So, this weekend's been the London MCM Expo, where comics, computer games, anime, manga and cosplay all descended on the ExCeL centre in East London. I don't think I've been a part of a busier event! Yesterday was frantic; we barely had time to play Cosplay Bingo (luckily, it was exceptionally easy to get close to a full house, thanks to there being so many cosplayers out) and we sold out of copies of Badger by the early afternoon. I'll have to order some more from the printers now, I think! We also sold quite a few badges and framed art from Badger, as well as quite a few comics, but we really missed a trick with not having more toys on the table for people to buy. I'm hoping that by this time next year, I'll have come up with more than a few awesome plush wonders for people to have.
The Comics/Anime village was lovely, if a little swamped by the noise from all the other stuff going on. It's hard to work out what shy people are saying when there's screaming cosplayers, panel debates and computer games nearby. That said, we managed fine and everyone was lovely whenever I admitted I'd no idea what they'd said, or when I had to show off my scar to answer why I wasn't doing sketches for people. The staples were annoying me, catching on my clothes and the edge of the table. I'm really looking forward to them being taken out of my arm soon.
I got to talk to so many people whose work I adore, in particular, it was great to get to talk to the lovely lady who wrote Prick and to tell her how sad the stories in there made me with the brutal woodland philosophy of love, death and the sorry fate of a cucumber. She's wonderful and so is her work, so hunt it down if you've not seen it already.
It wasn't until this afternoon that I plucked up the courage to go and talk to one of my absolute idols in the comics world, Nick Abadzis, the creator of Laika. I bought a poster that he signed and it's already up on the wall. I adore his work, the level of detail that goes into the script, the way it's so obviously a labour of love and the wonderful way it's all constructed to move towards the only part of the story we all really feel we know, that shadow making the whole book all the more heart-breaking.
Much to my surprise, he and I got talking and I did the totally sad thing of showing him my portfolio. He made some really positive and constructive comments about it, which has given me an incredible boost and just five minutes chatting with him has given me a lot of useful insight into the industry that I've been struggling to work out on my own. I've got a lot to learn, I realise that, but when people you idolise say they like your work and that it's really worth pushing yourself to carry on, then it makes it all seem far more worthwhile.
I've got one hell of a To Do list at the moment and I'm glad that there's a little break before the next comics event (the London Underground Comics event at the 176 Gallery next month) because it gives me a bit of breathing space to try to get my house in order. I've had quite a lot to reflect on this weekend, about the industry, about how I need an identifiable brand and style, how I've published some things in a bit of a hurry and how much I'd like to slow it down a bit and be able to put a little more care and love into what I produce so I can really keep pushing myself to produce better and better work.
That said, I'm coming to realise that these crises of confidence where I sit there and contemplate just giving up and that I should go and get a job stacking shelves where I'd have more money than selling comics, these little blips that feel like nadirs, are actually a really important part of the creative process for me. I think it's making me realise that I do make a choice to keep doing this and that it's important to me and that I do gain something from it all that actually matters to me.
And then, from nowhere, I started drawing something I never thought I would - more of Badger's story. I need to sort out my website first, my web shop, my stock of stuff to sell and everything like that, but I'm pleased to sneakily announce that I'm working on a prequel to the book that I made last year. Badger broke your heart? Wait until you see him growing up.
Fingers crossed I can work out a way of putting it online in a format that works well. Be prepared for a few plaintive twitter messages as I get stuck working out how to do it and I'm sure I'll throw my ergonomic keyboard out of the window a few times before I have an online portfolio, but I can promise you all now:
There's more to come from badger and, hopefully, it'll come soon.
What a good weekend, eh?