Give praise for the glory of the Rezillos

Video

 

 

I spent ages trying to work out which Rezillos song to pick for this blog and at the end I went for the very first one I remember, as well as this performance from Top of the Pops when it was great as long as you ignore the presenters. In fact lets completely ignore the presenters..

Anyhow, The Rezillos were a favourite band until I shamefully forgot about them, until walking into a pub in Nottingham (The Salutation if anyone wants to know) in around 1992 and going ‘bloody hell, I love this band’ as they were playing on the jukebox. Looking at the band now it’s clear how ahead of her time in look Fay Fife is, and their sound married the rawness of London based punk with the pop sensibilities of a lot of Scottish bands.

So listen and enjoy, then go search out more Rezillos songs. They never put a foot wrong.

 

The Rise and Fall of the Glasgow Comic Art Convention part two

Last time I recounted the tale of the first Glasgow Comic Art Convention (GLASCAC) and what I remember of it. This time round I’m going to tell what I remember of GLASCAC in 1992.

The End.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s not strictly true. I do remember some things……

In 1992 I was living in Nottingham and was half in/half out of the comics scene. It was all a bit of a limbo time for me as the reason why I moved to Nottingham from Leicester is far too dull to go into here and now, but I was doing alright and still keeping my finger in comics working for the lads in Bristol on and off, which meant the odd trip down to Bristol, as well as regularly doing the Nottingham comic marts, as well as the odd Leicester mart. I was doing some casual work as well on building sites, as well as the odd warehouse job but most of the time I just sat around Nottingham pubs chatting up Goth girls.

So in the spring of 1992, I was told by Chris (one of the Bristol lads) that we were going to do GLASCAC, and in fact it was going to be Maurice (Marr) doing it alongside myself. Now I knew this meant Marr driving the van I’d nicknamed The Blue Slug from Bristol to Nottingham, and I thought, an overnight stay at the house Chris’s company (Chris also worked in Nottingham for a large clothing company) had for him to stay during the week. Nope, Marr drove from Bristol to Nottingham where he picked me up and then we hit the road to Glasgow in a giant zig-zag across the UK.  This was all on the Friday morning, so by the time Marr picked me up in Nottingham in the morning, he’d been on the road for hours already.

Poor sod!

But once we were on the road things became a bit jolly as we laughed and gossiped all the way to Glasgow, and I know I’ve made this point in my blogs before, but this really is a wonderful country to drive though once you get out the cities. We did however have to get to Glasgow by 5pm as John McShane of AKA had said he’d sort out a hotel room for us both. Trusting that he’d get things right this time, all we had to go was drag the Blue Slug up to Glasgow in time. As it worked out we did quite amazing time, as pulled into Glasgow just as rush hour was kicking off. Marr spent this part of the trip following my directions and commenting on the similarities between Bristol and Glasgow which I’d not noticed before.

Sadly we got undone by Glasgow’s then new one-way system which meant struggling to drag the Blue Slug 20 yards down a street to AKA. After some help from a policeman we eventually drove all the way round the city centre to get to where we needed to be and speak to John to find out exactly where he’d booked us into. Amazingly, John had booked us into the Central Hotel and in a twin room, not a double room, and a hotel that held a lot of history for me.

Marr and myself found a secure carpark, parked up the Slug, checked in and promptly stuffed our faces before getting ready to go out to a pre-con drinking session. This is where things go sketchy through a mix of tiredness and alcohol, mainly alcohol though, but even though Marr was pretty much dead on his feet we found our way to the bar where this session was planned and it ended up being some dreadful neon clad nightmare of a bar, and I’m not sure exactly who was there but I do remember Andy Sweeney of AKA with his then partner Bridget, her sister Magz who was seeing Gary Erskine and a load of people who I didn’t really know as they’d been former AKA customers who graduated to being part of the inner circle after I’d long left. Also there was a chap named Doug who I’ve mentioned before but in the future from a 1992 perspective if you know what I mean?

Marr stayed for a couple of drinks that night before going back to the hotel for a much needed kip, but I sadly didn’t and chose to drink like a bastard til the wee small hours. The next morning I remember regaining conciousness as Marr was heading down for breakfast. Somehow I pulled myself out of bed, dragged on some clothes and crawled downstairs for some breakfast, and seeing as it was a buffet breakfast, I filled up on all the square sausage and bacon I could before going back to the room and throwing it all up and feeling much better. Of course I came back down for more…

The Saturday morning was about setting up so once we’d finished eating breakfast and throwing it up, we drove round to the venue which was a hall in Candleriggs which ended up being the most bloody awful place to hold a convention as it was a nightmare getting the tonne of comics we’d brought into the dealers room, but we struggled and we did and at this point we realised that we were causing a kerfuffle with some of the local dealers who had snuck a look at our stock and were getting very annoyed we were selling things for 50p that they were selling for 10 quid and over. Oh dear. How Sad. Never mind.

Other dealers however saw this as an opportunity, especially Pete Root of AKA who cleaned us out of certain comics, before selling them at a profit to himself and undercutting his competition.  Once the doors were open and the general public came in and we were discovered we made an absolute mint to the point on that first day we’d made back the money for the trip and were in profit.There’s always a nice buzz at the end of the first day of a con as a dealer if you’re counting the empty boxes not just because it means you’ve made money, but also because you don’t have to lug it back into the van on the last day.

That night Marr and myself tagged along with Andy and the others for a meal, before Marr went back for a kip as the next day he faced a horrible drive back, but I went into the night drinking heavily as usual , but I do remember stopping short of being utterly stupid and grabbing a reasonably early night as I didn’t face the loading up.

I did miss some more carnage along the lines of what Alan Davis drew in a convention programme afterwards…

Image

This incident featured one of the owners of a certain comic shop in Glasgow who shall remain nameless…..

Anyhow, the Sunday came. We carried on doing well. We sold loads of comics, I tried to be nice to Forbidden Planet Glasgow. I drank a few beers and we ended up saying cheerio to everyone before packing up painfully and slowly. Thankfully the Blue Slug was less heaving than coming up but we still faced a trip going back but thanks to some truly mental driving Marr got me back to Nottingham in around five hours before heading back to Bristol and that was the end of that….

Thing was I’d tried to make some plans which all came to nothing. The main one was to get a database of all the independent comic shops in the UK and form a loose alliance along the lines of The Chain With No Name in order to form a powerful group to stop, or at least combat the power of the Forbidden Planet chain. I should have pushed on with that as if it’d worked we’d see a very different marketplace to what it is today.

Hey ho….

I wouldn’t return home to Glasgow until the next GLASCAC Marr and myself worked in 1994. This deserves a blog to itself as eventful isn’t the word for that week or so I was in Glasgow that time…..

Bitter Sweet Symphony part four/ Return to the Forbidden Planet

Part one. Part two. Part three.

Before I get into the Great Comic Distribution Wars, I thought it was worth having a quick piece  to follow up what happened in Glasgow when FP opened their shop there in direct competition to AKA.

From 1988 to 1993 Forbidden Planet followed me like a mugger with a carving knife and an erection trying desperately to fuck my plans up at exactly the wrong moment or when things were going well such as the situation in Glasgow that I recounted in part three. Let me explain….

In 1991 I was living in Nottingham after moving from Leicester (more about this sometime in the future) and working a living between working nights in warehouses and doing comic marts in Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham with Chris Bacon (more about Chris in Part Six of this series, The Great Bristol Comic Shop Wars) and having an interesting time to say the least. For various reasons (which I’ll expand upon another time, but it’s non-comics related so not relevant for now) I moved back to Leicester in the summer of 1992, but while I was doing marts in Nottingham I was effectively made persona non grata at Forbidden Planet in Nottingham (”you’re the competition!!!”), and when I moved to Bristol in 1993 to work at Comics and CD’s on Gloucester Road (more about this in part six) I  chose to withdraw from the battle because FP had opened up in Bristol and fucked the shop, but again, I get ahead of myself.

So if I came over as bitter, and still come over as bitter then it feels like I’ve got good reason, but with the super power of hindsight I know it’s not as easy as that, but I’ll expand upon all this in the next couple of blogs.

The point of this blog is to make a few points. I am not saying Forbidden Planet did anything dodgy during their aggressive expansion policies of the 80’s and 90’s even though they absorbed some of the original British comic shops like Odyssey in Manchester and Nostalgia in Birmingham. In fact people like Graham Holt who owned Odyssey became directors of Forbidden Planet, or one of the many companies and subsidiaries that sprung up with ”Forbidden Planet” in it’s name.

In fact there’s several different Forbidden Planet’s as you can see by clicking this link. This results in the frankly surreal situation of going to conventions and seeing two different FP stalls in direct competition with each other. It’s a story that several comics journalists have touched on including Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool , but nobody has ever delved into the messy history of the organisation properly, and frankly someone should. Not because there’s any dark, murky secrets. I don’t think they are and there’s been rumours over the years suggesting just that but I’ve never seen or heard an ounce of proof to suggest wrongdoing, even though 20 years ago I might have dearly wished that to be true.

No, it’s to do a history as to how FP turned comic shops into corporate faceless things, which meant many newer shops followed the template and became equally faceless in an attempt to follow in FP’s wake. It’s an important part of British comics history that people have, to me, deliberately avoided for a variety of reasons.

I appreciate that people like going to FP, and I’ve shopped there myself, but like McDonalds  or Costa Coffee it crushes individuality and creativity in their particular industries. If you look at the examples of the really quite excellent Page 45 in Nottingham  or Gosh! in London, then you can see how comics shops should be in my own humble opinion. I can get genuinely excited going into Page 45 and recapture that joy I had when I was hunting round Glasgow trying to find comics and frankly that’s a precious, glorious thing I don’t get going into FP and staring at a wall of expensive toys, or asking surly staff where a book or comic is. I want to feel like the people running the shop care, and you get that if you go into a local, independent deli, or coffee shop, or comic shop. You don’t get that at Costa, or McDonalds, or FP. It’s just about the coin.

And now that’s off my chest, next time will be The Great Comic Distribution Wars.