We at the Fleece Station studio were hugely excited and caught the train up to Oxford to celebrate at the official launch party at Oxford's Story Museum. Oh, and there is a pigeon on my head because Cooey the Pigeon, the feathered friend of my studio mate, insisted on coming along, too. Here, Ms Deadly Knitshade peruses The Phoenix section in The Times.
In the back cover of The Phoenix, there's a trailer image for fellow Fleece Officer Gary Northfield's upcoming comic strip, Gary's Garden. I keep glancing at his desk and seeing amazing things happening over there, his strip's going to be a real corker. Here's our DFC colleague Woodrow Phoenix getting his first glimpse of the new magazine.
I should have shown Stuart with the actual magazine, because when he got his hands on it, he got obsessed with Patrice Aggs' page, finding all the things she'd hidden in it, and spent a good 15 minutes analysing the one double-page spread.
When we arrived at the Story Museum, we were met by Neill Cameron, who was more than a bit chuffed to have his work, together with writing by Dan Hartwell, on the front of both Issue 1 AND The Times. Way to go, Neill! He lives in Oxford and does amazing workshops about robots, to go with his Mo-Bot High comic book, and I can guess now he could pull off some pretty good pirate dinosaur workshops to go with his new Pirates of Pangaea strip. In fact, Phoenix comic creators are great people to get in to get kids inspired about making stories. (Hint: keep that in mind, festival organisers, teachers, librarians, etc!)
Here are David Fickling Books office manager Matilda Johnson and David Fickling, both forces of nature who get everything moving. With Phoenix logo designer Matt Baxter (looking blown away by the comics force field), Neill Cameron and Dan Hartwell. I missed getting photos of lots of amazing people, so apologies if you haven't shown up here!
A picture's worth a thousand words: Here's fab writer and illustrator Ted Dewan, going on and on and on about the same subject...
Caro Fickling, who's been leading The Phoenix project, started off the speeches.
Phoenix fist bump! Don't mess with Gary Northfield and Kate Brown.
And Emma Vieceli is equally fierce!
The Story Museum's guest book is hot property now, everyone's signed and doodled in it. Here's James Turner, who had a big section in the first issue with his brilliant Star Cat strip.
Fab creators Jamie Littler and Lil Anderson.
Here are the reps from Waitrose, who are stocking The Phoenix, and Philip Pullman with his cup of tea. The launch kicked off at 3pm instead of in the evening, so we had a tea party with amazing CAKES.
Emma Vieceli, Mimi Etherington, Robin Etherington and Andrew Wildman
Ted Dewan with shiny Phoenix badge!
Patrice Aggs, some dizzy chick in a fluffy hat, publicist Louise Stothard
Paul Duffield, Andrew Ruddick, John Aggs. John says, 'Comics. Serious business.'
Matt Baxter and Warwick Johnson Cadwell. (You can see Dan Hartwell, Will Fickling, Dave Shelton, Lizzie Spratt and Faz Choudhury in the background.)
The Story Museum's an amazing building! It's still raising funds to refurbish the old building into a full working story museum, but the space is already pretty amazing. I've taken tours of it on two previous visits, and you can see some photos if you click here and scroll way down. I like this photo, Gary looks like a giant projection onto the courtyard wall.
Museum Co-director Kim Pickin gave a speech (on the left), as did Phoenix editor Ben Sharpe (right). Ben was also my DFC editor, along with Will Fickling, and they were brilliant to work with.
Here's the museum's notorious vault, where gold bullion may have one been stored. Apparently they don't have the key, and the walls are so strong and thick that if someone got locked in there, a rescue team couldn't drill them out fast enough to save them from dying of lack of oxygen or dehydration. So we weren't allowed to go in there, it's very carefully locked off.
The museum is storing some old printing presses from the Bodleian Library! I'd so love to have a go at making some woodcut or lino cut prints and using those presses, along with their letterset collections. It sounds like the museum plans to host several residencies for writers and illustrators, there's a lot to look forward to.
So if I haven't YET convinced you to go subscribe to The Phoenix, and to sign up all your loved ones, too... Well, go have a look at the website, and feel the temptation.
A big thanks to Phoenix contributor Garen Ewing, who's been managing the Super Comics Adventure Squad blog, which we set up as a DFC creators' blog, and carried on with it until now. It was great having a place we could all meet for news, thanks, guys! After consultation, Garen's retiring the blog, and we look forward to seeing what happens with the comic's rebirth! Exciting times.