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In the end, he became a beautiful butterfly.

I asked Sebastian to write a eulogy for the now-finished The Ancient Shark Of Despair blog, but instead he posted a picture of himself and many parenthesis. Oh, Sebastian!

That shark has been our little witch and marketing cudgel for three years now, doing his part to hit that high-value 13-18 female age bracket right between the eyes and giving us a rigorous workout in trying to keep up a real-time, first-person fiction story with an extremely limited cast and a protagonist who refuses to leave the house.

And now his story is just about over. In the apocalyptic climax, three years in the making, he got out of the house and moved in next door. Nobody learned anything and it looks very likely that the Shark is going to spin his odious webs anew with whatever raw resources/people he has at his disposal. The Ancient Shark Of Despair was not a story where things 'happened,' really. Things nearly happened, they had already happened or, in the event where things did happen, there was no guarantee that they did so exactly or even remotely as described. That wasn't important. What was important, as the Shark may well have said himself, was the emotions.

The genesis of the character is mildly interesting, so I'll provide a lengthy summary of such. Sebastian and I were at art school, the sun shined every day and almost everyone was beautiful and talented, or at least potentially talented. We ran about here and there, talking people into drawing Semiotic Cohesion comics and I think 95-96% of our studio time at college was taken up by coming up with new script ideas, Shark Of Wisdom quotes and working on our pictorial odyssey of folk music and homelessness. Much of this material is still being slowly uploaded from my notebooks into the world of the flesh, and the snippets of such banter that filtered through to the lecturer's office were angrily described to me as 'intellectual masturbation,' when it came to evaluation time and most of my year's work was tied up in A6 notebooks. We took a trip out to my old high school to see their Matric Art Exhibition and were loudly shocked at how much damn work these high schoolers, with plates far fuller and demands far more demanding than our own, could produce so much good work, most of which outstripped our college by leagues and fathoms. I should reveal at this point that we didn't go to a very good art college.

Anyway, we met with one of these hard-working high-school scamps in a family orientated theme restaurant and we approached him with the idea for a webcomic that we had. We had a healthy obsession with trying to get a webcomic going. The webcomic would be called 'The Sharkstar Prophecies' and would feature an artist that we knew illustrating a chunk of text, mostly nonsense and sauce, about this Ickean mythology I'd cooked up about Semiotic Cohesion - it involved shark-men and hidden cities and vague bids for world domination and all sorts of other things I'd picked up from hanging out with hippies for a year or two after a fairly hefty break-up. We had Shark Of Wisdom all figured out - he was mostly a collection of Sebastian's fondness of Alan Watts and my shameful art school flirtation with Tom Robbins books. We had some other sharks hanging around too - the Money Shark, Chumbucket, Cpt. The Great God Shark... but what we needed was a nemesis to Shark Of Wisdom. Sebastian used his mutant ability to poke the divine membrane of conciousness and so provoke a squirt of insight into his face, right there in public, and declared that there would be a character called The Ancient Shark Of Despair.

Previous to this, I'd spent some time in London, which is a good place to get acquainted with broken people and solitary lives, and I'd spent a good deal of time hanging around Fulham library, a direct result of whose services resulted in me reading all those silly Tom Robbins books, but also a curious little volume called 'The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break' by Steven Sherrill. It's a pretty good book, the plot of which involves an ungainly beast-man trying to cope with life in a fragile, disconnected world that it not physically or metaphorically built for him. There is a lot of emphasis on his disabilities which, being the Minotaur, include his monstrous horns, the blind spot right between his eyes, his shrill voice and lolling tongue and his occasional but very terrible urges to bite people's tits off. I was also at the time working in a little West End wine shop that acted as the lifeline to a motley crew of regulars, one of which would tell me endless tales of his life imprisoned in his apartment. During his imprisonment he would cook up ways to raise, by proxy, his neighbour's kids. He thought that they were good kids and that they just needed the right start in life, which I presume their parents were not giving them. At the time, he had spent a large sum of money on an encyclopedia set and was covertly leaving it on his neighbour's doorstep in installments. He would also go into long sermons about James Joyce at any excuse and kept telling me that the reason for his sad predicament was that he had lost all of his teeth at a cruelly young age and had lost the confidence to talk to anyone. He also had a cat and would give me full updates on its status and habits. I am, at the time of writing, back in London and back at working at that very same wine shop. The fellow who seeded a chunk of The Ancient Shark Of Despair's backstory is still about, only now he wears his hair in a ponytail and has been banned from the store after an episode where he threw a can, or perhaps several cans, of Coke at a manager. He did come in the other day to use the phone. His cat was ill and possibly at death's door. He spoke to the vet for a very, very long time about the cat's status and habits.

The Sharkstar Prophecies never materialised, and what plot I had figured out was folded into the Shark Of Wisdom's 'Parables' section, which Sebastian never hesitates to tell me how much he hates. Our high school-leaving young man in the franchise steak restaurant never drew one stroke for our charming periodicals, as his father demanded instead that he work in a cokey pizza chain and then join a band he'd made. I came up with some backstory for The Ancient Shark Of Despair, informed by the London-gathered experiences above and, in an early-morning text message, told Sebastian that he really should have a Myspace page to himself. Myspace was all the rage back then. People spoke about it and little else at parties. I was feeling left out and vengeful that people would be staging magnificent parties full of sex and beauty that I would hear about some weeks later, whereupon a once-trusted friend and ally would don a sincerely blank mask and say, "But why didn't you come? It was on Myspace."

Sebastian was already quite deep into the phenomenon. He did not actively participate, but instead feasted upon the ream after ream of raw emotional data that were thrown up by the limitless legions of unwed teen mothers, fundamentalist Christian rappers, racist truck-admirers, meme enthusiasts enlisted in the Armed Forces and any number of combinations of the above. It was understood that he would be at the helm of any publicity project involving the web applet. We cooked up a blog and I imparted to Sebastian the importance of keeping it updated every day, with no exceptions, even if he didn't particularly have anything to say that day. Which is why a lot of the early blogs say things like, "I don't particularly have anything to say today."

Sebastian's own influences for the Shark's personality were markedly different to mine. The Sherrill stuff, the Icke backstory, the old man from the wine store and his sick cat all passed through the filter made up of Sebastian's teenage affinity for hip-hop and internet music chatrooms, his job as a Butler's pizza deliveryman, his remarkable family life, the giant amount of philosophy he had absorbed from his ex-monk father's library. Our usual writing style as a team is that I provide the structure and the steering and he provides the disaffection and insight. Those early days were pretty damn exciting, let me tell you. We gained momentum quickly and got into a pattern where I would dictate the backstory and vague story points, like 'This week, let's have him actually meet those kids outside,' or 'He should spend Christmas all alone and go insane,' and handle all of the in-character correspondence and comment-answering while Sebastian provided the actual meat and potatoes of the character. This worked out well! Girls loved it, provoking many Hideaki Annoesque double-takes, we sold many buckets of t-shirts and we could name-drop that crazy Myspace character at parties and gather praise in our praise-sacs. This statement should be taken in measure, however, as White Suburban Cape Town is a horrifically small place and everyone is very polite and keen to hand out praise when someone looks like they expect it.

But then! The TASOD story became increasingly complicated, with a fairly dicky sense of what was actually occurring in the story and what was merely occurring the Shark's head. We had the idea of spinning of The European King, which had its roots in a wonderfully left-field Shark/Sebastian musing, into his own story that Sebastian was insistent that I helm myself, possibly to get me to stop writing things over his shoulder all the time. I don't remember if this stopped me, but the King went from one of the many Shark-proxies into a sprawling epic that has now outlived its source story. We had grand plans to form a kind of Myspace Opera, with each character getting their own Myspace profile and then co-ordinating whole plotlines through timed responses between five or more fictional entities. One one point, we were resolute in the idea to reveal that Moe the pizza boy, who would quietly gain a Myspace to showcase Sebastian's accumulation of baffling music, would be revealed to actually -be- the Shark, and that he was writing in the character of a regular customer he served as part of his job. After the focus had shifted to Moe's blog, with The Ancient Shark Of Despair's blog still running in the background, we would store up the popularity and then stage a concert of Moe, featuring Moe's music, and at the concert, Sebastian would reveal to the crowds that he in fact was Moe before he played Moe's (his) music. There were then vague plans about a shark costume and a fight between him and the REAL Ancient Shark Of Despair. Art school, man. Art school.

So none of that happened because we'd became genuinely attached to the Shark and didn't want to compromise his fictional universe with a few stunts. Also, frankly, it seemed too much like hard work. We stuck with the story and moved on over to our own site, leaving dear old Myspace behind, because Facebook had by then replaced it as the thing to chitter on endlessly about at parties. This might have been an error. Thanks to a cutely arcane comments system and the arduous rigour of being on an unfamiliar site, the chaotic flow between reader feedback and story response tickled to a halt. Whereupon we were quite happy to suddenly incorporate Myspace posters into the Shark's psychoscape and feature them in the occasional webcomic or mention them in the story, after the move the Shark was very much alone. This did, however, force the story into gear. We got into a good rhythm with Saga Of The European King too, which started with the premise that it was being written directly by the Shark - hence the miraculous wooden hands that aren't at all like useless fins, the best friend who is stupidly obese, the conspicuous reuse of names like David and Michael and Roxy and so on. By the time the Shark went on his big adventure, the King was mucking about on the Moon and the stories were cross-pollinating each other like crazy. The adventure story was a special time because that's when the Sebastianness of the Shark expanded to fill all available space. I think my sole contribution to that storyline was to push for the idea that we could at some point return to the apartment-landlord-solitary set-up that had been established, that the Shark was still really inside his house blogging the adventure rather than actually living through all the crazy Twin Peaksesque business that was hurling itself around the story. As for the rest of it, all I had to do was let Sebastian get on with his thing and he turned out what was probably the finest story-arc of the lot. Sebastian was approached at this point through private mail by a reader, offering his home phone number and an opportunity to talk whatever was troubling him through to a sympathetic ear. I assured Sebastian that it was a sweet gesture borne of artistic respect, but he was in the midst of a severe Kilgore Trout mood, where the slightest human touch was as much an affront to him as sodomy. His recoil was absolute.

After that though, the steam kind of ran out of the story. David had to be removed out of fear that the creepy-uncle aspect of the story had been pushed to its absolute limit and Sarah became the main focus for some time, marking a strange turning point where sex in the world of The Ancient Shark Of Despair turned from being icky to being somewhat desirable. The updates became few and infrequent and after I'd left to England in May 2008 and wasn't around to poke him in the back every few minutes, they dwindled to nothing. Our regular readers abandoned us, and our most devoted fan, a misunderstood (?) young woman who played the Shark-is-a-real-person-on-the-internet-really game to frightening levels, bemoaned the Shark's disappearance regularly on her own blog - a bedazzlingly complicated web of sex and deceit and paranoia that seemed to be a pure distillation of the sum total of thoughts that pass through the brains in a cockatoo aviary. My stance was that her work could only be a parody - a far cleverer parody than the sort we'd cooked up, and that perhaps we had inspired her in her japery, but Sebastian was convinced of its stark, necessary truth and soon the conversation was filled with thoughts he could not articulate to me.

I blame the schools.

And so The Saga Of The European King muddled on with Masters Of The Universe references and thirdhand knowledge of World Of Warcraft and quickly became quite separate from the Shark's world, which I would say boosted its longevity further than I expected it to go. My tidy tyrant's mind, however, could not rest easy with the Shark's story left hanging like it was, with a major and expensive confrontation between the principal characters setting the stage for ... something, and the landlord finally blowing his lid and delivering a dire warning of the Shark's discovery and firey death at the hands of a lynch mob. The time window for telling the foreshadowed story of Sarah's Matric Dance (That's a Prom in more internationally-recognised lingo) came and went and Sebastian fessed up to me that he was bored of the character and his infuriating, hemmed-in life, and was sick to death of the real-time structure that monopolised his evenings.

So I printed out everything that had come before - the blog, the mini-comics, the aborted attempt at a webcomic - and I pulled up a chair and spent a few weeks becoming the world's foremost expert on The Ancient Shark Of Despair. I traced out all the plots and mentions and allusions that hadn't gone anywhere, I kept a log of all the characterisations that had occurred and I drew up some timelines - all behaviours that Sebastian considers to be distasteful and artistically bankrupt, but which I consider to be among the most rewarding experiences I've yet to come across. Also, at the time, I had a girlfriend who was a continuity girl on a Portuguese soap-opera for a number of years, so it was kind of a bonding experience to do it together some nights. Not bonding enough to prevent me getting dumped about a month later, but one must gather these nuggets of joy wherever they may fall. Anyhow, I killed the landlord's sometime-mentioned mother and wrote Moe out of the real world and decided to start a chain of events that would end the story on a satisfying note. I also wanted to hang a bit more substance on the Shark's very ambiguous past and have the story more firmly set in Mowbray, and have historical references to, say, the cinema where The Ancient Shark Of Despair would have been likely to attend in the fifties and so on.

But the Shark's story has never existed in singular form. Discarding The Saga Of The European King, there were roughly four versions of the story running parallel to each other. There was the one set in a close approximation of the real world, where the Shark is just a fat and lonely old man, there's the version of that more removed from reality where he really is a shark from outer space, there's the story from the webcomics and the Adventure portion of the blog, with Carolyn and Leonard Cohen and Burzum and The Man Who Talks In Opposites and then there's the Shark's sitcom version of that world where he is represented as Ric the astronaut and things are about as Lychian as it gets. Adding to the mix is the fact that the Shark often gets these versions of reality confused and is almost certainly twisting the truth about almost everything that makes it to his blog.

I've no idea if I did bring these four versions to a reasonable conclusion, but I gave it the old art college try. The incredibly strange character of Carolyn jumped over into the real world in the form of the landlord's mother, and her highly metaphorical house mentioned in the Adventure became central to the plot. The Shark's vague but persistent aspirations to write a sitcom got a good airing and helped to contribute to a nice undermining of the ostensibly happy ending. I think I managed to define his troubling relationship with David without having to come right out and say it in the finale. And most importantly, the Shark got out of that horrible little apartment and the landlord escaped his clutches. Even if he moved right into another horrible little apartment and the landlord will probably move heaven and earth to return to those clutches, I'm still willing to chalk it up to progress. I'm glad that the Shark ended up a little better than we found him, even if he is a terrible person who doesn't deserve one shred of love. I guess that's his whole deal. If he really does live forever, I hope that one day he finally does gain that perspective on people he talked about and he loses the habit of corroding anyone or anything that tries to reach out to him or offer him support.

I wonder if he'd still look good on a t-shirt if that happened.

So thank you all for reading and, if you didn't, don't be afraid to go back and read it now. I think it's rather good. Perhaps others will agree.

Goodbye, The Ancient Shark Of Despair.

Sincerely,
Tom McNally

Hedgemony EXTREME! (anthology) on sale at The Book Lounge (Cape Town((South Africa)))

We've all heard the rumours. Apparently, The Book Lounge was planning on selling a compilation of my comics, apparently. I decided that, being a shrewd business man, I should compile my own compilation complete with some unseen goodies and new full-on psychedelic front/back covers. Then, I'd go to The Book Lounge mere minutes before their guy rocked up with his batch and I'd pretend to be him, thus you know, thus deceit. I hung outside across the road watching for anyone dressed suspiciously like me (white fake fur coats, black fake fur coats, psychedelic ponchos, red & white checkered bomber jackets, etc.).

Support something beautiful.
Photo by the impermeable Michaela Verity. For the good stuff:
http://michaelaisthephotographer.blogspot.com/

After about an hour, disappointed at having been robbed of that highly sought after 'sex-with-doppelganger' twist, I burst in throwing my comics left right and center; taking turns to scream at each person inside in a different made up language. When the emotional smoke had cleared and the people I had been screaming at moments earlier had helped me pick up the fine products of my trade, one of the owners -JOHAN(N?) (coincidentally, my real name is JOHANN)- fell right into my trap.

SO! The Hedgemony Comics Ultra Million Pack Mega Edition (Extreme) is prominently displayed and on sale at The Book Lounge. You should definitely go to their shop, and coincidentally buy a copy of Hedgemony EXTREME! I mean, just do it and see where life takes you. I mean, what's the worst that could happen. I mean, it's a pretty darn good publication. I mean, when was the last time you supported something beautiful. I mean, except for like Danny K concerts.

- I mean, Sebastian coincidentally.

Sometimes we make comics

Hey all you special people, I bet you're brimming with love.

Back in that crazy old 'Scot'land, I met a Mr. Jeremy Briggs, who purported to be from some species of comics website, and he enchanted me into handing over some valuable Semiotic Cohesion product. The machinations of journalism have turned their oily wheels and lo, and behold - a review!
http://downthetubescomics.blogspot.com/2009/06/in-review-semiotic-cohesion-4.html

Of our fourth comics anthology! We haven't had a review in ages and ages.

He draws attention to the beautiful production, the general sense of bafflement and Colleen Brice's fine skill with a pencil. He also aggressively misspells mine and Sebastian's names. I think it is a good review. What do you think, readership?

Here, again, is the original article:
http://downthetubescomics.blogspot.com/2009/06/in-review-semiotic-cohesion-4.html

While there is no true thread tying the stories together, the shark is very much the symbol of the title, be it the editorial from The Ancient Shark Of Despair to the Shark Of Wisdom which is illustrated by Brice Reignier and takes in such non-tradition shark locales as desert, mountains and the White House. From chocolate eating robots to demons discussing their female dates, Semiotic Cohesion is never going to be a tradition comic, but for me two strips stand out. Pegasus, written by Paul McNally, tells the story of a winged horse buying cigarettes for a girl and is drawn in a very early Seventies nursery comic style by Nandi Williams. Less traditional is Rhino, written by editor Tom McNally. This is silent strip telling the story of a tiny civilisation which takes over a rhinoceros turning it into a robot to roam the world with lovely graphite-like pencils by Colleen Brice. Two very different strips, but both left me wanting more.

In other news, the last chapter of The Ancient Shark Of Despair should be up by the end of the week and the fifth Semiotic Cohesion anthology should be out by, I don't know, August? There was a laptop theft, you see. I think it will be awesome when it does come out, but until then, why not read some King? It's pretty good!

Sincerely,
Tom McNally

Just for once.

Do you live in Cape Town??? Really??? Then you must know THE BOOK LOUNGE??? Surely???

Rumours abound that a compilation of my comicsxxxz will be selling there soon. Well Well Well. While trying to work out if the rumours were true or not I accidentally drew the cover. This is what it looks like with a yellow background and with grey instead of black lines:::

Please actually like this one for once. Just for once - Sebastian.

Oh, the places I've been.

Hello. Look at how big you are now! You must be very strong.

So the last time I let you, the mysterious and handsome reader of this blog, know that I had been touting fine Semiotic Cohesion product upon the unwary public whilst surrounded by a jury of small-press comics publishing peers, it was February or some nonsense and I was banging on about Inverness. Well, listen here - I've been to four whole other events like that one and never even bothered to tell you about them. What do you think of that, dear reader? Do you want to fight? Did you know that I am over three meters tall? You cannot hope to win.

CHAPTER 0001: UK MINI AND WEBCOMIX THING, MILE END (like the song), LONDON

I saw the future over there.

First up, I went to the UK Mini & Webcomix Thing, at some point it what was almost certainly March. My memories of this far-off time are few. The best part of everything was that the travel time was nil, since Melody lives right in Mile End I remember that there were some Germans running around asking pointed questions and laughing, always laughing, in German.

(Note: For reasons that vex and elude, I am unable to link directly to the site of these fine German fellows. Please, have a look for yourselves through the old-timey 'copy and paste' method of browsing: http://zettgeist.blogspot.com/2009/04/two-herren-and-british-invasion.html )

I took a photo of this lady, whose name and whereabouts are unknown to me.

So mysterious

Maybe she is the key to understanding UK Mini and Webcomix? Maybe I fell in love with her, but in the end she turned out to be a ghost.

This photo of Mike Rouse-Dean is my only other clue as to what happened that day.

Grumpy face!

I remember that we were discussing nudity. Here he looks quite grumpy. Perhaps the nudity was making him feel low? Maybe being away from his native Yorkshirian soil saps his strength and poisons his well? As a vaguely-native Yorkshirian myself, I can report that it is a horrible place and no one should ever go there.

Kate Beaton was kicking around there too. Sebastian and I had a plan to seduce her together. I would pretend to be him and wow her with his Hedgemony comics. Then we would have to keep up the pretence of me being Sebastian and many sitcom hijinx would ensue. It would all end terribly and we would be satisfied. Unfortunately, I right off the bat started talking about what a horrible place Yorkshire is (see above), which I suppose is quite a bad thing to say to someone who is all into history and whatnot. I withered under her protests and found myself confessing to its natural beauty and rich, possibly significant history, conceding that really it's only my gran's house that is awful because it is soaked in piss. My anti-pride shattered, I disappeared, never to be seen again. But not before buying one of her comics. I later gave it to my Mum, who proclaimed that it was the only comic she'd ever understood.

Also, Tom Meddings was there, moving his hands so quickly!

Too fast for this cat.

UK MINI AND WEBCOMIX THING
NUDITY QUOTIENT: LOW

CHAPTER 00002 - SPEXPO2009, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

You must speak my language because of economics.

Oh, here's a fine piece of continuity that seems to make sense of this saucy spaghetti of bafflement we call causality - In the bar after the Webcomix Thing, I ran into a man named Adam Cadwell and his hetero life-mate, Marc Ellerby. They told strange and wonderful tales of a land named Sweden and its only city, Stockholm. There was a small press comics expo of some description there, they said. They would be going - how cool was that? This stirred a memory or two in me.

INTERLUDE: CRACK PANTHER! ROME, ITALY 2008
Everyone told me I had to stick to the theme and ride the shark.

Way back in the mist of 2008, while selling comics in the dungeon of a Roman castle built to scare the Pope, some upstanding Swedish citizens from the unfairly brilliant Galago outfit, told me that I would have a time and a half for sure at SPEXPO2009, as they liked to call it. Among these good Swedes were:

Over to the right!

Johannes Klenell - The head honcho of Galago. This is the only photo I had of him! I am sorry, Johannes. He is the one on the right.

After this, the horse came alive and thanked us.

Kolbeinn Karlsson - Some kind of giant, living Viking, whose awesome new book sits now sits proudly on my bookshelf until it is time to give it to Sebastian, because it is totally his sort of thing.
Find him here: http://www.pappacomics.blogspot.com/

Loka on the couch in the castle's prison.

Loka Kanarp ( http://www.lokakanarp.blogspot.com/ ) - whom I was quite prepared to fall in love with. "You can't do it," said a trusted advisor, "Her boyfriend is the biggest publisher of pornographic comics in Sweden."
"I have hardly published any pornography at all!" I lamented.

INTERLUDE CONCLUDES

Anyway! Back at London and closer to the present, Adam assured me that the tables were huge and the admission was free. Swift as a bunny, Melody and I booked a table and before long we were in grey old Stockholm, greeted everywhere by the image of the Swedish president, who is a naked older woman.

Or even a Prime Minister?

I said 'hello' to Johannes, who promptly spilled coffee on me, I was told I was the second person ever to have bought the new League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, and I promised Kolbein that I would be at the launch party of his book that very evening. I tried to go, but it was full. Girls in black t-shirts with radio earpieces told me in clear English that I couldn't go. My heart broke and everyone else had a good time. I went back to the hostel and read the latest chapter of The Saga Of The European King to Melody, and she was probably delighted.

We were placed in an English ghetto along with the aforementioned Marc and Adam, joined and made strong by the addition of the Lizzes Greenfield and Lunney, along with Matt Sheret, whom I kept on mistaking for Marc, to escalating embarrassment. Possibly leading their motley/charming crew was the fiercely competent Anna Petterson, who crops up again in the next chapter. Continuity!

Fine fellows!

Anna corrupting the sight of a child.

Many words were spilled about the public spending in Sweden. They have wheelchair ramps on every pavement. No one dies. Another aspect of the country / city I found interesting is that there are no dogs. In London, one is used to seeing dogs and their salty leavings everywhere. In Cape Town, they roam the streets at their own leisure, making one feel that one is in a science-fictional community among sentients of every size and shape. We tracked down the only dog in Stockholm and asked him how he felt.

The only dog in Sweden

"I am okay with this," he said.

Mine had olives in it and I didn't even mind. Maturity!

But it all ended well, with wraps.

It was back to London after that, just in time for a riot.

Everyone was so bored.


SPEXPO 2009
JEFFREY BROWN'S MUMBLES QUOTIENT: HIGH


CHAPTER 000003 - SMALL PRESS EXPO, BRISTOL, ENGELENLAND

Here I am a secret agent.

Due to a lab accident, the once-mighty Bristol Comics Festival deal was cut to the quick. 500 people gathered in the hallways of the Ramada and jostled the fellow who played one the stupider aliens from Star Wars while, on the other side of a big church, Mal from The Fallen Angel and Mike Allred hosted a Small Press do that was brave and bold and new and contained no ridiculous guest stars at all.

Responses were mixed. Mr. Paul Rainey, at a table with Peet Clack, seemed quite pleased with himself indeed!

And he means it.

However, this fellow just across from me, Mathew J Pallett, of Stir Fried Product, did not appear to be having an exciting time.

Matthew take 1
Matthew take 2
Matthew take 3
Matthew take 4
Matthew take 5
Matthew take 6
Matthew take 7

The public, bless their hearts, were too busy being shocked by the European release of Sebastian's masterpiece, Mexican Piss Dream, to offer any comment other than coughs and splutters. Apparently the secret to selling Mexican Piss Dream to people is to actually -be- Sebastian. When I have the technology, I will conduct tests.


BRISTOL SPEXPO 2009
STARING QUOTIENT: HIGH


CHAPTER 0000004 - MCM EXPO, LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN

You're reading it wrong.

The MCM Expo was quite a different kettle of fish altogether. It is really more of a dazzling totem to greed and plastic than a bunch of shy people trying to modestly foist their comics upon passers-by. In the past, there has been little concession or even recognition of a comics small press at all and all comers were charged at the same rate as, say, Paramount's Revenge Of The Fallen display. But thanks to the brave efforts of the aforementioned Anna Petterson and Emma Vieceli, and a good man named Pud, there now exists a cosy Comics Village where the likes of me can inexpensively hurl copies of Shark Of Wisdom at friendly people dressed as the cast of Bleach. Good on them.

I tried to get to the ExCell centre and the heart of the show on the preceding Friday so that I could set up at a leisurely pace and talk shit up with folk. However, due to a hilarious error, I and my trundly case full of comics ended up in Leyton, which would be a terrible place to put an international conference centre. Anna and Emma's voices were soothing over the telephone. "Don't give in," they said. "Follow your heart. Come to the sound of my voice(s)."

Folks, I did what they said and I slid my wheely case under my table just as someone told me to get the hell out of the hall. I was rewarded with an invitation to drinks at the nearby public house, where the voice of Anna was revealed to be played by the same Anna from Stockholm and I tried to talk to Adam about Transformers and failed. Tony Lee ( http://tonylee.co.uk/ ) called me terrifying, then said some mean things about cosplayers and I got drunk on just two beers. Then I returned to Wandsworth, where my housemates were having an impromptu barbecue. They have been acting suspiciously happy ever since the painfully dull New Zealand housemate moved out. After about fifteen minutes sleep, it was back to the ExCellodrome, by route of a hundred rail replacement buses, whereupon I was met with many wonderful sights.

Go Phil, go!

Like Philip Spence eating a sandwich!

I'm making a note here, 'huge success.'

Or the Weighted Companion Cube hugging a lady, for free!

Is this going to be in one or both of your delightful webcomics?

I saw these guys again. Hi guys over there!

Not a very good picture of Claude, I admit it.

I saw Claude TC and Jon Scrivens talk to some Sims.

I am allowed one brief moment of fanliness, I think.

I had a shameful conversation of the sexual merits of various incarnations of Blackarachnia from Transformers with a girl dressed just like her. Conclusion - the one from Beast Machines doesn't even count.

Happy so long as he's stabbing something.

Even famous grouch Gavin Haynes left the building with "a newfound sense of goodwill for mankind and his works." It was all that hugging that did it.

The one on the left is not a very good wizard.

I even managed to expand the fanbase with some young wizards. Always handy in a fight.

And then Melody dressed up like a French maid. She's written all these events up too, and she provides a Mandarin translation too! Go and have a little look:
http://idbi.us/tpblog/

MCM EXPO
GOODWILL TO MANKIND QUOTIENT: MODERATE-TO-HIGH

AUTOMATED MCM UPDATE:
MAN-BOT GAVIN HAYNES HAS MAN-BLOGGED THIS EVENT ALSO.
FOCUS IS ON =+=HUGGING=+=

So now we are all up-to-date and ready for a triumphant return to Rome for Crack On, where Sebastian and I may well meet again, and LUC the very week afterwards. I shall possibly wait many months till I blog about those.

In the meantime, The Ancient Shark Of Despair's blog will be wrapping up very soon. It may be hard to discern to the untrained eye, but I've been building up to a climax for a few months now. With the story polished up, it will be time to get the first book produced. The Saga Of The European King should be back to more regular updates too, along with more illustrations. A new webcomic is also in the works, entitled 'Cowboy Love Is Pure.' It looks a bit like this:

Cowboy Love Is Pure

Onwards! Onwards to the future!

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