The Open Book festival had a little something extra in store for comics fans this year, with an entire day and venue being dedicated to this fine literary and visual art form. The Co/Mix crew, led by Andy Mason, and Moray Rhoda, one of the masterminds behind the Velocity Anthology, had organised an entire day of events to celebrate comics.

I caught a train into town and entered the address into my Nokia’s trusty map system. I knew it wasn’t far from the station, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was barely even 700 meters away. This short journey was still quite eventful as I discovered Charley’s Bakery. Apparently Charley’s is quite famous, but I’d somehow never heard of it. It’s bright multicoloured walls screamed at me as I walked past, almost causing me to shift off course in search of some sugary goodness. Unfortunately for Charley’s my love of comics is greater than my love of sugar.

I was looking for a venue called The Bank which was hosting the Co/Mix event and almost missed it. Thankfully someone with more intelligence than me realised that people might get lost, so what better way to get their attention than to paint a mural on the front of the building!

Borrowed from the official Co/Mix photos on Facebook.

As I walked in I could already feel the the buzz of excitement in the air. Many of the contributers and exhibitors were putting last minute touches on their tables and displays, making sure that everything was just right before the crowds started pouring in. Stationed in the main area were Cotton Star, The Passengers, Free Beer, and many others. Readers Den was posted at the entrance, tempting you with several tables covered in their finest wares. Unfortunately for me I had enough money for food for the weekend and that was it. It’s a good thing I don’t own a credit card either because I’d have probably walked away with several bags of goods.

The day officially kicked off with an opening speech by Andy Mason, and it wasn’t too long after that people started pouring in. I was quite surprised at the turn out. Just before lunch almost about every available space was packed with people who were either taking part or had come to view the proceedings. I disappeared for a while to get lunch, and when I got back it seems that quite a few people had gotten the same idea. By mid-afternoon however things had picked up again.

Over the course of the day there was several talks, covering a variety of subjects from illustating for children’s books, numerous political comics delivered by John Curtis, and a conversation between French artist Jacques de Loustal and Bittercomix artist Joe Dog. I had been really interested in being around for the talk on illustrating children’s books, but got back late from lunch so I’d missed out on most of it.

Where did all these people come from?

There was also the comics jam, in which several artists each had 15 minutes to draw a panel. Each new panel followed on from the previous one. As expected, the story got pretty surreal!

Another photo borrowed from a friend of mine.

Eight hours after I’d gotten there, my body decided it was time for some more food, and a place to sit and kick up my feet. I also needed to avoid getting mugged on the way back home, so it would definitely be a good idea to catch a train before 7 pm. I said my goodbyes, and left feeling both revved up and completely worn out. It had been a fantastic day filled with creative and passionate people. Hopefully this event would become a regular part of the Open Book Festival and add another awesome yearly event to this geek’s calendar.

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