A Gentleman’s Trip To The Colonies

Two weeks away from here leaves too much to say and being away from work leaves too many things I should be doing rather than writing up my thoughts. But since what I SHOULD be doing involves, at least partially, removing my concious attention from the subject in question to let my subconcious get to work, I half expect this to run to four thousand words or something. We’ll see.

My adventures took place in four locales. They were:



London was over the weekend, when I stop into comrade Simon Holmes in London to “celebrate” his 30th birthday by getting hideously drunk in a local bar. What everyone else will probably most remember is Dave Hyland’s car getting boxed in by nefarious gentlemen clearly working some kind of dastardly insurance scam, my mind’s going to dwell upon standing outside a kebab shop in the middle of London and reading aloud from The Handmaiden’s Tale to the assorted late night revellers and… well, being a bit of a shit generally. I’m normally a pretty good drunk. And mostly, I was a pretty good drunk, but there was a nasty venemous bastardly foundation to most of the things I was doing as I progressed which left me feeling pretty disgusted with myself the next day.

I took it as a bad omen for the rest of the trip. And it was, except in a more literal “bad omen” terms. It was bad at being omen. I got just as drunk many times, and was (as far as I recall) all sweetness and light.


I have photos, but I don’t think you really need to see Holmes and me appearing to have sex.


Where I stayed for a couple of days with Laurenn McCubbin and Alex Getchell. Here’s the pair of them a few days later:


They looked like that most of the time. I’ve know Laurenn for yonks, but was my first time I met with Alex, who’s an incredibly generous host whose treatment of me means I have to i) re-learn to drive ii) Get a car iii) BE READY if he ever comes to England, as I have to be just as good. Alternatively, get a chum and give him a Sedan chair or something.

San Francisco was mainly acclimatising. A little shopping, getting some more Phonogram postcards printed and meeting up with a few people. Popped into the PC GAMER US offices for the first time, which was something of a head-trip. The offices themselves are suitably palatial, but the whole second floor is bare floorboards. Arrived there and thought that it was some manner of trap by our enemies, and a series of bombs were about to go off. (“TAKE THAT NEW GAMES JOURNALISTS!!!” cackles Ram Raider, as he pushes the switch).

Also caught up with Daniel Heard. You’ll know Daniel as he drew this.

He doesn’t look like the sort who’d have truck with such madness, but clearly is. Enormously geek conversation somehow manouveres me into saying “You know – I know exactly the way to fix Green Lantern”, despite never having read any Green Lantern comics. Thankfully, Laurenn arrived at which point so I shut the fuck up. Alex, however, mocks me for the remainder of my stay.

Other main memories: Breakfast at Lois the Pie Queen (Which is immortalised in the first panel of CASANOVA #3) and bawling my lungs out along with Modern Girl by Sleater Kinney in the car. It proceeded to get stuck in my head, and I woke up every day singing it to myself. Despite the fact I’d completely forgotten who actually wrote the thing.

I also ignored the irony, as sometimes you whole life is like a picture of a sunny day.


The biggie.

Now, you hear a lot about San Diego before arriving. I was expecting everything, and got it. As I told everyone who asked what it’s like: “Imagine what you think a comic convention is like. That’s San Diego”. And it is, it so is. Every third person seemed to be in costume, with mass crushes caused by either the masses or people stopping people to shoot photos of each other. Take Fleur (McKelvie’s missus), who stopped regularly to ask for photos. Hell – when she got one off Elvis Stormtrooper he immediately asked for the favour to be returned.

Two modern icons.

I’ve seen San Diego at its worst. I was standing one foot to the right when Matt Fraction spotted a bloated gentlemen with a sunburnt, peeling head in the queue for meeting Rosario Dawson. The gentleman was staring into the middle distance as he idly tore off bits of his scalp and ate them. He even texted Ellis about it. I couldn’t speak.

But – y’know – it remains awesome. It helps that we had a table to cower behind. I barely moved from it for all the time I was there, so I could treat the mob moving before me as a mixture of a unreality TV show and a shooting gallery. Laugh and snark at the former and try and attract the attention of anyone I think should be reading Phonogram. People in band T-shirts and/or I wanted to sleep with were high priorities. For the latter, I strongly believe that building an attractive audience for a comic is a powerful publicity tool. A core of beautiful people will accumilate a mass of beloved people like a Katamari made of raw sex. Our favour adhesive is bodily fluids.

Anyway – McKelvie and I were sharing a table with Steven Sanders and Matt Fraction. This is what our area looked like:

Hot Hot Hot!

(Picture by Rantz, who was ace company too)

I was suited (or at least jacketed) for most of my time on the floor, while McKelvie rocked his rockabilly thang. To the right is the annoyingly pretty Kelly Sue DeConnick who thought we should swap our looks: “Jamie looks like a greaser but sounds like The House of Lords and Kieron wears a suit with panache but sounds like he might jack your wallet. Or at least I think he does. I’m not sure. When he gets going I can only understand every third word or so.”

(It was a common problem. My standard greeting: “Would you like a free sequential narrative, Miss/Sir?” was generally met with a “Huh?”. The problems of a wave of verbiage married to a Midlands whine, eh?)

Kelly’s Beau Fraction was also delight, acting as a comics-Virgil to my Comicon-Hell experience. He only took a break from extolling our tables surplus of “Suits and Big Ideas”when a gentleman with an enormous stick-on tache came over. After mocking him for a little, he slowly realises that the guy’s in a Cosplay costume… a costume of Tesla from his just-released FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE. His expression was priceless.

(Steven, arist for Five Fists, and Dawn Sanders, his awesome drink-bringing missus were also fine company. Steven and I found ourselves in a small huddle geeking out over 40K and how much we’d love to do something set in it. Which neatly blew all our Indie cred in one go).

Three more memories from the floor: Firstly, the hyenas of the floor making their way down a table. “Is this free?” “Yes” “Is this free?” “Yes” “Is this free?” “NO!!!”. Secondly, being grabbed by another annoyingly attractive goth girl demanding she take a photo of me in my suit. (“It’s just a suit!). Later, she was equally enamoured by Steven Sanders beard. It is, it has to be said, a fucking awesome beard. Finally, in the same ten second period Black funny-looking superman-dude and Stan Lee past our table. Comicon-redux.

I was sharing a room with Antony Johnston and Mike Holmes. I’ve known Antony for years, if only vaguely for most of them, but Mike was a new aquaintence and earned my eternal love by taking me to a fucking kick ass (American Parlance) Family-Style Italian with Sal Comic Shop Owner Geezer.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Chu. God Damn Him.

I probably shouldn’t mention Antony and my moment of Pedicab infamy, but I’m going to. We have no idea where the CBLDF part is and the ever-avuncular Dan Evans suggested we just jump in a pedicab and theyd’ take us there. For some reason, we presume it might be cheaper than a Taxi. We presume wrong. Leaving the mall we were in, he takes us 25 minutes of going around the streets (on the mobile the whole time – we’re sure he was getting directions) – before depositing us at the front door of a place not more than 250m from the mall where we started. And then charging us $25 each.

Takes us a few drinks to get over that, which lead to my favourite night of adventures (The night AFTER it was far more drunken, with me dragging bottles of wine around the Hyatt bar while gesticulating wildly, but the hangover which lead me to spend most of the Saturday crouching behind our table wimpering acted as a slightly downer coda to the festivities). After the party, we end up craming in Joshua Ellis‘ rented convertible to get to some eighties dance bar Chyna Clugson wants to make us hit. Four of us (Francesca, a Bizarre journalist whose name I forget, Joshua and me) tearing across the city with the music screaming and our hands in the air, in our best OUTRUN FOREVER mode was about as good as it gets. That was proved wrong when we were stopped by the cops, who proceeded to show us the way to the club, where there was much embarassing dancing.

(No-one but our group knew how to dance to the final burst of Ska records at the evenings. McKelvie and I particularly got into a deep skank, which lead to the runing joke of one of us shouting SKA! and immediately assuming the position. Also met Erin and Mike Radiocomix, who I spent the rest of the weekend high-fiving for being awesome. Oh – and I hurt my jaw by screaming along to the opening of One Step Beyond with inadvisable force.)

God, could talk forever. Met far too many people – people I’ve only met online, people I’ve never met before, people whose work I know and so on. Will stop, after I mention the impressive sunburn of Si Spurrier and Frazer Irving. Dudes! You’re English. Fear and loathe the sun.

Oh – special thanks to the dude who came to our table every day to give us free water. We Heart You.

Neither Laurenn or I could have a photo taken without posing stupidly


Pretty much I was too screwed to do anything than lie around the impossilovely Scott and Heather Johnson’s flat and try not to make too much of a mess. Special mention must be made of the finest whiskey bar I’ve ever been in my life secretly hidden behind a strip-mall bar, which was simply unbelievable.

Now – let’s see what my subconcious has been up to while I’ve been away.