-Lo was stuck behind the till I had snuck off for some smokes. Such a slacker!
There I’d finally met up with my Duncan Fegredo and festival patron Sean Phillips whom I’m begun to fear that I’d miss. Duncan Fegredo was the reason that Page 45 couldn’t do the festival’s first year because of this. That’s right, blame Duncan Fegredo! *eyes wander skywards innocently*
“BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR TAKINGS, YOU NAME-DROPPING NUMBSKULL?”
Oh. We’d taken already taken more money on the first day than we expected to in our wildest dreams all weekend. Page 45 took more money at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 – with under 5% of the full shop’s book range – than we have during our busiest-ever Christmas weekend.
Time to celebrate!
Back we go to The Brewery Arts Centre where people with passes get fed. For free! Alas, we have mislaid our meal tickets, but here comes FREAKANGELS’ Paul Duffield who has been buzzing all weekend long. I’ve never known him as hyper as this! On Saturday night he was stood at the taxi rank with Emma Vieceli and Pud then abruptly changed his mind and bolted right back to Ruskins. Hurrah!
Paul takes the time and trouble to scout round his table for spares just for us and, oh, but the food is delicious. I hadn’t eaten for 48 hours. Well, I had breakfast but unfortunately my throat decided against it and my loss was the toilet bowl’s gain.
We have dinner with Hannah Berry for whose ADAMTINE we ran a chilling – and I mean chilling – campaign when Hannah designed these replica notes which we snuck into other graphic novels all round the shop. Read the review and all will become clear! That’s my letter knife and old keyboard, by the way. One is slightly shinier than the other. Theatrics are important!
Also sitting with us: Jade Sarson, Darryl Cunningham, Stephen Collins, Corinne Pearlman from Myriad Publishing along with their Gareth Brookes and, oh, there’s Joff Winterhart – two of Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month creators sitting next to each other! I never got to speak to Joff Winterhart – I didn’t want to interrupt – but apparently lovely things about Page 45 were said in his talk. I don’t quite know what but Sharon Tait said it was so. Thank you, Joff!
Once everyone packs up along come replacements Eddie Campbell, Audrey Niffenegger and Dan Franklin. Eddie and Audrey, I know. But Dan Franklin is essentially the commissioning editor of graphic novels and beyond at Jonathan Cape. He’s Bryan Talbot’s editor. He’s Salman Rushdie’s editor. I am slightly intimidated.
Oh wait, no I’m not. I don’t do intimidated; I do drunk. I campaign relentlessly. Every obstacle is an opportunity etc! I should probably have done intimidated.
Left to right: Matt Green, J-Lo, this idiot, Craig Dawson, Eddie Campbell, Audrey Niffenegger, Dan Franklin:
Scottish-born then Australian-bound Eddie insists I tell everyone about my big gay bed. He does this every time.
I think we may need a little context.
Eddie Campbell’s entire family came to stay with me some 18 years ago. I’m guessing at this point, but 18 years sounds about right. Hayley was about 10, wee Callum was roughly 4 and Erin was there in the middle. Eddie and Anne had my en suite guest room, Hayley had my double bed, Erin had the spare room’s single and Callum had the couch. Everyone went to bed and Callum dozed off while Eddie and I blathered on until 4 in the morning about everything from comics to ancient Greek statues. That was when I first learned – from Eddie – that Greek statues weren’t white. They were very brightly coloured.
Anyway, I have a thing for black sheets and Hayley decided they were gay.
Now I cannot recall if wee Hayley knew I was gay but knowing wee Hayley I suspect this is so. Regardless, she certainly wasn’t using “gay” in its pejorative sense, as in naff. *Kicks you in the cods if you use it that way!* She’d decided my black-sheeted beds were gay. Or used for gay purposes. *snorts*
And the very next morning – after I’d spent the rest of the early hours on the sofa watching Disney films with four-year-old Callum who’d woken up just as Eddie collapsed into bed – Hayley Campbell declared that I had a “big gay bed” and a “wee gay bed”.
That night I had no gay bed.
“But enough about Eddie Campbell!” (shrieks his entire family). “What happened next?”
Next was Bryan Talbot!
Now, I’ve known Bryan Talbot for years. THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT – set, of course, in The Lakes District – catalysed our friendship: an impeccably composed graphic novel whose Beatrix-Potter-inspired cover sold itself to The Real Mainstream, it was one of our very first golden winners. When Bryan first came to sign we sold a copy to a blue-rinsed octogenarian Tory who’d wandered in by mistake. She recognised specific landscapes in Bryan’s book and was instantly converted to comics.
Later, Mary Talbot came to live with me for a year while lecturing at Trent University. She showed me healthy salads; I showed her my fridge.
I even appear on Bryan Talbot’s GRAPHIC NOVEL MAN DVD, popping up when you least expect it. I’m so sorry about that.
Blame its director, Russell Wall. I’m quite good at this blame game, aren’t it?
So there I am chatting to Bryan, Mary, Russell and Kate Charlesworth, illustrator of their SALLY HEATHCOTE: SUFFRAGETTE, when somehow their friends Dougie Braithwaite and Dave Gibbons are mentioned and I’ve never met either. Bryan fixes that immediately. They’re both here! Doug has an exhibition on at The Brewery Arts Centre.
So I finally met Dave Gibbons in person and tweet that I may have been squiffy. The great man replied, “There’s no “may” about it.”
And frankly, there really wasn’t.
Sunday 19th October
Yup, up, yup, up bright and early!
Did I mention I’m immune to hangovers? Sorreeeeeee!
Now new stars appear in our Georgian Room who’d been there the previous day but post-2pm! Donya Todd and Jade Sarson who kindly helped with Saturday’s Show-And-Tell!
Fumio Obata! Such a gracious man!
Joe List and Lizz Lunney!
Lizz Lunney made us a present! How cool is this?!
10.30am The Art Of Selling Comics.
This was completely new territory for me.
Well, selling comics isn’t, obviously, nor putting that dark art into such card-crushing practice that some poor customers have found themselves careening from healthy savings account to second mortgage in six seconds flat! But although I’ve enjoyed delivering loads of interactive, hour-long show-and-tell sessions with librarians and book clubs, I’d never constructed a PowerPoint presentation with a sort of set “script” dictated by the order of slides. I love learning stuff – it’s empowering and the construction itself was great fun.
Dr. Mel Gibson kindly volunteered to act as compère and took me took the Council Chamber hidden behind closed doors at the back of the Clock Tower. It was quite the revelation: ornate wooden panelling, with rows of seats raised round the room above the central presentation point with its screen. It felt a bit like a courtroom (there was even a gavel!) in the round. Every seat had a microphone, and maybe I should’ve used mine because my tongue by now felt like it was made of red-hot barbed wire. But the one thing I can always do is project, and I was determined to keep it as lively and theatrical as possible, kicking off with how I hand-sell Isabel Greenberg’s THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH directly to customers on the shop floor.
Fortunately my routine for that contains multiple jokes: all education should be entertainment to keep your audience engaged, whether it’s a review, a presentation or Twitter! Also, by good fortune, that routine contains almost every element I wanted to explore on The Art Of Selling Comics which I’d bullet-pointed on two sheets or paper – one addressing retailers, the other addressing creators and publishers – both of which I’d left by each seat because a) I had no idea who would be which and b) to show that they’re pretty much identical. Whether it’s a review for readers or a preview for retailers, both are sales pitches and both, to my mind, should reflect the spirit of the book that you’re selling.
As it happens Jared Myland from OK Comics kindly came, as did Corinne Pearlman from Myriad Publishing and, at a guess, 30 more?
Sharon Tait told me it generated a big buzz in the lobby afterwards and it certainly got a lot of laughs during the talk, but if I am brutally honest with you it was the one part of the festival for me which didn’t go according to plan. Sorry! Having a throat that sore and a voice that raw is distracting. I forgot a few things (I read from no script, relying instead on the slides to prompt me on the elements I’d rehearsed, because reading from a script can be crushingly dull and you don’t meet the eyes of your audience), I overran painfully to the point where I’d just ten minutes left to address publishers properly and there was no time for questions except afterwards. I could really have done with an extra half hour. My bad, I know! Still, live and learn!
I took a particularly good question outside from two young creators currently creating a comic which reminded me of a crucial First Second article on building your fanbase, and my advice was to start getting pages online well in advance of pitching to publishers or pitching directly to retailers like me, then hitting Twitter and spreading the word.
Hmm. I appear to have slipped into past tense.
Returning to our room I discover Eddie Campbell has sidled by to sign the ALEC OMNIBUS, THE FROM HELL COMPANION etc, then Jeff Smith squiggles in RASL.
Mary Talbot signs SALLY HEATHCOTE, SUFFRAGETTE, one of my biggest books of the year:
She so chic!
2pm. Time for the 24-Hour Comic Marathon celebrations!
A phenomenal achievement, Jack Teagle, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Donya Todd, Dan Berry, Fumio Obata, Joe Decie and Sarah McIntyre (left to right) had all created comics in just 24 hours then the printers miraculously turned them around in under 12!
Here they are artfully spread around by the marathon’s instigator and coordinator, Dan Berry, creator of THE END and THE SUITCASE etc. (Pop Dan into our search engine – we’ve loads of his comics!)
Awards were presented by Dougie Braithwaite, and there was a roar of laugher as Sarah McIntyre wrestled with getting her medal over one of her legendarily large and ornate hats! Here’s Sarah McIntyre’s ‘A Peak At The 24-Hour Comic Marathon’! Her blogs are the best! Such fun photos!
Shortly afterwards I served comics maestro Hunt Emerson and FATALE’s Sean Phillips dropped in for a chat, reuniting me with WALKING DEAD’s Charlie Adlard.
Charlie and me went to school together – we even attended the same art class every week! Guess which one of us is now one of comics’ most successful artists and which one’s the till monkey! We hadn’t actually spoken since school: Charlie wasn’t even sure it was the same Stephen Holland at Page 45 that he went to school with. And now we’re back in contact! Hurrah! Do you think we may have hatched plans?! Hahahahahahaha!
And then suddenly it was all over and we had to pack up.
Once again, without the help of the help of the Festival Volunteers this would have been so much more arduous. There was time for a final round of hugs, two swift smokes then into the van. Leaving Sharon Tait was such a wrench.
Jonathan and I had a riot on our way back, manically exchanging anecdotes and planning for even more fun in the future at what I honestly believe to be the greatest UK Comicbook Festival of all time. It was our first, it was fabulous and we made so much money selling great graphic novels and comics to those who’d never encountered a single graphic novel in their lives. We have ideas! Oh, so many ideas!
And we will be back, I promise you. We will be back with a vengeance!
Always finish with a flourish and a startling surprise.
Page 45 Announces Its Presence At The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015 Oct 16-18
We will be back upstairs in The Georgian Room with more gorgeous graphic novels and rotating creators signing and sketching for free just like this year. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Why’s that a surprise?
Page 45 had promised in public to hold its 21st Birthday Party and my own 50th Birthday Party on Saturday 17th October 2015 in Nottingham. It’s the very same day: we opened by chance on my birthday.
I hate breaking promises. Moreover, I don’t normally celebrate my birthdays any longer and Page 45 customers will understand why I couldn’t possibly celebrate my 40th birthday in any way shape or form: we’d just lost our Mark. So I’d set my heart on being in Nottingham that day with friends, relatives and customers if only for one year only.
I can promise all of you this: Page 45’s 21st Birthday Booze Bash will be in Nottingham on a subsequent Saturday which we’ll announce as soon as humanly possible. And we will make it special!
But all weekend long we were asked if we’d be back to LICAF next year in the sort of tone than implies “Please!”
We reached The Real Mainstream, converting hundreds of new people to comics and that has always been Page 45’s prime stated mission.
In doing so we took more money this year at LICAF than on our biggest-ever Christmas weekend with under 5% of the range of our books.
Those two paragraphs are not unrelated.
Then Festival Director Julie Tait and Sharon Tait asked us back immediately in two eloquent emails which moved me like few others I have ever received in my life.
Lastly, when the momentum is a strong as this, when a Comic Art Festival in only its second year does such enormous good for our beloved medium of choice, it would be insane not to commit yourself to it every single year. So that’s my second announcement:
Page 45 Announces Its Presence At The Lakes International Comic Art Festival Exclusively & Forever
We now have the courage to take our shop roaming to the Book Festivals too, where we can continue our crusade to bring comics and graphic novels to new readers. But for comics Page 45 has found its natural home in The Lakes International Comic Art Festival. That’s where we’ll be every year.
Thank you for reading, thank you for coming; I hope you’ve had as much fun as us.
I’ve had the time of my life. See you in Kendal next year!
THE GIGANTIC BEARD THAT WAS EVIL‘s Stephen Collins & THE SUITCASE‘s Dan Berry:
Here’s The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 Programme It was pretty fabulous, yes!
Lakes History Mysteries (£1-00, Langdale Primary) by school children assisted by Jim Medway.
“I think I’ve invented the Plinky Plonk!”
This is as hilarious as only young minds like the great Gary Northfield’s can be. Please see TEENYTINYSAURS and GARY’S GARDEN.
It costs one whole Earth Pound which I know is outrageous, but all funds raised go to a cancer charity and we’ve already paid them at full cover price, so hurrah!
Created by Lakes District school children then hand-sold by those same young entrepreneurs all around The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014, it boasts a startling line up of comicbook stars in the making:
Tarantula Ninja Squad, Jellyfish Egg Lazer, Angry Bird, Mini Haribo. 3 D.S., Robot Hedghog, Jim Bob, Mr Jellytime, Hyper Squirrel, Magnetic Squirrel, Appl Craver, Trigger Button, Alligator Wigwam, Jelly Lemon Biscuit, Coconut Cracker, Electric Bubble Water, Jammy Nutellacustard, Turquoise Wallaby, Isla Maize King, TrGo Fenfer, Kally Elly Pepper, Sam Gutter!
Do you think Hyper and Magnetic are related?
Some of the creators in our Georgian Room like Joe List and Donya Todd thought fast on their feet and got their copies signed so they could soon be worth a small fortune. I’m not even kidding you. If you’re confident enough to co-create then sell a comic at ComicArtFest and already thinking about page composition at such a tender age, the chances are you’ll go far.
Also, how kind was that? Established comicbook creators treating the young girls and boys as their equals and make them feel as special as they are. That’s one of things I love about the comicbook industry and I swear I almost cried.
LAKES HISTORY MYSTERIES is a relay race of artists and writers telling speculative stories about Necessity’s daughter Invention along with her close living relative Accidental Discovery over the last 5,000 years.
Inspired by local artefacts like a lithophone and prehistoric stone tools, each creator pops on their thinking cap and wonders how or why these objects were invented. Also: who were their first casualties and what do you think happened next? It definitely has the “Whoops!” factor.
The consistency of line is astonishing, every three-panels-per-page layout is as clear as clear can be, plus the paper stock has an attractive satin sheen which shows off the black ink beautifully.
Brilliant! Congratulations to all and good going, Jim Medway, creator of PLAYING OUT on his two-day workshop which evidently worked wonders.
Sincere apologies to any creator whose immaculate handwriting fell foul of my fumbling fingers in transcription.
Typo Turtle Twit
Buy Lakes History Mysteries and read the Page 45 review here
Destination: Kendal! (£1-50, Lakes International Comic Art Festival) by Jonathan Edwards, Felt Mistress, Sean Phillips.
There is nothing I love more than mischief.
And when it comes cloth-covered in kindness, I love it even more!
I love it when writers and artists – or indeed anyone else – understand and trust each other to the point where they relish having fun poked at them!
Me and our Dee are constantly teasing each other on the shop floor. We’ve worked with each other for nearly twenty years now, mocking our own mannerisms, our failings and foibles whilst poking each other in the metaphorical ribs all day long. It makes me so happy.
This too makes me very happy indeed!
Produced to promote The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 and on sale there all weekend, this laugh-until-you-cry comic stars its Poblin’s Gang of hyperactive, completely deluded yet infectiously exuberant red, furry mascots.
Designed by POP! A COMPLETE HISTORY’s Jonathan Edwards, brought to lush, three-dimensional life by CREATURE COUTURE’s Felt Mistress and then photographed here by FATALE’s Sean Phillips, the Poblins are each as individual as the Banana Splits and are en masse an insane force of nature to be reckoned with. Now they are coming to town!
The town is Kendal, home to The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 in this, its second year, and the town doesn’t quite know what’s hit it.
These gleeful nutters have made studious notes on which comicbook creators will be appearing where and when (Scott McCloud, Becky Cloonan, Jeff Smith, Mary and Bryan Talbot, Glyn Dillon, Lizz Lunney, Dan Berry, Eddie Campbell, Junko Mizuno et al) but seem singularly fixated on artist and patron, Sean Phillips.
“We really hit it off when I visited his studio,” claims Poblin. “When I climbed up his drainpipe to wave at him through his studio window he screamed with delight that I was back again!”
Poor Sean! As for Poblin’s unauthorised helping hand to TRAINS ARE MINT’s Oliver East and his painstakingly painted, black and white murals, it was at that point that tears of laughter ran down my face right there on the bus back home.
This too, from queen of the zines, Zinny:
“My first was called “Zinny’s Zine” then I teamed up with my friend Dan on “Zinny’s Zine With Dan”, then I thought it would be funny to do a zine about Zinedine Zidane with Dan called “Zinny’s Zinedine Zidane With Dan”. Then I got writer’s cramp.”
Poblin himself is the most manic and crush-worthy creation in town! Fall for his lop-sided lunacy, gawp at his gormless grin and then hug him to death for his wide-eyed naivety and the most tactile, svelte pelt in history!
Photographed by Sean Phillips against Kendal’s green grass and then framed on the reddest paper in history, our comic-crash casualties come truly alive! Those colours are to die for.
I so, so want to meet them. I wonder if they’ll wander into Page 45’s Georgian Room in Kendal’s Clock Tower where we will have over £12,000 worth of the most diverse and individualistic comics and graphic novels on sale and where we are playing host to so many of those creators noted earlier?
If so, I pray they will allow themselves to be photographed with us and by us – unless poor Sean has recovered enough from Poblin’s last apparition to stop by himself. I want this so much. I don’t normally fall for the hirsute but if Poblin ever exhibits any, you know, “tendencies”, then I’ve begged the magnificent Felt Mistress to let me know.
I’d send Poblin flowers, but he’d probably eat them.
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 takes place from 17th to 19th October. This is the Lakesfest website! This is the Lakesfest 2014 programme!
All proceeds from our sales go directly to the Lakesfest: we’re not taking a penny. We’re doing this because we believe in this festival with all our hearts plus its director and curator, Julie Tait, is a complete and utter star.
There: I’ve said it.
Big hugs also to the Lakesfest’s Sharon Tait, Sandra, Jenny and all the volunteers without whose organisational acumen – equal only to Julie’s – exhibitors would be dazed and confused. You are all so loved and thank you.
Buy Destination Kendal and read the Page 45 Review here
Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy!
Reviews already up if they’re new formats of previous graphic novels. The best of the rest will be reviewed next week while others will retain their Diamond previews as reviews. Neat, huh?
A Quiet Disaster (£5-00, Avery Hill Publishing) by Alex Potts
Adventure Time: The Art Of Ooo h/c (£24-99, Titan Books) by various, edited by Chris McDonnell
BPRD Plague Of Frogs vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola & Guy Davis and many others
Grey Area – From The City To The Sea (Signed) (£6-00, Avery Hill Publishing) by Tim Bird
Last Days Of Nobodies (Numbered Edition of 100 & Signed & Sketched In!) (£7-00, Avery Hill Publishing) by Mike Medaglia
Meanwhile #1 (£4-95, Soaring Penguin Press) by Gary Spencer Millidge, Sally Jane Thompson, Chris Geary, Yuko Rabbit, David Hine, Mark Stafford
Sandman: Annotated Sandman vol 3 h/c (£37-99, Vertigo) by Neil Gaiman & Leslie S. Klinger
Storm h/c Signed Slipcase Edition (£20-00, Orion Books) by Tim Minchin & DC Turner
Storm s/c (£12-99, Orion Books) by Tim Minchin & DC Turner
The Garden Of Words (£10-99, Vertical) by Makoto Shinkai & Midori Motohashi
The Last Temptation (Signed Edition) h/c (£55-99, Dynamite) by Neil Gaiman & Michael Zulli, David Curiel, Dave Mckean
Zenith: Phase One h/c (£20-00, Rebellion) by Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell
Gotham City Sirens Book 1 s/c (£18-99, DC) by Paul Dini, various & Guillem March, various
Harley Quinn vol 1: Hot In The City h/c (£18-99, DC) by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & Chad Hardin, various
Suicide Squad vol 5: Walled In s/c (£12-99, DC) by Matt Kindt, Sean Ryan & Patrick Zircher, various
Hulk vol 1: Banner DOA s/c (£13-50, Marvel) by Mark Waid & Mark Bagley
Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid, Kieron Gillen & Mark Bagley, Luke Ross
Supercrash: How To Hijack The Global Economy (£14-99, Myriad) by Darryl Cunningham
Sunny vol 4 h/c (£16-99, Viz) by Taiyo Matsumoto
ITEM! Page 45 is 20 Years Old. I wrote that blog about it!
Thank you for reading and thank you for everything during the 20 best years of my life.
– Stephen x