How far would you go to read comics? Maybe a trip to the local shops?
Well, comics fan John Burdis has gone a few steps further than that and organised a marathon bus journey from the South of England to the Hi-Ex Comic Convention, which takes place in Eden Court Inverness on the 27th – 28th March.
“I was in the 2000AD Online Chatroom and mentioned the Hi-Ex! and how I would like to go. The problem would be the cost and the time taken. A drive from Maidstone to Stansted, flight to Inverness and taxi to hotel and then the return journey.
“One of the regulars on the forum suggested we should organise a minibus to travel up there. Later that night I pondered on this and decided why not, if enough people want to do it.”
He got enough people, and the minibus – nicknamed the HiEx Hell-Trek (after a strip in 2000AD comic) will be winding its way towards Inverness, picking up comic fans on the way. And John, being an ex-soldier, is well prepared for the journey.
“I’ve had chocolate bar ‘rations’ and polo shirts emblazoned with the Hell Trek logo made for each of us, and one of the polo shirts will be entered into the HiEx charity auction on the weekend of the convention.’
But isn’t this a bit far to go to meet some comic artists?
“This event has had nothing but praise from writers, artists and fans alike,” John explains. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to go – plus, some of my favourite creators will be here.”
Guests include French artist Michel Rodrigue, who created the official mascot for the inaugural rugby World Cup in 1987 and worked on the Tin Tin magazine.
“This is where the differences are between comic and football fan are apparent,” he adds. “They pay £40 plus to watch a match, see the stars from a distance and never meet them. They also buy all the tops and merchandise with no real thanks from the players. But when I go to an event like this it costs a lot less to get in, I meet and talk to all the artists and writers, I can even have art drawn for me for nothing, and at the end of the day can have a drink and more chat with the writers and artists. Now that is good value as far as I’m concerned.”
HiEx is organised and run by artist Vicky Stonebridge and Futurequake editor and comic writer Richmond Clements. While the long term future of Hi-Ex is vulnerable (there is a strong demand for an event of this kind in Scotland and in the North), funding is a problem. For Hi-Ex 2010 the Highland Council have kindly stepped in with a grant to assist with outreach and other additional activities.
• More Info on HiEx at: www.hi-ex.co.uk
• Follow John Burdis and the Hell Trekkers on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JBurdis