I spent most of last work in the absolute HECKHOLE that is an Academic Conference. Wot a TRIAL it was, spending every day talking about comics, only broken up by regular trips to the pub to watch football with supporters of many nations.
Yes all right, it was jolly good fun, but it did not begin that way, for LO! there were Troubles On The Line on Tuesday night which meant that every service to Bournemouth, where the conference was, was BUGGERED. This meant that the pleasant 100 minute sprint to the coast just in time to watch the football that I'd been hoping for turned into THREE AND A HALF HOURS on a PACKED train with me having to STAND for most of the way. When I finally arrived in Bournemouth, having entirely MISSED the football I trudged across town to what turned out to be the WRONG Premier Inn. "A lot of people get confused" said the lady at reception. The lady at reception in the RIGHT Premier Inn said EXACTLY the same thing when I got there!
The conference itself started on the Wednesday morning and it was GRATE. I did my talk (about defining 'The Marvel Age' as a distinct period) right in the first session of talks, which meant I could then RELAX for the rest of the week. It seemed to go all right, with some good questions and nice feedback afterwards, which added to my RELIEF.
I also went to some ACE talks on Dan Dare, The Marie Duvall Archive, a cunning use of DATABASES to demonstrate changes in storytelling methods over time, digital comics collecting, and quite a lot of Alan Moore. I also ended up going to several sessions about WOMEN in comics, especially in early GIRLS' comics, which was fascinating - it was a MASSIVE market that ran alongside the BOYS' comics that we all know so much more about, and it feels like there's a whole ALTERNATE UNIVERSE where, instead of banging on about Pat Mills and Judge Dredd, people are fascinated by Anne Digby and Tammy! (NB I say Anne Digby because she was there and did an INTERVIEW, and she was BRILL)
Another nice thing this year was that I actually KNEW a few people. It's always scary going to these things when you're NEW and don't have anyone to sit with at lunch. It is basically SKOOL for grown-ups, and like SKOOL it's much much easier when you have people you know from previous events who you can sidle up to for a chat. One of the people there was Mr J Senna, who I'd met when I was in Tuebingen in February, and who I ended up seeing several football games with. Watching Brazil with an Actual Brazilian was a lot of fun, only topped by spending one afternoon BUNKING OFF and going to the pub to watch South Korea beat Germany. That was PRETTY GOOD.
The whole thing FLEW by so that I now find myself back at work once more, looking forward to the NEXT conference I'm attending in a few weeks. This one's only a day long but it will have the added benefit of featuring me CO-PRESENTING with Mr FA Machine - more on this ANON!