Last week it was announced that the wonderful team behind Bristol Comic & Zine Fair (BCZF) have decided to call it a day. Although it has come as a shock to many in the comics community, we're also feeling rather reminiscent and grateful here at Good HQ, and we'd like to take a moment to honour a true grassroots festival that helped shape the people we are today.
Good Comics, as it was then, first tabled at BCZF in 2016 with a small collection of comics from co-thermos boys Samuel C. Williams and Paddy Johnston, alongside the first two Dead Singers Society zines and the newly released Chicken Boy by James Howard. It was also the very beginnings of a relationship between us and Olivia Sullivan, who then went onto publish SID with us the following year.
In 2017 we were back in Bristol, this time without Paddy (more on that later). Instead, Sam was joined by Olivia Sullivan! And thus, SID was out in the world.
We also had done a ridiculous amount of work that year, so we had a full table with Robin William Scott's Every Life I Ever Lived, Josh Hicks' Human Garbage, Sarah Crosby's Stir Fry, Elizabeth Querstret's New York, Faye Spencer's Nonniverse, ANOTHER Dead Singers Society zine AND Cosmos & Other Stories, by yours truly. With all that publishing, it's no wonder Paddy died!*
Fast forward to last year and our final BCZF, although we didn't know it yet. Our stocked titles have continued to grow, and our table layouts have involved more careful planning and collapsible stands. In 2018 we were surrounded by friends, and it had become so much more than just a festival but a chance to see old friends and new talents alike. Outside of our own circle of creating and publishing comics, Bristol Comic & Zine Fair has been a game-changer for so many. Paddy, Sam and I found that Bristol offered an experience that was exactly what we deem successful in an event:
It was free entry for the public
It was in a central location
Sellers had half a table, whether they were seasoned publishers or tabling for the first time
It had a dedicated accessible hour for people who need a quieter browsing experience away from crowds
And last but not least, it had a wholesome, community feel
The self-published comics show scene is ever evolving, but it feels like this year it's seeing a major shift. Here at Good Comics we'd like to give huge thanks to the team at BCZF for running an excellent festival, and we wish you the best of luck for what you do next!
*Don't worry, Paddy did not die. He's still alive and bunting.