The Staffs University team couldn't have made us feel more welcome with smooth friendly set-up and regular check-ins throughout the day offering us teas and coffees and water - they even offered a certain Dave West's favourite tipple of Earl Grey which I'm sure he would approve of, even if he couldn't make the trip this time.
|The Accent UK emporium all set up|
Fun and enjoyable as it was, it was noticeably quieter than our previous October experience, possibly only half as busy? A number of factors came into play, the warm day, a number of rival shows (we counted 5!) including one in North Wales, not too far away, but the biggest one was that with it being the start of Easter, the uni itself had just 'broken up' the previous Friday, meaning many students had already made the trip home.
|Things you only see at Comic-Con's, Chewbacca, a Dalek and a Starship drinks vendor!|
This reduction in attendance was reflected in our sales which were just over 1/2 of the previous October, but being a local show, its inexpensive to attend so we were still happy with things and there are worst ways of spending a Sunday - Gary had skipped doing DIY for example!
|Oliver had great taste as well as a great costume!|
We all took the opportunity to have a look round the show and although I didn't make it to all the attractions, it was clear there was a nice vibe about the place. In addition to the uni staff who run the cartoon and animation course, Gary and I caught up with some of the students we'd previously met when we'd been invited in to speak after the October event, and see how their work was progressing - as well as the challenges of the course itself, the students are all encouraged to prepare for and exhibit at the con which is a real test for them to display and sell their work for the first time! What a great opportunity to learn from though in this friendly environment, both Gary and I were impressed when we visited and bemoaned the fact that there was nothing available to us when we were their age, however long ago that was!
|Gary and I at the uni last October - hope I was talking sense!|
|Cheesy grins all round!|
I was particularly pleased to catch up again with Jessica Martin, a musical actress and entertainer who we've gotten to know these last 2 or 3 years as she's bravely added 'comic creator' to her resume. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and I was pleased to hear of her forthcoming comics projects, including turning her own colourful life into a graphic novel to be published by Unbound, and is currently the subject of a fund raising campaign which I had already happily backed. Jessica was at Stoke embracing her Doctor Who pedigree where she played werewolf 'Mags' to Sylvester McCoy's Doctor, so it was good to chat to her about that and also with her long time chum, Bob, who frequently accompanies her on these excursions.
|Jessica and Bob|
Caught up with most of the other comic creators attending, albeit briefly in some cases - see the poster in my previous Stoke post for full line-up! Also met Marc Jackson for the first time who is an artist who's worked for the Beano, ACES Weekly and produced his own work and, it turns out, is fairly local to me in Cheshire. We have a few mutual contacts and Marc is also involved in comic events, more of which later!
Right, so yes a good enjoyable day in the sun and a show we'd hope to return to again - possibly this October, if they'll have us!
|My little Stoke haul including some student comics|