The Drive. I picked up the rental car at 10:00am on Friday. It was a Nissan Tiida. (Where the hell do they get these crappy names? Have the good ones all been used up?) Then I zoomed over to Central Station to pick up David Puckeridge, and finally to Newtown to get Chris (Mikul) and Cath.
Cath had a great idea which was to stop for lunch at 'Historic Berrima', home of Australia's oldest continuously licensed pub. The place was cool, like something from Old Sydney Town. Lots of wood, creaky floorboards, and a sign over the bar that said, 'If You Think Our Barmaids Are Good Looking, You've Had Too Much To Drink'. We had a beer with fish & chips from a cone. Before we continued our journey we stopped at Berkelouw Books, a cool bookstore in a converted barn.
On drives like these you see plenty of roadkill, and we saw plenty. Most of which seemed to be possums, but a lot of birds too - magpies and ravens. When we got to Canberra David spotted a dead kangaroo right in the grassy median strip. We wondered who it was who had the unenvious job of removing the bodies, and how often they must have to do it.
Rolling into Canberra, we went straight to our hotel and checked in. We had a few hours to kill before the Space Invaders launch party, so after an aborted attempt to locate a long-arm stapler for David's thickass 'Box' zines, we visited the National Gallery. Chris told us there was an exhibition of Asian death masks, but it turned out you had to pay for that, and the place was about to close anyway, so we just had enough time to look at Arthur Boyd's awesome Ned Kelly paintings, then Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles. I'd never seen it. David had, and told me there were cigarette butts and all kinds of bits and pieces in it.
After that, we went to a pub with a beer garden out the front. The joint was jumping since it was Friday and everybody had just left work. We drank beer and ate pizza, then went back to the hotel to get ready for the launch. We walked over, since on the one hand it was only a 15-minute walk, and on the other hand there was no way I was gonna be designated driver. The walk there was cool - perfect warm night, trees everywhere, and even though we kept crossing big wide streets, there were no cars.
The Launch Party. The Space Invaders launch was right out the front of the NGA. Stencil art was projected (in a slideshow) up on the facade of the building, there was a DJ playing old rap and funk tracks, catering folk kept bringing out trays of snacks and booze, we were outside, footpaths, grass, and water, under the stars. An awesome location for a launch party.
It was great to see Keiran Mangan there, one of the Silent Army dudes from Melbourne (the others being Michael Fikaris and Gregory Mackay). I hadn't seen him in about ten years, so we had a good long talk about comix and other stuff. He said he was coming to the zine fair the next day. I also met Marcsta. His stuff was in the exhibition (and projected on the front of the gallery - ad-busting stickers).
The Zine Fair. We made it to the NGA for the zine fair in a roundabout way. The whole trip I kept missing turns, even though we had a robot navigator. After we had overshot and driven more of Canberra's big, curvy streets, we found the NGA carpark and went inside to set up. The Gandel Room was the main entry room, right at the front, just inside of where the launch party was the previous night. The doors there are so high and heavy, they were hard to open. Our tables were right behind them so all day we watched people grunting and grimacing as they tried to open them. [Photos coming soon! My computer is getting de-virused so I can't upload the pics right now...] It was great to meet some people I'd only corresponded with, like Elle from Sticky, and James who does the comix anthology Yuck! It was also good to see Lark there, Blackguard contributor I only met the week before at the Comic Stripped opening. It was also a pleasure to meet George, Dan, Viv, Troy, Jordan, Jez, ... and I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two. Apology!
Anyway, I did a whole bunch of trading and buying (and sold a bunch of Blackguards and Grunted Warnings) so will be pumping out the reviews over the coming week.
[Stay tuned for some photos from this weekend I'm gonna post when I get my goddam computer back tomorrow...]