Red, White & Blue issue 1 and Camcon

All the way back in May 2011, I decided to ‘retrospectively’ ask IPC for permission to use Sexton Blake in my Red, White & Blue comic, and got turned down! So I decided to re-launch the comic, now with a new detective called Norman Saxon, and three black and white serial comics instead of two. The initially-planned release date for the new issue 1 was July, then September. Then February 2012, and then “Camcon 2012”, which was held on the 12th of may. I was up until 1 in the morning the night before printing and stapling! This in spite of the fact 10 of the 15 comic pages had already been drawn. I’m still hoping to make the comic bi-monthly eventually, though. Mind you only the first issue has a 25,000-odd word article about the history of British comics in it, which took “a while” to do (and still has a few mistakes – see under the History tab!).

So what does the finished product look like? Well I’d already posted the cover design on here, but the final has been altered slightly – mainly to “double date” it (I wish it had ‘only’ taken those four months to produce) and also to point out not every issue will have 40 pages!

camconr01.jpg

Same price as the old 24 pagers, though!

The two serial strips from the old version have returned. The first parts of them have been re-scanned and the script has been altered slightly. I’d actually intended to re-draw a few of the worst panels, but didn’t get time in the end. Oh I also added unobtrusive “previously published” labels – more as an excuse than anything, it’s not like many people ever saw them the first time around!

camconr02.jpg

I’m planning several “fictional people in real events” stories to make the comic “educational”. Including the Falklands War, Taisho / Showa-era Japan and the Great Storm of 1987.

Joining the two old strips is a new one – The Gun. It’s actually based on my  “first” (not really, but the actual first one made no sense at all) adventure comic, which I created from the ages of about 11-15. In the old version the world has been randomly carved up into two weirdly-named armies, who are fighting World War 3 (in the vein of all those war toys with “goodies” and “baddies” from no specific country). The new version is, of course, more realistic.

Oh wait, no it isn’t! Instead a huge, brainwashing cult has captured a huge territory stretching from Zimbabwe to western China, and is now aiming to take over Europe, Russia, the Arabian Peninsula, China and Korea. No doubt certain people will take the concept of a “huge, brainwashing cult” centered around the Middle East threatening the world the wrong way. But actually the enemy are going to be more based on that sort of smug, ivory-tower, “this is the correct way to live, you uneducated plebs” person, than on Muslims (who are not all the same anyway, if you’d bother to spend 5 minutes wiki’ing it). The first part of the story just introduces the main character and explains how the war starts – the enemy are called Intersoc, and have been inspired by Eurosoc, an orwellian dictatorship that briefly takes over the EU. World War 3 in this story is fought more like World War 2, but with jet planes and cooler tanks. The lack of nuclear weapons blowing everybody back to a radioactive stone age in 10 minutes is explained away unconvincingly – but if you want to read that, buy the comic!

camconr03.jpg

There will be an Etsy shop eventually. OR I may syrup-ticiously have a small quantity on sale at the Saturday of this year’s May MCM.

Of course, the main attraction of the comic is the complete detective story in each issue. The first one is around 11,500 words long and introduces Norman Saxon. The early continuity of Sexton Blake (in fact, quite a bit of the later continuity too!) was very confused and contradictory. As I’m coming up with a new character, I have given him a solidly-defined age, house, assistant and skill set right from the start! My old Sexton Blake stories jumped around, ranging from 1900 to 2007. Norman Saxon, though, is going to be firmly set in the Victorian / Edwardian period. The first two RWB stories are set in 1900. The first Trident story will be set in 1899.

camconr04.jpg

I think I need to work on scene composition

And, of course, there is that article! The version currently available under the History tab is version 2, the print version is actually version 2.1 – it has a few minor spelling and grammar corrections. There are a few others required, though. The next online version will be 2.2 – and will also contain pictures! The only picture in the printed version is the title. The aim of the article is to give the readers (who will mainly be at these conventions for US / Japanese comics) a new enthusiasm for British comics, and so it is a bit biased and ‘fluffy’. That said I took care to make sure all the facts were correct, and certainly avoided “the Dandy was the first British comic with speech balloons”-type waffle.

camconr05.jpg

In the far future an absolutely corrected version may be printed as a book with lots of colour pictures and sold seperately.

Oh and the back page contains profiles of the characters in the RWB, both in the current issue and those coming in the near future. That’s near future issue numbers-wise anyway!

camconr06.jpg

Hopefully by the time I get to the football story I’ll be a bit better at drawing distinctive faces!

With the comics printed and packed (and my huge stack of Roy of the Rovers sorted out, finally), it was time to pack and sleep. I even got everything into one case!

camconr07.jpg

It weighed a bit.

I’d also been attempting to record a Camcon video diary, but have scrapped it for two reasons. One, when I’m “talking to myself” (or machinery) my voice goes even more high pitched and pathetic than it already is. Two, I blu-tacked the camera to the dashboard of my car and made several ‘amusing’ comments during the journey, but I’d forgot there was a delay before it started recording, so all of those clips were of me turning the camera off again! I decided to just quit while I was ahead.

In the spirit of promoting British adventure comics, I also decided to create my own T-shirt with a Phoenix reference. I also took the latest issue and showed it to a few people on the day. Conveniently my 1p comics (always a draw, once you tell people the price) and the latest Phoenix both have rampaging dinosaurs on the covers! So let’s hope the guys and gals in Oxford have a few more subscribers before long.

camconr08.jpg

I’ll wear it at the MCM later this month too!

I’ve never been one for Cosplay, though I’ve since had a few cool ideas that might not be too difficult to make. But promoting The Phoenix comes first!

Anyway, having arrived at the venue decently on time (fortunately some horrible roadworks right in the middle of Cambridge have now been finished) I went around and started to get set up. As well as RWB issue 1 I also had the only issue of my old Scum Slaughter comic and a couple of 1p comics. I needed some “padding” so took various duplicates from my collection, including a load of 80’s Roy of the Rovers, and some older Union Jacks. Also a couple of volumes of The Windsor Magazine, a Victorian Strandalike. A few people had a look at them but didn’t buy them – far too heavy!

camconr09.jpg

The only picture I took at the con proper. The table closest to the camera was for an enigmatic “Cielia” who never turned up XD.

As you can see, the room was rather small, and so the walkways were very narrow. The tables were extremely close together, me and the girl behind me kind of had to take turns sitting down because we couldn’t both do it at once XD. But then again I prefer to stand up at these sort of events, you can engage the customers on the same level. Some “general anime memorabilia” merchants were next to me, and appear to have booked “back to back” tables so they could sell to people passing on either side of them.

As I didn’t have quite so much stuff I was set up in only a few minutes. I decided to start drawing some better signs for my table, though only got one of them partly done before the doors opened. I didn’t exactly have a decent range of pens either! It’s Cambi, the Camcon mascot, with Britannia fighting off clutching zombie hands. Or would be If i’d had time to draw them. I also forgot Cambi’s glasses and boots.

camconr10.jpg

 Next time I’ll make the effort and watercolour up something proper

The con was underway! And as usual I got generally ignored XD. A few, ahem, “older” guys came to the table. attracted by the Roy of the Rovers’s. But in the end I only sold 3 RWB’s, 1 Scum Slaughter (the guy loved the look of it, wonder what he thinks now?), 2 penny comics and a couple of secondhand items. Oddly I assumed the really old ones would go like hot cakes but they didn’t sell at all, I did dispose of a Union Jack from 1932, though.

I was opposite Sweatdrop Studios, which is not the best place for an obscure comic to be! Their table(s) were mega-busy virtually all the time. Still in a quiet period Emma Vieceli did actually realise who I was from some odds and ends I’d posted on thier forum XD. I was also able to collar a Thai girl who I’d previously been talking to (along with other Sweatdrop members Sonia Leong and Morag Lewis) at the previous week’s Hanami Exhibition. She’s interested in the history of the comics of all nations, and so I was able to sell her an 80’s Roy of the Rovers. I bet “I sold a Thai girl an 80’s Roy of the Rovers” is a googlewhack and a half. She later came back to ‘complain’ that it was full of football stories XD. But I was able to persuade her to part with hard-earned money for a certain other publication with a big article about comic history in it.

Other amusing incidents include some old guy who asked me how long I’d been interested in “manga” and didn’t seem impressed with the answer of “since May 2009, and I only read one!”. Some other guy also bought an RWB off me but then seeded my table with a load of leaflets for a tabletop RPG convention. I quietly shifted them before I had people coming and asking me about it XD. Also saw a few people from my Japanese classes, but didn’t sell anything to them. They were well-warned in advance!

The room was cold in the morning, but later in the day I discovered the painful way that one whole side of it was made of thick glass – it was like an oven! At least I wasn’t facing the window, I felt sorry for those guys. As time went on the number of visitors dwindled away and I went on a buying run of my own. I didn’t get much as there was a “last flicker of the candle” rush of people just as I’d extricated myself from behind the tables XD.

 camconr11.jpg

The 9th Art book I actually got for free, it’s a regular(ish) anthology of comics creators from Cambridge and Oxford. I doubt they’d like what I’d send them, though! “White Violet” is one of Sweatdrop’s most interesting sounding comics, but one I’d somehow not bought until now. Vampire Freestyle is an adorable and amusing series by Jenika Ioffreda, who is insanely dedicated and attends ALL the cons! Even otherwise-unrelated craft fairs and goth conventions XD. I’ll do a proper review of the series one day. Sidekick appears to be a series of comics in which the main character keeps jumping genre (and mocking them). In the first one it’s a slice-of-life type story, but in another issue he finds himself in a sci fi space battle. A western looks to be on the cards too! Also there’s Fantasy World, which I’ve barely looked at (good, clean art though), a Sonic sketch and the conbook. The conbook also contains a short strip and a one-page cartoon about comic collecting, by me! There’s a few other bits of incidental art and loads of little Cambi designs.

camconr12.jpg

Oh and I got kitty/squirrel ears. They make my own ears look even bigger!

After the con closed down there was a break of an hour or so, in which I took my case back to the car (that was fun, I had to drive out of the space, chuck the case in, and then park again – in a multi storey! Lucky it wasn’t busy). After that I ate, did a bit of drawing on a big roll of paper, saw some other friends and watched a little anime in the tiny, boiling hot screening room. I don’t normally like anime but, well, there was nothing else going on. Also Dominion Tank Police has entered my “must watch” list. It’s cheesier than Space Mutiny!

Later on there was some singing and that. Zonic, aka Ziggy Newman, the organiser of the con, performed some of her own songs. Some of these involve putting words to music from the Sonic the Hedgehog games! Then the Cambridge-based clubnight Psychocandy rounded off the night with a load of geeky music including club remixes of the Nyan Cat music, a metal version of the Ghostbusters theme, Twilight by ELO and of course The Timewarp XD. Didn’t hear the Mandelbrot Set song, but you can’t have everything, eh?