31 May 2018

LAWGIVER IV Con report - 26th May 2018

Lawgiver IV was held for the third year running at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bristol, on the 26th of May. After it's small beginnings in Birmingham, each year it has steadily grown bigger, with the fandom really seeing it for what it is, an amazingly fun convention, with some of the finest comic creators on the planet.

Su Haddrell and her hard working team seem to go above and beyond each year, with this year being the best yet and in my honest opinion, the equal of any other 'true' comic convention. In fact, for the size of it, no other con can touch it.

The list of creators was revealed over the weeks before the convention and to see Facebook light up with excited chatter, must've calmed the teams nerves.

Let's just name them:-

Ian Gibson - Simon Bisley - Mick McMahon - Glen Fabry
Dylan Teague - Steve Austin - Ryan Brown - Lee Carter 
Mike Collins - Pete Doherty - Dan Cornwell - Henry FlintThomas Foster - Patrick Goddard - John Higgins
Clint Langley - David Millgate - David RoachPaul Williams.

Also in attendance but not on the list was Sally Jane Hurst but you probably wouldn't know, unless you knew what she looked like.

Sadly two guests had to pull out Alan GrantDave Taylor and we wished them good fortune.

I traveled to it with 3 friends in the car, which always makes the journey more enjoyable, even when we hit the jams. On arrival at 19:00 on the Friday, it was quickly unpack, shower and off to the Dredd Screening Drinking Club organised meet, on the Grain Barge along the river. It's a pleasant walk through the town to get to the barge and when we arrived, we could see that the drinking had been well under way for a few hours.

Once on board it was time to catch up and chat to old friends and new, along with a few of the creators who were there. There was one insane moment when the Lucha Libre masks came out, which was in turn topped by Lemmy, in his full wrestling kit. The rest of the time was spent chatting until we started to make our way back to the hotel for a few nightcaps but not before some of us found another pub on the way back.

Chingada Madre! by Mick Ramsey

Lemmy in full gear, buggered if I know who is who! by Mick Ramsey

Ryan, Michelle, me, Ashley & Mark in the Three Tuns

Once at the hotel, the usual suspects were at the bar and the evening flew by, as many a tale was told and drink was quaffed. I think we went to bed sometime around 03:30. As we had to be up for 'doors opening' at 09:00 and grabbing one of only 50 goody bags, which had some nice stuff inside.

Here are the obligatory hotel bar pictures from Friday night with no names, so as to protect the guilty.

I awoke to what I thought was an alarm that I had not set but was in fact Pete Wells ringing me and when he rang off, I then realised it was the phone and then noticed the time. BOLLOCKS! It was 09:26 and I had slept in. I quickly grabbed my clothes and rushed down the lift. When the doors opened the queue was right outside and there was no way on earth I was in the first 50. Good job my insane collecting days are over nowadays, as this was truly a GOODY BAG.

Goody bag by Filippo Roncone

On entering I had a quick look round and the layout was excellently figured out. Straight opposite was the dealers room and that had Dale Jackson as the centrepiece with a hell of a lot of original artwork, prints, t-shirts and merchandise for sale. on the edges of the room, there were other tables, with David Broughton (small press) with his display of art and books and drawing sketches with a few chats thrown in. Jonathan Moriarty North, with quite a few of his replica pieces of merchandise. There were some lovely bits on his table.

Dale Jackson relaxing

Dale does the hard sell

David Broughton hard at a sketch

Martin Currie's table of goodies. Spot the Stub Gun

Jonathan Moriarty North hides behind his wares.

There was a table manned by Martin Currie, who you will have seen wearing a Manta Tank for a hat and on his table there were even more lovely bits of prop merchandise and even a Stub Gun. There were a couple more tables in the room but I can't remember exactly who, or what was on them. I blame the drink!

Martin Currie taken by Steve Green

At 10:00 Su held the 'Welcome to Lawgiver' talk, which does exactly as it says. This was the start of the con proper and after that, it was hit the rooms and see who you could see. While I went around the rooms, the panels for the day went on and below is the schedule for the full day.

I went into the room where Planet Replicas were and what a stand, with all their shiny merchandise on display. Next to them were the Judge Minty & Strontium Dog fan film displays and this drew the fans like moths to a flame.

First off, Dan of Planet Replicas has some interesting new merchandise coming out soon and also some ideas which he wants the fans feedback on. It seems that the Lawgiver MK III from the new design by Carlos will be available for pre-orders on the 29th of June. This will be going down well, with the fans who have the two previous versions and any fan who has missed out on them. Dan also had a preview of the Rico puzzle gun from the '95 Judge Dredd film.

Around the side of his tables, he had some helmets that are nearing completion for Dredd and Rogue Trooper and also a clever Bagman. Just to the right was a table of costume parts for the Judges. Lighter pads, lighter eagles and new pouches. He has been working hard!

Lawgiver MK III by Steve Green

Helmets & Bagman by Steve Green

Judge kit for those less manly than me by Steve Green

Those bloody Sovs get everywhere by Steve Green

The crowd go wild

Lemmy is the Axe Man by Steve Green

Team Strontium Dog had some props from both of their excellent fan films and you could even try the Judges tops on, so if you didn't have a uniform, you could at least have the image that all fans want.

Six new Judges by Steven Sterlacchini

Along the other walls were the tombola, mugshot zone, Lawgiver official t-shirts and bumper stickers. Also sat in this room were Lee Carter, Paul Williams and Dan Cornwell, all sketching some stunning work for the fans. For those who are new to the scene and don't know if they have to pay for a sketch or not, or what the price may be. Those very artists will have a list somewhere near them and if you look at the image below, you will see such a thing in front of Paul Williams. I had already managed to grab a sketch from Paul, as he did a few Facebook competitions. Once I had seen one of his absolutely stunning commissions I asked to be put on the list but I never got around to chat about it at the con.

Lee Carter, Paul Williams and Dan Cornwell

Lawgiver tops

In the main room, which was rather warm, especially when three artists had massive queues for them at certain times throughout the day. This was were you could see the rest of the creators. Out of all the tables I think David Roach will need at least a few more in future, just to display some of the truly amazing artwork he brings to show. Just to the left of him were Patrick Goddard, Pete Doherty & Dylan Teague.

I managed to grab a sketch from Patrick before he had to leave for a prior family engagement. But well done for him still coming for the hours he did and this shows you how lucky we are to get such delightful creators at the con.

Pete Doherty, Dylan Teague & David Roach

Just to the left of the picture above were Henry Flint, Tom Foster, Clint Langley, Glen Fabry & Simon Bisley. I mainly chatted to these fine gentlemen in the bar on both nights. Hey, I've done a few cons and feel that every now and again, I shouldn't torture the queues with my stuff to be signed.

Henry Flint, Tom Foster, Clint Langley & Glen Fabry

Just on the other side of the door was David Millgate who had two original pieces flanking his table. The one on the left was sold and the one on the right is an upcoming Prog cover and they both looked amazing close up. He also had some limited edition prints and a couple of books for sale. Before you ask, yes I did inform him of the links.

By the way, if you get a chance to see original artwork like this at a convention, then do it. So much is dulled down and lost when it hits the prog and you will see this when you look at something like these two images from David. I particularly loved the lightning effects and street lights on the cover to be.

David Millgate with Mick McMahon & Steve Austin behind

Behind David was Steve Austin who showed me the prelims to a commission that I'd had fun coming up with! After constantly changing which cinematic characters Dredd and a certain few Judges would kill, I eventually came to a decision and just looking at the rough is exciting and I can't wait to see it unfold over the weeks or months ahead. Remember folks, commissions come after their paid day jobs, so never expect them to drop everything just to satisfy your needs.

Next to Steve was Ryan Brown, who had his stunning array of cover prints on display and he surprised me with this awesome Dredd, which mean't that I had to go back up the room to place it away for safe keeping. When I entered the room, I realised Ashley was still in bed, as this shape moaned from the other bed. I just laughed and went on my way back down, with more items to be signed. I think I had everything that I needed to be signed by Ryan, even after I said 'That's it!' and then pulled another cover out from a box.

I think it was during this time that I remembered that I hadn't had breakfast and it was only on for another 6 minutes. I had to decide what to do and I'm ashamed to say, I went and had a full English and wasted precious con time, but it kept me going, so it was the correct decision.

After I wolfed that down it was back into the throng of happy people. and looking at who to get stuff signed by next, or grab a quick chat with. I noticed that John Higgins was about to be free, so I managed to buy his 'Art of' book and having only flicked through it, it looks stunning, with beautiful layouts.

John Higgins chatting to a fan

You must buy one of these

Now I can only sell it on to someone else called John

Sat next to him was Sally Jane Hurst, 2000 AD colourist for John, bloody good artist in her own right and singer. I had to have her signature put into my 4 books that I carry to every con and finally I managed it along with a series called Jacked, which I had previously had signed by John, Ryan and Glen at the last Lawgiver. A two year wait but I got there in the end! This signature collecting can become a thing you know!

Sally Jane Hurst & John Higgins

While chatting to Sally, I noticed the queue for Ian Gibson finally shortening, so once Sally had signed the last item, I made my way to his table and proceeded to dig out a few comics. I must admit to going back a few times, mainly as I can't carry everything in one go.

Ian Chatting to a fan

Ian with his Daily Dredd and the Sam Slade figure by 3A

I think the last people I chatted to in the hall were Mike Collins and Mick McMahon, which was very close to the end of the day. Mike signed a few comics and the Daily Dredd and I managed to get Mick to sign a certain colour poster and another ongoing item of signatures but I will only show you where he signed on that, until the rest is signed.

Mick McMahon never stopped sketching and signing

I did manage to get a load of stuff signed but putting up hundreds of pictures would get a bit boring. I also managed to grab a few decent chats but remember folks 'What happens at the con, stays at the con' and this is why you really need to get to this the next time.

Having heard what what was said at some of the panels, my Grud, there were some funny tales recounted and when you hear them second hand, you wish you had been in on the panel but alas, that is the curse of such a con, you can't physically do everything.

Throughout the day, the cosplay brightened up the hotel and also the town, as they wandered off for a meal, which they do each year. That was after the group photos, which were taken outside the hotel.
I've included a few excellent pictures of them (I may be in one) which were taken by Steve Green.

If you want to see more pictures, then you should have a look at the Lawgiver Facebook page, which is here! That will show you many more awesome pictures from the convention.

The end of the con came and Su chatted to all the fans and creators alike in the main panel room. Many thanks were said and rounds of applause heard, as another Lawgiver came to a close. BUT there was a shock in store, as Su dropped the killer words 'this was the last ever Lawgiver, as Rebellion had withdrawn their blessing' The stunned audience started to boo but then Su brought us into the light by saying 'Don't worry, we will be back at the same time, same place but under a different name and with more of a spread of UK comics' and with that, the cheers erupted.

That was it then, the final Lawgiver but with a rebirth in 12 months time. We could only think of what might be added to the con. The Beano, The Dandy, Viz, Tank Girl, The Eagle, Dr Who, Warhammer, etc... Which other guests could Su get in to talk about their work, Pat Mills, Dan Abnett, etc...

With these ideas being chatted about, we all started to head over to the Knights Templar for the start of the evenings fun. I think as a group of people we took over a third of it and the drinks did flow and a few hardy souls did not go into the pub when the rain sort of started.

During the evening there was a surprise for me. I was sat outside chatting and Mick Ramsey called me inside and he had a sort of serious face on. I thought there must be a draw on, or something. Anyway I wandered inside and there were a few people lined up and I was called to the front, thinking that I will be first to draw the first ticket. Little did I know that he and his motley crew had a joke lined up.

Those lined up, on the word of command, lifted their t-shirts up, to reveal a fantastic t-shirt taking the mick out of the 2000 AD Southern Contingent that I help organise (we meet up in London for drinks throughout the year). They were wearing extremely large and doctored versions of our t-shirt. Theirs said 'Southern Shandy Drinkers Contingent - We Like Shandy And Dredd' and then they presented me with one and I became honorary vice president.

I was very touched by this and they had kept it a secret for 3 months and what was strange was that at the time they pulled this on me, I was actually wearing one of our contingent tops. This is another reason why the fans of Dredd have all become good friends, no matter where we are from in the world, Old Stony Face brings us together.

After lots of drinking here, we adjourned back to the bar and drank a little more and here are a few photos to prove it. I shall leave certain pictures out, as children may be reading this! Again I shall place no names to protect the guilty, again!

After this madness of fun and chat it was time for some sleep before the drive back on the Sunday.

Breakfast was fun as well as Ashley, Wendy (Perp Payne) and me were entertained by stories from Glen Fabry and what stories they were!

What can I say about this con that hasn't already been said... I've been to many conventions out there and they all have something going for them, sadly some have lost their way a bit. Lawgiver on the other hand just keeps on giving. Su Haddrell manages to ask the best guests from 2000 AD's glorious history to attend and they always live up to their billing. Even if you don't manage to have a chat to them all at the con, there is always the bar afterwards, or even over breakfast.

The fans never cease to amaze me with the fun that they get up to and the the distance some of them travel to get there. The USA, Holland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Scotland and even Wales. The Dredd community is strong and vibrant, with many up for the best fun possible.

Gotta also thank the hotel for allowing the con to be held there and making it so easy for us to get out of our beds and just walk a few drunken yards into the con itself.

Last but by no means least the groups on Facebook really helped spread the word about this con and that helps a lot. The D.S.D.C. (Dredd Screening Drinking Club), The UK Judges, Brit-Cit Judges, Belfast Sector House 13 - The Pit, 2000AD & Judge Dredd Tat and Chat, ECBT2000AD and the 2000 AD Southern Contingent. I may have forgotten some and if so, I apologise.

ROLL ON 2019