Armageddon 2000 Convention
Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2000
Auckland, New Zealand
I dragged myself out of bed at 6.30 Saturday morning, after having ignored my clock radio alarm. I had to ran around getting presentable, then caught a taxi. At the airport I found that once again, early morning travel to conventions means delayed flights! It was only a five-minute wait so that wasn't too bad. The delay was the result of the co-pilot not getting a wake up call at his hotel. It happens to the best of us..
Nice flight on the way up, lots of low mist over the South Island. Flying over Mount Taranaki is always a joy, the perfect circle around the peak formed by the national park border is a perfect piece of graphic design, especially with all the fence lines that suddenly start a grid outside the park.
I got to the convention and found myself at the back of a queue. It gradually made its way to the doors and I managed to avoid the door charge by waving a copy of the program and pointing to my name. By the time I got there quite a few of the local creators had set up their tables. Cornelius Stone (Knuckles the Malevolent Nun), Jaime Merritt, Tim Molloy, Nigel Upchurch, Dylan Horrocks (Pickle) and Adam Jamison were set up in the prime tables so I just sat down on the table at the end. The three Wellington Comicteers; Toby Morris, Grant Buist and Martin Malloy soon joined me. They had driven up the previous day and were waiting for some comic excitement.
As usual at a local con, sales were few and far between but my little mini comics came in handy as giveaways. I went mad buying up a good collection of NZ comics as well as some cheap mainstream stuff. We took advantage of each others presence to sneak away from the tables and have a look around the convention. There was a good number of stalls with lots to get peoples attention. The Playstation 2 looked kind of neat although what was the point of sealing it in a perspex cabinet? Kind of like trying to sell a car with out wheels. I don't think it was actually playing either, seemed like we were just seeing a demo video on the big screen. Virtual gaming at it's most extreme.
The comic dealers present were covering all the bases, there were tatty old ripped second hand comics, nice and shiny mainstream comics, lots of old expensive back issues (Superman #6 etc) and a few places were selling off some nice alternative stuff real cheap. I picked up a few issues of some GIANT comics by Paul Pope for less than the cost of a chocolate bar and some stuff by Ariel Bordeaux. They didn't fit in with the rest of the stock on display so I think someone was cleaning out their own reading material.
For the good of this article I let myself be photographed with Celeste, the model who was the spokesperson for Tachyon Comics. This is a bunch of local creators (Fat Boys Production) who have put out a glossy cover anthology of B/W comics. The title character is a piece of bad girl post holocaust bunkum. Celeste was very attractive and very professional in the role. She knew how to pose, delivered a good talk about the comic and was friendly without being at all sleazy, very hard to do when you have a bikini on and are holding a tacky toy blaster. Other local comic creators there were a bit dismissive of the idea and that then the photos cost $5, but Celeste got the crowds interested, though her line that Tachyon is the First Premiere New Zealand Comic made us all wonder what that actually meant. My best guess was "New Zealand's first first comic"? The Fatboys had gone to the main newstand distributor here, Gordon and Gotch with a presentation and managed to get a distribution deal. They managed to sell ads and such, which was a hard task. The print run was 3000 and if all goes well they are looking to include other creators in the next issue.
There were lots of toys on sale, some at rip-off prices ($20 for loose, poor condition Star Wars toys) but most at a good rate. Serious collectors could have picked up a few things they might have missed out on, and some stuff from overseas that you might not have seen before as well. There were also videos from Chinatown video (lots of cool Jet Li and John Woo) as well as the manga stuff.
Eddie Campbell was there, set up at the Gotham Comics stall, promoting From Hell and signing lots of stuff. As always he was the epitome of the polite gentleman comic creator and I did my best impression of a ten year old fanboy meeting his idol.
Back at the New Zealand tables I chatted with a few people and picked up some news. Ant Sang is working on a new comic book with some of the characters from Filth. Toby Morris had only just finished Chicken is Champ # 3 the night before and it was having a successful debut at the con. Everyone was very impressed with the sketch of Wellington the front cover and the layout of it. Grant Buist is in the middle of his second year of design school, and has recently published a few more collections of Brunswick stories from the last two years.
I had a look at Dylan's exhibition of New Zealand Comics. There were photocopies of artwork on big bits of cardboard, with copies of comics hanging by string from the artwork. The range of work was interesting, and the exhibition notes were useful, if somewhat brief. The "Art and Comics" section was a bit naff, but I'm biased on the art verse comics idea so it was probably just me. Dylan felt that there were some gaps in the exhibition but decided it was better to do it as it was than not at all, which is true.
I wandered down stairs at the end of the day and had a quick chat with Jeremy Bulloch, AKA Boba Fett. He said that the takeaways box that I had my comics packed in looked like the kind of thing they give people turkey in back in England. I don't know if they got anything besides the turkey in the boxes. With the quality of English cooking it might be better if that was all.
Dumping my stuff at the backpackers, I wandered around town. Borders Bookshop was open so I read all their magazines and books. Cool, free entertainment and they had a nice wee comic stand with some mainstream trades and the odd piece of Robert Crumb, manga etc. Also free was a wander round the new Village Cinema complex, like the set from Logan's Run only Village is trying to look like a tacky city of the future.
Sunday was more of the same, though the daylight savings changeover meant a couple of us got there an hour early. By this time the incessant noise of the playstation car demos was driving us crazy!!! I had a good chat with Zak Waipara (Children of a Dying Nation). He is working at a local paper, doing some (but not as much as he would like) design/cartoon work.
Lots of the local artists wanted to know if I knew anything about the Millennium comic the Cartoon Collective are working on, they want to see it done! Before the end of the con I made sure I got Bobba Fett to autograph a pic for me (he said I'm cool, guess that proves what I knew all along) He was a nice guy, chatty without being naff.
So as usual at these things I sold a few comics, swapped some and bought a whole lot of c#STOP-@-SPAMp to clog up my bedroom back at the flat. The dealers seemed pleased with the event, floor traffic looked good the whole weekend and sales seemed brisk. Amongst the local comic creators there were the usual comments about us not being treated with much respect, shunted down a side alley and so on. But the tables were free and we got to get in for nothing so what more can we expect? Until the public realise we are their only hope for entertaining, intelligent popular culture we can only be thankful that the organizers tolerate a bunch of crazy creative types laughing at the punters.
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