And I got to see the presentation of the 2013 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize. A big congratulations to this year's winner, Emily Haworth-Booth! Here she is, between Karen Rubins and me:
You can read Emily's winning comic strip on the Guardian website here:
Emily told me that she's done some stand-up comedy before getting into comics, and it was so evident in the great way she read about getting colonic irrigation. We were all cracking up. She'll be great at doing events, I really hope she gets a book out and lots of people get to hear her talk about it at more festivals. I'd never heard of Emily before, and it's so exciting seeing super-talented new women popping up in comics! I've known Karen Rubins for longer, and I was glad to see she has a new comic in this week's Phoenix Comic, the Hallowe'en issue:
Here's Paul Gravett of Comica Festival and comics journalist Joe Sacco presenting the second prize to Michael Parkin, and Joe with Emily:
You can read Michael's strip here, lovely stuff. You can follow Emily on Twitter at @emilyhb and Michael at @ParkinParkin.
For the festival event, I got to hear Matt Green interview Eddie Campbell. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of his From Hell book with writer Alan Moore, about a Jack the Ripper theory. It's expertly drawn, with beautifully studied historical detail, but the story and images are just too gruesome for me. But it was fun hearing Eddie talk about some of the other projects he's done, including theatre sets, and about working as a comics artist. I bought a copy from Knockabout Comics of his bright yellow book with Darren White, The Playwright and started reading it on the tube ride home. Really interesting, well-studied, funny stuff so far about the fantasies of a lonely middle-aged writer (definitely a comic for grown-ups).
You can also download Eddie's work as an eBook from Sequential, and it was great to see Sequential's Russell Willis and Chloe Martin at the evening's event at Central Saint Martins' Platform Theatre. I sketched the speakers, but Eddie was super-hard to draw because he moves his face a lot.
After the talk, I got to see Simon Russell pull out of his backpack a collection of Eddie's very old mini comics, from way back in his early days of self-publishing. Here's one he did called Fly Paper, 'the longest comic in the world'.
I really, really need to read Eddie's book Alec: How to be an Artist, from 2001, which gives cameos to several comics people I know. (I really want to read the bit about Woodrow Phoenix and his glasses.) Here's another very old self-published comic of Eddie's:
It was great to see so many fine comic folk gathered. Here's Joe Decie, up from Brighton, who wrote and drew The Accidental Salad and The Listening Agent, Hannah Berry of Britain & Brülightly and Adamtine and Martje Schalxx, who does a lot of beautiful small-press work. And there's Joe Sacco, who has a new book out, The Great War, a depiction of the first few days of fighting at the Battle of the Somme, and Audrey Niffenegger, who recently had her Raven Girl illustrated book turned into a ballet at the Royal Opera House.
Big thanks to Paul Gravett (dubbed 'the man at the crossroads' by Eddie Campbell), Megan Donnolley and Peter Stanbury for their work in making Comica Festival such a great gathering of talent and fascinating discussion. Lots more events coming up, don't miss next Saturday's Comiket! I'm planning to do most of my Christmas shopping there. Be sure to bring small change, so you don't wipe out the creators' cash boxes with your £20 notes.
Visit the Comica website to find out about the day's brilliant Drawing Parade line-up! And here to see some of my past blogs about Comica and Comiket.