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More Thoughts on BICS

Just sent along what I trust will be viewed as constructive feedback to Shane Chebsey and the BICS crew:

"In many ways, it was a pity there couldn't be some use of the vast void outside the theatre entrance. Given the relatively small amount of stock most comics dealers bring along, I wonder if it might be possible to have tables in that zone, and then pack/lock away the boxes on Saturday evening in the meeting room just to the left of the theatre entrance. It would mean dealers packing/unpacking twice, but I reckon it might increase the interaction between the two zones and probably boost sales. Alternatively, leave a few chairs / tables in the area as a quasi-cafe for people to hang out, chat, etc.

"There's also the space between that void and the auditorium door, which any sf con would immediately identify as a great place to set up a few tables for the Bristol Expo, Caption, etc."

Anyone else got any thoughts?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 5th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Sort out the entry. Actually get the stewards to MANAGE the queues. A 10:30 entrance doesn't mean 11:00 am.
Oct. 6th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
Interesting feedback below, I'd suggest (although Shane and James are the actual chaps in charge).

I reckon we're only about one or two years away from a truly astounding event.
Oct. 6th, 2009 01:30 am (UTC)
Paul H Birch just replied:

[cc. Shane Chebsey, James Hodgkins]

"I've already left a message on James' phone saying I hope he's well and I think BICS 2009 was a great show... And as you all know, I'm not one for throwing praise about easily.

"People were happy: Punters, creators, and dealers. There were only a few dissenters about the show, but that was from expected quarters; and them reiterating the same old cliches and hang-ups they always have.

"Putting the signings in the room with the window made sense, and was something that had been considered when the show first moved to the Thinktank... Maybe it could've done with some staff keeping lines straight, directing people etc, the way it had been done with Mignola signings - Though I admit I wasn't in that area very much and it may well have been the case when I wasn't there.

"After three years I've just about figured how to get up, round, and across to different locations - It may look hi-tech but the building's designers seriously need taking round the back and given a good kicking (and this from a pacifist); not least for failing to locate toilets and drinking areas in the same vacinity.

"I'm hoping that with each succeeding year the Thinktank will see more and more sense in allowing more posters to go up to help direct people.

"I will say that most people I've spoken to didn't like the Panama Bar as the venue for the launch party - The reasons included its location, it running out of beer, and the dj being too loud. I got outside about 9.30pm, talked to Liam Sharp and Bryan Talbot for a while, followed Liam into the bar downstairs and was in there until the dj's green laser disco forced us out onto the canal, which was nice, and there were other comic bods there too. When we decided to meet Bryan at the hotel I remembered I had been supposed to meet someone esle and went upstairs to check if they were there and only saw a few people I knew, one being Shane.

"Come Saturday, an awful lot of people gravitated to the Briar Rose until it closed.

"The old chestnut that all, ahem, "comics professionals" want is a bar where they can chat (and whinge?) probably is true. Bennetts was big enough to offer that with all its alcoves even with bands on, and though not official in previous years people went there on Saturdays too, then the Briar Rose, which as I say they continued to do so this year."

[to be continued]
Oct. 6th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
[Part 2..]

"I enjoyed both panel shows that I was involved with: On Saturday, interviewing Howard Chaykin was a dream; my questions went out the window, but I knew my subject well, he was beyond great anyway, and I would like to think it went very well... I had been concerned that my desire to talk about professional attitudes rather than "What characters do you want to draw?" would not keep the audience but they responded well.

"On Sunday, the Adapting the Classics panel was also fun... Steve, your asides, anecdotes and diversions into books and movies were both studiously informative and amusing, and I think we entertained the audience too. Quite a few of them looked as if they'd come especially for that event (ie. not fanboys), being families and some just had to be from the teaching or education profession (they had that most un-fanboy look). I'm glad you and I followed through on our earlier phone chat and spread a slight bit of anarchy to what could've been dry and academic if we hadn't broken the ice - Steve started asking the panelists why they were working on adapting classics, the others gave lofty and worthy answers and I came out with: "For money!" No, seriously, it also helped that we all knew each other (Jeez, now I think about it, Ian worked for me when I edited Fantazia, Steve did book reviews for me, and I bought three interviews off Jason, while Clive and I practically grew up a couple of miles apart from each other - small world!) and it turned into a healthy debate.

"If there were any major problems I don't think the fans didn't notice - BICS gave them their money's worth this year. I trust the guys will take on board any comments and suggestions as they hear them over the proceeding months and continue to improve the show.

"It's 2am in the morn as I type, with a couple more hours work to do before sleep: Steve, James, Shane, I hope to catch up with you all soon - Thanks to each of you for putting a smile on my weary face over the weekend!

"Best, Paul."
Oct. 6th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)

My reply [cc'd to Shane and James] was:

"Blimey, I asked for feedback and got half a novel.

"Really pleased you enjoyed being part of the Sunday panel. [Personal asides deleted.]

"At the risk of sounding arrogant, I reckon I'm a pretty decent moderator. My panels always have a basic thread, they start on time, end on time, are reasonably paced and I make sure we get a proper sign-out (not the usual "Er, well, are we done.." and exit). Maybe I should produce a briefing document for new moderators at the next BICS?

"Actually, when I chaired Novacon in 2007, I followed the same rules as when I'd run programme in 2002: every item was properly introduced by a member of the committee (usually me) and there was a member present (again, usually me) was present to give the wind-up signal and ensure everyone was properly thanked as the item closed. It's even worth appointing someone just for that role.

"Do me a favour. Set yourself up with a LiveJournal account, join scratch_uk (which will hopefully evolve into a proper fanzine someday soon) and we can bang these matters out before an audience."
Oct. 10th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
Formal Response
Shane Chebsey replied:

"Thanks for the feedback

"We use that foyer room for events queues, signings and portfolio reviews and it is not a retail area, so having tables in there would be very impractical.

"If we wanted more tables we have space in the two exhibition rooms, but we are very happy with the allocated table numbers we have. This pays for the venue and means there is no overcrowding."

James Hodgkins adds:

"Thought I'd throw my twopenneth in, as fellow organiser (albeit, not the one in charge of exhibitors etc). Possibly a little more forthright than Shane, but then again, that's my style I suppose.

"Well, some frankly bonkers suggestions here, well meant and constructively intended or not.

"The "large void" is obviously there for a reason, you have to remember that in that area are the entrances for two major attractions, namely the science museum and the planetarium, so if you imagine a few large groups of school children turning up (which happens often) you have to have some where to safely coral and look after them while tickets are processed etc. Seeing as though both attractions are open for business as usual over the show weekend it's fairly ludicrous to suggest that such a vital public space would be available to hire and seal off from the general public (which is what we'd have to do) for us to put a few extra disgruntled (which they would be) exhibitors in, with all the issues regarding stock you mention.

"And, as Shane says, the theatre foyer is used as exactly that, plus the meeting room for portfolio reviews, with guest/event appropriate signings, putting dealers in ther would look crap and impact on our visitors and guests experience.

"It's not about selling off as much space as we can to fill it with more of the same, just for the money, I think we can leave that
to the gangsters who run MCM and the muppetts who run that "car boot on a nasa budget" that is memorabila.

"I like to think we do things differently at BICS, and financial gain is not our motivation (quite clearly), we just want to put on the best possible show for all concerend, without losing money ourselves, something we have yet to achieve, but I think the shows are getting better (if I dare say so), still much room for improvement of course.

"Thanks agian for the input."
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )