This is woefully out of date, but I said I would blog about my UK Webcomix Thing, so here’s what I can remember from my visit back in March.

I was going to recommend the Ronald Searle exhibition at the Cartoon Museum that I managed to take in before going to the “Thing”, but unfortunately it finished on July 4th. You’ll just have to trust me on this one, but it was dazzling. If you ever get a chance you see a range off his stuff, grab it. There’s so much more to his work than the St Trinian’s pictures that made him famous (and which he drew for only a couple of years). Superb war reportage, spot on character studies, funny editorial cartoons (yes, funny) and much more.

And then it was off to the main event.

At Queen Mary University near Mile End, London, there were gathered most of the major UK webcomics people and quite a few minor ones too. Having been dabbling in webcomics for over a year now, it was encouraging to see such a vibrant scene and also delightful to finally meet some of the many artists with whom I’d only ever been in touch with via the internet. There was a great range of inventive, kooky and funny comics on display. I got to meet Pete (who, with Jules Rivera, had interviewed me for the podcast Pond to Pond) from Hard Graft (a fast-paced action-packed comic set in Afghanistan) and Steve from Dark Places (a horror-fantasy-adventure webcomic set at the end of civilisation). Representing the sunnier end of the market, I got to meet Luke Surl who knocks out a regular dose of spot on puns and general whimsy. I was once so taken with one of his cartoons that I made a reply. Also there were Amy Letts from the fantasy webcomic Epic Fail and Philippa Rice of My Cardboard Life with another of her gorgeous diaramas.

Luke Surl thinks of another pun.

Philippa Rice of My Cardboard Life

John Allison points to the future of webcomics.

There was also John Allison of Bad Machinery, along with Marc Ellerby, Adam Caldwell and many others. There was a genuine sense of camaraderie about the place. The webcomics scene is no goldmine and most of the people in it have other fulltime jobs, but I was impressed by the amount of enthusiasm and dedication towards the artform that was coursing through the room. Unfortunately, due to staffing issues, the planned panel discussions were cancelled. So, despite having the cream of the UK webcomics scene in one room, not one word was uttered in public about the current state of play for this emerging field or where things might be heading. This was a real missed opportunity and has been compounded by the announcement that there won’t be a UK Webcomix event next year. To quote from the website: “There will be no more Things as the hall is no longer available for hire and my brain is fried.” Conventions seem to happen every weekend in the states, but the UK webcomics scene seems a little more fragile and this was the only event (that I’m aware of) that was devoted exclusively to them. It would be a real loss if there was no webcomics event for 2011.

Anyone fancy picking up the torch?

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