Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s is an special Convention/Expo special in celebration of last weekend’s UK Expo (http://www.comicexpo.net) and I asked our wonderful panellists to tell me some stories of joy and dread of their past experiences…


Pat Sullivan:

My happy story(s) didn’t even involve me. i was a bystander, both oddly involved portfolios.

One was an UKCAC many, many years ago.

Portfolio review.

Chris Claremont and Gil Kane were part of the review panel. I was just there because Claremont was the x-men writer. Wooo hoooo, (a mate might have been showing his portfolio but i can’t remember). A kid comes up has an old school exercise book rolled up in his hands. He hands it over. The drawings inside are badly done and in biro. Gil Kane looked like he had been choked by a rather large chicken when he saw it and was incredibly dismissive. Claremont on the other hand spent time explaining to the kid just how he should be approaching doing art. Getting a sketchbook, pencils, practising, studying the work of others etc. The kid left happy and informed. i left with a greater admiration for Claremont.

Several years later i am at another show. Loads of the cream of British artistic endeavour are there. One of them has seen the portfolio of a young boy and has been knocked out by it. So excited was he by the art on show he carried the art around to all his artistic buddies. The kid was beaming, the smile got wider and wider as pretty much to an artistic soul they all praised the work of the kid. As i remember Dave gibbons and John Bolton were amongst the fans of the work. I was left with a warm glow in my normally cynical heart.

Pat is man at Diamond for the UK – Nuff Said


Baz Renshaw:

UKCAC 97, Manchester. Special guests are Alex Ross and Steve Darnell, promoting UNCLE SAM.

After the second part of their talk on the Sunday afternoon, Alex Ross, my favourite artist, had kindly agreed to take some time out to go through my portfolio, despite him having a dose of the flu and jet lag. We found a space amongst the many tables and he started to go through my pages.

Soon we attracted a buzz of other hopefuls and fanboys. One of these rudely interrupted Alex and asked him for a sketch. Alex recognised him from earlier and said he was in the middle of something, and had already done him a sketch before. This bloke then said, “I know you did one before, but can you do another one, but better?” Exact words. Ross became understandably irate at this and said once again no. The bloke went off in a huff.

The mood substantially changed, Ross finished the review. Hesitantly I asked, if he had time for a quick sketch. “After that guy? Sorry, but no.”

Another female artist came over and tried to calm him down.

Alex Ross has never been to another UK convention. After the rudeness of one ‘fan’, its not really surprising. I imagine most creators have had a similar experience at one time or another.

Writer, artist, editor and Liverpudlian Barry Renshaw is behind the ENGINE COMICS line of publications and a founder of the ACCENT UK collective, makers of among other things, REDEYE MAGAZINE, a quarterly for the UK comics scene.


James E. Lyle (a.k.a. Doodle):

I have a ton of “heart warming” stories myself. But the one that will probably stay with me to my dying day is trading lunches with Nick Cardy at Heroes Con 2004. My wife couldn’t come along that year and thoughtfully packed me a whole jar of oatmeal-raisin cookies (home baked!) I offered one to Nick Cardy (one of my childhood idols) and an hour later he offered to share one of his roast beef sandwiches with me! It was like grade school all over, except my buddy was Nick Cardy. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

As for nightmares at shows: well they tend to repeat themselves. I think that may be why you don’t hear about them more. I think everyone knows the traumas too well and just wants to forget them. My repeating trauma is the person who looks at me with a steady (some might say “maniacal”) gaze, and then goes on and on about something they obviously think is fascinating, and that somehow I share this fascination. It’s happened to me too often for a single subject to stand out in my mind, but here are some of the topics of conversation: Star Trek transporter beam and how it works; Yvonne Craig in various compromising stances; Why everything I hold dear is stupid; Why the idiot that runs this particular show is the scum of the earth (sometimes I am very good friends with said “idiot” and resent it, but figure arguing will just take longer); Why girl who just walked by is obviously a tramp, and would love to have a man like the one who is presently boring me!

Like I said, we’ve all had that kind of encounter (I think) and we’d all just as soon forget. There are too many positive things that happen at shows to let the bad ones get us down.

James E. Lyle is a cartoonist and illustrator, including co-creating titles Escape to the Stars, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and DoorMan, plus work on Fright Night, Cynicalman Sells Out, and the accurately-spelt Wiindows. More recently Lyle worked on Turok, the “missing” Paul Gulacy T.h.u.n.d.e.r. Agents, and DRASTIK #1.


Donna Barr:

BAD comics convention experiences?

This is going to sound totally dorky, but… the good stuff so outweighs the bad stuff that I kinda sorta lose track of the bad. Fans bring me Gatorade, and pros show me MASSIVE respect, and people tell me how my books have changed their lives and helping porn stars straighten their seams and stuff their bras (nice girls!) and Rory Root’s feeding frenzy at the end of conventions that always scares the crap out of the other retailers. I get to walk the waterfront on San Diego and test out which bar has the best marguarita and stay in rooms with my best friends and watch bad TV with Roberta Gregory and walk around the convention floor and give German cartoonists a break from speaking English (and have my yearly bicycle riksha ride, with them cute young shorted butts working away in front of me…. What??? Sexist??? Treating cute boys like meat? MOI?)

(Well, good other than my usual battle fatigue, but that’s not the
conventions’ fault.).

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!


Tony Lee & Dan Boultwood:

LEE: My favourite EXPO experience…? Let me speak with fellow co-conspirator Dan Boultwood about our favourite EXPO experience – the 2004 November one…

In November 2004 I went to the Bristol November Expo – I met with AP Comics to discuss MYTHLANDS, another series I was looking to do.

BOULTWOOD: But you were too cheap to get a hotel room.

LEE: Well actually I was supposed to be in Latvia on that weekend and didn’t think I could make it until the last moment, and the rooms were booked.

BOULTWOOD: But Doctor Doom was defeated by Reed Richards, and you were still too cheap for a hotel room?

LEE: Something like that. Think it was Nick Fury. Plane was cancelled. So anyway, I was able to get out of going to Latvia and came to Bristol where I sat down and chatted with Rich Emms, the publisher, now of Markosia. He said I could crash in one of the APC rooms.

BOULTWOOD: I was there to promote COMICANA, my comic that had just come out. Next thing I know this freeloader’s turned up and is crashing in my hotel room.

LEE: Rich said I could.

BOULTWOOD: Rich says a lot of things. Rich says dogs can’t look up. Doesn’t mean they can.

LEE: So, I look at this Boultwood fella, and I think ‘this guy is funny looking’.

BOULTWOOD: Clownshoes do that to a man.

LEE: So it’s about 2am in the hotel bar, pretty much everyone else has gone to bed and I’m chatting to Dan about COMICANA which I absolutely loved, and on the television came some trailer – can’t remember what it was, but it was the classic 40’s style of car. Dan mentioned how he would love to do a story where he got to draw a car like that.

Three hours later, it’s 5am and we’re still in the bar. We’re drunk, and we’ve created the Gloom, pretty much. We decided that a man with a gun was a bit too similar to the Shadow/Spider type of stories, so we worked on a back plot with the Angel of Vengeance. And Dan really wanted to draw a monkey with a fez, so we created the character of the Professor.

BOULTWOOD: NEVER mock the plot power of a monkey in a fez. And besides, it’s not a monkey in a fez – it’s a professor who has his brain in a monkey.

LEE: We wanted a name that was Gloomy – and after some bloody awful ones decided that the GLOOM worked just as well. After all, it was never going to be totally serious. So anyway, we stagger off to the room at about 6am, we wake up about an hour later for breakfast and, during this realised that we still really liked the idea. It had survived the ‘waking up sober’ test with flying colours.

BOULTWOOD: You woke up sober? Lightweight.

LEE: So, bright eyed, we found the AP booth and offered them first option on it. We must have ranted at Rich for ages, while I’m explaining everything Dan’s drawing – and in five minutes flat he shows Rich a sketch of The Gloom – and he’s sold. Totally. I think that the people who read the two issues that came out saw it for what it is, not a world issues changing, Eisner winning drama, but two blokes having a laugh and inviting you into the joke.

BOULTWOOD: I’d like to win an Eisner for it. I think it has issues that need to be told.

LEE: Like brains in monkeys?

BOULTWOOD: Totally. And Nazi Shenanigans.

The two founders of ‘Two Drunk Guys In A Bar’ Productions, Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood are the Eisner Ignored wunderkinds of the small press UK scene. With The Gloom coming out later in 2006 as a collected trade and Bjorn Of The Dead and The Crimson Todger already being planned, the two of them won’t be growing up for quite a while.

To see issues #1 – #3 of The Gloom go to http://www.tonylee.co.uk/thegloom. PS – they also climb trees, James.


Welcome Back Sorry it’s been a while, BUT we are back!!

Last weekend saw another fantastic weekend in UK comics with the Bristol Expo. It was great weekend and for those interested you can read my report at http://portentcomics.proboards27.com/

The next panel tackles the question

“Why are Black couples so rare in comics (superhero, romance, etc.) when Black romance novels, movies, and TV shows enjoy a broad appeal in the mainstream that the industry would kill for? “

Be here for that!

“The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great, isn’t it? – James”


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