Time for Plan B
Remember the Scottish Cartoonists’ Society from the time back in April 2010 when I met them at a Glasgow Comic Mart? I’ve been on the SCS fB group ever since and have been receiving regular invitations to their monthly nights out all that time. I finally went to one not long ago, but that’s another story. Sufficeth to say that it was great to meet up with faces old and new, and that I enjoyed a cracker of a night out.
One thing I learned that night was that John McShane- the founder of the SCS, runs a comic shop in Glasgow that I didn’t even know existed, which goes by the name of Plan B Books. I had occasion to get in contact with John last week, by which time it turned out that I had actually visited Plan B Books at their new address in Parnie Street- Glasgow’s Geek Central (AKA. ‘Glasgow’s Left Bank’), a street just chock-full of shops catering to diverse geeky interests, chief among which are games and comics. All too brief, that visit was on the occasion of Bill and me taking a trip down to Static Games during his recent trip to Scotland. My main memory of perusing the shelves at Plan B that afternoon is that they are dominated by the sort of independent comics that you just won’t find in significant numbers in Forbidden Planet (not the Glasgow one at least). A place worthy of serious consideration for this comics geek then.
Two games shops, two comics shops, and more.
How could I have missed that!
Anyway, the reason I wanted to get in touch with John was that I’m in the middle of a major decluttering and have a pile of TPBs I wanted to offer him. And so there I was searching around fB to find out the name of that comic shop of his and what should I stumble across but this: ‘Mark Millar Signing @ Plan B Books!’. “Yes,THAT Mark Millar”, signing copies of KICK-ASS 2, the provenance of which surely needs no explanation to my readers. There was a brief hiccup when I thought I’d found out about the event too late to be able to get myself a copy of the book to get it signed, but talking to John on the telephone I was reassured that that wouldn’t be a problem. I was good to go!
Operation ‘Chance Your Arm’ at Plan B: “Result!”
I suspect readers might already have an idea where I’m going with this one. Quite apart from the obvious, it also turns out that Mark grew up in Coatbridge, a small town in Lanarkshire not far from where my Mum’s family hailed. As you can imagine then, all the buzz about the KICK-ASS movie in early 2010 piqued my interest for reasons more than just the presence of Mark Millar’s name in the credits. I saw the film, naturally enough, and really liked it: it may have been my favourite film of the year; it was certainly one of those films I walked out of pumped with the sort of enthusiasm you’d get when you were a kid, pretending to be the movie’s hero as you made your way home. I think my version of this was to head straight off to HMV in search of the graphic novel.
Geek-life: our eternal fans’ queues.
And so there I was: in Parnie St. early Saturday afternoon, armed with some of my cards and my trusty digicam, wondering if Mark Millar would get the joke, and just how far I was going to go. I got off to an easy start, telling my story and explaining my plans to my fellow fans, who all told me that Millar is a regular guy. They went on to fill me in on stories from Glasgow Comic Con 2012, which I missed because- ignorant as I was of the whole business, I’d cleverly arranged my last Saturday gamesday to coincide with the event.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you THE Mr. Mark Millar!”
Of course, Mark proved to be every bit as approachable as I could’ve hoped. I gave him my card and told him what my bloggery is all about. He immediately got the joke, remarking- after I’d told him how long I’ve been writing RD/KA!, that he could see how his own KICK-ASS would’ve come up on my(!) radar. A friendly fan in the queue took for me the pictures Mark graciously agreed to pose for, and that was that.
Mark gives me a kick-ass “kick ass!” KICK-ASS dedication!
“Smile you bugger, smile (sheesh)!”
Looking back, I find myself wondering what’d’ve happened if I’d gone for my ‘maximum programme’; ie. tried to wangle some kind of interview based on the simple coincidence of those 2 words which have meant so much to each of us, in our different ways. Ah well, another time, maybe?
In the slipstream of success
Saturday was one of those rare beasts in recent weeks in Britain- a nice day, so I hung around outside afterwards chatting to John McShane and Stephen White, an Edinburgh-based writer/artist. John filled me in on some of the history of Plan B Books, telling me that it’s been open for about 18 months, although it had only moved to its current location quite recently. My ignorance of its existence made a bit more sense after learning that. We also discussed the state of the Glasgow comics scene- in short, thriving; which left Stephen bemoaning the barren waste that is the Edinburgh comics scene: “It feels like I’m the only comic guy in Edinburgh,” was his refrain. John also told me of plans to start a comics reading group at Plan B. Colour me interested dear readers.
Stephen showed me a short graphic novel he’d written and drawn. I have to say I liked what I saw. The artwork somehow called to mind Matt Howarth’s Those Annoying Post Brothers, a gonzo SF comic I used to read back in the 80s. Stephen’s page layouts, construction of each panel, and his use of colour to ‘mood light’ different scenes showed a lot of talent and skill. I was impressed, and enjoyed listening to Stephen explain his craft and tell me of his plans.
Votes of thanks
As ever, these have to begin with the organisers of this premium little event, John and the crew at Plan B Books: thanks to you all for your efforts to make the day the success it was for me and for everyone else. And I can’t forget the friendly comics fans I chatted to, who reminded me of the best of what a shared passion can bring: instant and ready communication. A special vote here too to my (unfortunately) anonymous photographer, whose pictures came out very nicely as you can see.
And finally, of course, a big thank you to Mark Millar, for his role in enabling Stage 1 of my master plan to exploit a fortuitous verbal coincidence… Did I say “Stage 1”? Oops, what a give-away! Ach, no matter. No one can stop me now! Mwah hah, etc! Seriously though, I waited some 2½ years for this moment. How grateful do you think that makes me, dear readers?
“I’ll be back!” ;)