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31 March 2018

The best sounding comic convention of September

Continuing my run of interviews I'm pleased to present an interview with Colin Noble, organiser of a great sounding Commando comics fair in September...(pictures are from swapmeet 2)

1). So for people who've never been to a Commando swapmeet before what can they expect?

Going to a swapmeet will always mean that you are meeting people who are collectors first sellers second, so you can expect people who are passionate about their hobby, but in a quiet way.  Commando collectors are a rare breed.  We read about war but are some of the most peaceful people you will ever meet. 


The best way I can describe it is think back to your days as a child and how your guardians would drag you round the garden centres, the DIY stores or insert the appropriate hobby of those that brought you up. While they would not show much passion for anything else, they concentrated their enjoyment into that one part of their life.


The set up will take you back to the days of jumble sales so there is always that sense of familiarity to any event.


2). How did you come to arrange the first 'North of the border' swapmeet?
The first two have been organised by Andy Yates who is a collector in Staffordshire and a few of us came down from Scotland and started chatting about how good it would be to have a swapmeet up here.  Now I had written a while back that one of the roles that I had not done was that of a convention organiser so both the idea of organising an event and having an event closer to home had been floating around in my mind so putting both together seemed like a sensible idea.

Colin (in the white t-shirt) looking for comics 

3). Where / when is swapmeet 3? How should people get there? Is the parking good?  Where can people stay if they are travelling from a long way away?

Swapmeet 3 is going to be in a small village in Fife called Lochore.  This was originally created as one of the mining communities of Fife and appropriately we are tying in with that heritage as the event is being held in the Lochore Miners Welfare Society & Social Club.


The event is arranged for the last weekend of September 2018 so keep the 29th and 30th clear in your diaries folk.  Depending on how costs go, admission will be free for 16 and under but might attract a charge for adults.


There are good public transport ties with the closest railway station less than 2 miles away and a straight run on the Number 19 bus service.


However, if you are going to be buying or bringing a large chunk of comics, then it is best to drive there and the links are pretty good with Lochore being less than 10 minutes from either the M90 or the A92.


As someone who has gone to a fair number of events and usually drives there as my wife and child are also comic fans, then parking is a big issue for me.  The good thing is that there is plenty of parking around Lochore and that it is all free!  Which means you have more money to spend on comics.


Alas, the closest accommodation is probably Cowdenbeath which is a bit of a downer, but that is a straight run on the local bus service.  For those with cars, they have a choice of Glenrothes, Kinross, Kirkcaldy or Dunfermline for B&Bs.  And before anyone asks, both of our sofas are taken and the spare room is a library!


4). What if I don't collect Commando (heresy I know), will there be anything there for me?

While the event focus is always going to be Commando, a few of us are sneaking in other British comics and as we are all British comic collectors, we don’t mind that.  However, it is only British comics that we are interested in, so if you are looking for Manga or Marvel then this is not an event for you.  However, if your collecting habits are D C Thomson or Amalgamated Press and not DC or Anime then this is the event for you.


5). I've heard that there were 10,000+ comics at the last swapmeet - should people expect a similar number this time? 

We did have 10,000 plus comics and that was just the Commandos!  If we added in all the annuals, War, Starblazer, Air Ace, Hotspur, Warlord, Victor and Buntys then we were nudging about 15,000 British comics.  As I said, this is the event for the British collectors. 


6). How many Commando spares do you personally have?

Oh I think I was close to having the least amount of spares at the event.  However, if I exclude my tribbles…er I mean trebles and doubles of doubles then I have over 400 Commandos to shift just now, but that is changing all the time as last year I had over 600 doubles.


7). Can we have a photo of your Commando shelf treasures?

Only one photo?  Er, actually you can’t as we have kind of run out of room, but I can show you the other comics that are on the shelves.  We reckon our collection is now around 10 to 15,000 and when we got together, we jokingly had a pre-nup.  The person who left had to take the kids and the person who stayed got to keep the comics and books.  Fellow collectors keep saying that it must be great to have a comic collector as a partner but don’t believe me when I say that it brings a whole different set of problems


8). How many Commando's do you own?

4662 issues and 2 annuals.  Not that I am counting…


9). I know you collect other picture libraries - are you aiming for full sets of those as well or just a representative selection?

In the long run, I want to get full sets, but as I collect on a budget, I am happy to get representations of each picture library.  In fact I have just managed to move 20 or so of my doubles off to the Isle of Man and my fellow collector, Paul Killey is sending me a batch of comics which includes an issue of Western Library which was the Ron Phillips reprint run from the 1980s of the Western stories published by Fleetway in the 1950s and 1960s.  It was only after chatting with another collector, Stephen Montgomery in January this year that I found out they even existed!

Here's, sort of, a picture of Colin himself

10). What's your current picture library 'Grail' item?

I love the way you shut me down about talking about the other grails.  Mind you that’s a conversation we have had a few times over the years.


However, concentrating on just the picture library grails, I picked one up at Swapmeet 2 and that was Commando issue 323 Operation Castaway as that was the first cover done by Gordon Livingstone and I am now about to get an issue of the Western Libraries run from the 1980s.


The others that I am hunting for are Air Ace 212 633 Squadron which is a comic adaptation of the movie, any of the Carter stories from Starblazer and issues 1 to 4 of Commando.  Issues 1, 2 and 3 are fairly obvious but the reason I want issue 4 is that it is the first one to be illustrated by Gordon Livingstone and due to his long association with Commando, that is the one I want the most. 


One other I am after is any copies of Pop Pic Picture Library which was a 1960s run that was based around popular hits of the time.  They are so difficult to find.  And finally, any that I find with Ian Kennedy or Harry Farrugia internal art are always met with joy and gladness on my part.

You can always catch-up with Colin on his blog here

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