On Saturday I went to The Cartoon Museum for a special event called "Comics Jam", all about preserving the legacy of British Comics. It was PRETTY AMAZING.
As anyone LUCKY enough to have read this blog for a while will know, I have been to a LOT of comics-based events over the past few years, but those have almost all been ACADEMIC conferences, seminars etc etc. There WERE academics at this one, but it also featured several CREATORS and was led by COLLECTORS, who are a whole other bunch of people all together, with complementary but different priorities. THUS instead of talking about the form of comics or Wot It All Means there was a much bigger focus on the actual physical comics themselves.
The point of the event was to draw attention to the Peter Hansen Collection, a COLOSSAL collection of original comics art and related materials, and the various attempts being made to make this available to THE NATION. Peter Hansen himself was there to talk about it, as well as people like Rob Power from Rebellion (who own 2000AD and a HUGE catalogue of old British comics), who spoke about their attempts to get the original artwork back to the company who now owned the copyright, and who could take care of it.
As I sat there in a small room in the middle of these fans, who were also collectors, many of whom were also creators, I did rather feel like I had SNUCK INTO a secret gathering, where they were plotting what to do with a huge slice of British history. I was sat near to David Roach, a long-term 2000AD creator who happily, like so many comics creators, looks like he had been drawn by himself, and when I came into the room I had to squeeze past DAVE GIBBONS to get in! Later on I even asked a question of Actual Dave Gibbons and managed NOT to squeak with excitement when I did so!
There were some amazing stories of how little original artwork was valued - apparently original Frank Hampson artwork for The Eagle was used as a floor covering to stop the carpet getting mucky, and the only piece of art from MISTY to have survived did so because it happened to be used as a cutting board - and it was GRATE hearing veteran creators talk about the fact that they often didn't WANT their original artwork back, as it was too much bother to store it! Later on Posy Simmonds from out of The Guardian spoke, and then Jonathon Ross did a SKYPE chat, and it all felt like a COMICS ILLUMINATI convention that I had stumbled into!
The REALLY good thing about the day though was that it was housed within the Cartoon Museum, so when there were BREAKS I could go and have a wander round the gallery there, which is AMAZING. I've been before when it was based in Bloomsbury, but its new home is a LOVELY space - airy, open and brightly lit, with lots of space for exhibits, notably a current one showcasing COMICS art (i.e. as opposed to political cartoons). About half of the art there had been donated by the aforesaid Peter Hansen, and it included plenty of work by people who were actually in the room, so it did not diminish my slight giddiness at being there, but it is always exciting to be so up close to artwork that I've known all my life. There was an especially gorgous page from "V For Vendetta", for instance, which prompted me to start re-reading it when I got home. I had forgotten how ACE it was!
It was, overall, a pretty mind-blowing day. I just wish I had a couple of million quid spare to fund a museum!