The last two weekends have been a bit hectic for Team Footloose. Convention season was upon us, and Em and I attended London Film and Comic Con on 11th-13th July, followed by Manchester MCM on 19th-20th. (All right, two conventions doesn’t really count as a “season”, but if you’ve ever been an introvert doing sales for two solid weekends in a row, you’ll know that it feels like a cross between an endurance test and some kind of trial of worthiness).
Conventions are great fun, but Batman above, they are busy. I could do an entire round-up blog about the two weekends, but it would be approximately the length of War and Peace, and a big chunk of it would be rather repetitive accounts of Em and I trying to persuade disinterested strangers to give shoe-chucking faeries a chance. So, instead, I’ll do a round-up of the highlights.
Unlike most cons, LFCC has a policy that all exhibitors must be present on the Friday night. This is great for bigger dealers, but Team Footloose never usually sells much on preview nights – and because we’d arrived so early, we had a big chunk of time between finishing set-up and the show opening. What’s a pair of comic creators to do? Go to the pub with the rest of the indie comics crowd, that’s what. By the time we got back to the hall for the evening opening, Em and I weren’t especially bothered that we weren’t going to make many sales.
The next day initially didn’t go much better as far as sales were concerned – our table was upstairs in Brompton Hall, which made it pretty difficult to find, and a lot of the punters were there for Stan Lee or the Game of Thrones cast rather than indie comics. Because it was relatively quiet, I went out hunting authors. I knew that Gail Simone was going to be there, and I was hoping to see Malorie Blackman at the adjoining Young Adult Literature Convention.
Sometimes I’m okay with meeting people whose work I really like. I managed not to gush too much over Dara O Briain, Terry Pratchett or Robert Rankin. I did geek out a bit at Jennie Breeden when I met her at Wizard World Chicago several years ago. It hinges on whether or not I’ve managed to mentally prepare myself enough for meeting them.
When it came to meeting Gail Simone, I was, to quote Mark Oshiro, NOT PREPARED. Instead, I turned a corner, found her table, and proceeded to figuratively explode and shower her in fangirlish confetti. She was very kind in the face of my high-pitched babbling, and accepted the picture I’d drawn her with good grace, rather than asking “Are you five?” (something I was asking myself).
I did a little better at meeting Malorie Blackman. I managed to arrange my words into something vaguely resembling sentences, at least. I think I was still the least mature of the fans surrounding her, which was a bit sad, as the others were genuinely about eight years old. I drew her a picture, too- her as the Wicked Witch of the West, the costume she wore for a photo shoot at The Story Museum. I like to think that I’m adorable rather than unsettling.
As I mentioned, LFCC had a lot of high-profile guests. The advantage to being up in Brompton Hall was that this was where Stan Lee was doing his talks. People were queuing up for hours and paying a great deal of money to get in, but Em and I discovered that, if we stood on our chairs and peered across the hall, we could just about see a tiny figure on a distant stage who was the great man himself. So, we saw Stan Lee in real life. We may not have seen any of his actual human features, but it still counts.
Standing on a chair and peering across the hall didn’t always have such a wonderful result. During the cosplay masquerade, the speakers started playing a striptease tune. I stood on my chair to see what was going on – for purely academic reasons, you understand. I saw The Penguin stripping. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.
(This is the amount of booze I needed to wash the memories away. In this reconstruction, Ally is played by Matt Dyson.)
Manchester MCM was much less crowded than LFCC (although from what I heard, the queues outside got just as long). We stayed with our friend Tea, an honorary member of Team Footloose who often joins us at conventions, and tried to make friends with her extremely shy cats. (Em had a bit of success. I was apparently the devil).
Manchester was particularly good fun, because we were sat next to two of our favourite indie comics people, Matt Dyson and Rob Cureton. This led to what can only be described as ‘wacky hijinks’. At one point, when Rob had nipped out for a moment, Matt drew a dick on a piece of masking tape and stuck it to one of his books. This was absolutely not at the instigation of Tea and myself. It was entirely his idea. We had nothing to do with it at all.
The crowd was great at Manchester, too. We always see brilliant cosplayers and meet interesting people at conventions (interesting in the sense of great fun to speak to, and interesting in the sense of “…interesting”), but this time, there seemed to be more than usual. There were some fantastic Game of Thrones cosplayers, including the full Rainbow Guard, and at one point, Zarina from The Pirate Fairy ran up, grabbed our pirate pants and shouted “These must be for me!”
My favourite person, though, wasn’t in a costume. This was a very little girl who walked past our table, in full tantrum mode, screaming “I’M NOT AWESOME! I AM NOT AWESOME!” Sorry, kid, but you really were.
After two strange, exhausting and action-packed weekends, this weekend is feeling a little empty. This is the sad by-product of getting involved in indie comics and going to conventions – the atmosphere is so great, and the people you meet so much fun, that getting back to the real world can feel like a come-down. Luckily, we only have a little while until the autumn and winter conventions start up. I can’t wait. And this time, I will be prepared.
(To the untrained eye, this looks like duckface, but the untrained eye is wrong. This is the face of a woman who is ready for anything.)
Ally’s books are available at Amazon and Smashwords. She also writes a webcomic, Footloose, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady. Chat to Ally about comics, food and feminism on Twitter, or look for writing updates on Facebook.