“You’ve got bread on your nose…” Favourite comments from comic-cons 2015

It’s been a hell of a fun year, and one of the highlights has been attending a record number (for me) of festivals and cons to plug and pimp the ROBOT OVERLORDS film and book. If I was lucky enough to meet you, then thanks for taking the time to chat, if you bought a copy of the book, then you have my undying love, and if you torrented the film, then I hope your tiny genitals shrivel and die 😉 winky face!

The year ended with the biggest one of all, the MCM Comic Con at the Excel Centre in London. I was invited by fellow author and all round gentleman Kit Cox to join him selling and signing books for the whole weekend. Make no mistake, this is a huge event; the footfall on the Saturday alone is over a hundred thousand people, and they’re all eager genre fans, many in wonderful cosplay, and the feeling of belonging and bonhomie is infectious. I started keeping a tally of how many books I sold, but then started jotting down some of the comments made by those who visited my stall. It’s a brilliant snapshot of the kinds of people who come to cons, and I’ve broken them down into three sections: THE WONDERFUL, THE BIZARRE and THE HUMBLING…

THE WONDERFUL

Comments to make an author’s heart swell…

“Such a cool film, there’s nothing like it.”

“You had me at Robots and explosions!”

“I sell your book in Israel!” A passing Israeli bookseller.

“He’s buying this because he torrented the film after I recommended it!” A punter making his friend buy a copy of the book.

“I’d better get some cash!” A punter, after I pitched the book to them… and they actually came back and bought it!

“I’m Chris Lunt’s agent!” Chris is the show runner on the TV version of Robot Overlords!

“This is our first comic-con…” A slightly overwhelmed father and son (who bought a copy of the book).

“Can’t remember the last time I bought a book…” And he bought a copy!

“Where does the food come from? Where’s the booze? Can you imagine a completely dry country? It’ll never work!” A punter trying to pick holes in the premise. He bought a copy after I reassured him that we’d thought all this stuff through and that there was plenty of illegal hooch in a Robot-occupied UK.

“Dystopia is, like, my favourite, evah…” A wonderfully stereotypical emo teen.

“If it’s rubbish, I’m coming back.” A punter after buying a copy. He didn’t.

“I auditioned for this!” Young actor John Otteson!

“That little guy freaked me out.” Job done, Craig Garner!

“I’m downloading it right now.” Someone who bought the audiobook from Audible right in front of me!

“I love your film!” Several people. I love you, too.

THE BIZARRE

From the adorable to the baffling…

“Do you mind holding my bow while I go for a wee?” A Katniss cosplayer.

“If he finishes it, he gets fifty quid!” A father determined to get his son reading books. Who am I to argue with this carrot-on-a-stick version of parenthood?

“Everybody’s sucking Chinese dick.” A fellow writer/illustrator on the current state of Hollywood film production.

“I hate to be the person who asks where another table is…” Several people who mistook me for an information desk. I was happy to help…

“Oh my God! Monkey Magic!” A punter who was distracted mid-pitch by some fantastic Monkey Magic cosplay.

THE HUMBLING

Comments to bring the ego down to Earth with a bump.

Now, bear in mind that these comments came from folks standing right in front of a table with two showcards featuring the book, big piles of the book, and a bloody great quad poster of the film shouting ROBOT OVERLORDS in big shiny, silver letters with the release date stated plainly below…

“Is the film out yet?”

“Are they going to make this into a movie?” You never know!

“Are you the writer?”

“I think I’ve heard of this…”

“And that would make you… Mark?” A punter squinting at the showcard, then the book, then me…

“That’s a bit of a cliché, isn’t it?’ A kid on the title. I somehow resisted clipping the precocious little nerk around the ear’ole… Too many witnesses.

“I can’t finish long books.” A young boy. Try writing them, mate.

“When is this in cinemas?” Sorry mate, you blinked and missed it.

“Doesn’t look anything like her…” A punter looking askance at Gillian Anderson on the poster (who clearly hasn’t seen her in anything since The X-Files).

“Free book?” No. Buy one or fuck off.

“I haven’t got any cash!” from a punter after I spent a good five minutes pitching the story.

“I only brought thirty pounds!”

“I don’t read and I’m broke.”

“I’ve run out of money!” Everyone after 5.30.

“You’ve got bread on your nose…” My son, who pointed out that I still had some of my lunchtime sandwich attached to me after I spent a long and futile five minutes pitching the book to a couple who, perhaps understandably, spent the whole time looking at me funny.

 

I had huge fun at these cons, and sold a ton of books. I’m surprised the major publishers don’t have a presence at these. Certainly plenty of indie authors do pretty well, and I hope to do more in the future. If we should meet, don’t hesitate to ask about the film’s release date, plot holes, the state of Hollywood’s sexual peccadilloes, or where the manga books are sold, just don’t boast about torrenting the film, because I will have to kill you with the bow and arrow that nice lady asked me to look after while she was taking a whizz.

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My EasterCon 2015 schedule

If you’re coming along to Dysprosium 2015 (EasterCon to the rest of us!), then here’s what I’ll be up to on the Saturday and the Sunday.

Saturday 4th April:

10-11am Build your awesome robot – Wright room

Described in the brochure thusly…

Build Your Awesome Robot: Child-friendly activity. Priority is given to children 17 and under. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Using cardboard boxes, egg boxes, toilet rolls, metal food trays, cereal boxes etc, plus some coloured card, tape, and glue, you can build your own ready-to-wear robot. Zandy has an incredible book that gives suggestions on things you can put on your robot. We’ll make sure to copy the relevant bits and people can draw their own signs on card. Zandy Hemsley, Mark Stay.

Yup, Zandy and me will be helping kids build their own robots. What could possibly go wrong?! Assuming that we haven’t all been enslaved by the children’s automations you can always come to…

12.30-1.30 Author reading (following Jaine Fenn) – Johnson room

This hardly seems fair: I have to follow the awesome Jaine Fenn! She’s a proper science fiction writer with a garret and everything! I’ll do my best and maybe read the bit from the novelisation with the exploding head.

Sunday:

10-11am Robot Overlords from script to screen – Bleriot room

This will be great fun. Myself and Paddy Eason (VFX supervisor on Robot Overlords) will take you on a journey from a page of script right through to a finished scene from the film. It’s also a great way to show just how an indie Brit sci-fi film gets made these days (with great difficulty, as it happens). This will be a multimedia tour de force with never-before-seen concept art and behind-the-scenes material.

11.15-12.15 Gollancz Room party

This will be where all the cool kids will be hanging out. So be there, or be a giant robot cube…

Robot Overlords Cube concept art by Paul Caitling
Robot Overlords Cube concept art by Paul Caitling

Robot Overlords UK trailer, poster and release date

Well, it’s been all go the last couple of weeks and I thought a quiet Sunday afternoon might be the best time to summarize the latest Robot Overlords news.

First, we have at last a UK release date of 27th March and a trailer:

And a quad poster to go with it (clicken to enlargen):

RO Quad Poster

We also have an official Facebook page, and I’ve started collating images from the film and the book over on Pinterest.

And the book is out this week, too, so there’ll be quite a few interviews and blog pieces from me over the next few weeks.

We’re very nearly there: after over four years of writing, filming and post-production, the film will finally be out in the wild. It’s a thrilling and slightly terrifying feeling: like sending one of your kids off to school for the first time. Hopefully the other kids will play nice…

As soon I have more new of the UK release I’ll post it here, in the meantime check out this clip over at Empire online. It features one of my favourite bits of Christian Henson’s score, so play it loud…

 

A Goodreads Robot Overlords book giveaway – ends 1st March

Those lovely people at Goodreads, in association with those equally lovely Geeks at Gollancz, are giving away – yes! Giving away! – ten copies of the Robot Overlords novelisation.

Ten copies! That’s (taps calculator)… lots of money I won’t ever see because of their insane generosity. It’s called “marketing” or something.

“But how do I stand a chance of winning?” you ask. Simple, just click here and then click on the ‘Enter to win’ button. Yes, it’s really that straightforward: two clicks… You’d be insane not to give it a try.

But hurry, it ends on the 1st of March!

9781473204867
This thing of beauty for no pennies!

PS. Be sure to check the Ts&Cs, as this offer is only available in Great Britain.

Robot Overlords: A New Poster AND Win A Signed Copy Of The Book Proof…

Today those good folk over at Empire Online revealed the wonderful collectors’ poster for ROBOT OVERLORDS. Feast your eyes on that (and give it a click to enlarginate to its full size)…

RO Poster

I just love its ’80s Drew Struzan-y quality. Jon and I wanted to capture the feel of those classic Amblin movies with our story and this poster does exactly that. The artist is Brian Taylor, also known as Candy Killer and a quick perusal of his website shows that we’re in very good company, with his outstanding artwork for classics such as ALIEN, ALIENS, BLADE RUNNER and THE THING.*

Brian confirmed that copies of our poster will be available for sale nearer the time of the film’s release early next year and that there may even be signed copies available. I, for one, will be front of the queue for that!

And, to celebrate all this Robot-y goodness, those lovely people at Gollancz suggested that we run a competition to give away a signed copy of the proof (or “galley” if you’re from the colonies) of the novelisation to one lucky winner. Only a few of these were printed, mainly for the film’s producers when attending film festivals and the like, so these are properly rare. So if you fancy your chances, pop over to the Gollancz blog and have a go! The competition closes on 21st December 2014.

 

*And if you’re looking to buy me a Christmas pressie, I’ll have the Blade Runner print please! Oh, all right then, if you insist, one of each…