Dublin 2019

It’s all Emma’s fault. She was the one who asked me last year if I’d like to contribute some artwork to help promote Dublin’s bid to host WorldCon in 2019. So I did.

I’ve continued to produce more promotional artwork for them , which they’ve been very kind about. I’m really enjoying making some art where there’s a defined audience beyond just entertaining myself and my family. God knows how they’ll end up using it!

I’d put myself firmly in the ‘amateur’ camp when it comes to producing pieces like these but I feel like I’m learning and developing just through the process of trying to make them varied and more… professional in style.  In particular, colouring my own pen-and-ink drawings is not something I’ve done before, but I’ve been experimenting with photoshop and figuring out how to apply digital colours and layer my own painted textures.

The Dublin bid team have just done a lovely feature about me on their website, which features an interview and lots of my artwork to boot:

http://dublin2019.com/an-comhra-the-chat-with-iain-clarke/

Thanks Emma!

My LonCon, Part Deux

imageI shared my immediate emotional reaction to LonCon3 a few weeks ago. I think the moment has now passed for blogs about LonCon, but since I seem to shed neurons like other people shed skin cells, if I don't write down some specifics I know it'll get lost forever. For my own reference, then, if no-one else's, here's My LonCon, Part Deux.

We couldn't get a cheap hotel near the venue so stayed in Travelodge London Bank in the middle of London. We originally wanted to stay in a Japanese Coffin Hotel but fancied a smaller room. BOOM. It was bijou, is all I'm saying. Also about as hot as midday on Mercury.

Me and TardisLonCon was about 20 minutes on the Docklands Light Railway, with a change of trains halfway, so that was fine. When we got there the registration queue of which we had heard Terrible Things had vanished. That's the nice thing about arriving after lunch. Pausing only for vital business like chatting to Alison, Nic, Abigail and Emma and standing in front of a Tardis, we jumped straight into our first panel.

imageOver the next three days we didn't get into everything we wanted, but we did pretty well, and a good half of the panels I saw were very stimulating. The other half ranged from pleasant-but-unsurprising to frustratingly stalled discussions. Fortunately the panel I participated in was one of the enjoyable ones. (At least from our perspective. Who knows what the audience made of it.)

Friday 15th August

Dateline: 1985. “Leisure Hive Two” – Doctor Who Convention

So my LonCon3 write up reminded me of a dim memory that I attended a Doctor Who convention in 1984. Turns out it was 1985, not 1984. Phew! I’m not old after all1.

I was inspired to dig out the old convention guide, since I figured it might be of interest to about seven people on the internet. You can find some images of it below.

Now it has to be said that my memory of 1985 is somewhat hazy and my main recollection of this convention is falling asleep during a 37-part2 black and white story in the all night video room instead of going back to the B&B. You have to remember that this was before I’d have seen much if any Who on videotape so I was probably only familiar with the ones I’d seen on air in the Seventies and Eighties (my earliest Who memory is Planet of the Spiders) plus whatever paltry repeats the BBC had deigned to show. I knew the show’s past mainly from the Target novelisations, which I devoured from an early age and which I credit for getting me into SF. Actually watching honest to goodness old episodes was a proper novelty back then.

Here’s me (on the left of the picture) and my best friend Paul outside the Wiltshire hotel at the tender age of 16. One of my first trips away from home without my parents, possibly the very first. Looking pretty sharp, I think you’ll agree.

fanboys

Below are some scans of the Convention guide. Click for larger versions.

First up, here’s the cover sporting Kaled Man of the Year and all round good egg Davros. Also the welcome page:

coverfirst page

Next, the list of celebrity guests and the two day programme which ran from 24th to 25th August 1985, after Colin Baker’s first full season and during the long hiatus before ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ aired a full year later.

We were treated to Colin Baker, David ‘Cyberleader’ Banks, Nicholas ‘Brigadier’ Courtney, Matt ‘Special effects’ Irvine, Sarah ‘Production Team’ Lee, John ‘K-9’ Leeson, John ‘Benton’ Levene, Ian ‘Harry’ Marter, Peter ‘Nyder’ Miles, and David ‘Son of’ Troughton.

Guests Programme

I do remember seeing Matt Irvine, who is one of the few people I can readily identify in the panel photo below from his many appearances on Swap Shop and his amazingly ’80s fashion sense. (Again, click for a larger version). Is that John Levene leaning in on far left? Presumably that’s Peter Miles (Nyder) third from left. Ian Marter far right, maybe. Nick Courtney third from right? I also do remember seeing K-9, who I’m almost certain is the one in the middle of the second photo below. (Amazingly high quality pictures I think you’ll agree.) Strangely I have no recollection whatsoever of that Colin Baker bloke, who you’d imagine I’d have been at least slightly excited to see. I also took no other pictures of any interest whatsoever. What was I thinking? These days I’d have taken several hundred.

panel K-9

There was also an auction of memorabilia. Lots of premium items like tatty paperback books and annuals. On the second page you can see that I’ve written in biro what some of the sales went for. You’ll note that I was particularly impressed by £20 for a scarf donated by Liz Sladen. To be fair this was probably more money than I’d ever seen up to that point. It doesn’t say if it was screen-used, or just one she had in the back of a drawer.

Auction 1 Auction 2

So there you have it. The least timely con report in Doctor Who history.

EDITED TO ADD: Although the specfics of the con have largely left me (sadly for you the reader) what sticks with me is the huge sense of anticipation I felt. That feeling of connecting with the show. I’d been reading Doctor Who Monthly since issue 1, I owned The Making of Doctor Who, the Monster Book and all the other stuff I could lay my hands on, but being in the presence of people who actually made the show felt surreal. I’ve no idea how many attendees there were but it was a tiny and domestic affair compared to modern conventions. That hardly mattered to a 16 year old Doctor Who fan. My fandoms have considerably broadened since then, but the Doctor Who one has never left me.

1 I’m only fooling myself.
2 Approximately.

My LonCon

TardisSitting here a few days later, LonCon feels so far outside my day to day existence it’s almost like it didn’t happen to me, but was just part of a particularly immersive novel I read at the weekend (with some surprising plot twists and a setting surreally poised between the utopian and the dystopian. I kept expecting Blake’s 7 to come and rescue me.)

Fortunately I also met and chatted to lots of lovely people, at least some of whom definitely exist. By this marker I’m going to provisionally declare the Con to have been an empirically real event. Or events. Many, many events, coincidentally sharing the same space and jostling for primacy in exactly the same way that parallel universes probably don’t.

As my first major Con (barring a Who convention circa 19841 and a Trek one in 19922) it was an enfolding but kinetic experience, a conveyer belt of ideas and conversation that rarely lasted as long as I wanted before some new sensory input demanded my attention. At times it felt like I was developing mental whiplash, at others it was like the fuzziest, longest-lasting party in the Universe. I was conscious even as we entered Sunday morning of a certain post-Con emptiness lurking in the middle distance. That sense of regret that it would have to come to an end.

From start to finish it was a welcoming, well-organised event with a noticeably diverse range of attendees – all ages, various nationalities and ethnicities, disabled, abled, male, female, cis and trans. Not to mention human and alien costumed individuals (though nowhere near as many as the news would have you believe). You’ll rarely see such a vibrant range of people at most ‘mainstream’ events, or find them so actively catered for. It felt liberal and liberating and very inclusive, but take my views with a pinch of salt here since if there’s a privilege to be had, I’ve pretty much lucked into it.

The range of things to see and do was frankly astonishing — often simultaneously, meaning that tough choices had to be made. Janet and I were reflecting that no two attendees will have experienced the same convention. We sat down with the stunningly useful web app several days before and narrowed our choices from the completely overwhelming to the slightly overwhelming. Enough so that we got to see what we wanted but also did some of the same things together. Call me soppy but there’s some merit in having attended the same event and not two different but geographically similar events. In the end we made some wise decisions to ditch programme events in favour of downtime and chatting, and I think I had a much better and richer time for it. It was so great to catch up with those I’d met briefly (like Tim, Dan, Aileen, Liz and Aisha) and meet people I’d only encountered online (like Alison, Abigail Nussbaum, Alex, Lal, Graeme, Andrew, Chance, and my fellow panellists Ashley, Saxon, Jacey and Abigail.) And all the other lovely people I’m currently in the process of offending by forgetting to mention.

Since I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast, a little note about the panels I attended wouldn’t go amiss. But that can wait. I’m off to wander a shopping mall in search of someone discussing artificial intelligence.


1 The Leisure Hive in Swindon. In 1984. 1984! Jesus I’m old. I mean, okay, I was only 15 at the time, but still. I’ve got the poorly photocopied con guide somewhere. I’ll have to scan it.

2 Contagion in Glasgow

Orphan Black, Season One: ‘Variations Under Domestication’

Since I’m on the LonCon panel to discuss the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form nominees I thought It might be helpful to get my thoughts in order. And in the case of Orphan Black, actually get around to watching the show. That always helps.

Orphan Black, Season One: ‘Variations Under Domestication’