Saturday, April 10, 2010

Glasgow Comic mart: fB strikes again

Another old haunt
It all started- as happens so often these days, with a 'friend of a friend' notification on fB, from which I learned that Glasgow Comic mart was to stage its next comic and toy fair in Glasgow University's Queen Margaret Union on Saturday April 3rd. Although I've never attended Glasgow University the QMU is another students' union of which I have fond memories, although I'll leave those for another time. I was vaguely aware of the Glasgow Comic mart from adverts for previous fairs in its old venue- Hillhead Library, yet- just like Conpulsion, the event had somehow always passed me by.

The best laid plans
So, brimful of 'get up and go' after my exciting weekend at Conpulsion and a hot night on the town the Friday before; equipped with a fistful of my instruments of BSA and with my trusty digicam; and with some ready cash in my pocket, I set off last Saturday to investigate. Entering the venue I was immediately struck by the bustle: the place was stowed out. The press of the crowd was such that you had to squeeze through gaps to make any headway into the hall and you became an obstacle to general progress when you stopped to peruse the stallholders' wares.

My initial plan had been to check out all the stalls to see what was available before making any purchases, but that survived less than a minute's contact with 'the enemy'. Slipping through the crowd I immediately saw bargains too irresistible to ignore- TPBs at £1 each. I snapped up those which had caught my eye:
And I was off!

Going underground
I'd figured that one thing I'd find at a comics mart would be comics creators: tracking them down became my next objective. Sure enough, I quickly found a row of tables at the back of the hall. Going up to the first one in line, I did the "My card" thing and told them a bit about myself before finding out who they were themselves.

Jim Stewart & Dave Alexander

Jim Stewart is a leading light in Northern Lightz- Scotland's answer to Gilbert Shelton's legendary stoner comic The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Ganjaman- Jim's character from Northern Lightz (which I remember from the early/mid 90s), has now gone solo, in Ganjaman Presents; issue 1 of which features work by such comics luminaries as Shelton himself; Alan Grant- who regular readers might remember I met last year at the Timeframes comics event at the Dundee Literary Festival; Doug Moench- creator of the still popular Marvel character Moon Knight; and Bryan Talbot- whose latest work is the excellent anthropomorphic steampunk detective story Grandville: an impressive lineup then and no mistake.

I confess I'm unfamiliar with Dave's work (and I made the mistake of not buying any of it because I went straight for all the Ganjaman stuff) but his credits include the infamous and much loved Viz comic: elevated company once again. I wonder which of the vast cast of characters featured in Viz down the years Dave has created and/or drawn?

Curt Sibling and Jamie McMorrow

Curt's main work of the moment appears to be the Total Fear comic, which has instant appeal to the lost teenager in your average geek, as the cover- left, of Total Fear: Tentacles of Doom might suggest. Did I buy this for myself last Saturday? What do you think dear readers.? Well you're all wrong. I am, naturally enough, far too mature and enlightened to fall for such cheap cheesecake. And all those wriggly tentacles? Urgh! I guess I'll just have to borrow someone else's copy for the review I promised Curt.

The comic by Jamie which I bought is a recent horror comic called The Abortion. Written by Jamie; illustrated by Gary McLaughlin; and published by Laser Age- the small press publishing house the pair established here in Glasgow with Jules Boyle, The Abortion's stark title and matching cover mean that it isn't for the easily offended, you can be sure. Further comment will have to wait until I have read it, but I can here say that I like the look of it already.

John Walker, Ashleigh Hester, Dave Gordon & John Alexander

Dave Gordon here is the only one here of whose work I picked up anything at the mart. As far as I have been able to learn, he is a key figure behind Underground Overkill, a group of Scottish artists and creators whose output so far consists of themed albums of pin-up art. The latest was on sale- Underground Overkill: Babes, Bullets, and Blades, and I could no more resist the cover than I could that of Curt Sibling's Total Fear (oops, what a give-away!).

I really enjoyed meeting all these people from the Scottish underground comics scene. They were friendly, interesting and generous, and I was left with the impression of a scene that is thriving as people are doing what they want to do the way they want to do it and having a lot of fun. Just like the Collective Endeavour RPG small press people I met at Conpulsion just a couple of weeks ago in other words. Again: this is impressive and encouraging. I expect you'll be hearing more about this dear readers. In the meantime, if you're interested you could always consider looking them up on Ning where they go by the name of the Scottish Cartoonists' Network.

Filling out the swagbag
There truly were bargains galore to be had at the mart. Two more which I really must mention before signing off- snips again at a mere £1 each, are:
The more astute among you will by now be noticing a theme among the covers that caught my eye that day, but there you go: I'm just a sucker for this kind of illustration, especially when it's presented in the form of comicbook action-adventure stories.

One's a two-gun toting ghost fighting organised crime in a city of mysteries; the other's a sword-wielding vampire in a mangaesque science fiction setting. What's not to like?

And that was my first Glasgow Comics mart: my first ever comics mart in fact. I had a great time and I know it won't be my last. Thanks to everyone I met who was so friendly, and to John Richard Farman who must've put a lot of effort into organising everything. I'm sure I'm not the only comics fan who had a great time that day. ;)

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