As part of Strangehaven’s 10th anniversary celebrations and to launch the publication of the third Strangehaven trade paperback Conspiracies, a special double-store signing was arranged to take place on 17th September at both Essex branches of the fine ACE Comics.
My companion for both signings was Mr. Chronic Fatigue of the rather splendid comics Mixy and Wildermere. I had never in fact met C.F. (as his friends call him) before, and hadn’t even seen his work. Until now, he hasn’t been distributed via Diamond, nor has he been part of the Bristol Festival Small Press crowd. Despite this, his titles have sold surprisingly well and has established a enviable following, apparently consisting mainly of teenage girls. I can only describe his work as in the vein of the gothic humour comics of Slave Labor, with a touch of manga influence – yet more lavishly illustrated and with a wider vision. It’s pretty cool stuff and is well worth checking out.
The day began at my local ACE comic shop in Southend (formerly part of the Into the Void chain, which has since made its own unfortunate name entirely appropriate), where I was greeted by the friendly face of ‘Biff’ Averre, owner of ACE Comics (aka Planet ACE) and Southend shop manager Lea. The signing ran from 11.00 AM until a little after 12.30 PM (even though the window poster made the extraordinary claim that we would be there until 12.30 AM). Chatting to the stragglers left us running a little behind schedule, and a dash up the A130 in convoy to Colchester was required to enable us to reach our destination for the advertised time of the second signing of the day.
As I followed Biff’s speeding vehicle through Colchester High Street, I almost ran down a couple who had the audacity to walk across a Pelican crossing while looking the wrong way. It turned out that the couple were my sister Pam and her husband Derek, who coincidentally had the same car as Biff (a Chrysler Cruiser) which explained the fact they weren’t looking at the oncoming traffic, but checking out the subtle differences between their respective models. It’s a small world, but I wonder what the police would have made of my running down two of my own family members.
Fortunately, further major incidents were avoided and C.F. and I took up positions in ACE’s huge and labyrinthine Colchester shop a little after 2.00 PM. We both had readers waiting for signatures and sketches, and had to munch through our cheese sandwiches while we cleared the backlog.
Finally, as the last of the day’s punters drifted away somewhere past 4.00 PM, we packed away our pencils and headed off home with the knowledge of a job well done. I gave C.F. a lift to a train station that would eventually take him back home to Brighton and picked up some dog food before making my own way back to the comfort of my own house.
Unfortunately, copies of the Conspiracies book itself failed to make a showing at the ACE signings…
[PHOTOS TO COME]
At the Ace comics Colchester signing. C.F. and I doing what we were there for.
Sketching for the punters as C.F. does his famous Max Bygraves impersonation.
C.F. signing the socks of two Mixy fans.
A pathetic attempt at trying to muscle in on C.F.’s territory.