Figure 1.1 – Shown above, two nerds go to Dublin for the day because comics.
Part one located here.
The day of DECAF approached rather quickly – Easter seemed to disappear almost instantaneous, and before we knew any better Katie and I were on the Translink Enterprise service towards Connelly Station. As this was the first time that the event had been running, we had no prior expectations to proceed under – only that we knew it would not compare to the large scale, thousands-of-pounds set-ups such as Q-Con or MCM Comic Con.
We located the venue soon after arriving off the train – tracking through Dublin town towards a quaint, quieter side of the city that we had not explored before. Luckily, the place was signposted and well advertised, preventing us from getting lost.
One element that surprised me as soon as I entered the place was just how intimate the setting was – However, that was not in a bad reflection of thought. The place had a reasonable amount of attendees and surprisingly, quite a few exhibitors lined up along one wall. The excess space was used to facilitate a comic swap – a genius concept that enables people to bring their loved comics in and exchange them for a new title that they may not have read before; it is a great way to infuse diversity within people’s libraries.
The main intention of our trip was to meet new comic artists and support the community. One belief that I have always held is that the border between North and South should not divide the comic industry of the Isle of Ireland – the industry is small, personable, and supportive. I have witnessed this first hand through my interactions with people such as PJ Holden, Anthea West and Danny McLaughlin, and am determined that if I am to succeed in the comic industry, then I will continue creating this fantastic, family-like atmosphere amongst the cons.
Indeed, most of the exhibitors that were present at DECAF were entirely new to the both of us. To our surprise – and somewhat relief – we did happen to recognise one artist whom we had met the previous summer, and very excitedly purchased an ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (2005) print from. Katie Fleming has increased her attendance at cons, and has recently been producing more original content, including her most recent title, ‘100 More Times’ (Kerr and Flemings, 2016).
It was lovely being able to have a catch up with her and ask how she was getting on – as well as purchasing our own copies of her latest book. Very kindly, she informed us that part one of the story was available to read freely on the platform Tapastic. It would have been great to ask her more about her experience with the website, but due to the nature of the event it was difficult to maintain a conversation amongst the other patreons scouring the tables for comics and merchandise.
In a surprising twist, another artist that we spoke to, Thom Rodriquez, had a background in animation. This seemed to be the case with a few other of the exhibitors on the day too – which is reassuring for Katie and I, as we felt that comics was diverging drastically away from the nature of our degree. It is nice to see that type of commeradery between artists, as we can appreciate the tutalge and conviction that they had to persue their careers in such a challenging subject.
In addition to the exhibitor tables, DECAF also hosted a series of talks in the afternoon. The notes from these talks are available in my green notebook (p24-25).
As the talks were underway, I couldn’t help but notice an overwhelming sense of support filling the space; especially between the speakers as they waited patiently for their turn. Each of the artists seemed to have a strong connection with one another, and were not hesitant to stand up and promote one another’s work – rather than tearing them down. It gave me an insight into how important networking is for the sake of morale – each of these artists standing before me knew of the trials and tribulations that often occur as a result of living a creative lifestyle. There was no competition within the venue – only an overwhelming sense of passion and enthusiasm for comics; that is what I loved about the experience. Their determination was inspiring, and for what was achieved as a first-ever exhibition was of phenomonial standard and quality. It gave the industry a human face, and charismatic personality.
On the train journey home, I confided in Katie that I cannot wait until we are established and running to a point that we could become the exhibitors at a convention or comic event. My personal opinion is that preparing myself and gathering a collection of work is the next stage of the progression ladder – skill development is vitally important if I am considering selling artistic prints and materials to people in exchange of cash; they have to be high quality and constructurally sound drawings.
Attending conventions and events such as DECAF often remind me of our immpecible standards; but perhaps that could also be our downfall. Although the quality of the material that we saw today was less than what I personally would have sold to attendees, that is why they are on the other side of the table – they are commiting themselves to their work and sharing it with society, rather than hiding it away because it does not match their personal standards. I honestly feel that this is were I go wrong, and why it more often than not takes so long for me to produce a piece of work; I am letting perfectionistic traits interfere with the process, and as a result, it has caused me to grow increasingly frustrated – both with myself and lack of obvious skill development within my work. Without attending DECAF, I may not have been able to be insightive; this cycle would have continued to interfere with my production flow. I feel that now that I have identified /why/ things are ‘so difficult’, I can pace and remind myself of the important facts – art is art, and we are the devils of our own restrictions.
Fleming, K. and Kerr, E. (2016). 100 More Times. 1st ed. Dublin, Ireland: Self-Published, p.Front Cover.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, (2005). [TV programme] 240: FXX.
“Stray Lines > The Comics Lab”. Straylines.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.