Before the flu confined me to bed, I went to Comica Comiket. For a day, the Bishopsgate Institute was rammed with comics and comics people, and me and my friend Rob dived in to the mob.
There are not many commercial spaces where I feel confident to say, given unlimited funds, I’d buy everything in there, but this was one. There’s something about approaching stall after stall full of comics, stacked in front of their creators in many cases, that brings down a red mist of greed. It’s the kind of raw consumer lust that usually only exists in the wild, fantastical dreams of marketing professionals.
But perhaps it’s so powerful because it’s not entirely about consumption – it’s also about production, about creating something as you consume. Enjoying comics is a communal activity as well as a private one, and buying comics can be as much about supporting creators as wanting to own the object – buying at a comics fair feels different from, say, ordering on Amazon.
So, what sacred fetishes have I gathered together this time?
First, a handful of Nobrow comics in an experimental imprint – 17×23 – which has been created (says the jacket) “to help talented young graphic novelists tell their stories in a manageable and economic format”. As objects, they’re gorgeous – matt pages and cover, soft colours – and I very much appreciate their aim. I hope that they do well, and that lots of people copy them, and we’re flooded with new graphic stories by exciting new artists and writers.
Then, there’s something I’d been meaning to get for a long time, after following her online for even longer: Kate Beaton’s Hark, a Vagrant. She is funny. I recommend her to everyone whether or not they like comics – there’s something universally tickling about her style and humour, can’t put my finger on it, but it’s just…excellent.
Next, I picked up a swashbuckling tale by Kev F, who also drew a picture of my face. He was drawing pictures of everyone’s faces who stopped for long enough by his stall. He said he was surprised that so many people responded so positively to the comic – Sinnerhound. Surely it’s obvious? A highwaywoman is something I’ve been waiting to read about all my life without realising it. Highwaywomen are the new pirates. Fact.
Here’s the picture of my face by Kev F, of Beano fame.
I also discovered that he does comics-making workshops for schools. Teachers, book him, it sounds like a lot of fun.