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ITS SHOW TIME
May is usually a crazy time because there’s the Annual Bristol Comic show plus there’s also London Expo at Excel in Docklands. I normally go to both and this year was no exception. We didn’t have a new TRIPWIRE out but we had a table with last year’s issue, some copies of Studio Space and a few other bitsnpieces. Bristol is a city that I always enjoy visiting: about 120 miles west of London, it has a really laidback and friendly vibe as a place. As you would expect, myself and Andy Colman stopped off on the way down. I had wanted to visit Stourhead for the last couple of years: it’s a Palladian house situated in the south of Wiltshire with world-famous gardens. We hit the most horrendous traffic a few miles from Stonehenge and were worried that we weren’t going to make it. But we did and it was spectacular. We didn’t go into the house but spent a couple of hours in the gardens and their reputation is well-deserved. They are well-kept, beautiful and serene and because it’s Spring, everything was blooming and flowering.The garden is packed with follies, buildings like temples that are created to make the gardens look more interesting, and from a photographic perspective, with the sunny weather we were lucky enough to encounter, it was a very enjoyable afternoon. It only took us just over an hour to reach Bristol, as we avoided the late afternoon traffic. The weekend was fun as ever as we got to catch up with people we don’t see often enough like Matt Badham, David Baillie, Baz Renshaw, David Morris and girlfriend Liz, Rob Williams, Paul Cornell and loads of others. I chaired a Marvel panel on the Sunday with the aforementioned Cornell, Williams plus Kieron Gillen and Neil Edwards, which seemed to go well. The weather held up for the whole weekend and we even managed to visit a few places on the Monday on the way back to London, including Clifton, Ashton Court (although the house was shut) and Victorian cemetery Arnos Vale, although I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting obsessed with cemeteries.
I’m going to save London Expo for Part Two of this post because that was a fairly packed weekend too. So here’s a few photos I took at Stourhead, in Bristol and in Arnos Vale and Clifton on Monday…

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN (PART ONE)
Last year in August I went down to see Dave Morris in Taunton in Somerset and I got to see the stone circle at Stanton Drew, the hill fort at South Cadbury and I popped into Wells on the way home. Because it was a very enjoyable trip, I thought I’d do something similar this year. It was a month later and September is the last month before the clocks go back that I could make such a long journey (long in English terms anyway: about 160 miles from London to Taunton a distance that I know some Americans commute:)). So I set off on Friday morning on the M4 motorway, the road that takes you West from London to the West Country and made it to Bristol around 1pm where I had lunch with my brother Matthew who lives in Clifton in Bristol (although he’s leaving there the beginning of next week). After I had lunch with him and his wife Sally, I drove a little way and left my car briefly at Clifton by the suspension bridge. I have visited the bridge before and I have taken photos there before but the light was great and it was en route to where I was going next, so I took some photos there. Then I got back in my car and drove over the bridge heading towards the M5, the motorway that goes west of Bristol, to Taunton and eventually to Exeter. I then drove to Portishead, which is west and a little north of the town centre and where the band of the same name come from. There’s only one single track road into the place and I almost came unstuck when I had a tractor coming towards me. I then met up with comic writer Rob Williams and we chatted about writing while wandering around the marina in Portishead. The weather was perfect: bright and a bit windy. So after spending a little time there, I got back in the car and drove through the northern bits of Bristol (Clevedon, Weston in Gordano) which was very interesting and then I came out on the M5 where I headed for Taunton. Here are some photos I took in Portishead and Clifton…
















AVON CALLING
So I said I’d put a post up about this year’s Bristol Comic Show. So here goes:
Last year’s show was fantastic for us. We had Studio Space, which launched at the show, plus Walter Simonson was over and he signed on our table with Dave Gibbons as did Dave Taylor. There were also a number of other US guests so the Commonwealth Museum was packed. One year on, the show is just in the Ramada, there are no American guests, we’re in a recession and we don’t have a new book out. The slimmed-down Bristol makes perfect sense in this current economic climate: people don’t have the money but it’s better to have something running. So Bristol Comic Expo 2009 was alright from a social point of view: I got to catch up with Dave Baillie, Baz Renshaw, David Morris, Jaspre Bark, Andy Winter, his mate Jamie Richards and a number of other people. I also got to see my brother, Matthew, who lives in Clifton and that’s always nice. On the sales side, we did okay (covered our costs). I didn’t go to any panels but I don’t usually do that anyway. We have supported Bristol since the first year and shall continue to do so but I am hoping that the economy will turn the corner and perhaps in 2011, Bristol may be able to build itself up again. Here are a few photos I took in Bristol over the weekend but not many at the actual show as we were behind the table most of the time…

















GO SOUTHWEST YOUNG MAN
Two weekends ago, I went down to Taunton to see Dave Morris and begin research on this Pagan Atlas of Great Britain that I’m planning with Andy Grossberg. It was a magnificent weekend: it started with me stopping off to see my brother in Clifton in Bristol and we had lunch together before I headed off to Taunton. The weather was pretty decent on the Friday and I really enjoyed seeing places I had never been to before. I’d never driven across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the other side of the bridge had places that I wanted to stop at but I couldn’t. On Saturday, we went to visit a stone circle at a place called Stanton Drew, about 7 miles from Bristol. It isn’t as impressive as Avebury and you have to use your imagination to see them as complete stone circles but it was still very interesting. There’s a small three stone circle called The Cove there which is now in a pub garden (!). Trying to get decent photos of the circle where they looked more than just bits of disconnected stone in a field was bloody hard and made me realise that this isn’t going to be an easy book to put together. But it kicked off my pagan research in a positive way. So here are some photos of Clifton and Stanton Drew. Posts on South Cadbury and Glastonbury to follow. By the way, this month celebrates my two-year anniversary on Blogger…






















GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART FOUR
Okay, so Bristol was over two weeks’ ago now but it’s been a crazy month what with the Studio Space book, trying to polish off the Annual and keeping up with my regular film-related writing (like the Indy review last week) so I’ve let this last part of my Bristol online diary slip. So the show went very well and on Monday morning, I crammed Louise and Walter Simonson into my Nissan Micra and we left the Ramada. I say crammed because my car had rather a lot of boxes in it from the weekend plus my bags and I had suggested they could grab a lift back with me to London because they were going back that way and so was I, so I thought it might have been fun. So we left Redcliffe in Bristol with Louise crushed in the back and Walter sitting with two boxes in the front and headed for Clifton, because I promised I would show them the suspension bridge, which I have only ever seen once and it was in Winter. The weather was perfect (crisp blue sky with sunshine) and so it seemed to be the ideal opportunity. We got to Clifton, met my brother briefly, who lives in Clifton and walked across the bridge and even went up to the Observatory and got a great view of the gorge.
I had planned to go to Salisbury because I had never seen Stonehenge or the Cathedral there but I decided instead to take Walt and Weezie to Bradford-on-Avon, where my friend Jaspre and his partner Ronnie and their two daughters live. Bradford is a great place and people don’t seem to know about it, unlike Bath, so it’s pretty quiet. So I made our way to Bradford, getting slightly lost and driving through Bath but we made it just after lunch and met Jaspre, who took us on a walking tour of the place, up through an area called the Tory, which is located above Bradford-on-Avon, past a Saxon church, a tithe barn and to lunch by the canalside. I have visited Bradford a couple of times before but hadn’t seen this bit so that was a lot of fun. Jaspre, Walt and Weezie also seemed to hit it off, which was good. Then, leaving Bradford at 5.15pm, we headed towards Avebury, and the way there I pointed out the White Horse at Cherhill to the Simonsons. So we stopped at Avebury where the weather had gotten a little cloudy but we still had a bit of a wander around the standing stones as Walter remembered the place fondly from when he was last over here. The rape seed fields look like they have been added in in Photoshop and it is a really fantastic place. No wonder Julian Cope likes it. So we left Avebury and ended up in Marlborough in Wiltshire for dinner, which we left after eating and continued the circuitous route back to London. I had to drop them off at Egham, a place I am not familiar with, so we got lost and their friend Richard Burton had to come and find us. So I eventually left the Simonsons at Richard’s house at about 11.45pm and then didn’t get home until 1am because I got lost in Egham trying to find the motorway again. So that is the end of my epic Monday after Bristol but I really enjoyed the day as Walt and Weezie are great company and I enjoyed showing them places they didn’t know and wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. Here is a selection of photos from that day including lots of Clifton, Bradford-on-Avon and one of Avebury…









GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART THREE
Sunday at Bristol was a great day for us as we had Dave Gibbons, Walter Simonson and Dave Taylor all signed on the table so we had a fantastic turnout and sold lots of the book. Dave Taylor is an exceptionally nice bloke and he has a very cute daughter (whose name I don’t remember). Before the show, me and Gary took a wander by the canal at Bristol and I took some great shots. The day passed quickly and we packed up the table, having had a great weekend and Gary headed back to Winchester. In the evening, I went for dinner with Dave Morris, his friend Pat, Misako Rocks and Sean Wilson’s friend Akiko and we went to the Spyglass, the restaurant on the boat in Bristol. It was a very relaxing end to the weekend. So here are a few photos of the canalside at Bristol including some nice crane shots, photos from the Sunday including Walter and Dave Gibbons signing, Dave Taylor signing (apologies for getting the side of Dave) and the Bristol canalside at night. Part Four (where I recount our mammoth trip back to London with Walter and Louise Simonson squeezed into my tiny car) will be up over the weekend but first my Indiana Jones review up on Thursday…











GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART ONE
So as promised, here is part one of my posts about this year’s Bristol Comic Expo. Bristol is one of the highlights of the British comic calendar: Mike Allwood and David Morris have transformed the show into a decent weekend with lots to see and do and a good selection of American guests. Last year was a fun trip but the weather was pretty showery but this year we have had a mini heatwave so it was sunny when we left London on Friday morning. My mate Andy Colman came with me. We took the M4 motorway and had hoped to stop at Bath to have a wander around and chase a couple of invoices that were long overdue from one of the magazines I work for but unfortunately the traffic leading into Bath was so huge that we decided to head straight to Bristol and set up. So we met my brother Matthew, who had the copies of Studio Space, and we cracked open the box on Friday at 4.30pm. Feeling slightly nervous (after four years of waiting), we opened them up and were knocked out by the quality of them. So myself, Andy, Gary Marshall and my brother went for dinner to celebrate at the Shed Severn round the corner on the canal. So here are some photos from the first day of the show with the hall, Gary and Andy at the table, Barry Kitson and Mike McKone signing, Sean Michael Wilson of Boychild, stormtroopers inside the Commonwealth, Gary showing off a copy of the book, my friend David Baillie, the hall, stormtroopers outside the venue, a slightly drunk Jock and Frazer Irving. I’ll be putting up a report of Saturday’s activities over the next day or so and then something on Sunday and finally a visual account of my rather circuitous trip home with Walt and Louise Simonson on the Monday…




FOUR YEARS IN THE MAKING
After four years (which is how long it’s taken since we first started hawking it around, doing the interviews, getting it picked up, dropped and picked up by another publisher) Studio Space goes to the printers this weekend. So myself and Gary can breathe a collective sigh of relief. What’s also exciting is the fact that we have a number of signings confirmed to support the book. The first one will be at Bristol in a month where we’ll have a limited amount of copies of the paperback, which visitors to the show can get signed by Walt Simonson, Duncan Fegredo, Sean Phillips, Dave Gibbons, Bryan Talbot and Dave Taylor. Bristol from 10th to 11th May will be the first place anywhere in the world that you will be able to buy the book. So here are a few more pages from a couple of the chapters…