Actually, book-related stuff had started on Saturday as my publisher, Egmont, held an authors' dinner at the snazzy Atrium Restaurant, and treated us to a posh evening out. I met so many new people that I can't carry all their names and am liable to drop a few... Samantha Mackintosh (Kisses for Lula), Andy Stanton (Mr Gum), David Benedictus (Return to the Hundred Acre Wood), Julia Golding (The Diamond of Drury Lane), Jan Fearnley (Mr Wolf) ... oh, loads! It was particularly nice to meet Jenny, Jo and Lara from Egmont who have all helped with The Rainbow Orchid over the past few months.
Monday saw another tasty meal, this time lunch with a couple of Ellie's work colleagues at Wildfire, and then it was off to the Adventure Comics Workshop - my first event of the festival. This, amazingly, had sold out within 12 hours of tickets becoming available, and it was a packed festival tent that kept us out of the rain for an hour of creating heroes, villains and treasures with which to build a story. I even had three parents join in, which was marvellous. This was only my second workshop and, as with the first one, I came out feeling as though my brain had been whisked! I went straight into a book signing where it was great to meet a few long-time Rainbow Orchid readers who had come along to get their volume twos signed.
That evening Ellie and I made our way to the Pleasance Courtyard to see Tim Vine's Joke-amotive, which was brilliant. So many comedians resort to nastiness and moaning about life, which can all-too-often be an easy route to cheap laughs (I can't bear programmes such as Mock the Week!) - Vine's material is clever and fun, and by the end my face ached from laughing so much.
Tuesday couldn't have started out in a nicer fashion - a lovely breakfast with multi-festival comrade Sarah McIntyre and her husband, Stuart, who were staying at the same hotel as us (preview copies of Sarah's brilliant comic, Vern & Lettuce, were available to buy in the children's bookshop). Just after lunch it was off again to the authors' yurt to meet up with Jenny, from Egmont, in time for my schools event, brashly titled Comics with Garen Ewing!
I was a little apprehensive about this as I had to talk about the history of comics and there was no accommodation for any audio/visual equipment - and you can't really talk about comics without pictures! My solution was to spend a large part of the previous week making up a series of A3 boards to show - as well as giving myself a crash-course to brush up on my comics history. The result was better than I'd expected, the kids seemed really engaged and asked lots of questions. I kept the history aspect fast-moving and down to 25 minutes or so, and then used the rest of the hour to explain how I made a page of comic strip and answered more questions. As an example of a simple comic style I'd introduced the class to Lewis Trondheim's Mister O, and ended up giving his book a bigger plug than my own!
The signing afterwards was brief (school kids don't have much money!) but enjoyable as they were funny and seemed like a really bright and interested class. Thanks so much to everyone who filled up both my events.
Next up we had tickets to Steve Bell interviewing Alan Moore (I sat two seats away from Gary Trudeau) which was very enjoyable, though I didn't learn anything particularly new having read most of his recent online interviews - except it was more positive in tone. Frankly, it was enough to bask in the presence of the author of some of the greatest comic strip material this country has produced, and I got even closer to him afterwards in the authors' yurt - though not brave enough to approach and say hello!
Our last evening in Edinburgh saw me being far more sociable, however, as we met up with various comics people and ended up eating at the surprisingly good Wannaburger in the excellent company of Jeremy Briggs (Down the Tubes reporter, and more), Joe Gordon (master of the Forbidden Planet International blog) with his mate, Brendan, and Graeme Neil Reid (ace comicker and illustrator). Elyssa and I had thought of taking in one more event - our friend Martin White's musical, Gutted, but we were disappointed as Tuesday turned out to be its night off.
Wednesday was a lovely sunny day as we made our way along Princes Street to the station and eventually back to London where the heavens were in the process of soaking everything in sight. One more train journey south saw us home at six, where I had an hour before I was off to karate, ensuring that I slept very well that night!