I was off in London yesterday at the Comics Big-Top of Awesome and it was, well, it was as much fun as that sounds. Actually, you know what? It was even MORE fun. Part of London's annual Pop-Up Festival of Stories, this one-day event at Central St. Martins was organised by Sarah McIntyre (ably supported by David O'Connell) and was a full day of insanely fun activities focussed on getting kids making up their own stories and turning them into comics on the spot.
A young artist named George and his brilliant comic about a Heroic Dragon, who loves climbing mountains. (I had to get a picture of this page as it is, basically, my new favourite thing ever.)
The Big-Top of Comics Awesome being set up in the morning.
The tent itself looked amazing - all the artwork and props and the brilliant Story-Generating Wheels were put together by three Central St Martins students - Isa Caruncho, Maddy Rita Faye and Chiahui Liao (check out Sarah's blog post on the subject for lots of great pics of them putting it all together) and they did a brilliant job of creating a fun, big-top of comics-awesome-y atmosphere.
There was a brilliant line-up of artists there all day - Jamie Smart, Nana Li, Gary Northfield, Jamie Littler, as well as Sarah and Dave themselves. And I was there also. We were all taking turns doing drawing demonstrations / tutorials, playing all manner of fun silly drawing games and challenges, but mainly just hanging out, chatting to the kids and helping them (if help be needed) make their comics. I did what was apparently supposed to be a 20-minute stint drawing robots on the big boards, but... well, basically I got a bit confused and nobody told me to stop and the next time I looked up it was an hour and a half later and I had drawn QUITE A LOT of robots. Here are some of them, with their new owners!
And look who else popped up:
It's only my old gaffer, Professor Cameron himself and his partner Ro, on a flying visit in the middle of hiking up the Andes (or possibly the Regent's Canal, it was all a bit busy so I may have misheard.)
Also lovely to see John Aggs and Laura Howell, who popped up over the course of the day as Special Unscheduled Bonus Guest Cartoonists and I think got roped into drawing some silliness too. My only regret from the day is that in all the brilliant craziness I completely failed to properly meet or buy any comics from Zoom Rockman, the 11-year-old cartoonist extraodinaire who was helping us out and who ran his own workshop on the day. Hopefully next time!
One of Jamie Smart's saner drawings from the day.
It was a really great day, such a brilliant concept and it worked out really well - the tables inside and outside the tent were buzzing all day, full of kids and parents and itinterant comics artists sitting around drawing, folding paper and busily making up adventures for Mermaid Superheroes who lived in Rubbish Dumps, and so forth. We had a giant pile of Phoenixes and SEVERAL giant piles of Awesome Comics Activity Sheets and stuff to give away, and they all disappeared rather quickly. At the risk of getting a bit gushy, I think this is a really exciting time for British comics, specifically British children's comics, and that is in huge part thanks to the brilliance, creativity and tireless hard work of people like Sarah, and Gary, and Jamie and Jamie and Nana and Dave and John and Laura, and it was just a huge honour to get to be a part of such a great day.
TEAM COMICS! (l-r: me, Nana Li, Sarah McIntyre, Gary Northfield, Jamie Littler, Jamie Smart, David O'Connell)
There was some post-Big-Top hanging out that was so much fun I, um, found it rather difficult to tear myself away, and so I didn't make it back to Oxford until Ridiculous O'Clock this morning, and between that and having been on my feet drawing robots all day I'm currently a bit brain-meltingly exhausted and generally awesomeness-punchdrunk. But I wanted to blog about this while it was all fresh, and say a huge thanks to everyone who came along and made it such a fun day, to my fellow artists for just being such a delightful bunch, and most of all to Sarah and Dave for organising such a fantastic day.
See, told you I was going to get gushy.