Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Thoughts on Comics Salopia!

I had a very enjoyable time at Comics Salopia over the weekend, the first comics festival of its kind to take place in Shrewsbury. I arrived on Friday to check in, then made my way to the jetty, as the organisers had scheduled something special for the guests; a boat trip along the River Severn. A perfect treat for a Friday afternoon in the summer as the Sabrina boat took us steadily along the river to the English Bridge and back. 

Later that evening, we gathered at the Guildhall for the official opening ceremony performed by the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Phil Gillam (who, it turns out, was a big fan of TV21 and American comics as a child). The reception also included an auction of items for charity, and ended with music including organiser Shane Chebsey's own band, Cosmic Rays (with Charlie Adlard on drums). 
Shane Chebsey rockin' it.
Great company, including Aneke Murillenem and Paul Goodenough. 
The next morning it was an earlyish start to set up for the day. Comics Salopia was a festival that took place in various venues across the centre of town, and I was one of the guests in the grounds of Shrewsbury Castle. Having stalls in the open air was quite a gamble with our climate but we were very fortunate to have glorious clear skies and warm weather on Saturday. The grounds were busy and it was great to meet so many people who were interested in my work. Not just readers who had read Combat Colin when they were kids, but also enthusiastic children for whom the stories were new. 

Yes, Morris Dancers at a comics festival!

Above: It's John A. Short of Kult Creations and now of the new Mondo Comics who have just published an Octobriana comic. 

Above: Nigel Parkinson, artist of Dennis the Menace and other great work for the Beanohttp://nigelparkinsoncartoons.blogspot.com

At mid-day, Nigel Parkinson, Laura Howell, Hunt Emerson and I trekked over to the Guildhall to join Beano editor John Anderson for a panel discussion. A very enjoyable hour with a pleasant audience, and the best attended humour panel I've been involved with. It was excellent to meet John at last too, as we'd only communicated via email over the years.

Then it was back to our tables at the Castle grounds to continue the day until around 5pm. As this was a new show for Shrewsbury I wasn't sure how well it would go but I practically sold out of all the comics and books I brought with me and did quite a few sketches too.

Saturday evening saw myself and the Beano crew meet up for a very nice Italian meal. There was a party and concert provided for guests elsewhere but by the time we left the restaurant it was too late to attend so we all has a relatively early night to prepare for the next day.
Beano editor John Anderson with Laura Howell, Nigel Parkinson, me, and Hunt Emerson!
Sunday... saw the weather change considerably. Wet and windy, it did cause a few problems keeping the comics and prints dry and in place but the gazebos protected everything to an extent and there were calm spells so we could do some work.
Only a few comics left unsold on Sunday morning.
Last sketch of the day on Sunday, and it was fun to draw Bananaman!
Thanks to Paul Goodenough for the above photo. His website is here:

Above: Great to hang out with my good friend Aneke Murillenem again who had been invited over from Madrid. Aneke is currently drawing Judge Anderson for Judge Dredd Magazine and Age of Conan: Valeria for Marvel, both out in August! http://anekemu.blogspot.com (UPDATE: Aneke's Judge Anderson series will now appear in 2000AD from June 26th.)

Above: Fantastic Manga artist Sonia Leong. http://fyredrake.net

Any new event has its teething problems, but Comics Salopia had also suffered the tragic untimely passing of Amy, one of its organisers, just a couple of weeks before the show. I think she would have been very pleased with the happiness and enthusiasm that was evident at the castle grounds on Saturday as proof that such an event can work for the town. Shrewsbury has some beautiful historic buildings and is a great place to visit!
I'm bound to miss some names out here but many thanks to my good friends for being fantastic company over the weekend and for all the laughs. Thanks also of course to everyone who stopped by my table, and those who attended our packed-out panel on Saturday, and last but not least thanks to Shane Chebsey, Andrew Richmond, Chris Ball and all the team for their hospitality and for running the event.

Thanks to everyone for being you! Laura Howell, Nigel Parkinson, Hunt Emerson and Jane, John Anderson, Aneke Murillenem, Paul Goodenough, Sonia Leong, David Roach, Marc Jackson, Sarah McIntyre, Neil Kenny, James Fletcher, Emily McGorman-Bruce, Laurence Campbell, Charlie Adlard, John A. Short, Dan Berry, Paul Duncan (who I hadn't seen for about 25 years), Deborah Tate, Robbie Morrison, and more!

The following photos are courtesy of Shane Chebsey who has passed them on to me to post here...
It's Shrewsbury's own Charlie Adlard, artist on The Walking Dead!
The amazing Chip Kidd and equally amazing Yanick Paquette in the Town Square.
Great to see writer Peter Hogan again!
Incredible artist and comic art expert David Roach,
Local artist Bethany Turland-Carless.
Mighty Al Ewing and sturdy Andy Diggle.
Supergirl Salopia staff member, Sarah Prince, who looked after us on the boat trip.
A good varied range of cosplayers!


John Freeman said...

Thanks for this, Lew - looks like it was fun, despite the weather, which is hard to account for these days, even in June.

Lew Stringer said...

Saturday's weather was great. Couldn't be better. Sunday was breezy and a bit showery but not as bad as predicted. I think it might be better next year if guests were all in one big marquee rather than individual gazebos because the risk of bad weather is too great. We were lucky this year.

Shane Chebsey said...

Unfortunately the castle don't allow big marquees as it damages the grounds.

However we'll be looking at further steps to protect against wet or windy weather.

Thanks for the report Lew.

Glad to hear you did so well sales wise too 😀

Lew Stringer said...

Ah, I hadn't thought of that. Pity. It's a great location - in good weather.

Chris Ball said...

Named dropped in a Lew blog. Another off the bucket list :) Chris ball :)

Lew Stringer said...

Haha! You're welcome, Chris! Thanks for doing a good job, and for the weather report on Sunday! :)

Chris Ball said...

Ha ha I tried to hold it back :) and if you ever need a snack I'm your man

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, thanks for the crisps and biscuits, Chris! Just the job. I went for steak and chips later before setting off home. :)