Our resident Citizen Snork himself, MICK CASSIDY, braves the sunshine, the beautiful guys and girls dressed in scanty clothing, Simon Bisley, and copious amounts of just-about-acceptable Guinness from SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2018. Many braincells died to bring you this information.
Alright. Let’s get to it. I’m tired. I’m hungover. I bet I smell real tasty. I just want to go to bed. But Ross bailed out of SDCC this year, perhaps still scarred from watching John and Flint drink themselves into another dimension last time, so yeah, I’m all you’ve got if you want to know how it all went down 2000AD-wise.
New booth layout this time. More streamlined and accessible. As always, 2000AD’s got a plum location in the hall. You can’t miss it on one of the many tightly-packed and soul-destroying navigations though the hordes of sweaty and not-conveniently dressed con-goers from one end of the convention centre to the other on a quest for some shite you seemingly can’t live without today but won’t even remember you bought two weeks from now. I did notice much less attention and space to sculpts and replicas. The books were front and center. The Dredd standee was getting some good traffic as was Rebellion’s video game display. Overall, the booth looked happy and healthy. Staff were enthusiastic and helpful. Good to see.
My nerd boner cranked to Thrill-Power overload once I saw the upcoming Strontium Dog board game display though. Didn’t know the game would sport so many characters from every tier of Johnny’s saga. Beautiful sculpts that capture the strip perfectly. Exquisite paint-jobs too. Not even sure I’ll play the game but for these figures, it’ll be an essential purchase in the future.
Didn’t end up buying much in the end. That’s no critique of the stock, just that I’m a fucking saddo who already owns most of it. I knew there were pins available, but in typically nefarious SDCC fashion, they were only available at the licensee’s booth, not 2000AD’s. And the licensee had two booths. And they’re on opposite ends of the hall. And only one of them had the 2000AD stuff. And I’m at the wrong one. I refer you back to tightly-packed and soul-destroying navigations blahdeblah.
Moving on, I stumbled upon the 3A booth. Smaller than previous years and much less merch on display, although they had plenty behind the counter, including the big lad himself – the 1/6 scale Dredd. Always wanted one. Always procrastinate about the price. Kinda hard to resist when it’s Ashley Wood himself flogging it to you. An impressive forty seconds later and the wallet’s open.
Good chat with Wood. We’re both huge Kevin O’Neill and Nemesis fans. If you’re ever wondering why there’s never any original Nemesis art for sale, well, blame Ashley Wood. Sounds like he has vast swathes of it. Probably under armed guard.
The news isn’t great if you’re holding out for more 3A 2000AD stuff though. Doesn’t sound like the sales are there to justify more and these are expensive products to make. That’s a shame, particularly as he’s talking about an array of prototypes he has at home, including a 1/6 scale Hammerstein based on McMahon’s art and Johnny Alpha. Let’s not even talk about Nemesis and Torquemada. The molten tears will fry my computer.
When can we talk about Simon Bisley? Now? Room 4. 3PM. Mike Molcher vs Simon Bisley. Bring it.
Never met Simon Bisley before but in a rare moment of “my-proverbial-glass-of-boiled-pee-is-half-full-not-half-empty” bollocks, I’m well aware there’s something very cozy about 2000AD’s panels at SDCC. Yeah, they could be busier, it’s true, but if they were jammers, would I get to encounter my favourite artists up close and (too) personal? (It’s all about me, basically.)
Pretty excited. Not just because he’s a fucking beast of an artist; a top-of-the-food-chain planet-crushing mish-mash of Frazetta, Klimt and Sienkiewicz, but also because – if the many second-hand tales are to be believed – he’s pretty much the living human manifestation of his own art. And apparently he likes drinking. And Motörhead. Two of MY favourite things!
I’ve time to kill. I get to the room too early. There’s another panel going on. A nice but stunningly boring gentleman is talking about the time his house burned down and how he lost everything, and how he went and bought some paper and pens and made a graphic novel about it. And here’s a page from it. And here’s another page from it. One of the pages is four identical panels. A couple lying in bed. “I wish we could go home,” the wife says. Two panels of silence. “Me too,” says the husband. The woman beside me starts crying. I can feel my brain start to shrivel, like an orange left in the sun on the side of the freeway.
There’s a loud sigh in front of me. Bisley’s also arrived too early. He wears the expression of a rabid lion introduced to a toddler’s birthday party. He looks around, sees my expression aligns with his, and offers a fist bump in solidarity. Then his phone starts ringing. Naturally, the ring tone is an emergency klaxon. He takes the call, then he’s loping out, leaving me with the nice but boring man to talk about his next book, entitled “Mom’s Cancer”.
The panel’s fun. Molcher’s doing his best to give it some structure but it’s Bisley’s show. Ignoring the questions, interrupting his own answers, simultaneously confident and modest. Every bit a rock’n’roll comic artist superstar. He’s my favourite kind of artist. Not interested in deconstructing his own processes. He knows what he can do, he doesn’t want to talk about the hows and the whys. He never listened to his art teachers, knew he was better than them, wasn’t interested in being told how to do something, just went his own way from the start.
Good introspective of his career. Was floored to hear him admit he’d never painted a thing before his work on Sláine. Fabry’s inked work freaked him out and he didn’t want to try match it so he figured he’d just paint his version instead! Great hearing his take on the ABC Warriors as biomechanical rather than clunky metal men. (Wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for his reunion with Pat Mills and the Warriors, by the way. Sounds like he’s got a full plate, not the least of which is work for an upcoming very 2000AD-ish anthology called SPACE BASTARDS!) It being a 2000AD panel, didn’t get to talk as much about his brilliant run on Hellblazer. My favourite work he’s done since Horned God and he acknowledged he’s worked hard on his storytelling skills and restraint rather than just punching the reader in the balls with money shots. Great stuff. Very entertaining. Shook the mighty hand once it ended and then went for a sandwich and beer with him.
Ended the night chatting with SPACE BASTARDS! creator Eric Peterson while guzzling pints (See? I can multi-task). Quite a roll call he’s got lined up. The Biz, Clint Langley, Boo Cook and Colin McNeil for starters. He showed me a few pages of the McNeil art and fuck me, this is going to be something. Can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
Alright. That was Day One. I’m going to bed. If I actually regain consciousness, I’ll have more tomorrow.
Mick Cassidy fucking rules!