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4 February 2020

Swapmeet #6 - Q&A with Stephen Hume

I've recently been chatting to Stephen Hume all about his plans for 'Swapmeet 6' - it's happening on Saturday 14th March and without further ado let me hand you over to Stephen to hear all about it...

The comic meet up is happening on Saturday 14th March, what can you tell us about it?
We have had a number of swap meets throughout the UK but never one on the west coast and Bruce Scott suggested why not Glasgow, “hey Stephen you live there” was the phrase as I recall and so planning for Swap meet 6 began. Since the first announcement, there has been a superb response from fellow collectors in not only Scotland but also the UK as a whole. The swap meet is taking place at the 29th Glasgow Scouts, Cameron Halls, and 147 Mossfield Road, Glasgow, G43 2BY. The venue is 5 minutes from Junction 2 of the M77 motorway and a 5min walk from Pollokshieds East railway station. There is also plenty of on street parking around the venue as well.

I think the easiest way to describe the Swapmeet is “the gathering of likeminded collectors of Classic British comics”. Sellers and buyers use the Swap meets to “move on their doubles, find comics they need, make lasting friendships and possibly meet artists and writers who have contributed to iconic memories of our youth”. It is not about making thousands of pounds; somebody may have the three Warlord comics you need to finish your collection and you could pick them up for a £1.00! It is about passing on swaps lists and wants lists, helping each other complete collections quicker and not at certain selling websites prices. For me it is any number of titles but Warlord Summer Specials 1988 – 1991 would finish my Warlord collection off nicely, you never know what you will find at a swap meet!

Will it just be Commando comics or will there be other comics there?
Commando is just one amongst a barrow load of the different comic titles that end up at the Swap meets. Our posters advertising the meets now reflect the astonishing scope and variety of British comics that you can collect. At swap meet 1 I was only collecting War related titles, but meeting other collectors at all the swap meets has expanded my collection and interest in all sorts of other genres. Great for my collecting if not the bank balance!

As I said the list is endless and at any swap meet you can expect to find Warlord, Victor, Battle, Whizzer, Action, Air Ace, Starlord, MASK, Wildcat, Ring Raiders, Eagle, 2000AD, Dandy, Beano, Buster, Nipper, Bullet, Bunty, Pippin, Twinkle, Whoopee, Cor, Judy, Mandy, Debbie, Tammy, Misty, Scream, Tornado, Smash, Hotspur, Wizard, Rover, Topper, Viz, Starblazer, Football Picture Monthly, War, War at Sea, Battle PL, Doctor Who, Genesis 2000, Sabre, Conflict, Roy of the Rovers, Combat, Charley’s War.

Believe me people who come along will find something to spark their interest and perhaps even start their collecting habit!

What's the '2 in 1 out table for the troops'? 
The '2 in 1 out table for the troops' idea was first done at SM#3, the idea is that buyers or sellers contribute “2 comics onto the table and take 1 out” Once the SM is finished, the count is done and then the packing starts so that they can be sent out to our “guys ‘n’ gals” serving overseas. A sort of “red cross parcel” except instead of shower gel and toothpaste, the box contains around a dozen comics and a letter from the contributors at the Swapmeet.

There will also be a raffle held, the main prize being a signed limited edition Ken Barr “Para Sarge” print. There will be a couple of other prizes to which may well contain a certain artist’s signature. I will certainly be paying my £5 for a raffle ticket.

All of the funds raised from the raffle, table hire, entry fees etc will go to the 29th Glasgow Scouts.

Are seller tables still available? What time can people set up from?
Interest from sellers has been fantastic and all 20 spaces have been taken, the event for sellers/traders was almost sold out from day one of the date being announced. Access to the hall for sellers will be from 9.00 am, allowing them to set up their 6ft tables, which are supplied. There will be a tea/coffee stallall day and hot rolls, soup and cake will be available all day.

I think this does prove that there is a vibrant market for this kind of event; there are a large number of collectors who collect British comics and have found that generally comic cons do not cater for them.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the 29th Glasgow Scouts

This is billed as Swapmeet #6 - what were Swap meet #1-#5? Did you go to them?  What are the Swap meets about?
Andy Yates from Newcastle-under-Lyme created the initial conception of the Swap meet. Andy has a great collection of comics, but he like a lot of collectors out there had thousands of doubles, and he came up with the idea of holding a Swap meet with likeminded people, all collectors and take it from there...September 2017, the Swap meets were born, It was a success and 6 months later in March 2018, SM#2 was held, this time a few more sellers came, again a success.

Ian hard at work - photo c/o Colin Noble (check out his blog here)

SM#3 (Sep 18) was hosted in Lochore, Scotland by Colin Noble, this was our first 2 day event, long but worth it, along with new and old sellers from SM2, we were also joined by 3 Commando cover artists, Stephen White, Graeme Neil Reid & Mr Ian Kennedy, we were also joined by Jeremy Briggs of Downthetubes & former DC Thomson Editor Calum Laird, all of them as collectors!!!  SM#4 had Captain Yates at the tiller yet again in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where I was even given a guided tour of Andy’s safe room where he keeps precious comics and collectables!

SM#5 was hosted in Watford by Bruce Scott and was great to meet some old friends and people such as Karl Kennedy and yourself who I met via our Facebook pages. We were very fortunate with our guests Mike Dorey, Alan Hebden and Steve McManus who came along to the event. It was fantastic to not only meet and make new friends but also meet icons of the comics industry who could not have been more gracious with their time or engaging at the event.

There are actually only three of us who have attended all from the original Swap meet Andy Yates, Bruce Scott and myself, we jokingly call ourselves the “old brigade” and speak to each other daily, great friends. Both Andy & Bruce are travelling to Glasgow with their wares, so there is definitely no excuse about travelling!

This is a fan event rather than a big MCM style event - how did it come about initially?
Everybody is a fan of a comic of one sort or another, I would be astonished if someone said to me that “they have never glanced at or picked up a comic”. There are so many comics that have disappeared off the shelves in local newsagents and high street retailers, which is such a shame. I suppose to an extent you could say that this event appeals to a certain market or the collectors and sellers, but it is also about introducing these classics to the next generation that is why we encourage visitors to bring the children, there are comics for all.

I definitely don’t deserve any credit, that entirely belongs to Andy Yates, it was his idea, it was his conception, all we do as collectors is support him by attending and each other in our hunt to complete our collections. Andy created the FB page “Commando and British Weekly Comics - Collectors and Swaps Page” and as I type this article “Andy’s Army” now numbers 644 members from all over the world and it is active everyday with collectors’ who PM each other on sealing a deal on an elusive comic they have been after.

Colin MacNeil

My wife Connie is an active member and seems to find comics or deals before I do, though how much of that is down to keeping track of what I collect and the cost involved I would not like to guess. Could it get bigger? Well if there is a demand, then I think it could, but like everything, it would cost money and time. This year we are holding three events - Glasgow in March, Banbury in June/July and back to HQ with Andy Yates in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in September. It would be superb to hold events in say Wales and Northern Ireland next year, if collectors such as I, Bruce, Andy and Colin can do it so can you. As they say build it and we will come.

Who would you really like to get to this, or future, Swap meets? Writers? Artists? Editors? Anyone in particular?
Oh my goodness what a question. I will answer that with the names of three people who are unfortunately no longer with us and it would have been a privilege to meet and have a chat with: Gordon Livingstone (my favourite comic artist, I hope Ian Kennedy will forgive me!), Denis McLaughlin and Carlos Ezquerra.

an old photo of Calum Laird - from this interview with him when he was Commando editor

You've got some great guests lined up to attend - how did you get them to come along?
Richard if you had asked me few years ago to organise an event such as this and I was in charge of the guest list, I would have said no chance will they come. What I have discovered in meeting Ian and Calum at swap meets and comic cons is that despite their standing within the comic world they are fans and collectors as well. They are superbly enthusiastic about the industry they continue to be involved in and happy to attend fan/collector based events such as this and when I asked them if they would attend they happily agreed. I have been an admirer of Colin MacNeil’s work for some time but never met him but chatting with him on Facebook I resolutely dealt with the problem and asked if he would be interested in coming to the swap meet and thankfully, he said yes. I think one of the advantages of the swap meet is that it is purely comic and fan based and is in smaller and more relaxed venues than larger comic cons and gives fans and guest more time to chat.

Do you know if the guests will be bringing along original comic art to sell?
Oh yes and I am really looking forward to seeing what they are going to bring. Mind you I might have to put a plan into action so Connie does not see what I have bought.

To all your readers let me say, come along it is a cracking day out and you will have fun.

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