I've just spent yet another fantastic weekend in Derry at the only comics festival in Northern Ireland worth speaking of.
The 2D Festival is relatively unique in UK comics events in that it's largely funded by the Arts Council of Ni rather than by entrance and exhibitor fees. This keeps attendance varied and allows much more in the way of casual footfall - families and kids who would normally balk at paying the (not insignificant) daily ticket fees that most of the UK and Ireland comics festivals demand.
Normally the fest is in the beautiful Verbal Arts Centre, built onto the walls of the city. However, an increase in scope and ambition has forced a change in venue to the more spacious lobby of the Millenium Forum.
I was sceptical about the move to tell the truth, but 10 minutes after we arrived on the Saturday I forgot about any concerns I had when I realised that this afforded the artists and attendees much more breathing room. Previously there were definitely prime locations for tables, but this felt as though everyone got a fair crack at the foot traffic.
Confession time: I've never attended another convention in the UK. I've threatened to travel over to Leeds for Thought Bubble, but finances and time made it prohibitive. Over the years I've met a lot of my favourite comics creators at 2D, and all of them say it's a very special show - they get to interact with fans much more than they do at other conventions and there is a very relaxed attitude.
I've made a number of good friendships at 2D, that have the pleasantly predictable pattern of being dormant until the festival rolls round, but keep me entertained via Twitter and Facebook the rest of the year. I'd name people, but I wouldn't want to embarrass anyone by associating them with me...
There were a number of panels throughout the day and evening - this year I really enjoyed the panel on Social Media, the Transformers retrospective panel (despite me having read nary a book featuring an Autobot nor Decepticon), the interview with Perry Bible Fellowship creator Nick Gurewitch and the Eclectic Micks reunion panel. I also, by dint of fate and a sore throat on @Scott_Evil's behalf ended up hosting an interview with Game of Thrones storyboard artist Will Simpson (although as many know Will needs very little in the way of actual persuasion to regale listeners with interesting and funny stories).
Look, I love this festival. I'm IN love with this festival - it really does feel like a two-way street when I arrive up in Derry and there are people there who great me by name and with a friendly hug, who I literally haven't seen in 1 year. That's incredibly comforting.
As a highlight of my year, there are very few places I can go and completely submerge myself in people who work in the medium I love so much. It's thrilling.
Anyway, here are a collection of sketches that were done for either myself or Susie over the weekend. Not all of them, just a few picks.