Colin's Comment

Friday, August 11, 2006

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.....Oh yes, Victoria, capital of British Columbia located on Vancouver Island... a nice place to visit, small, major industries government and tourism... hangs on tightly to it's Britishness. It's also had some of the best and worst con's I've ever been too...

What is it about Victoria?

When I first considered doing mini-comics there was this guy from Victoria who worked at Island Fantasy but was selling all kinds of interesting stuff from his home, I bought the "John Cleese" issue of "Help!" from him. He also sold me the first mini-comic I'd ever seen, the infamous "Penguins in Bondage"! He told me he was setting up his own small press publishing house and he'd like me to do something for it. I said sure, at the time I was broke and unsure of myself so I figured what the hell! He invited me to visit him in Victoria to do comics and I took him seriously. When I arrived at his place he seemed surprised to see me, as was his mum! I'd planned to stay for a week of heavy comics drawing but we essentially did nothing and his mom asked me to leave after a couple days. I left him the original art for my first mini-comic, "The Granville Street Gallery" with him to publish. Month's passed with no mini-comic, no word. For a couple of years Victoria's Big Brother's & Big Sisters put on these huge cons at the Empress Hotel which I attended. These were great cons with a guest list a mile long, Sim, Aragones, Chaykin, etc. I tracked down my "publisher" at the convention who gave me a long story about why he hadn't done anything yet, which being a trusting sort I accepted. I then went to Island Fantasy and was flipping through the box of underground comics when I discovered my original artwork for "The Granville Street Gallery" in a bag with a price tag of $10. I took it with me back to the con, naturally without paying, confronted my "publisher" in the middle of the dealers room and told him pretty much what I thought about him in a loud clear voice, the gist of which I would never have anything to do with him again. later he came to apologise for the "accident" but I was no longer quite so trusting...

Back in my small press mini-comics days in the mid-80's I was booked at a con in Victoria being put on by Island Fantasy, a very good comicshop there. Since if I took the ferry on the same day from Vancouver I would've missed half the convention I called the owner of Island Fantasy a week before to ask him to find me a place to crash the night before the con. He said no problem and as I'd crashed with one of his employees on a previous trip I figured we were all set. I'd been dealing with Island Fantasy for years, they even bought advertising on one of my mini-comics, they knew me there. So I arrive in Victoria fresh off the bus from the ferry, walk down to Island Fantasy and the owner looked at me like I was a bad smell and he had no idea what I was doing here. I'd been there for a comics festival outdoors, in the wind and rain! Assuming he'd simply forgotten his promise I kept waiting for him to pick up the phone and make some quick arrangements, but he didn't. He just ignored me. He kicked me out of his store at closing, but he did relieve me my backpack full of mini-comics so I wouldn't have to lug it around. Out of sheer stubbornness I decided to spend the night on the streets of Victoria in the middle of November (while Victoria is in Canada it remains relatively mild, rarely would you see snow. There was, however, a steady drizzle of rain.) and do the con the next day. So I would find a quiet spot out of the way, sit there shivering and trying to read and saw how long I could stand it before moving on. At one point out of desperation I called Ken Steacy, the only person I knew there that I could find in the phonebook, for a place to stay but he turned me down. Don't blame him, I was a stranger really, I'd only met him at cons a couple of times. So I wandered about, luckily I stumbled upon a 24 hour diner (at a time when they were rare, particularly in sleepy Victoria) and spent hours slowly eating my breakfast, drinking much hot tea and getting warmed up. When I left the diner the con was still hours away so I went to the hotel where it was being held and sat in their almost empty dining room drinking much hot tea for several hours. So, with a feeling of weary triumph and defiance I was there to greet the man who'd kicked out onto the streets to get my bag and set up my table. The con itself was rather blurry, I remember getting some odd looks as I was fairly punchy by that time. One of the people I talked too was the Island Fantasy employee with whom I'd stayed before who told me he would've been happy to put me up if he'd known I needed a place to crash. After the con I caught the first ferry home, I nearly missed my bus as I fell asleep on the ferry. I never dealt with Island Fantasy again, they went under some years later. The owner moved away and to this day I have no idea what I had done or why I was treated so shabbily...

More recently I went to a con in Victoria which was the worst I'd ever been too. It was a comic Sci-Fi con that spent money lavishly on everything except advertising! They flew in guests from the states, some famous make up artist from Dawn of the Dead or something. I had a hotel room all to myself, which is good, because anyone who's done a con with me knows I snore something terrible. They were also charging attendees over $20 A DAY to get in and then you had to pay extra to get into some of the programming... it was a fiasco, we were supposed to be at our tables all day with the occasional meal break and on Saturday we were required to be at our tables for twelve hours! But there was nobody there! The exhibitors easily outnumbered the paying attendees and you could go over an hour without speaking to anyone. Bored out of my skull I just stared at the local small press cartoonists who had the table across from me staring back, drawing jam comics, making fun of the con security dressed like Klingons and doing a cheer if I managed to sell a single comic. Looking at the program I was surprised to discover I was scheduled to give a lecture on porn comics, although I did a couple issues of Incubus I'm not really an expert. I was told they put it in there without consulting me to draw a crowd. Fortunately nobody was showing up for the lectures anyway so I skipped mine. I got a hundred dollars spending money, I toured the book stores of Victoria and feasted on the wrap up party which had an air of surrealism about it, pretending like the con we just had wasn't a total failure and making plans for next year.... which actually took place. I wasn't invited, but my contacts in Victoria who went said it was worse than last time!

1 Comments:

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Phattone said...

Its a shame you didn't enjoy it too much. Next time you should look at this site professional make-up artist and chose a make-up artist to send you in character!!!

 

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