Sunday, 12 February 2017

Zarjaz 2000AD Saturday

I'm writing this still a little giddy from the day I've just had. I ventured across town for 2000AD's '40 Years Of Thrills' birthday bash; taking in a number of talks, and meeting some fabulous comic book creators. Pretty much without exception, I found everybody to be incredibly accommodating, and eager to talk to me (and others).

Some memories I'll take away from the day:

Meeting artst Arthur Ranson, who worked on some incredible Psi Judge Anderson stories. His artwork is amazing (see below) and I told him so. He replied that some of it was good, but he feels some other bits weren't good enough. "Nonsense!" I told him, "It was all amazing". That wasn't typical fan-meeting-artist-and-gushing. His art is amongst my favourite in 2000AD, because of the care and detail in each image.

Talking to writer/former editor Andy Diggle about his work on Daredevil. We discussed what worked in it, and what didn't. I was brave enough to tell him that the Shadowland storyline, in my opinion, wasn't great. He concurred, and liked my honesty - and said he'll go back and revisit what he did on the title. It's a shame that he doesn't feel like he captured the character's voice right. I think he did, he was just let down my Marvel taking control of the character, and demanding the series went in a very specific direction.

Spending about 20 minutes at artist Lee Sullivan's table. His work on the Radio Times Doctor Who comic strip of the 1990s has been highly influential on me. I told him about my prose spin-off adventures featuring the characters of the strip, and promised that I'd show him next time he visits my work (he has a comic book, Rivers Of London, published through Titan). He let me buy a sneaky fan-made collection of the Radio Times strips, which I was especially happy about, as I've waited 20 years to own them again!

Having the opportunity to meet three of the absolute greats - writers John Wagner & Alan Grant, and artist Carlos Ezquerra (Wagner/Ezquerra are Dredd's creators). Wagner is typically Scottish, and so hilarious. I think I accidentially insulted Grant, through my reaction to him telling me his age ("I'm 68", "Ah. [pause] Well you don't look it!"). Oops! But best of all was Ezquerra, who is just one of the nicest people I've ever met. Add in how hard working and dedicated to his craft he is, it's impossible not to love him. I sat in on his "Lawmasters" panel discussion, alongside John Wagner.
At the very end of the night I met Carlos again at the bar - with another amazing 2000AD talent, Mike McMahon! I was lucky enough to get a photo with the pair. I think my smile in the image demonstrates just how chuffed I was to be in their company!
Thanking Steve Yeowell for Zenith. If I had more money, I would have bought some of his original artwork (from an upcoming Sinister Dexter) but, alas, I am too poor!
Telling former-editor Steve MacManus how much I loved his book The Mighty One (which I have talked about on here already). Later at a 'Editors Reunited' panel - where he was talking alongside Andy Diggle, Richard Burton and current editor Matt Smith - he looked at me for clarification at one point, knowing I'd read the book!
Finding out that writer John Smith is from a working class Blackburn background, so not a million miles away from myself. We had banter over who's city was better! John is quite mad, but in the best possible way!

Talking to the team behind Hachette's Mega Collection part works, and getting the opportunity for helping me become a 2000AD/Dredd fan in the first place!

I bought a metal Dredd badge off them. That will sit nicely on my writing desk!
Watching the Strontium Dog fan-made film Search/Destroy, which was great! (It was introduced by the guy in the picture below!) It was an amazing accomplishment for something made independently, and I presume on low budget. It's made me feel all the more guilty for not having read the comics - so they're next on my long list of 2000AD must reads!
After that finished, I settled for a screening of the Future Shocks documentary - which was great fun, examining how 2000AD came about in the first place, what it has influenced, how it's changed, and what it stands for now. If you haven't seen it already, I would definitely recommend checking it out. It does crop up on Channel 4/Film 4 every so often - but it's also available to buy or rent.

Luckily I had a copy of Thrill Power Overload to hand, and managed to secure signatures from lots and lots of the 2000AD creative droids. What was nice was, for the majority of the people who signed, it wasn't just a case of quick-signature-and-done. We had proper conversations, often going into some detail - and it made me feel like these guys all cared about 2000AD and its fans.

(Signatures from: Emma Beeby, David Bishop, Chris Blythe, Richard Burton, Michael Carroll, Lee Carter, Dani, Jon Davis-Hunt, Andy Diggle, Al Ewing, Carlos Ezquerra, Henry Flint, Tom Foster, Simon Fraser, Leigh Gallagher, Alan Grant, Mark Harrison, John Higgins, Frazer Irving, Jock, Ian Kennedy, Roger Langridge, Mick MacMahon, Colin MacNeil, Steve MacManus, Paul Marshall, Robbie Morrison, Annie Parkhouse, Nick Percival, Sean Phillips, Gordon Rennie, John Smith, Matt Smith, Lee Sullivan, Dylan Teague, John Tomlinson, John Wagner, Rob Williams, Ben Willsher, Steve Yeowell)

As I said up top, this was a smashing day. To make sure I missed as little as possible I skipped meals and somehow willed myself not to need the toilet for a good chunk of the day! I loved the atmosphere - the positivity from everybody was contagious - and there was enough on to ensure I wasn't ever bored, but not too much that I felt I missed it all. A really good balancing act!

Most importantly, it felt like me making further steps into the world of 2000AD. They're a great bunch of people - readers and creatives alike - and I one day hope to write for the publication, and serve them all well!


It doesn't end there! Last night I visited a signing at Gosh! Comics, and met Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neil - there to sign Read Em & Weep Book 1: Serial Killers. I made Pat a promise to review the book when I'm done - so watch this space! (In the meantime, let's presume it's great - and let's presume also you haven't yet bought it. What are you waiting for? Go grab it now!)

Afterwards I headed to the Prince Charles Cinema to watch the first film in their Wes Anderson series - Bottle Rocket! I've only seen it once before, with Gabi. Truth be told, neither of us paid it the attention it deserved at the time, and so it went completely over my head. I'm so glad I got a chance to revisit it at the cinema! Man, it's funny! I think it's gone from the Anderson title I liked least of all, to one of my favourites! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the director's movies on the big screen across March/April.
At the Prince Charles I bumped into Tommy Wiseau, the writer/director and star of "the worst film ever made" The Room! He was so nice to me, and allowed a photograph. I thanked him for coming to the UK, and told him about when I met his co-star in The Room, Robyn Paris.
All-in then, it's been a bloody brilliant weekend. And there's still a day to go of it. Result!
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