Thursday, 13 June 2013

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen... and Malmo.

What a fabulous time Colin and I had in Copenhagen and Malmo.
We have been regulars at the Copenhagen Con (which used to be called Komiks.DK) for a number of years now (nearly 10) but this was our first AccentUK trip across the water to Sweden's comic centre, Malmo.
Arriving on Friday, after managing to sneak my overweight suitcase (it was 3.5 KG over the allowed 23Kg) through check-in without incurring the £85 excess fee, we found the hotel (Absalom) to be incredibly close to the Train station. In fact is was also incredibly close to the venue, some might say equidistant from the two, but I don't use such long words.
Another quick check-in, this time at the hotel, and a trundle to the venue with suitcases full of comics, we were greeted by Mads Bluhm (Chairman of Copenhagen International Comics Festival) on his way to a TV interview. The Danes certainly know how to promote a show.
Once inside the now familiar venue we were greated by old friends Michael, Paul, Carsten and Kim, amongst others and spent a while catching up before dumping our books under our table and setting off to get ready for the only organised event that we'd registered for, which was a buffet where guests mingled with stall holders and organisers.
The food was great, the venue spot on and the company even better. We spent a pleasant evening chatting away with creators, and spotted Fraser Irving and Charlie Adlard entertaining people with stories of their experiences. We kept a respectful distance until Fraser spotted us and gave us the usual look of surprise we get from other British creators when spotted abroad at a Con.
The next day we sauntered down to the venue with our remaining stock, the stuff we'd stashed into our hand luggage. It took all of 5 minutes. Again bumping into old friends made for a very relaxing morning and we had our first sale about 20 minutes after the doors opened. Which I think is a record for us.
It was great to see Arni Beck Gunnarsson again and to meet his wife and two daughters, two more comic fans in the making, and to catch up with one of our first friends in Copenhagen Soren Pederson and then The Man Of Glass creator Martin Flink.
Soren, Colin and Martin.
We had a great day sales-wise, the newer books sold best, as expected, but we were happy to see the older books still attracting new readers.

An embarrasing moment when two guys realise they were wearing
the same Zombies T-shirts they'd bought at the last Con.
The best seller of the day was WesterNoir, with Gary Crutchley's special sketch packs attracting a lot of attention, and sales. You can see the quality of the sketches over on Gary's blog. We also gave Peter Snejbjerg a free copy of each as Gary is a big fan of Peter's work but sadly wasn't able to make it over there himself this year.
Soren, who used to run the Fantask comic store, kind of adopted us at our first Komiks.DK event. Every time we visit Denmark Soren takes us on a little tour and invites us into his home where his wife, Vibeke, feeds us some traditional Danish food. Tonight we agreed to meet Soren and Arni after the show and go have a pint or two, and find some food that would more than likely not to be local.
We ended up at an 'All You Can Eat' Indian restaurant.

Dave And Colin chill after Day 1. Photo taken by Arni.
Soren then left us, he had a 30 minute cycle home, and so Arni, Colin and I set off to see if the Ping (a kind of Oscar in the shape of a Penguin) Awards ceremony had finished. It hadn't but we found Fraser Irving outside and persuaded him to come for a beer with us. It was just down the road after all and we promised to have him back before the Ceremony finished. He was certainly up for that as the award ceremony was in Danish and we were about to set off when Charlie Adlard and his wife wandered over to us to see what we were up to. It didn't take much persuasion and 5 minutes later we were all sat outside a pub drinking Tuborg (apart from Fraser who prefers shorts). A few pints, lots of interesting chat that ranged from bands to comics and back again, and as promised we had them all back at the Ping venue just as it was finishing.
Sunday saw a surprising lack of hangover, which was nice, and an early walk to the Con. We re-arranged the table slightly, as we'd sold out of 2OMBIES and ROBOTS, and then waited for the doors to open.
Interestingly the weather seemed to have an impact on the number of punters on the Sunday. Saturday being such a sunny day seem to have resulted in a lot of people coming to the Con on the more overcast Sunday, including one customer who was a little miffed that we'd sold out of some titles, and then proceded to buy one of each of the other new titles. That saw the last copy of Thaddeus Mist go from the table.
Martin Flink and Fraser Irving take issue with something Dave said...
The thing that happens in the rest of Europe that isn't so true in the UK (or the USA come to think of it) is that when people say they'll be back, it means that they will. The problem with travelling by plane is the limited stock we are able to take over with us. We did send a box over but it failed to arrive inside the venue, the tracking website indicated that they had failed to deliver it on Friday around 6pm, at which time we were actually inside setting up. It seems that the man delivering it hadn't bothered to look around the back of the building where the doors were open and people were busy moving boxes in from vans. Sadly this meant that some of the people who returned with cash failed to find the comic they were looking for, as we'd sold them all.
Martin Flink sat at our table for a while and sketched in the remaining copies of The Man of Glass and these also quickly sold out.
I did a little purchasing myself on Sunday. I had picked up a couple of books back in the UK by John Kenn Mortensen, Post-It Monsters and More Post-It Monsters, and was surprised to find him sat at a table diagonally opposite ours. I bought a poster, another copy of Post-It Monsters (which I got signed) and had him do a little Robot sketch for my RobotsAssemble blog. A very nice, unassuming guy who draws very very small quirkly pictures of strange creatures.
John Kenn Superman sketch from the Superman mural.
We had a good chat with Fredrik Stromberg, one of the headmasters (for want of a better word) at Serieskolan i Malmö (the Comics Art School of Malmö), who invited us over for a visit. Wow, we were off to Sweden to see a college devoted to training the next generation of comic creators.
All good things must come to an end, and the Copenhagen Comic Convention was no exception. Looking down at our depleted stock we realised that once again we'd done pretty well. We still had some copies of certain comics left but not many. I certainly wasn't going to have to worry about weight allowance for my suitcase on the return flight.
It didn't take long to pack up. It took a lot longer to say farewell to our Danish friends. It's a shame that the event happens only every other year but that's the way it goes, you can't have everything.
True to his word, Soren was waiting for us at the hotel, and so half an hour later we found ourselves looking at some of his son, Lar's, grafitti artwork. More mural artwork than what most people think of when they hear the word 'grafitti' that's for sure. Amazing stuff on such a huge scale.
Colin and Soren with one of Soren's son's Project managed murals at a local park.
I very nice quiet evening followed eating a nice Danish meal provided by Soren's wife Vibeke, drinking beer and talking comics, books and... well I think I'd had too much to drink by then and can't remember what Colin and Soren discussed as my brain started to slow down. As always Soren was a great host and the evening ended with him dropping us off back at the Hotel. Another person we'll miss until 2015.
Monday saw us up bright and breezy. We were to meet Martin Flink and Greg Bennett (of Big Planet Comics) at the train station. We were all off to Malmo. We were all going to the Serieskolan. Martin had studied there for a year, and acted as a guest teacher every now and then so we didn't worry about getting lost. Well, not too much anyway. Another scorching day saw us walk from the station to the school, it was a nice change as we'd spent the last two days in a hall. What a great school, well it was much more than a school. It was the centre of the Swedish Comics world. Fredrik took us on a tour which ended with Colin and I talking to the students about publishing in the UK. We answered a lot of questions as well as we could and saw a lot of their wonderful work.
And then we were invited back to Fredrik's for lunch.
Fredrik Somberg - in normal sized hat.
Hanna his wife had laid on a nice spread which we ate outside, in the baking sun. Being the host that he is, Fredrik suggested that I wear a hat, and proceeded to lend me one of his. All I'll say is that it must have been an old one, one he wore as a young boy maybe, as the hat didn't fit me at all. Still, it did keep the sun off and it's not as if anyone had a camera, so I'm safe.
Martin Flink, Dave, Hanna Stromberg, Fredrik Stromberg and Greg Bennet... chilling.
What a great day.
Back at the Copenhagen Train Station we did a little Accent UK business and talked to Martin about one of his projects that we are looking to publish in the not too distant future. It all went pretty well and I'll announce more soon (of course if you pop over to Martin's blog you can work it out for  yourselves).
We then spent the evening with Greg, chatting comics, Americana, drinking and eating Vietnamese food. Another great evening.
Tuesday sadly we had to leave.
We both agreed that every Copenhagen Con had been completely different to the one before. What they had in common though was that each one had been great fun, and this one was no exception.
Can't wait to return in 2015.