"One of your books has been seized by customs..."
At least that's initially what I thought the nice young lady from the cargo company had said. I had visions of Hunger House being pawed by overzealous Customs & Excise officials, wondering just how old the girl in it is supposed to be.
"Which book?" I asked.
"Um... City of Crocodiles."
"Customs pull a container or two from most ships, just to make sure there isn't a Chinese family hiding inside it. It should be released on Monday, you'll still get it for when you need it."
I can't help but think this might have something to do with the officious twat at HM Customs & Excise I dealt with a couple of weeks ago, when I made the throwaway comment at some pointless bureaucracy about 'It's not like these are terrorist manuals disguised as comics,' - I'm sure it had nothing to do with it...
So instead of receiving 80 boxes on Monday, I shall receive 42 on Monday and a further 38 before the deadline arrives (expect delivery photos). It's a bit of a pain really. For all of the benefits of having stuff printed in China, you have to wait up to 10 weeks for their delivery and then some jobsworth at Southampton goes and screws up your weekend...
One thing I've become acutely aware of recently is time and how it no longer works to your advantage. Hunger House and City of Crocodiles were actually initially scheduled for March releases and the catalogue of minor but annoying 'hurdles' that ended up pushing that release date back to essentially the beginning of May (I got the 'Ma' part right) were really unforeseen and bloody annoying - oh, I said that, but they were. Printers deleting files they were supposed to be using. Endless dialogue with associated parties, who, while not directly involved in the process are inextricably linked through association (this was a particular bugbear of mine). It's a good job I haven't had hard and fast deadlines to stick to (at the moment - this changes later in the year) because I would have been left in a 'vulnerable and compromising position'.
As it is, we're considering having 100 copies of Verity Fair airfreighted to the UK so that we have them for the Leicester Comic Con and a proposed Terry Wiley signing at Travelling Man in that there Newcastle-Upon-Tyne place. This is because the chances of having the sea shipment here on time is about as likely as me getting Jack Kirby to draw my autobiography (slim, but even slimmer given he's been dead for 20 years).
To be fair, VF's delays have had a lot to do with me being 'unwell' and also my attempts to salvage something out of the Beastly rubble and various other things, one of which I fully intend to rant about, one day.
Now we're hurtling towards Free Comic Book Day and then convention season starts properly with Bristol in May. I have fond memories of Bristol - Borderline Magazine won its award there - but this year is the first time I go there with a vested interest in attendance and consumers - the apprehension is almost palpable.
If you are near Northampton on Saturday 3rd, May, then come down to Close Encounters and celebrate the release of our new books, meet some creators and eat some cake! If you're in Bristol the following weekend, look out for our banner and come over and talk to me or my new assistant, Chris. At Bristol, we'll have Ben Dickson on our table, talking about Santa Claus, Adolf Hitler and all of his other projects and there'll be people stopping by all over the weekend. Come over and buy me a beer, I won't say no, unless it's lager!
Depending on the success of the Northampton launch, we're looking at having special days at Close Encounters in Bedford, Comic Connections in Banbury, Travelling Man in Newcastle and, to be brutally honest, anywhere else that fancies having us (we bring cake!).