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Summer of Sonic

On Friday I headed up to London to check out Summer of Sonic, a Sonic the Hedgehog convention that started a few years ago and that I thought, until the other week, was only a small affair. Turns out that it's snowballed into a con with a 1000+ attendee record. The venue however continues to be pretty small, and only holds a maximum of 800 at any given time. Suffice to say, the queuing was the biggest part of the day, with people turning up at 8 am only to finally enter at two in the afternoon.  

In the queue I met up with dean_r, the guy who, many years ago, introduced me to livejournal, and his lovely ladyfriend Steph. I met Dean back when I was about fifteen, on a Sonic the Comic (the UK Sonic comic, and by far the best) mailing list. He has since moved to America and done all these grown up things, it's pretty strange. Anyway, they're back in the UK for a little vacation and the Sonic convention seemed like the perfect place to meet up.

The convention was... odd. It would have been far, far more enjoyable had they implemented any sort of air conditioning. I mean, dang. The venue was small, the weather was hot and the attendees were, well, nerds. You can imagine how refreshing the whole affair was.

The thing is though, I met more chatty, awesome, likeminded people at this little con than I do at most, because I suppose we all have a shared interest (Sonic) and all have similar stories to tell (that fucking barrel in Carnival Night Zone.) Oddly enough, I spent so much time chatting to people about My Little Pony, because there were sooo many people with Pony shirts on (Rainbow Dash, specifically, probably because being blue and fast she's the most Sonic-y of the bunch). Dean had so so kindly brought back a bunch of the new toys over from the States for me, because we won't get them until September, so I had my own Rainbow Dash to show off. She proved to be the ideal icebreaker with so many people, so it sucked when the music was cranked up and the temperature continued to not drop and I decided, begrudgingly really, which just shows how much I was enjoying the company of the people I met, to head along to the local pub.

The coolest part for me was the fact that Nigel Kitching was there, and that he made a beeline for me to say hello, and that afterwards he too sought the quiet of the pub and joined me and Luke for a drink. Nobody here on LJ really appreciates how amazing that whole moment was for me, that Nigel Kitching was spending time with me just as mates. He was the main writer in Sonic the Comic, and alongside Richard Elson (the main artist) the two pretty much became demigods to a lot of kids in the 1990s. Myself, of course, included.

He and Richard were the reason I wanted to draw and write, why I love comics, why I still want to be an artist and a writer. Sure, it was only a silly Sonic the Hedgehog comic, but it was a big deal. It was so perfectly crafted (well, for the most part) and steered so clear of the silly wacky Sonic stuff the cartoon had, while also steering well away from the daft route the Archie comics took in making everything so srs and adding a bunch of side characters who have absolutely nothing to do with the games. STC (as it was known) took inspiration from the games, branched out into amazing, epic, fantastical ideas, while remaining very very faithful to the original stories. It was an amazing balance. For years STC was the biggest selling comic in the UK, I'm sure that wasn't limited exclusively to seven year old boys. And what proves testiment to that is how now, so many years later, it continues to mean so much to those of us who grew up reading it, even all these years later.

I'll go to Summer of Sonic next year if they change the venue or if I get an early entry ticket. I only really wanted to attend this year because Yuji Naka and various other Important Sonic Guys attended, but I didn't even really see them. Next year I'll go to hang out with the cool people who attended, but I'm making sure I don't have to spend hours and hours queuing before hand. :P


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