Ben X is an emotional and thought-provoking ride by first-time Belgium director Nic Balthazar. Watching the trailer you might be forgiven for thinking this is a movie about the dangers of online gaming. In fact MMORPGs are portrayed realistically and in a positive light. Logging on every day is the one uplifting thing in Ben’s otherwise bleak world. He is being bullied mercilessly by his peers because he is different – he suffers from Asperger Syndrome – and online escapism helps him to cope. It’s also a way for him to express his feelings and make friends in a way he can’t in the real world.
On Saturday the 28th March I went to the UK web & Mini Comix Thing. It took me around 3 and a half hours to get there. This was the first one I had ever been to and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it. (I find travelling on the London Tube, with its crushing crowds and labyrinthine passages, pretty harrowing). On arriving in the morning I remember thinking it looked small, about the same size as a Freshers Fair.
Seven hours later, with a bulging bag of comic-books and the show about to close, I visited the last table. There is a chance I missed one; I kept thinking I had done it all then spotting something new. I’d had a great day, meeting tons of friendly artists who were happy to talk to me and seeing many beautiful creations. There was such an enormous variety there it kept me entertained the whole way through.
I was wearing fairy wings (so I might be recognised) and I did not feel out of place! No one else was wearing them, but there was an eclectic mix of dress, everyone was different. I was rather impressed that out of all these creative types not one of us had had the same idea. We stood out… and fitted in. Apparently dressing memorably is all a part of the self-promotion.
I gathered plenty of advice about web and small-press comics along with a lot of contacts. I went to one of the talks they held throughout the day which was on ‘Breaking into the Mainstream.’ The panel advocated getting yourself out there and doing plenty of legwork: no one is going to ‘discover’ you; you have to tell them you‘re out there!
I think these talks could have been publicised better – sure they were announced but if you weren’t standing right next to the announcer your chances of hearing it were slim! A big time-table stuck up at the entrance and beside the staging area where the talks were held would have been useful. Of course, if I had gone to more talks I would never have had time to get around the whole Thing, so overall I’m glad it worked out the way it did.
I will definitely be going again next year and would like to exhibit Epic Fail there sometime in the future in the future. It was enjoyable and inspiring.