The CAPTION 2007 quiz: monster!I spent the weekend at the CAPTION small press convention in Oxford; in its sixteenth year now, I think it may be the longest-running comic convention in the UK, and in that time I've missed perhaps only three years.
CAPTION has changed drastically over the years; venue, organising committee and participants have all altered since the first one in the Oxford Union in 1992. One thing, however, remains unchanging, and it's the thing that keeps me coming back year after year; the enthusiasm of everyone there for comics, and especially for creating comics.
Left: my sketch for the CAPTION auction, on the theme of dreams (collection Jeremy Dennis)
CAPTION is a meeting place for people who are amateurs in the true sense; those who love making comics, who are excited by the possibilities of the form and who haven't had their enthusiasm blunted by the daily grind of trying to make a living, the problems of dealing with publishers and editors, the parlous state of the market. Not that I think producing small-press comics is easy; trying to fit in drawing time around work and family is a tough job, and I have nothing but admiration for those who manage to produce anything under those circumstances. But I do think that for those who can't spend all of their time on comics, such time as they can spend remains a little more precious, the enthusiasm stays closer to the surface.
At the CAPTION auction I managed to bag these issues of Near Myths - featuring the first appearance of Bryan Talbot's Luther Arkwright and Gideon Stargrave by Grant "T" Morrison.
So I go to CAPTION as a punter, pay my fiver at the door, catch up on what's new, pick up the latest issues, take part in a workshop, sit around in the bar, catch up with mates old and new, add to the communal sketchbooks, do the quiz, take a sh*tload of photos; I come back from it every year refreshed, with a few gems and a reminder of why I got into this game in the first place.