Monday, 16 May 2016

Hollywood Comes to Blackpool - May 2016

russell payne
Russell Payne at "Hollywood Comes to Blackpool"

Just back from POD Event's "Hollywood Comes to Blackpool" at the Norbreck Castle Hotel's Norcalympia. Had a great time, the organisers really looked after the guests, it's the little things that count- I was asked constantly if I needed anything, people brought me water, coffee and biscuits, I was given cake and they even gave each guest a nice engraved award. Ten out of ten for being good hosts, thank you to Neil, Amanda and all the POD staff and helpers. The event was not a comicon as such, but the majority of comicons aren't really comic cons nowadays, this was more accurately billed as a "Film, TV and Comic experience" and was raising funds for charity.....although ironically it had more comics on sale there there than I've seen at many comicons.

This was officially the nearest convention I've ever been a guest at. I often drive 5 or 6 hours to a con, but I can see the Norbreck Castle from my bedroom window. I was there in less than five minutes. It was sponsored by Dominoes, so I also had the slightly odd experience of ordering a pizza the day before and having it delivered with a flyer that had my face on it.

norbreck castle norcalympia
The Norcalympia

Sat with me and fellow local John Watson (also currently co-writing a book with me) in guest alley were actors Michael Henbury, Sandeep Mohan and Phil Hodges, and voice talent Marc Silk. All nice people, Marc was particularly good fun. His CV includes an astonishing number of characters - Aks Moe in Star Wars, Johnny Bravo, Scooby Doo, Pingu.... so he's good value for money - like having 53 guests in one. I did a panel with Marc and we all just sat back while he taught the audience how to speak like Scooby Doo.

Marc Silk
Marc Silk voice actor extraordinaire
Michael Henbury
Michael Henbury (Labyrinth, Willow, Return of the Jedi)

Michael had been in loads of classic movies, Sandeep had (among other things) recently played a Stormtrooper in the Star Wars:The Force Awakens movie and Phil not only had an epic moustache but is also an X-Wing pilot and an Archeologist. So there was plenty to chat about.

John and I were sketching for charity, and had a range of unusual requests. John was asking a minimum donation of £10, I was asking for £5 - some might say this means John is twice as good at drawing as me, this is clearly not true... John is actually 1000 times better at drawing than I am, but if I charged 1p per drawing then it wouldn't have raised much cash! I drew an elephant holding a sabre for someone that was going to present the drawing to Princess Beatrice (!), someone else asked me to draw their dog and quite a few cosplayers asked me to draw them in costume. One guy got me and John to both draw Anime characters for him, then left without paying, annoying. Everyone else paid up though, so we made a bit for charity which is always good. And Princess Beatrice gets a nice drawing of an elephant, hope she likes it.....

Russell Payne Ghost Rider Cosplay

Artist John Watson Russell Payne

captain america cosplay

I'd just had a particularly short haircut so was trying to avoid sitting under any bright lights, it's difficult looking down and drawing without showing everyone your thinning hair. I think some people thought I was cosplaying as Cadfael. As usual, I spent most of the day behind a table, so didn't really get chance to look round, but there was plenty going on - Jedi Academy sessions teaching kids how to use lightsabers, photoshoots with green screens, movie showings, cosplay competitions, charity auctions, model displays and loads of trade stalls.


The event wasn't as packed as it could have been, but it's always difficult getting word out for a first time event, and everyone that did go had a good time. All went smoothly and the guys who did the MCing (Kerry King Neale as Ursula from the Little Mermaid and Chris Kemp as the Riddler) did a fantastic job of holding it all together, working all day long doing Q&As, cosplay announcements and general enthusing.

cosplay superman supergirl wonderwoman spiderman cat woman

The music was great too, at one point they played the theme from the old Monkey TV show- "Monkey Magic". Ace. Hopefully POD can build on this year's success with their future events. As long as they have some more free cake, I'm in.

(Thanks to Darrell Till for taking photos and generally helping out!)

(left to right) Phil Hodges, Darrell Till & Sandeep Mohan


  1. Riddler here, Ursulla was Kerry King Neale and I was Chris Kemp, it was a pleasure to meet you Russell

  2. Ah, that's great Chris thanks, I've amended the blog to credit you both. Great job keeping up that energy all day, and thanks for doing such a fine job with the Q&A!

  3. Always plenty of cake Russel! Mel ;) x

  4. It was great to have met you Russell, didn't know you were a local lad. I was the Scarlet Witch who was yapping at you for about half an hour.

  5. What an absolute pleasure to have you attend the event Russell, such a great gesture you did for the charities on the day......looking forward to seeing & speaking soon :) Thanks ever so much again :)

  6. Thank you for the lovely feedback Russell :)