Auto Assembly 2014 – My Thinkin’s On It.

Another year, another chance to experience one of the undoubted highlights – a Transformers convention called Auto Assembly!

This year, I was not one of the advertised guests (which have understandably been scaled back), which immediately presented me with a huge cost problem – the hotel. The only reason I’ve been able to attend the last two cons was because my room and board were paid for. Still, hoping to fate, I reserved myself a room months ago, and hoped to sketch enough at the con to pay for the room. Lucky as a former guest, I had a free pass and table to draw that, so I’m super grateful for that!

Unfortunately, the fortnight prior to the con, the tenuous thread my finances are balanced on snapped like a motherfucker, and it was only through the goodwill of my online saviors buying pre-ordered sketches that I was able to definitely make it to the con. I can’t thank you guys enough! Dan and Jim agreed I could plunder the Lou Scannon funds for the remainder, and I’d reimburse after the con. So, phew.

Bus-ride was a bit hairy, as I just caught the bus due to a late running connection. By coincidence I shared the bus there and back with Kat Nicholson and Jase Cardy, so that was good! I had my stock of Allspark comics with me to sell for charity, but the suitcase they were in collapsed under the strain, destroying the handle and wheels, so that made for a fun transport situation.

After finally making it to the hotel, I checked in and said hello to a few people. Unfortunately, the recent financial problems and other stresses I’ve been under were really preying on my mind, and I was in an utterly foul, anti-social mood. Nevertheless, I forced myself to stick around in the bar for a while, completing my pre-con sketches, and sharing a drink with Simon Furman, John-Paul Bove, Ed Pirrie Sprite, Temple, HdE and several other regulars. By around 8pm though, I really had to be by myself. I went upstairs, showered, shaved, and hit the sheets. I slept like a log for the most part, I really needed it.

Saturday morning, I was up and about quite early for me, and grabbed some brekky with some of the attendees (and bizarrely, some of the quilters from another convention), and then got my table set up.

I was next to the main AV desk, a mixed blessing as I had a brilliant seat for the panels and Q&A’s, but was also partially hidden by the desk itself. Birmingham’s Most Joyous Man (TM), Lee Bradley sat on the other side of me, and together we shot the shit and sketched across the weekend. Due to me doing pre-con sketches, I took very little sketches over the weekend (5 in total), which was disappointing, but meant that I could relax somewhat and not feel too rushed. I couldn’t buy any comics, prints or toys this year, for obvious reasons, so that chaffed. The charity sold nicely though – I haven’t tallied it all up, but so far it’s raised at least £320 for The Samritans, with more to come as the remaining books get shifted in coming months.

Saturday day ended, moving onto the evening event. I simply couldn’t face it, and rather than bring people down and went and hid in my room for the evening. I hated missing out on the chance to chat to everyone (this only comes around once a year of course), but my head was in such a bad, low place. I had to be by myself.

Sunday rolled around, and it was tough to get up, and the temptation to stay under the covers was intense. Still, I dragged myself out and managed some brekky with Liam Shalloo, before heading back to the desk to draw (or in this case, not draw) for the day. After the day finished, I headed upstairs and got changed, then headed back down and actually socialised in the bar for a while, as I was feeling more up to it. Some brilliant catch-ups with people, a wonderful conversation with Townsend Coleman, and then Kat, Jase, Lee and I headed out for some food. After returning to the hotel, I spent the night chatting with loads of people, guests and attendees alike. Livio and Casey were brill to chat with, Rob Coy gave me a great T-Shirt, Andy Senysysyzyzyzyzyzyzyzyzn and HdE were a great laugh, I had a good chat about stroy and character with youngling Thomas, and JP Bove, Nick Roche and Andy Turnball continue to convince everyone that they’re decent human being while somehwo hiding their true evil natures from people. I didn’t get much chance to speak with James Roberts sadly, nor Jo Lafuente and the other voice actors, but having missed a lot of the con due to my own fucked-up-in-the-headness, it’s no fault of theirs. If I didn’t see you, or have forgotten to mention you here, sorry! I’m rubbish of late, and a bit of a pube quite frankly.

Went to bed at 4:30 – no dawn rising for me this year.

Monday, breakfast with Nick and Amy and Sprite, which was lovely, then general goodbyes to everyone, and it was back to reality.

A great weekend as always – I just regret a)being skint for it and b) not being well enough to truly throw myself at it. David Wallace, Billy Edwards and Simon Plumbe deserve excessive kudos for being just generally A-FUCKING-MAZING, and every volunteer can be so proud of what they achieved – the running of the event was just spot on. A tough feat, but they managed it. You guys are stunning!

And so I’m back home, and now trying to start to find some way, shape or form of trying to deal with my spiralling financial horror. Once I take the money for charity out of the equation, I made a loss at the event despite my sketching, so you know…. Shit.

Hopefully I can turn things around for next year – I intend to be there and to be myself again!

Peace out you lovely people.

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