This article originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #6, May 1997.
Page 45’s second annual Independents Day was another fabulous event, surpassing even last year’s fine occasion. Organised to promote creator-controlled comics to a potential mainstream audience as well as the traditional comics market, 1995’s Independents Day was held upstairs at Page 45’s shop in Nottingham, England. It was such a resounding success that for 1996 the whole event was moved to the nearby Stakis Hotel on October 26, and guests of honour this year were Cerebus creators Dave Sim and Gerhard all the way from Canada.
Owners Stephen and Mark estimate that over 1000 visitors attended, mainly to get sketches and signatures from the dynamic duo themselves (it was Dave and Ger’s only European stop last year) but also to meet and sample the delights of the cream of Britain’s self-published talents;
Paul Grist (Kane), Ed `Ilya’ Hillyer (End Of The Century Club), Dave McKinnon & Terry Wiley (Sleaze Castle), Martin Shipp & Marc Laming (Six Degrees), Paul Rainey (Memory Man) and Jeremy Dennis (3 in a Bed) were joined by former self-publisher now Caliber creator Nabiel Kanan (Exit), Chris Hogg (of Slave Labor’s Killer Fly) and David Hine (creator of the excellent Strange Embrace).
Personally, it was a huge success for myself and Strangehaven – I had managed to get hot-off-the-press copies of Strangehaven #5 couriered from my printers in Texas with a whole day to spare and I signed and sketched for most of the six hours of the event. It took me three hours to get around to taking the cap off my bottle of mineral water (kindly supplied courtesy Page 45).
It’s always a pleasure to get away from the drawing board for a day to meet you guys who are generously supporting my self-indulgent fantasies and to get treated like a king by the Page 45 staff (thanks to Dominique and all the stewards!). Kinda makes all the headaches worthwhile. I made new converts to Strangehaven as well as seeing lots of familiar faces like lovely Mai Lin who presented me with a curious little fish candle while her boyfriend photographed me from every angle; and I got to sign the first copy of Strangehaven #1 I ever sold at a Con which a German guy bought from me at UKCAC a year earlier, before I realised anyone ever expected me to sign the things.
A grand meal followed with all the creators and staff at the Tivoli (although Terry Wiley seems to think he was at Rock City – how many beers did you have Terry?) and we eventually retired to the Stakis Hotel Bar where a certain Mr. Sim entertained myself and Paul Grist by his demonstrative illustration of being “right on the fuckin’ edge” until well past 4 a.m. But how come no one told me about “The Big Tab”? I had to read about it in Six Degrees #5 and Sleaze Castle #8! Teenage raver Ed Hillyer dragged David Hine and Peter Pavement off to a club and were conspicuous by their absence which was duly noted.
Judging from the editorial piece in Cerebus #216, this may have been the last “Independents Day” as such, but all present had such a good time we look forward to Stephen & Mark’s next event with anticipation.
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