The whole festival seemed to be about getting artist to actually give something back rather than sit and receive their fans like royalty. There was no reaching into your pocket from artists or punters and yet everyone went away so much richer for the experience.
I spent a weekend in great company that included my boyhood hero, a host of brilliant artists and writers and so many people from Derry who all seemed to become instant friends.
Saturday was spent sketching all day, and I mean ALL day. No one charges for sketches and whilst you get some people who want you to draw 'what you do' (I did a LOT of Daleks and Matt Smiths) you get a whole bunch of people asking for anything under the sun (I have now drawn Wonder Woman, Wolverine, the Joker etc etc). Most of the people were kids. I got handed sketchbook from a 6 year old that contained zombies by Glen Fabry, Spiderman by Phil Winslade and Tank Girl by Rufus Dayglo mixed in with the kid's own drawings from the day before. "What would you like?" I foolishly asked. "A robot squirrel," he said.
I spent the day sat next to the genius that is Mick McMahon and his wife Chrissie. They were great company and the nervous quaking that should have wrecked me in his presence was dispelled by the fact he's a such a nice bloke. We spent a lot of time together and talked A LOT of comics.
Here's a couple of sketches he did for me:
Dredd done in my sketch pad with my pen and...
Spikes Harvey Rotten. And here's the man himself busy drawing countless sketches for everyone. I had so much stuff with me it spread all across his table too.
Eventually the kids go off to bed and the adults head to Dino's bar for the panels. I was on the first panel on the Friday night with Rufus (Tank Girl) Dayglo, Denise (crime writer) Mina, David (Bulletproof Coffin) Hine and Mark (Vice president of DC comics) Chiarello.
Below is the bar filling up ready for the panel.
Once again 2D was a great leveler as artists, fans and locals all mixed in. The discussions from the panels filtering out onto the street and vice versa. This is what a festival should be like and David Campbell who puts it together with the help of, yet another new mate of mine, Gary (Marvelman) Leach deserves all the praise he will get from us in the coming weeks. I don't know how he does it, but anyone else putting together a festival like this should give him a ring and find out. I want more.
I learnt a lot, had a lot of fun and made a lot of new friends. I think that was true of everyone who came.
Thanks David. Thanks Derry.