Dave West, Colin Mathieson and I had just spent the past three days
attending our first Helsinki Comic Festival and loved every moment of it.
But now it had come to an end and we were packing the few books
we hadn’t sold, away into our suitcases.
We said our goodbyes to all our new friends
(most of whom I befriended on Facebook, by the way) and left the
Marquee tent to return back to our hotel.
Each of us had huge grins on our faces. It had been a terrific convention.
But we were shattered and planned to have a quiet meal in the hotel restaurant
and then a visit to our “local” for a celebratory pint or two.
Where, we found that on Sunday evenings all the drinks are half price.
We had worked extremely hard the past three days and sales had certainly reflected that.
Almost 180 books sold, 80 of them WESTERNoir and 7 books completely sold out…
How good was that? Big slap on the backs all round I’d say.
Definitely mark this one down as a most successful Festival.
Monday Morning: -A day of sight-seeing and we have a plan…of a sorts.
See the city proper
Visit a nearby Hotel where the art of Israeli artist Ruta Modan is on display.
She is the critically famed artist who published the graphic novels Exit Wounds
and the Property. (Colin fancied a looksee).
Visit Eduardo's E.C Exhibition
Meet up with Matt Boyce. A friend of Dave and Colin’s from the UK who,
along with Maura Manninen and a few other organisers of the Festival, we had plans to eat with.
And…oh yea, buy a few prezzies for our loved ones back home
(So they wouldn’t think too badly of us for leaving them for 5 days).
So, first things first and we set off to find this hotel with the artwork on display…
And it takes a while but with a bit of initiative from Dave we find it and we also
stumble across a comic shop, filled to the brim of wonders and delights.
Just a pity the store owner was so mono-syllabic.
We do a circular tour of the streets and a small harbour of Helsinki and
find ourselves back at the Academic Bookstore that we had visited on Thursday.
By this time, dave and Colin had sorted out presents to take home,
but I hadn’t…getting a bit worried if truth be known…It wasn’t that there was much choice…there was loads, but most of it was just so damned…expensive.
Just as we were about to enter the Bookstore someone taps me on the shoulder.
I turn around an lo and behold Eduardo is standing behind us. A broad smile on his face.
He was out and about doing errands and had spotted us.
He offered to buy us a drink in the bookstore café (and he wouldn’t take no for an answer),
to which we graciously agreed, but not before he led us to a secluded corner of the bookstore to show original drawings of “Lucky Luke” (Lucky Luke is a Belgian comics series created by Belgian cartoonist Maurice De Bevere) on display.
Something I had missed on our previous visit.
We sat, drank our coffee and chatted for a bit, unfortunately he couldn't stop long,
as he had to get back his exhibition. But he did show us the art books he had
written on Tim Sale and Terry Dodson and they were lovely.
He also pointed me in the right direction to buy Karen a little gift...
By going underground.
Seems there are shopping areas under the stores, that all connect, so when the
snows are heavy everyone travels underground to carry on shopping.
The past few days we'd noticed a couple of important facts about the Finns: -
Most of them speak English, they like their comics, they favour body art,
piercings and partial shaved heads...
And they like their hats...
Something Colin and I were trying to get Dave to wear...you know...
to help with his old man image...but no matter how good he'd look in a bowler,
trilby, fedora or even a flat cap, he just wouldn't go for it...
Apparently his head is just too big...and the fact that milliners make hats for
big-headed folk just wouldn't sway him.
Pity...maybe we should ask Jemma (Dave's daughter) to convince him to get one before the next convention.
So, we decided to head back to the hotel and pack, because
we were on an early flight Tuesday morning...real early, but not
before we made a short detour to have a look at Eduardo's exhibit.
We found it easily enough (it's very well sign-posted) at the back of the local music
library on the first floor above the Post office and Supermarket.
Small yes, but perfectly formed exhibit about E.C War Comics and the
Korean war in particular and how Frederic Wertham used these comics to try to ban them all.
Absolutely fascinating and Eduardo certainly knows his stuff.
We were there for at least an hour but the time came when we had to say our
farewells for the final time and return to our hotel.
Packed and ready to go we made our way to our "local" one final time while we
waited for Matt and Maura.
Unfortunately Maura and her fellow festival organisers couldn't make...
They were too exhausted after the past couple of days (understandably so),
but Matt was still up for it, and he led us to a small restaurant that,
although not much to look at served the most delicious food.
After, he took us to an authentic British pub (with some rather strange Mannequins in the window)
where the four of us played Darts for the rest of the evening.
That's more less the end of it.
We caught our flight home (granted we were the very last to board the plane...
and Colin did have his name called out over the tannoy...
He was discussing the merits of Finnish chocolate to a shop keeper and got carried away).
There was very little turbulence...but there was tilting (there's always bloody Tilting)
and we touched down in Manchester half an hour after we had left Finland
(There is a two-hour time difference in our favour coming home).
As a thank for letting me tag along I bought them both an
English breakfast on a Bap and two hours later I'm walking through me front door.
Straight in to the loving arms of Karen who, I'm glad to say seemed to have missed me.
Would I go back?
Well, Dave and Colin have already penciled a return visit in their schedules
in 2 years time when they'll have a least another 7 books to sell.
And if'n they're happy that I tag along, well that's all to the good.
Otherwise I'm tempted to visit next year for a mini break with Karen.
See all the places I missed this time,and there was a lot I can assure you.
She's certainly agreeable to the idea...but probably not when there's a
rather large Comic festival being held at the same time in the centre of the city.
Mores the pity...