The 29th of October 2011 will be a sad and momentous day in the world of indie comics. It will be the end of an era. It will be the day that the ninjas get their geek on for the very last time - the end coming, as it does to so many great things, with whisky and shouting in a hotel in Docklands surrounded by Stormtroopers.
So, before they record their final outing as the Geek Syndicate, we wanted to take the opportunity to say a few words...
This is Nic, writing this up on behalf of us both. Is this thing on?
We first met the GS boys at BICS 2006 - which is very near the beginning, but actually not the beginning of the story. For that, we have to go back to the times of ignorance, to before The Geek Syndicate came to be.
We first went to a UK comic convention around the turn of the century (I love writing that), well before either of us were involved on the creative side of comics at all - although Cy knew he would like to be but we were not exactly sure how you went about breaking out of the corporate chrysalis and emerging as a beautiful, freelance, creative butterfly just then. It was a pleasant enough event, and we had fun and all, but apart from a handful of panels it was basically just like the monthly comics markets we went to in a local hotel to pick up our pull list from the stall of our (no longer L)CS and rummage through back issues and assorted delights from the many dealers there. So, it was a good weekend and people were all friendly, but we did not return for a good few years.
Fast forward to May 2006. By this time Cy, always the trailblazer, had already discovered podcasts - with The Geek Syndicate being the first British one he ever listened to, having heard about it on Comic Geek Speak.
We had been doing the Starship Troopers: Extinction Protocol strip for Mongoose Publishing for a few months by this time, having sneaked into the industry via the secret underground passages, and we had felt the walls of that chrysalis starting to give a little as we started thinking about the possibilities of creator-owned books. So, we decided to scope out the convention scene again and to gather intelligence ready to prepare our masterplan.
Suddenly, we heard some voices that we had only heard coming out of a computer before - it was Dave and Barry - and they were real! I was a bit nervous to talk to them at first, but Cy was bold enough to go up and say hello while I hovered shyly behind him.
Six months later at Bristol 2007 (what we like to think of as The Con Of Destiny where Cy scored his Markosia Starship Troopers gig and had Cancertown accepted on the same day), the con scene had changed dramatically, it seemed. True, there was a certain buzz in the air at BICS that year with many more indie publishers and individual creators having tables and much more of a social feel - but this felt like a whole different thing from the earlier con we had visited.
So, here's the thing - we put this change down, primarily, to the existence of the Geek Syndicate - and the rag-tag fugitive fleet of misfits that made up what became an incredibly strong community of creators, readers, podcasters, ninjas and... well, you name it, centred around them. Suddenly, there was a place to connect with each other and make stuff happen - and a brave new world was born.
At Bristol 2007 we had an awkward moment with Barry on a zebra crossing! We saw him across the road and after a bit of "is that him?" frantic whispering between ourselves, Cy yelled "Barry!" He looked up, suitably startled with a "I think I might sort of recognise you, but I'm not 100% sure, please don't be muggers..." kind of an expression, smiled and said "Hi...umm....". It was okay, though. We were out of costume, or at least context, and when he saw us in the bar later on the confusion was all resolved faster than you say say "Whitehall farce". We still maintain that if we had shouted "throw me the idol..." instead of his name then he would have reacted better.
Soon after that, the GS reviewed the first issue of Cy's Starship Troopers: Bad Blood arc (freaturingthe now-infamous Vanauken line, "Shame me, and I will piss bullets down your throat until you are very, very, sorry."). Listening to the review of that, I have never before been so scared that two people would actually die of giggling whilst on air! They always recognised us after that, though!
The support that the GS have shown to us, to other creators, to the many fledgling podcasters they Geek Syndicated and to the whole world of Geekdom has been nothing short of astonishing - and for that, and for all the good friends we wouldn't have otherwise made, we cannot thank you enough.
Both of their worlds have changed, as much as they changed ours, in the past 5 years with Dave now a husband and father and Barry a transmedia mastermind and best-selling author, with whom we are more than delighted to be working.
So, if we should see a man who looks like Barry, but wearing a long leather coat with a broken sword, a haunted expression and a stylishly scruffy beard we will be sure to heed any messages he brings us from the future.
Yes, that was our favourite GS thing ever, since you ask.
Best of luck to you both, wherever your futures take you.
With that, a cold Easterly wind started to blow and the Geek Syndicate knew that the time when the walls between the worlds are thin was fast approaching. Their work here was all but done and it was time for them to return whence they came and help all the other girls and boys...
Seriously, guys, thanks for everything. You changed the face of the UK comics scene completely. If not for you, lots of us would not be here now, and here wouldn't be where it is. :)
We'll keep watching the skies and listening out for your call across the wasteland in the hope that you may someday return to us and show us the way to the promised land.
Until then, Geek Syndicate: we out... :)