A World Cup lull

After just over a fortnight of the World Cup and unrelenting blood-pounding, arse-ripping, shorts-tightening football, there is a lull and it is weird. I can’t even troll England fans. There is a empty void.

I’m remembering there’s things like Channel4 News, or Netflix, or the PS4, or books or indeed, anything that isn’t football. It feels so terribly wrong…

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Losing Harlan Ellison

I have a Harlan Ellison story. Lots and lots of people who’ve been in, or are fans of, comics, SF, fantasy or just fans of his writing have a story. I’ve told mine before but here it is again. In 1985 at a SF convention in Glasgow, Ellison was guest of honour and was having great fun pissing off and entertaining all the right people because even as a young lad somewhat awestruck at being even in the same city as one of his heroes, I could see that Ellison danced the line between genius and arsehole easily. One minute he’s be amiable and chatty, the next he’d be annoyed and angry but he’d never compromise himself. His comments about writers getting paid show this.

So back to the story. I was working a dealers table selling comics and Ellison came in to have a shufty at our stuff. He picked a few things up and much to everyone’s surprise knew more about British comics than I’d have suspected. I was wearing a Marvelman badge, and spinning off the conversation from Warrior, Ellison asked if we had any for sale which we didn’t. He then asked if he could have mine. I eventually gave him it because this was my hero and I didn’t want to disappoint.

Ellison later came over to me in the bar, offered to get a drink and we ended up chatting about how great Dreamscape was. Indeed, it still is.

Ellison then had to move on with his small entourage but I was a happy lad as he’d signed a copy of The Glass Teat which is one of the greatest books of criticism ever published.  That book is something that influenced why I started this blog, and in fact it wasn’t until Ellison’s death I realised how much he’d shaped me growing up.

See, that wee story I have is something I’ve pulled out often over the years because it is a great wee story. The part of the story I usually miss out is when Ellison talked about not compromising which is something I don’t think Ellison did once in his life which led him to do great things, not to mention some awful things.

But that idea that someone can’t compromise because once you do it then becomes a game as to how far you’ll go without fully compromising yourself. I can’t remember when I did start compromising and although my life was better in some ways, a wee part of me was dead.

I’ll miss Ellison not being around. I’ll miss not being able to see if there’s a new soundbite  that I can use to help me sum up current events, and with current events being horrible I think we’ve lost a guide at a bad time.We’ll still have his mountain of work but we’ve lost a voice who could be good or bad, arrogant and uncompromising but always had something worthwhile to say. There will never be another like him.

Goodbye and thanks for whatever small lessons you’ve given me. I’m going to watch Dreamscape later and wallow in the memories of 1985.

What I thought of Glasgow Comic Con 2018

Yesterday I attended the eighth Glasgow Comic Con (GCC) as a punter, not a dealer so I was able to soak up the atmosphere more than usual, and the atmosphere this year was 30c heat which for Glasgow is unusual to say the least. I primarily went to catch up with friends but I also wanted to see if there was any Kirby, Wally Wood or EC stuff I could pick up for reasonable prices and amazingly, I managed to pick up a few bits of Kirby cheapish.

As for the con, GCC is based upon the old school style of comics con where comics are at the fore, with a dash of cosplay. It also managed to bring in young kids, as well as the Millennial audience, though I will say it was somewhat lacking on the programme for us older folk. I have to say though the heat was sometimes too much, and the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow isn’t a good venue for this sort of event, especially if you’re disabled and have to spend time waiting for lifts so you could meet friends in the cafe or the main convention floor. The organisers did stick up signs saying that could people respect the lift is there for folk who can’t climb the large amount of stairs but too often was the lift held up with people who just couldn’t be arsed walking down stairs.

This brings me to the biggest problem with the GCC. It’s clear too big for a venue which isn’t fit for purpose for an event like this and I’ve been in worse venues over the thousands of cons I’ve been to, but this wasn’t fully fit for purpose. Rooms were often too crowded and corridors crammed with people which meant cosplayers standing there being photographed caused bottlenecks. The Royal Concert Hall is a fantastic venue and the GCC is a good event, but they don’t fit each other though the panel room was lovely and cool.

This is during the panel where The Punisher gets a Queer Eye makeover, and indeed throughout the day this corner provided an oasis of cool and calm to watch the days panels.

I had a few wanders round the self-published/small press tables and there was some splendid stuff there, with the comic Escape From Coatbridge raising a few laughs for the title alone, but nothing really stood out spectacularly I am glad to see the small press scene in Glasgow to be as large as it is.

If I’d not forgotten my drugs (suffering from chronic pain isn’t fun in this weather) I’d have probably stayed on but as the day wore on all the people left were the cosplayers, and some of the guests tables were looking barren of visitors which considering there were people of the calibre of Ian Kennedy and Leila Abdelazaq was a pity.

Glasgow can accommodate a proper comics convention of the type we used to organize back in the day,  however GCC needs to work out whether to stay a one-day event crammed into a venue that doesn’t work for it or see if there’s somewhere in Glasgow it can fit into, and even whether it expands into a second day but it does need to grow, develop itself so it can set itself aside easily from the MCM con or the one-day events held across the West of Scotland. I’d like to see it develop.

On my way home the con did throw up one more treat.

That’ll be Pikachu getting the bus home to Coatbridge I assume.

I shall be going to Worldcon in Dublin in 2019

Next year in Dublin is the 77th World Science Fiction convention and bollocks to it, I’m going. It’ll be in this rather impressive building.

I done a few science fiction conventions both as a punter and as a trader back in the 1980’s and 90’s, and seeing as it’s going to be a plane ride away it strikes me as churlish not to go. As it stands today the plan is to fly to Dublin on the 14th August next year and then enjoy the convention before returning on the 20th. Of course Brexit may well mean I’m using leaves and beakers to trade.

So if you intend to go give me a shout and mine’s a orange juice and soda water…

A World Cup dilemma

Apart from a pretty dismal game between France and Denmark this has been a fantastic World Cup so far, but those of us in the UK have to put up with some terrible commentary, especially from the likes of Mark Lawrenson who sounds as if he doesn’t give a fuck about the game, or the position he’s in.

Now the BBC do offer a commentary free track on their digital services, but some people don’t have access to this so they’re stuck with the wrist-slitting joy of Lawrenson. So would you rather the BBC employ a jaded old pro who treats viewers with contempt or a drunk who’s pissed himself and is desperately slurring words in the hope it makes sense so he can get paid?

Now, nobody say they’re both the same thing…

We’ve now had two years of Brexit

Two years ago the UK, well, England mainly, voted to leave the EU and the world went mad.The vote was won with no plan, no idea of how to leave and with experts promising total collapse if we just up and leave with no deal, but hardline Brexiters from the right and the left on the morning after the vote demanded Article 50 (the procedure that kicks into motion the UK leaving the EU)invoked and the UK leaves with nothing more planned than the fact we’re leaving. Two years later this is sort of the situation we’re still in. Both the right and left of Brexit want to leave ASAP to bring about some sort of nirvana based upon their own political ideology so both push the line about ‘respecting the result’ because to veer off course now would mean they don’t get what they want.

Problem is ‘respecting the result’ means buying into the fact the referendum was built on racist lies and possible (probable?) criminality and corruption. This Bloomberg article reveals part of the problem, while the work of journalists like James Patrick and Carol Cadwalladr are exposing what is a massive perversion of democracy, not to mention people’s real concerns about being stuck in eternal austerity which has lasted a decade with no end to come.

Tens of thousands marched the streets of London at the weekend just gone protesting Brexit but with the Tories locked in a death spiral trying to put off the day when the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg gets his cold hands on the PM job, and Labour stuck in a nostalgia trip there is no way a political end to Brexit can be found. Anyhow, it’s far too late. As soon as Article 50 was invoked the UK lost any control on what will happen, apart from the ‘no deal’ option where the UK walks and carnage happens overnight. Business is making that clear with a series of warnings falling on arrogantly deaf ears. Basically the type of country you want to live in is at stake and frankly, the extremists have all the Trump cards.

We’re heading towards reality with a sickening thud. When the smoke clears and things calm down we might not like the look of where we are, what we’ve done and the irreparable damage done to people’s lives. So, I’ll be blunt. Be prepared for next year as if we do drop out with no deal and off that edge, or even just take what we’re given because we gave away any power in March 2017, we could face something people in this country haven’t faced since the early to mid 1970’s. I hope I’m wrong but unless something major happens we’re fucked.