Yep, March was here again and it meant only one thing! The Thing! I wasn't exhibiting this year, but still went along as a visitor, and to see Mal, especially as a pub trip had been talked about...
My alarm went off at 7:00 and Dad bought me some tea. I fell asleep again till 8:00-ish XD. Had some more tea and then got ready to go. Caught a train from Ely at 9:13 and had to change at Cambridge. After the railway experiences of the past two years I was expecting a nightmare but the journey was fine, though the train to King's Cross did stop at lots of places, you can't have everything XD (and it wasn't as bad as the infamous Big Gay Out trip). Got into London at about 10:00 and went straight into the underground (my ticket also included a few underground zones on it). Got either the Pink, Yellow or Dark purplish line to Liverpool street and then the Red line to Mile End. I love that Red line... They have FINALLY, ACTUALLY finished doing up King's Cross underground station completely now, and it's beautiful, well beautiful in a grey and square way, but I'm just weird. I walked up Mile End in a huge coat my dad had lent me, though it wasn't as insanely cold as last year I had left my leather jacket at university (and my Ipod charging up cable too!).
I got to the hall and paid to get in, they had a TON of anthologies this year, after selling out last year before the exhibitors could get any (but, er, I didn't know about that rule and so I have one). The books where also HUGE! My brother is reading it now but I think they had over 200 pages, with some excellent and well-made strips in there. Oh and my efforts too, I hadn't proof-read my one before sending it and a piece of dialogue is missing, so for anybody wondering the bird (Tina) on page 146 is supposed to then say "I wonder what Mike bought?" and then Aaron says "You need to ask?". I think that was probably the best gag too, ruined! Anyway after paying I went straight to Mal's table to get the brand new High Maintenance chapter 1 (wasn't that last year's book? No, it's been re-re-done!) And catch up on stuff as well. Her table looked stunning this year, a nice red and black velvety tablecloth and a burned-down black candle.
I went for a further wander looking for things I wanted, and ran into one of my brother's friends, I intended to tell him to buy High Maintenance but didn't want to seem too much of an ITOIF fanboy (until later anyway XD). I can't remember what order I bought stuff in but after HM I definitely actively searched out Blink Twice, occupying their usual space near some steps up to the stage (with a huge picture behind them) to get Malcolm Magic book 2. I then went to Eezy, as him and me had been sparring in the message board Scribble Battle, though at that moment in time his friend was manning the table and didn't have a clue who I was. I also searched for Vented Spleen for part 2 of How To Date A Girl In 10 Days, but didn't find him right away (swamped by buyers!), also got some more stuff by Eddie Bowley (creator of Bollox, Edd Egg and numerous other things), I forgot to take my envelope of mystery with me, so the boat will have to wait until next year. I also got the latest Redeye magazine, hoping it would have a review of HM in it, as the guy said he'd review it last year, but it didn't, or that may have been in an earlier issue. Then I got issue 2 of Violent! as it was one of my favourites last year.
With the essentials out of the way but a wallet stuff stuffed with pound coins (I had been saving up all the odd ones I had for weeks and weeks) I decided to make good my promise to try out unknowns and things I had never even heard of. These included a cowboy strip called West, I talked with the creators a bit about how I had been vaguely planning a western, however actually doing things tends to be a barrier for me XD. I still got me 50's secret agent strip to get on with. A noir-themed anthology called, appropriately, Noir from Zipgun comics. Others included "Valour gauge", "Monkeys might puke", "If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen". Another notable acquisition was "Vampire Free Style" from Neptune Factory, the girl at that stand was so incredibly friendly, she had a chair on the other side and was inviting people to come and sit down and talk about her strip and their own, definitely a memorable one. Another memorable one was Fetishman who where across from Mal, the bloke kept asking people if he had molested them before XD. I collected a few more strips I had peripherally heard of, such as "The Walking Wounded" from Massacre for Boys, "Final Farewell" from Brave comics and "The Darkest Path" from Sweatdrop studios, who are based in Cambridge. I also got a Keenspace sampler, which must be quite old, as Keenspace hasn't existed for years XD.
Over the day I drifted back to Mal (she let me store her coat behind the table too) and she was doing well, in fact she had sold out of comics before 1:00! Unfortunately it was after this event that I directed loads of people over to her... I wandered out to get sandwiches from a shop up the road which was actually open, and have a read. Towards the end of the day I made some silly posters, one plugging my site and making fun of the fact it's never updated, and one directing people to the HM table. I also read some stuff in the reading area, which had by now been pushed out of the hall entirely and was in the lobby. I later went back in to use up my remaining money and got something called Murky Depths, which is like an old-fashioned "picture story paper", like the kind I was planning to make myself! I asked the writer about possibly submitting some stories, and he seemed open to it. Then again he hasn't read my stories yet!
The day began to wind up, and my wallet was Very light... Me, Mal, Ztoical (I forgot her real name), Lee Thacker and some girl decided to head for a pub "a little way up the road" called Inigo. After walking for like 25 minutes (past numerous market stalls and DVD bootleggers) we got there, it's small and cramped but a very cool place, reminds me a bit of the front of Man On The Moon in Cambridge, but nice. As it was St Paddies day I had to get some Guinness. We talked about various things, to start with our hauls, and then more obscene topics. I referred to a casual sexual relationship I had a while back as "banging this bird" which lead to an endless series of jokes which I expect to continue into next year (In my anti-sexist defence, I was seeing a bloke more recently and asked people to take pictures of me and him so that I could "show off my catch"). There was also discussion of cars, tattoos, Mal's experiences of New Zealand and other people's experiences of, er, other places. Ztoical telling us of a very funny story involving the 'theft' of a huge inflatable baseball, and getting it back across New York and only when she reached her front door thinking to let the air out XD. We also talked about an Irish comic called Mr Amperduke, which was previewed in the Judge Dredd Megazine ages ago. The writer made it after losing his girlfriend, home and job in the week before Christmas, which certainly put not updating Felney for months after Dale fucked me about into perspective.
Bob out of Weebl and Bob made an appearance and had many pictures taken of him. I had to leave at 8:45 to catch the "9:15" train, which actually went at 9:53. Still at least it was sitting in the station so I could be warm, would have preferred to have been drinking still though. I offended some more women by explaining the concept of High Maintenance to them in no-nonsense terms, then arrived in Ely and went home. Another day of fun, inspiration and a bag full of some of the best and brightest the "dead" British comics scene has to offer, Can't wait to get back to Lincoln and my art supplies and get cracking with the next Eugene Manx and Felney now!
A list of everything I bought or got given, as there was tons and it may have been left out in the account above. I'm also not sure if I finished this list so it may be expanded later XD
-2007 Thing Anthology
-Murky Depths issue 0
-The Darkest Path (Sweatdrop studios)
-Final Farewell (Brave comics)
-Malcolm Magic book 2 (Blink twice)
-Keenspace Heroes of the Sampler
-Moon! Sketchbook 8 (Blink Twice)
-The God Botherers part 1
-Astorauth.com free sample thing
-Walking Wounded issue 1
-How To Date A Girl in 10 Days issue 2
-Blue Cat Club book 1
-High Maintenance Book 1
-Edd Egg and The Healthy Shallows
-Edd Egg Best of 2005
-Edd Egg 24 comic day 2006
-The Dexter Dimension issue 2
-Monkeys Might Puke 3... or 5
-If You Want Breakfast In Bed Sleep In The Kitchen (Ztoical)
-Walking Wounded Preview Comic
-Vampire Free Style issue 1
-Noir (Zip Gun Comics)
-West issue 3 (Angry Candy)
-Fetishman issue 1
-Eezy - Sofa So Good
-Dave Will Never Be King