This weekend saw the second ECAF (Edinburgh Comic Art Festival), following its debut last winter in Summerhall (reviewed here), this year it had relocated to the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, just off Leith Walk. My first visit to this particular venue and my impressions were very favourable – pretty much an ideal size for an event celebrating our vibrant small press community, with one main hall and all the exhibitors together, around all four walls then an island in the middle. This worked quite nicely – there was ample room for people to walk around from table to table without jostling each other, but it kept everyone in the same space, handy for the visitors, also for the exhibitors, giving them more of a community feel (after all these events are a chance for the creators to meet others too) and also handy as it meant you could always get someone to look after your table if you had an event, or needed to go get coffee to refuel (and there was a cool and very reasonably priced cafe on the premises), with event spaces adjacent for talks and workshops. And the venue itself, originally a military drill hall for the famous Royal Scots, is now geared towards community events, so it seemed a very appropriate place for the small press comicker cadre to assemble.
I didn’t get a chance to attend any of the events and talks, but I did spend a very pleasant time slowly wandering around the main hall, which even on a winter’s day in Scotland had a lot of natural light through the roof, which always feels nicer. As is usually the case with these sorts of events I bumped into some folks I knew from previous comics events, such as Kathryn Briggs, who I first met at the small press fair the Edinburgh International Book Festival put on when they had a special comics theme a few years back (you can read my review of her gorgeous Story(cycle) here), or David Lumsden, who is a regular in the Edinburgh Forbidden Planet – his Boat series of of Indy comics have sold out and had to be restocked a number of times for the local Indy creators section, and who also has a short film based on the comic, which I believe is getting a screening at Edinburgh’s lovely Filmhouse later this month.
Other folks I chatted to I was meeting for the first time while I was browsing the comics, art and jewelry that was on offer, and naturally I used the opportunity to treat myself to some purchases too, I couldn’t resist Kat Hall’s lovely looking Curios of Paper Moon, for instance, or Jake Parappa Hainey’s An Interview With a Vampire – two totally different comics in size, style and subject, but that’s part of the fun of these events, picking up all sorts of different reading from different creators. Talking away to Chris Cunningham at his stand, I also couldn’t resist buying a copy of his Ruined comic after a quick browse. Down from Aberdeen for the day I had a nice, friendly natter with a couple of creators who had their ToyZ comic (by Hughes, Thompson, Al-Chalabi and Herbert), which promises a mix of Toy Story and the all-pervasive zombie genre (with a semi-manga style), and again I had to buy a copy.
I also discovered the new Edinburgh Zine Library, which started a few months ago, located in the Art and Design Library in Edinburgh’s Central Library (five minutes from the Edinburgh FP, as it happens). I had no idea this had even been created, so I took the opportunity to chat away about it. The zine library started a few months back, and is in the process of putting together a collection, so they are actively looking for contributions from creators to build the library up (I asked if it would include small press comics too, since they and zine often overlap in a complimentary way, and they said mostly zines but they are also open to small press comics on a title by title basis). Great to see an initiative like this in my on city, and I hope any of you reading this who are zine creators will consider getting in touch with them and donating an issue or two to grow the library. And I was lucky enough to bump into guest of honour Rachael Stott chatting away to a journalist chum of mine and had a nice talk with them both before she had to give a discussion panel.
One criticism I had was the same as for the debut ECAF last year – it didn’t seem very well publicised. I heard about it only through a tweet a couple of months back, dropped a line asking them to give me a shout on email when details were firmer so I could shout it out when things were finalised, but in the end I found out about the details just a couple of weeks ago by myself, which is much as it happened for me last year. And it did leave me thinking if I hadn’t heard about it then there was a good chance a lot of others hadn’t too, so that needs worked on a bit more. That said it was still fairly busy, I am glad to report, plenty of people contentedly wandering around the main venue or relaxing in the wee cafe while examining their finds, and talking to many of the creators there most of them told me sales had been fairly good, while others said they had very strong sales, which is all encouraging. Fingers crossed there will be a third one next year, it’s great to have an event like this in Edinburgh, especially one that celebrates our terrific small press community, well done to BHP and everyone else involved.