Tuesday, 25 May 2010

We Etheringtons have been called many things over the years.  Without consulting the extensive list we’ve compiled since primary school, I can safely predict that both ‘UPBEAT’ and ‘POSITIVE’ feature quite highly. Possibly even in the top ten.  Certainly above ‘LIVELY’ but not necessarily outranking ‘SONOROUS’.  But why, as mere fledgling authors, are we so perpetually optimistic?  Lots of very good reasons as it happens, not least of which is the ever-growing, ever-improving number of self-published creators that are emerging on the UK’s small press and independent comic scene.

Last weekend saw the annual Bristol Comic Expo, a convention that has been running in one form or another, for many, many years.  We’ve been attending since 2003 and have watched as the show, organised by the marvellous Mike Allwood, has gone from strength to strength.  But despite the big name pulls, Bristol has always been a vital sounding board for new, upcoming talent.  The sheer number of writers and artists who’ve cut their teeth at this event then progressed to the professional arena is amazing, and the latest batch of creators are some of the best we’ve ever seen.

Firstly, take the ridiculously beautiful Birdsong/Songbird anthology from Failboat Press, featuring Will Kirkby, Nikki Stuart, David O'Connell, Sarah McIntyre, WJC and Naniiebim.  DFC fans will recognise Sarah as the DFC talent behind Vern and Lettuce (her collected hardback volume will follow Monkey Nuts this Christmas) and the ridiculously talented Warwick Johnson Cadwell has been a friend of the Etheringtons for many years.  But this was my first introduction to the work of Will, Nikki, David and Naniiebim and they have each wowed me.  So much so in fact, that we’ll be contributing a page to a future Birdsong volume.

I also encountered the Bearded Skull crew (David Clifford and Jamie Lambert) creators of the thoroughly enjoyable Dexter’s Half Dozen, a WWII romp that’s part Indiana Jones, part Where Eagles Dare, and part pure joy. Hurry up with Issue 5 boys! I’m hungry for more.

There was so much great material to view, including countless superb portfolios (Jenny Clements – start making your first comic NOW!), that I can barely process it all. 

The future of British comics looks to be in safe hands ... and that's reason enough to smile.