Sunday, 8 February 2015

Spring Fairs, scratch nights, bookshops

This week I've done a little bit of everything, some of which are represented by photos, all of which necessitate the caveat you had to be there. For example, above, you can see me and Dennis The Menace. Dennis is on the side of the exhibition stand at which I was working, at Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham, an event so vast that no photo can capture it. I was drawing caricatures on the stand of Rubies Masquerade, a company that sells character costumes, including the new Beano range, hence my presence there for two days. The stand itself is so big it has an upstairs.

It was one of the the hundreds of stands in Hall 3 alone, which housed licensed products. There were similarly vast halls full of such things as greeting cards, decorations, tableware - there is one hall devoted entirely to Christmas products that goes on longer than Christmas. An overwhelming experience and fun to be part of, but I wouldn't want to live there.

I also did drawings on request, these being just a few. And the stripes are interesting aren't they? That's what happened when I used the panoramic setting on my iPhone, showing the strobing that was happening in the lights above us. If everyone who spends four full days working at the NEC comes out with an almighty headache or having their first epileptic fit, those lights might be why.

If you can tell me what's happening in these photos, well done. It's a woman called Frankie doing the dance of the two eclairs, one of which she's about to shove in the face of my good friend Darren Hoskins, with whom I performed some sketches he'd written, at a scratch night at the Southbank Centre (not the one in London but the one in Bedminster) inbetween performances like the above, and poems about cats, the menopause and ketomine. You had to be there.

And here's me doing a caricature at Books On The Hill, the new bookshop in Clevedon, where I spent Saturday afternoon teaching kids how to draw comics. A novel experience, squeezing my class into a shop, but it worked. Many Beanos were signed, many more comic strips produced, and a good few copies of Captain Clevedon and Hot Rod Cow sold. I'll continue to big up the shop on my newly-found favourite Facebook group Everything Clevedon, about which I heard at a dinner party to celebrate Felicity's birthday last weekend (which looked like this...)

And from which group I discovered local pop star Luke Spiller of The Struts, who made this cracking video in Clevedon before he set off for musical superstardom...

Added to which I've been at my desk drawing a little bit of Samson (three version of his face later we found the one that worked, stay tuned for that revelation later in the year) and writing as much of the Socks' new show Minging Detectives as I'll be able to test out next Friday in Leicester. The new song (about which I can't give too much away, but it's the one that includes Old Man River and Alexander's Ragtime Band) has gone through three versions and days of editing, and I still won't know whether it's funny till next week, but I think parts of it are excellent.

I've also been reading the fab and addictive Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, getting drawn into scrolling down screeds of Everything Clevedon (it really is irresistible, if you've lived here as long as we have), and on Thursday managed to remember to book, at the shortest notice, tomorrow's flights to Edinburgh in order to do classes at a school in Denny. A busy week of classes looms.

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