Tuesday, 27 October 2015

More travels - Manchester, Liverpool, Halifax

Don't say I can't sometimes plan my work schedule well. I say well, I mean I can pack an awful lot of work into a weekend and, just for once, keep it all in the same end of the country. So, whereas recent weeks have seen me scudding to all points of the compass, like Norfolk to Brighton to Suffolk to Switzerland etc, this weekend saw me hitting the north and staying there, vaguely. We began with the Socks playing the Kings Arms in Salford on Friday night (above). A simple enough three hour journey which, because it was the Friday afternoon before half term, took over 5 hours.

From Salford, or Manchester, if you can't quite work out where one begins and the other starts as, I fear, I still can't, to Warrington where I'm spending 4 nights at the Holiday Inn. This is partly because it's centrally placed for my travels, but originally because it was the first place that wasn't stupidly expensive. Then, on Saturday morning it was back to Manchester.

To Manchester Central Library for a day of Comic Art Masterclasses as part of the Manchester Literature Festival, and I can report happily that they were very well received. The festivals I've been doing this year really have expanded my audience and gone down well. Saturday night was then a night in my hotel watching Doctor Who and enjoying not driving too much for a day.

Sunday began in Liverpool Exhibition Centre and an event called Toytopia, where I was on the impressive Beano stand doing a short Comic Art Masterclass then absolute heaps of caricatures. At first I was doing my usual thing of drawing everyone who came to the stand, and building up an impressive queue. The, because part of their remit was to sell copies of the Beano, we came up with the idea, as you can see above, of asking people to buy a comic and get the caricatures as a bonus, and it worked a treat. Then, as the afternoon drew to a close, I zoomed off to Manchester to pluck another string of my bow (you don't pluck bowstrings, I realised as I wrote it, but it's too late, I've said it).

What a handsome bunch, eh? Yes, it was the Manchester Sitcom Trials team, at the Kings Arms Salford again, performing the Halloween Sitcom Trials, with me as their host. As always, full details are on the other shelf on the Sitcom Trials' own blog. It's been their busiest year in a while.

Back to the Beano stand at Toytopia in Liverpool on Monday morning and how's this for a guitar? A Les Paul copy with Beano decorations, for £140? I didn't buy one, but I can't say I wasn't tempted. Meantime my day was taken up with another class and lots of caricatures (over the two days I must have done about 250) and more flipchart action, some promotional, some fun for the kids.

After which I got away at about 4 o'clock to get to my evening commitment, a Socks gig in Halifax. Theoretically that should have been a two hour journey but, thanks to me going via my Warrington hotel and it being rush hour on Monday, it was three hours before I got there.

And by golly you get a better standard of decorative ceiling at the Victoria Theatre Halifax, I'll tell you that. A cracking 90 minute gig with a lovely big audience, a fine way on ending a jam-packed, four day, 6-gig Socks/Masterclass/caricaturey/Trials/Socks busy old weekend. Now we just have the drive home to Clevedon to look forward to, and I can get back to the pleasant experience of getting my accounts finished.


Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

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