Saturday 23 October 2010

Brummy Little Robot

The Geek Laureate, brandishing his copy of Demon Tomato #2.

After a long while locked to our desks with the drawings equivalent of an inbox stacked so high it genuinely kept spilling over, Abby and I got a chance to do something else last weekend.

The end of work on issue three being tantalisingly nigh, I'm starting to see anything that threatens to distract or prevent me from working on it as The Enemy. At the moment this includes, but is not limited to, literally everything that the world has ever contained. For that reason I was reluctant when I learned it was time to put down the pens and spend a weekend at the British International Comics Show in Birmingham, one of the larger comic conventions I tend to attend. But Abby - that is, the other Dumpy Little Robot - talked me into it, and I'm very pleased she did, because I was completely wrong and it was brilliant.

It turned out to be a veritable BOX OF MATES. Lovely people were scurrying about on all sides like marching ants, but instead of carrying leaves and microchips, they were carrying friendliness, yeah? But I didn't get pictures of them all, and I bet pictures are what you want after three sraight paragraphs of nothing but words, so I'll return to the people in a bit. First, some things I can actually palpably SHOW you.

So, there we are behind the Dumpy Little Robot table. It's the first time we've had a table to ourselves at BICS, having previously shared with the Manchester Comix Collective, a great bunch of megadudes, some of whose comics you may well already read. This time, though, it was all-Dumpy all-day, and we'd brought along our full range of thingies. I don't have a photo of just the table with stuff on it, so just squint at it in the photo above. If it helps, this is what some of it looks like when it isn't on a table at a convention:

A box of BICS bits, a box of mixed BICS bits and a BICS bit mixer
First off, we had both issues of the Demon Tomato stacked up in the middle, and surrounding them was a line of little cards depicting, at a sweep of the gaze, all the prints we had available in our very special laminated doodlebooks. Here at the Demon Tomato blog, we like to minimise your risk of boredom, so here are the best-recieved pictures from our selection ONLY:

Firstly a coloured sketch drawn by Abby during a week where she drew a different ninja each day. This little chap became a bit of a talking point, as lots of people stopped to loudly recognise Zool, the Ninja from the Nth Dimension. Only one or two seemed to realise he was an Amiga thing though, everyone else thought he was a Megadrive thing.

Some sweet cats from me and some sweet moves from Abby. On the left, a nice picture of cats taken from Demon Tomato #2. On the right, Garrus, from Mass Effect, doing his most funkyfresh moves.

There were lots of pictures that aren't from video games, but sometimes you have to give the internet what it wants. You might find the rest at the Dumpy Little Gallery.

We also had lots of lovely badges:

Including such designs as these:

If you don't have any of these badges - particularly the CYBORG GHOST one, then important parts of your life are being denied you. Come and see us at Thought Bubble to right this terrible wrong.

As well as all that, some Christmas cards, and a dingable bell, we had Abby, whose live custom sketches were our best seller (and best thing). The story of Deadpool Riding Things is told on her blog, but you may not yet have seen the epic final picture. You can see what Deadpool rode last by clicking his glum face, if you can stand it:

More of this sort of silliness to come at Thought Bubble next month.

By the way, that's the next time you can come and see us do this sort of thing. Thought Bubble in Leeds, on Saturday the 20th of November. So, if any of this is at all to your liking, we'll see you there.

Now then! Back to those nice people. One of the key things about a good comic con is that you end up meeting plenty of top people, on either side of the table. The problem with me is that... one of the various problems with me is that I can never be made to remember anybody's name the first time I meet them, so if I haven't mentioned you here, it's probably because I forgot your name rather than you, and you should get in touch immediately to remind me.

First of all, a great big "hello again!" to our pal from the first time we attended BICS, an endlessly polite and pleasant girl operating under the name of "Noodle," who is rather important to us as she was the first child comics-reader who actually came and bought her very own Demon Tomato in person. Not only that but we've seen her and her family every year since, in which time she has grown from a tiny little girl into a towering megagiant. Well, maybe not a MEGAgiant exactly, but there's a definite height increase there. Seriously though, the whole family seems to be exactly as nice as can be, as nice as a smiling marshmallow in a wooly hat, or something. This time we met one of Noodle's older brothers for the first time, and he too was a beacon of friendliness and politeness despite being both a teenager of some description and with his friends. Didn't even have his parents in view at the time, so you know he wasn't just putting it on. What a lovely bunch! See you all next year!

So, here are lots more people we met, whose online things you might enjoy:

On our left (and behind us for easy nattering), Scott Stanford and Catherine Someone (I'm not sure I asked) with "Dorothy - The Darker Side of Oz." It's a novel, with occasional illustrations by someone with a tremendous name, something like Trumble. You should consider reading it if you like the idea of dark, twisty versions of classic Wonderland-type stories but are (like me) left cold by Tim Burton's recent offerings and are curious to see someone actually doing the sort of thing you imagined back when there were those rumours about Marilyn Manson as Willy Wonka. Remember that? Remember the crazy gothic-horror Chocolate Factory you imagined back then? Well, now imagine the film that you imagined actually got made, except imagine instead of a film it's a book, and instead of Willy Wonka it's Oz. Strictly not for kids, this is a version of the story more twisted even than that last analogy was. Scott and Catherine, on the other hand, don't seem to be evil or twisted at all, and are safe to approach if you see them at a convention.

To our right, Jenna Whyte and her friend Someone (this particular someone having been very understanding when I explained I can never remember anyone's name at these things, but that she should tell me anyway and I'd try very hard to remember it, which she did, and I did, and now look where it's got us.) They had a number of rather fancy prints for sale of images painted by Jenna - whether digitally or classically I don't know, you'll have to ask her when you click this to go and see the pictures. They are of fancy ladies posed fancily - Jenna assures us that when they are joined by men, those men will be massive.

Speaking of men, here are some. They are: in the foreground, Jason Cobley, he who do "Bulldog," a comic character he's kept alive and proudly indy for something like twenty blimmin' years. Can you say you've done that? If not, go and look at his website by clicking his name just there. If so, you should probably arrange some sort of battle. And in the distance, talking to me, is Neill Cameron, him of Mo-Bot High, which subscribers to the DFC will remember from its first issues. What he's talking to me about in that photo, incidentally, is the fact that Finn, his son, who sat with him for all of Sunday and inexhaustibly pitched the premise and proclaimed the brilliance of the Mo-Bot High book to all passers-by until it got to the point where Neill had in fact sold every copy he brought with him... was not, in fact, his son at all. He was a kid who'd just sort-of turned up, and started pitching and proclaiming. Finn was brills, and more can be read of his exploits here and, presumably, elsewhere.

By the way, although he wasn't strictly a behind-tabler, the chap standing behind me in the photo with the colourful shirt on is Thermobaric Tom, friend to all and accidental organiser of things, who kindly drove us to Birmingham and provided Gentleman Rhymes and feed on the way. His was also the nerdy card game which I'm going to mention in a few paragraphs' time, so STAY TUNED FOR THAT!!!!!!!

Our table was one of a ring of tables, the interior of which wasn't enormous, so a lot of bustling-about was done back there and we ended up bumping into some people from the far corner.

Pictured here being slightly epic is Adam Davies, a man. He was roving about the place being friendly and helpful like it was his job, which, if the "Minion" badge he was wearing was any indication, it possibly was. All encounters with Adam were the height of pleasant. I drew him, Horatio:

The person whose minion he probably was came bounding along from time to time, with the energy of a human powerball that's delighted to be talking to you. I'd met her at a previous con but not asked for her name, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be "Loo," something I'm quite sure I've never known anyone to be called before. Imagine my "ohhh okay" when I realised it was actually "Lou,"* and that it was short for Louise Ho, and so Louiseward-Ho you should go, to look at her pointy people pictures. She's got skills coming out of her skills.

* Disclaimer: For all I know, she might spell it "Loo." Don't be takin' my word for nutt'n.

Adam, incidentally, went a-minioning over at another table at one point, off to our left and a distance away. I went over and chatted to the lady at the table there with him, who turned out to be both nice and familiar, so in an effort to remember why, I picked up one of the comic anthologies from her table and dropped it on the floor. That didn't work, so I sat back down, but later on, after she'd come over and bought a badge or something, I realised why all this was so familiar. It was from a previous year's BICS, when their table was several along from ours, and I chatted to them about an anthology they had with some sort of green blob on the front. I think I bought it as well. Anyway, if you're any of the people from that table, do fill me in on your names and the names of your wares, and I'll edit them in here for massive plugz.

Next there's our old pal Jess Bradley, whose name you should click at once, because she's drawn such fun little doodly people you won't believe it. She's always a highlight, and seems generally to be at whatever cons I'm also at, so for all I know she's at all of them, and should be looked for in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places. She sometimes draws T-Shirts for Genki Gear, and why, it just so happens we were staying in the same hotel as our friend Lydia, the Genki who was present at BICS. Always go and see the Genkis when they're about. Normally when you buy T-Shirts you like, you have to get them from angry megacorporations, but with Genki you get them from dudey people who are right there, smiling at you and available for fun and sun and goodness in the jungle. Team Dumpy spent Friday night, for instance, playing that nerdy card game I mentioned before with Lydia, until it was Saturday. Friendly + Jess's designs, what the bleems else are you looking for in a T-Shirt, for heck's sake?

"No, Dave! Stop! I don't care about who you met!" Shush-up. Here are more:

Lew Stringer popped over, which is a very agreeable thing to happen. Lew is a long-time UK Comics Guy, having kept himself ubiquitous in the world of British cartooning for almost all of my life, and whose comics I grew up on, both with and without my knowledge, depending on the title I was reading at the time. Remember Tom Thug? I knew he did that, what I didn't know until I googled just now was that he also did Pete's Pimple. By a genuine coincidence, I only just discovered some drawings of Pete that I did as a kid, along with plans for some sort of comic involving him and a few of my own characters who are due to start appearing in Demon Tomato soon. Look at this, Lew:
 My favourite bit of this plan is the part where "his nose hits the it."

And not long later, Nigel Dobbyn, whose work appeared alongside Lew's in things I read while being only a few years older than good old Noodle, came over to see us. Nigel's a drawer and painter of pretty comics and things, and you should ask to see his sketches of aliens when you next see him, they're excellent and bulge-off into all sorts of interesting shapes. If you don't know what Nigel looks like in order to ask him this, click his name just there and you'll see a picture of his head. (It really is made of space. That helps to identify him.) A quick tip: As well as remembering his face, remember to remember whose face it is. A couple of years ago I made the mistake of remembering his face and knowing very well who Nigel Dobbyn is, but not knowing those two people were the same person, which lead to me confusedly just straight-out asking him why I knew him. I have no qualms about doing this to people in public, but you may have, so now's your chance to safeguard against it. Anyway, upon going over to Nigel's table, I learned that a girl who had come and looked at (and possibly bought, I can't remember) our badges was actually his daughter, whose name is Someone. Possibly Megan? Sorry if I got that wrong, Megan. I'm still calling you Megan in that previous sentence though even if I did, so there. And that one.

Several delegates from the land of our old pal Ian Mayor were present, though not Ian himself, sadly, being busy at home with the kind of job that keeps you occupied outside hours, not to mention the kind of home-cooking that takes the whole weekend just to describe adequately. His friends made for a worthy substitute though, and while there were at least four or five of them altogether, I'm afraid I only have the names and faces of these two to present to you at present, Paul and Britt, pictured here in a photo pinched (like many of these) from Abby's blog, in which Britt holds up one of Abby's sketches. I didn't really keep track, but if Britt went home with this one, that means they both had one by the end of the day. I'm talking about drawings.

Now then! I'm trying to remember the weekend in order, so it is by sheer dint of chronology that we reach the marvellous Lizz Lunney and Someone Called Darren so late in this blog post. I know you've clicked a lot of things already, but for flip's sake don't rob yourself of a visit to Lizz's place, because her comics and drawings are positively fizzy and make me do loud sounds when I read them. I don't have a link for Darren, but I'll gladly add one here if he'd like to provide one, because he was equally badical. Lizz can actually be seen inside the back cover of Demon Tomato #2, sitting with me behind our shared table a couple of BICSes ago. She now has a new dangle of hair, so the photo's out of date now, but I bet you can find it if you look through some of my older posts.

You may have noticed that I'm still typing. Yeah, so? It's my blog, I can do what I like.

Then there were the people who I managed to have a little word with, but not a very long one, with whom longer words will have to be had when next I see them. Geoff and Someone from Fetishman were the focus of our brief glance into the main hall. I don't know much about these chaps but they come with a good reference and gave us a good chatting-with. Fetishman facts: Geoff pours his tea out of a magic lamp, and can tell you something quite haunting about a stage show he more than once attended. Legacy Comics is a comic shop in (we think) Halifax run by a chap called Simon who has enthusiasm to spare for our silly little drawings, and this time commissioned a sketch from Abby. Sadly I don't yet know Den Patrick, the kid-with-a-beard, quite as well as Abby does, but he's a friend of the Dumpy. He's a professional sort of a dude who works in the editing and lettering of comics, and has a little something in the pipeline that you ought to go and check out. We were gutted that we didn't get chance to have a real chat with the Etherington Brothers until the very end, but that might be just as well, because once you're chatting to those guys you don't tend to want to stop. These chaps are so lively and friendly that it becomes a point of conversation with anyone else you meet who has talked to them. On top of that they're damn good at comics, and I don't know why you're reading this instead of their stuff right now. Josh (just Josh) was over by the window and popped over to talk a few times, bringing with him good ideas like raffles (one of which I believe Adam from earlier actually won).  He had dedicated all the money he would have spent on silly frivolities at university to purchasing a great huge giant Cintiq, which he had bravely set up so that it looked out over passers-by. You couldn't miss it, it really was large and shiny. Want. Yeah, I just described this man by his most expensive posession. If that makes me shallow, then [ADD MORE SENTENCE]

We also had a nice chat about Lost with a lady called Lynsey Hutchinson, who looks a bit grumpy there but isn't (at least when talking about Ben from Lost). She had a folder of delights, and even though we hadn't previously met or anything, I recognised at least two pictures inside it, a Derren Brown one and another one that I can't remember now, possibly Doctor Who related, but then that's a fairly good guess at something like BICS, isn't it. And then we met two blokes from Solecreator, who had invented a machine that draws on shoes. Seriously, they haven't just bought one, they actually invented it. Go to their website and they'll let you use it.

Oh, and unfortunately I don't have a name or a link for the lady who did a double-take and came skidding back to our table when she saw my print of Karl Pilkington. A dedicated fellow Pilkingtonian, her collection is as big as ours, having all the old XFM shows etc. Those things really help if you've got a long drawing project on, so I recommend them strongly. She had to whizz off before we could find out who she was, I think she was involved with the filming that was going on in the other room.

And if you've sat through all THAT, then I think you should go away at once and do something really worthwhile for an hour or so, just to make up for it. You may have noticed that I only really mentioned people, rather than events that happened during the day - that's because I sat still behind the desk all day and attended not one of the arranged activities, sorry about that. But most of the people mentioned above have things they'd like to show you, so make sure you follow the various links. The point is, we had a fantastic time, and sent more people away with our things than ever before. If you're one of those people and hadn't heard of us before now, then you're the best and I'm waving at you through the screen. Hello! Don't go away, we've got new comics coming really soon!

See you all at Thought Bubble hopefully. In closing, here's this again:

I didn't even have to really pester Mr Ross much in order to get this photo.

Dumpy Little Demon Tomato

Wow! It's been a fair while hasn't it. You'd be forgiven for shaking me about and asking just who I think I am for spending so long not talking to you. But there comes a time when you realise that writing about your comic is all well and good, but if there's no new issue on the horizon then you should sometimes shut up and make one.

So that's what I've been doing! You're looking at a harvest of newly sun-ripened Demon Tomato #3, pressed onto the purest board in all of Bristol and ready for transfer to a computer, the majority of it having already been so transferred. As a result, you'll be seeing a third issue of my comic very soon, preferably in time for Thought Bubble in Leeds next month, but if this last year has been any indication of anything at all then I shouldn't make silly promises like that.

The past year, in case you were bereft of anything else to wonder, has been a bit of a freefall into having to do things for us at Dumpy Little Robot. (That's myself and Abby Ryder, in case you didn't know, now presenting ourselves at comic conventions under a name borrowed from Demon Tomato #2 - more on the subject of conventions later.) On the brief occasions when it wasn't work this year, it was other appointments with the unavoidable, and so the going has been slow on issue three. Which is to say, it's been faster than ever before, but there's been more of it, so it's been about the same. That's due to be changed when I begin issue four... but that's for another update.

For now, all you need to know is that Demon Tomato #3 is going to be pretty downright wickular, and it's going to be it fairly soon.