Well, it’s 2:50am in the morning, Auto Assembly has finished, and there’s just no way I can sleep. What a great weekend! To recap…
Friday – Left the house to catch the bus in Cardiff, my grandparents gave me a lift into town. They did drive into town very slowly though, and then insisted on helping me carry my stuff right up to the bus. Very sweet, but it would have been quicker myself…. but still, it was appreciated! The bus drive in was a bit annoying – the guy behind me absolutely stunk, and his kid wouldn’t stop crying. Worse, his irritating wife was screaming down the phone at some poor operator at National Express, complaining loudly about her seat. Twat.
Still, finally got to Birmingham and checked in, and got my stuff sorted out. A little bit bummed to find my external hard drive for my Mac wouldn’t be recognised by Ceri’s PC laptop which I’d borrowed, but fortunately I had one bit of Nick Roche art to use for Saturdays colouring workshop. Phew!
Met with the wonderful man responsible for the shindig, Mr Simon Plumbe, who somehow seemed in control of the huge endeavour!
Spent Friday night meeting the other guests as they trickled in – the brilliant American Animated duo of Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster, awesome Irishman Mr Nick Roche, and his Wrecking partner in crime, sandal wearing hero James Roberts. We chatted in the main hall and later the bar, meeting other fans, putting faces to usernames, and discussing a variety of subjects both Transformers, and non-Transformers related. Legendary scribe Simon Furman descended upon the convetion like a preadtory bird, and fellow Welsh TF alumni Jason Cardy and Kat Nicholson soon arrived, and with our guest organiser Martin Fisher, we all went for a bit of a buffet at a Chinese.
Fed, it was back to the bar, and much drinking. Liam Shalloo’s immense beard arrived, later followed by the turquoise mohawked man himself. I headed to bed in the wee hours, drunk off my ass, and not thinking about the crushing headache I would suffer in a mere 5 hours.
Saturday – I woke up on Saturday morning with a crushing headache, but a long shower helped shift it, and I met James and Nick for breakfast, talking over deleted stuff for Wreckers, unused ideas, Vic and Bob, Shooting Stars and how Nick’s a bit of a thieving beggar becasue he can watch British TV in Ireland without a TV licence. Scrounger. 🙂
We set up shop at our tables in the main hall, and I got to meet Animated designer Derek J Wyatt, an oh-so-quiet man who really opened up over the weekend, and is basically a total legend! Began sketching for fans, and I tried to make more of an effort to be more outgoing and socialise more with people, and it was great. My friend Lisa had given me a load of great markers, and a great sketching pad, so I used these to good effect, giving people coloured sketches – I felt as colourist, I should, really… I think my sketches this year were better than last year… definetely improved. Pictures wil be uploaded soon…
Lee Bradley and Simon Williams had now arrived, and were brilliant as always. Early in the afternoon we all took part in a comics panel, fielding audience questions, making Simon Furman feel old, Lee Bradley urging anyone wanting to work in comics to get a 9-5 job first, and Nick Roche to reveal he loves Hot Rod so much because he has “flames on his belly”.
After this, Liam and I fielded the colouring workshop, after a bit of fumbling trying to find a projector! Good session, a bit rambling in spots, but I think we were generally quite informative, and certainly went into more detail than last year. I had coloured Nick’s art in a hurried drunken hour before bed that morning (what I call pulling a Shalloo), and used to show some stuff, while Liam contrasted with his con exclusive cover.
More sketches followed, and Beast Wars actor Gary Chalk’s talk, which was great. During the break before the script read, we all returned to the Chinese from Friday for another belt, where Beast Wars actor and cowbay hat wearing legend Scott McNeill revealed he owned the same shoes as me. Now you know!
The script read followed, a great tongue in cheek little play that had the crowd laughing loudly.The cosplayers took to the stage next, with some brilliant costumes and designs. Karaoke followed, as did more drinks at the bar. Great atmosphere, great conversations, and a trend for wearing cool fezzes was supported by many people. Tori, a cosplayer playing IDW Perceptor, had made a brilliant replica of his rifle, which Nick loved. We decided to replicate the Wrecker’s scene where Perceptor hangs upside down from a ship to shoot at enemies, by dangling Nick off the back of a chair which I held down while supporting his legs – it wasn’t an EXACT duplicate if I’m honest, but it’ll do! Neither Nick or I were physically prepared to hold the pose, but you have to suffer for your art…
After a few micro seconds sleep, Sunday began…
Sunday – Shower, breakfast with Jim and Bill (and a fez), and then back to sketching. Derek at one point looked at one of my sketches and said “wow!”, and that just made my day! Nick and James took a great Wreckers panel, followed by various auctions and raffles, and then Scott McNeil took to the stage for a great Q&A. Unfortunately I missed Nick and Simon Furman’s character panel, but after the closing ceremony and final sketches, I caved and picked up two toys, Human Alliance Barricade, and a loose G1 Snapdragon in cracking condition. The comic peeps then headed out into Birmingham for a well earned Pizza Hut, and then back to the bar for the final night of socialising. A few more brief sketches, and admiration for Bill Forster who (knowing the bar would be closing soon) ordered 6 or 7 pints to see him through until he left for his plane at 4am. Nick Roche abandoned his coat at one point when he left the room, so his camera was duly passed around for stupid photos to be added to it. Result!
And all done, farewells were made, and people headed to bed. Some may meet up briefly for breakfast on Monday, but otherwise, AA is over until next year. And I cannot wait!
– There’s probably more I’m forgetting, it’s nearly 4am now as I’ve been writing for an hour, but I’ll try and update soon with some more stuff, photos and stuff.
I did find out that you literally cannot give movie-verse comics away though. Bah!