Convention Season really is underway in the UK. It only seems like yesterday I was in Comics Village at MCM London and next weekend is the massive Thought Bubble Comics Festival up in Leeds. Nicely crammed between these two events is the first Crouch End Comic Art Festival in cool North London.
It was a one day event between 11.00.00am and 6pm. Held in the Earl Haig Hall just off the trendy North London gastro pub filled high street. Organised by Sean Azzopardi and spurred on by the growth of London comics talent it was an enthusiastically fun event. I popped down with three mates from the St Albans Comic Club.
Admittedly it’s a small affair, but what it lacks in corporate sprawl it makes up for in friendliness. We were greeted by friendly faces and a real old school small press vibe, held in a charming old town hall style room with tables down either side and an actual real bar selling beer (Shock!)
Our first point of call was Paul Rainey. With a big grin on his face he was fresh from a talk for the ongoing Comica event on Cult Comics at Foyles Bookshop the previous night. It’s been years in the making but There’s No Time Like The Present is back from the printers and about to get a gorgeous hardback release. Paul is a great talent so it’s great to see this book finally getting the wider audience it deserves.
Next door to Paul was my old pal and ex table mate (from many years ago at Bristol) Gareth Brookes. He’s been killing it recently with a variety of different styles in books like the award winning The Black Project, The Land of My Heart Chokes on its Abundance and the upcoming Manly Boys (with his collaborator, Steve Tillotson). It was great to hear about a secret upcoming project he’s now 20 pages into. When I left Gareth was heading in the direction of the bar (safest to leave? Quickly?) (I make no apologies for the suggestive nature of the photo.)
It was great to see Ricky Miller from Avery Hill Publishing. Quite simply the most interesting small press publisher in the UK at the moment they are really pushing preconceptions and have numerous projects being released in the next few weeks. Ricky had a physical preview of Maleficium which he let me have a look at, a slightly oversized A4 format book that looks incredible.
He also told me that the aforementioned Gareth Brooke’s and Steve Tillotson’s Manly Boys is now back from the printer and is hilarious. It’s also great to hear that the second issue of Metroland is also going to be available at Thought Bubble. As I’ve said before – if you haven’t seen their books you really do need to catch up.
You can find Ricky on Twitter @metrolandmiller
It was great to finally meet creator Alfie Gallagher. I loved the first three issues of his creator owned book Charlatan Tales and he had some of the original art on hand for me to have a look through. He also had some pages he was working on for a Judge Dredd story coming out soon from the Zarjaz guys. This looks incredible and he’s also got a really intriguing new project on the go based on stories from Ireland. If you are Thought Bubble this year he’s got a table in the Teepee so pop over and say hello. He’s also got some cracking prints for sale.
I had real fun at this small show and there was a really great vibe to the day. Hopefully it’ll become a regular event. As a comics community we need shows of all sizes. And let’s face it the fact that it was a free entry event can’t hurt.
Make sure you get yourself down there next year.
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.