Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I've not been to a New York Comic Con since 2008, when they were in the beginning of the year. So I decided that 2010 would be the year I would go back. October is a nicer time of the year than February so the weather was bound to be better. Unfortunately we left this rather late and because hotels were seemingly too expensive, we decided to book a flat. We searched online and found a place called which looked quite decent. We booked a place in the East Village, which was cheaper than a hotel but we booked it with the understanding that it would have two beds. But when we got there, it turned out that it only had one bed and didn't really match the photograph that was on their website. So we were forced to book a hotel at very short notice. To top that, they have refused to return my deposit. So that cast a shadow over the trip. I won't be using anybody like them in the future and I would hope that people reading this blog would bear this in mind if they were to use them in the future. We found a hotel up near the park which was pretty nice but cost more than we were planning to spend. I felt a little bit stupid considering that I have been to New York countless times. But the days after were a lot better: we got to catch up with my friend Mark Chiarello at DC for lunch, we visited animator Bill Plympton in his studio and also we visited Mike Kaulta's studio on the Upper West Side. So the precursor to the show was pretty enjoyable. The weather started as rainy but it became very nice and it actually felt like it was summer rather than autumn. The show was very impressive: from the Thursday afternoon icv2 Digital Comics Conference, it was obvious that it had already grown since I was last there. Icv2 brought together important figures like Boom's Mark Waid,'s Heidi MacDonald and Marvel's David Gabriel to discuss how digital does and should fit into the current market. We even got to catch up with Bill Baker, who I've not seen in over two years, for dinner which was very enjoyable. When we got there on Friday, the queue to get in was crazy but luckily because I was registered as press, I was able to circumvent this. New York Comic Con 2010 had an amazing guest list of the biggest and best comic creators working in American comics today including Brian Bendis, Joe Kubert, Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and many more. Unlike San Diego Comic Con, even though film and TV was represented through the Walking Dead's Frank Darabont and a preview of Marvel's Thor movie and DC's Green Lantern film, comics were still the main thing on the menu. I have heard that it may have hit 100,000 people this year and this is phenomenal. Considering that it has only been going for five years, this is even more staggering. New York has been the home of the American comic for decades but at last it has a show that reflects that. We did visit Brooklyn on one of the days after the show but I'm going to save that for another post. Here are some photos I took at the show to give you a flavour of what it was like…

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The past few weeks have just flown by so there's a bit of a backlog here. With me going to New York and then (rather less glamorously) to Birmingham, I've not updated as regularly as I normally do. I shall enddeavour to catch up this week so here's the first post in a little while. Open House, as regular readers of this blog know, is a weekend, usually the third one in September, where hundreds of buildings, structures and places are opened up across the whole of Greater London. These are usually places that are not usually accessible to the public so for someone like myself, it's a wonderful opportunity for me to see places I've never been to. I've been going for over a decade now so it's getting harder and harder to find new gems. This year, we decided to pick Southwest London, so on the Saturday we went for The White Lodge in Richmond Park plus the Kilmorey Mausoleum in St Margaret's and Garrick's Temple of Shakespeare in Hampton. The White Lodge is a Georgian building which was built as a Royal residence and since the 1950s it has housed the Royal Ballet School. The exterior is wonderful but the interior is like any other wealthy school you would visit. It did give us an excuse to walk a little around Richmond Park, which is stunning, and recommended. So after visiting there, we got in the car and after lunch, drove to the Kilmorey Mausoleum located in St Margaret's near Teddington. This is an Egyptian-style mausoleum, built by the Earl of Kilmorey in the 1850s. It is unusual because most funerary objects these days are located in the grounds of cemeteries so this was somewhere a bit different. Not a huge place but worth visiting if you happen to be nearby anyway. Lastly on the Saturday we went down to Hampton to see Garrick's Temple of Shakespeare, which is also not big but it's perched right on the river so really beautiful. We walked down to Hampton Court and back which is always enjoyable. On the Sunday, consulting the book, I decided to visit the Apothecaries Hall in Blackfriars in the City of London. I was pleasantly surprised to find somewhere in the City of London, a part of the city I thought I was very familiar with, that I had never visited before. This is the hall for the City Guild that includes pharmacists as its members and dates from 1670, just after the Great Fire of London. Behind an unassuming façade on the street is a wonderful wood-panelled building, so this really was a hidden gem. So even though I've done Open House for over a decade now, I still managed to find new places to engage my interest. This weekend continues to be a wonderful event…

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