Written by – Iain “Retro” Stewart

It began months ago, like the regular Message Zone Hume-in-Charge I am; I was browsing the topics of STC-O’s forums. But all of a sudden, something cropped up, a topic by the name of “I’ve been thinking…”

Now this didn’t pop into my mind as anything special of course, however something did. This topic had been created by none other than Nigel Kitching, Script and writer Hume of STC of old. Without a second thought, I delved into this topic, and found the following, the beginning of the events to come.

“Guys, people were talking awhile ago about the Birmingham Con and how quite a few STC contributors were going to be there, including me.

I also got the impression that some of you might like to meet up for a chat. This got me thinking.

So I've now spoken to Richard Elson and Nigel Dobbyn about the possibility of maybe setting aside a little time over the weekend and arranging to meet anyone who was interested. Both said they'd be up for it.

So, does anyone think this is a good idea? If people wanted to meet up what would you like to do - informal chat or something more structured?

Of course maybe this is a dumb idea and there is little interest (it has been a while after all) in which case we can just all look a little embarrassed and agree never to speak of it again.

At the moment I have only spoken to Rich and Nigel because they are friends and if this all goes wrong and I end up looking foolish it's not a problem. If there is interest I'll see if any of the other guys are interested but for now the people who are on board are Nigel, Rich and myself.

So, what do you think?”

Quickly I penned down my interest, and just as expected, proceeded to then watch the veritable mass of replies flooding into the topic confirming more and more Boomers to show up. A chance to meet in person those Hume’s who made our loved comic so good? No chance on Mobius we were dodging that chance.

And so the planning began…

Fast forward a few months, and I find myself standing outside a pharmacy in Glasgow’s Queen Street station. Bags in hand and journey tickets in pocket, awaiting fellow Boomers to begin the first leg of the journey. This was in Scotland, however all across England and even Ireland, I knew Boomers were gathering their items of value and beginning their own journeys. So far I had been told there may be about eight people turning up, a nice amount to have a chat with no doubt.

Again, some hours pass, and I am now in England, staying in the home of “Stiv,” one of the great artists of STC-O, I now realise the scale of this event. No less than twenty Boomers are named to be coming to the meet in Birmingham, stunned, I do the count, and realise the truth. This is going to be massive.

So as not to linger (Get to the point! ~ Megadroid), seeing as this is about the meet rather than before, after a lengthy car journey, myself and my three companions arrive in Birmingham, check in to the hotel…and head out for the last leg. The destination…Birmingham Millennium Think Tank.

Hume Quest

After a quick and confusing problem with getting mixed up with another forum also en route to the Think Tank, the STC-O troop, now fully gathered, began its invasion of the Birmingham Comic Convention. The Think Tank truly was an amazing structure, but went relatively unnoticed by the excitement surrounding our group, with baited breath we entered the convention…and promptly failed to find Nigel Kitching, our contact.

Oh dear…

Bowed, but not broken, STC-O’s party group hunted for 2000AD; hoping they would have some information, and found nothing…we checked the staff…and found nothing. Things were looking bad, the STC Humes weren’t in sight, the convention was tough to navigate, it was really hot and when a few of the party turned to me, discovered their “Hume-in-Charge” was really just a student from Scotland totally out of his depth in a sea of nerdery far greater than anything he ever was himself.

But fear not! For we had a great idea on exactly how to fix this problem, and after ten minutes of pre-planning, our masterpiece was ready.

Hume Quest

Walking around for twenty minutes with this held above our head, we certainly got a lot of strange looks and odd questions. No-one offered ideas though…and the Humes certainly didn’t show up either.

Oh dear oh dear…

But salvation was at hand! One of our Boomers commented on hearing something about Nigel Kitching attending a seminar in the ominous “Room 2” in ten minutes time, lacking anything better to move on, we quickly made our way to the room. Apparently there was a seminar listed under something to do with Schools, this confused me, but upon arriving it was all made clear. This was about Shakespeare being introduced once more to comics in order to provide a visual link for schoolkids to classic stories. Without going into detail, the seminar was pretty interesting, although more weird for others seeing twenty odd Boomers sitting with STC’s held ready.

But eventually, a little late (That’s those Humes of old for ya! ~ Megadroid) Nigel Kitching walks in and takes a seat, accompanied by small cheer from a few Boomers.

The seminar ends shortly afterwards, and so our time begins, finally…we have found the Humes! Nigel politely greets us, after somewhat of a surprise at the sheer numbers who came along. Leading us outside of the room, the search for the location of Nigel Dobbyn and Richard Elson begins, thankfully, Nigel seemed a good bit more organised than us, and heads off to the Bar. En-route I found myself at the head of the group beside Nigel, and with a few exchanged words, found him to be a somewhat quieter person than I had been expecting. I am a quiet person myself usually, and so it wasn’t a problem. But he asked if Ed Reynolds (STC-O’s writer Hume ~ Megadroid) had turned up, to which I had to reply I hadn’t an idea.

A couple of minutes on we arrive in the bar, meeting Richard Elson and Nigel Dobbyn enjoying a seat and a drink, and in truth, I felt slightly embarrassed being part of a veritable mass of people invading their time with friends, however all three were really brilliant about it, and welcomed us friendlily and with enthusiasm. People spread out, and merry times began. I cannot speak for everyone there and their experience, only my own, however I shall try what I may to give a general overview. For the next few hours we hung around the Bar, completely ignoring the convention itself. I spoke to each Hume in turn, beginning with Richard Elson. Myself and a few Boomers rather interrogated him a little, I must admit, (I was worrying it may have been too much at one point) on the intricacies of working within STC of old, and what thought went behind the creation. Such questions as “Where did you get the idea for Super Sonic’s eyes?” and “What inspired you to that design?” were popular, and all informatively answered. Not one person would have guessed some of the answers, as they involved unlikely inspirational areas, such as leaves, twigs and Margaret Thatcher.

At one point a Boomer asked Richard for a sketch, but was threatened by a spanner or something…although this I heard only via word of mouth afterwards.

After a little time I found myself speaking to Nigel Kitching once more, and discovering the interesting and often hilarious stories of certain story arcs creation. Nigel provided highly informative answers, proving himself an apt guy for humour and a friendly face throughout, even when faced with raging nerd Boomers like ourselves. One thing that was mentioned however that surprised me was his comments of slight surprise at the number of Boomers who had turned up, leading to almost a story from ourselves, telling of why we became interested in the comic, why it means so much and why we respected it. Nigel was very modest about it all, remarking that it was nice to know people respect his work from what he considers his “Glory days.”

It was at this point another face appeared suddenly, one I didn’t recognise, until a fellow Boomer told me it was Ed. Lo and behold our Script Hume and part of the original driving force behind STC-O’s creation had arrived! I did not get much of a chance to speak to Ed outside of a small introduction; however it was nice to meet the man in person. Not alone was our Hume though, as the STC-O Art Hume’s made an appearance, most of them turning up suddenly at once and showing off some art. At this point, things really felt incredible, a real meet of new and old together, and the rest of us in between two sides of awesome.

Afterwards, I spent a little time talking to Nigel Dobbyn, watching him sketch for some Boomers, and browsing his STC portfolio of artwork. This folder seemed rather popular, as seeing the original art full size really was incredible. Some Boomers even walked away with some of it for a small price, Nigel Dobbyn commented he “felt he was scamming us” but really, don’t talk rubbish Nigel. Your work is amazing stuff, and I for one know I shall treat mine with respect. The full size picture of Captain Plunder is ready for framing very soon to keep it safe.

Watching one of the STC Art Hume’s sketch was rather interesting; the characters just seem to merge easily together. I am an aspiring artist, but still in my infancy you might say, so to see a skilled hand at work instead of just the finished work was really interesting and enlightening. Watching shapes and lines become faces and expressions were brilliant, great thanks for showing us the work Nigel!

Something many Boomers commented and I echo was the feeling of the moment. I think many were expecting Richard and the Nigels to feel like celebrities or Art/Story Gods. When you think back, it’s a bit of a silly motive to believe there is anyone but normal (but very talented!) people behind the work. So when I noticed they seemed interested in seeing our work and asking us about our prospects for future within University and hobbies, it really opened up the idea of just talking to them like you would to anyone. Indeed, I found myself just calling Richard Elson as “Rich” before the end.

And so with the loaded word…end…all things had to eventually. Buses had to be got, trains were leaving, wives were waiting (one might assume) and it had to stop sometime. There was just time for a quick photo shoot of which you can see a few of on the left. The three Humes were great, not minding photos, signatures, sketch requests and questions, real awesome guys who just love what they do. On exiting there was a buzz in the air of a terrific day spent in a bar talking to them, and of course to each other, having not met each other for a long time in person. Needless to say, when any of us started reading that comic at whatever issue as kids…none of us really expected this to happen someday.

So here’s to you Nigel, Nigel and Richard, thank you for the offer to meet, and thank you ever so much for your time spent with us. Your efforts with STC of old made a generation of fans, and although it is a much smaller amount who now continue the memory, we thank you for it still. When you think about it, the twenty people you met would never have met each other and been friends to have such an awesome time without your work being the way it was. If that doesn’t make a warm fuzzy cheesy feeling…I dunno what will. (It certainly brings an oil tear to my eye Boomers… ~ Megadroid)

BUT! It wasn’t exactly done yet! Out of the Think Tank we Boomers felt the need for food, and promptly headed to an Italian Restaurant. Humourous times continued within, singing Happy Birthday in Italian…twice…and generally having a great time. But…over at the back, a few of us noticed a set of three familiar faces…and none of us could quite believe that chance had brought the Humes to the exact same restaurant as us! What are the chances eh?

So until next time…may it be as brilliant as this one.

Hume Quest