Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first: the tables were expensive enough as it was without turning up to find out that you're in a room that's on the other side of a science museum from the main room of the show. It felt very unfair to those of us in the smaller room because there were far fewer people around and we'd paid the same and had no say in where we were placed. Add to that the decision by the organisers to have a map that listed the names of the people present instead of the promised little graphic and link on the website that would have let people understand the layout by the work and not by the creator and I can't help but feel like a got a bit of a bum deal with the event.
Turns out that while there were publishers and fans aplenty, the publishers present were all about the superhero action stuff for the main part and there weren't really many opportunities for someone like me who writes stuff where the most action is a leaf falling from a tree. As with The UK Web Comix Thing, I seemed to sell most of my stuff to women and they were in short supply among the fanboys.
Come Saturday night, I was feeling a bit despondent about the whole thing and probably would have given up if I had any idea what that would mean any more.
Sunday, however, left me feeling markedly better by the time we left - more people were browsing and chatting and we got to meet some lovely creators and artists who made the event feel worthwhile. Here's a quick round-up of the people I fell in love with in Birmingham:
Tpcat produced Prick, a beautiful collection of adorable philosophical stories about woodland creatures pondering the mysteries of love, sex and the onion messiah. Her work made me very happy.
The guy from Reaper Comics showed me his badger, who was a space hero with a bulging groin and a rocket launcher. I think that my badger would be a little bit scared, but the creator was friendly and lovely and told me to email him, so I should!
I swapped a copy of badger with Willie Hewes, who created Amaranth, which I've not read yet but I notice is published by Itch Publishing, which says it's comics that are girl-friendly, so I'm having a nose at their submission policies!
Manga's not normally something I like, but I read Origins: an IndieManga anthology and loved the stories, particularly Anna Fitzpatrick's short about a boy who follows his mother into the afterworld to find her and learns a lesson about life.
I love Calorific, the latest creation from Lonely Panda, a beautifully-produced tale of cupcakes. Sweet, in every sense.
Dave: a day in the life of a zombie made me very happy and I've looked back through it a few times. It's a diary of a slightly unlucky zombie who locks himself in a cupboard. Short but very cute.
I hadn't realised that the guy from Ninja Bunny did other stories too - A Fictional Tale of Young Love... and Old is heart-wrenching!
Naniiebim's Here Be Demons had me worried about the manga thing, too, but turns out to be a book I really enjoyed! It's about a girl who can see through a hawt indie boy's glamour and sees him for the demon he really is. Then tries to hit him with a frozen turkey.
The New Think publications had me in awe. They're baffling little mazes of tiny gifts and board games and stickers and really push the boundaries of what printed things can be.
It was also lovely to see Jess Bradley again - I just hope I have more money when I next see her stuff. She'd really make Christmas for me.
Jimmy Bott who made Half Dead did me a lovely Catwoman drawing that I'm chuffed with and he was friendly and encouraging and chatty, so that also made me really happy.
Whoops, I think I've just put up more links to work than you'd find on BICS' website.
I also found out that Thought Bubble is getting a bit of a good vibe going on with the littler people like me, so I'm actually really rather looking forward to it now. I have been told that Bristol is far more popular a con with small press fans and girls in particular, so I think I should get on and book myself a table there! Any other tips or hints would be very welcome to cheer me up even more!