Got it? Good. Last we left, I was in Cambridge with Emma Vieceli and had spoken to Mr. Ross on the phone. Emma and I were going into London to meet up with our friend, David Monteith. Jonathan had invited me and some friends to see his chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. After a journey into the city, we head off to the White City stop on the tube where the BBC headquarters is located. It was not lost on me that the BBC is in a place called White City. Racist. (Just kidding!) We met up with friends Ben Templesmith and Jamie Smart.
That's us showing off our wristbands and enjoying drinks in the green room. As we arrived at The BBC, we went to the building to collect our passes. Jonathan had said I would be on the list. I went to the lovely lady with the VIP list and she couldn't find my name. Uh-oh. I immediately mentioned that I had chatted with him that morning and could show her emails, etc. She thought for a moment and just said, "I'm sure it's alright" and let us through. My English friends figured it was my American accent and suggested I speak for everyone wherever we were to see if we got free stuff. Remember, I'm the one with the accent over there!
A bonus to the trip was meeting up with Jamie Smart. We've had him on my podcast, COMIC NEWS INSIDER, a few times. Amazing cartoonist with works including Bear, Ubu Bubu, Whubble and more. He edited the Slave Labor Graphic anthology, Fat Chunk 2: Zombies, of which I had written 6 pages with art for my strips by Jenny Romanchuk and Shane Heron. We chat often online but had never met in person. It was love at first sight. Bro love.
After hanging in the green room with drinks, we witnessed the show taping with guests Jeff Goldblum, Gabourey Sidibe, comedian Kevin Bridges and musical guest Pendulum. The warm-up guy, Charlie Baker, was awesome and even chatted me up during his routine. Great show and fun times! A bit of miscommunication between Jonathan and I, as I thought we were meeting after. Apparently, he had sent someone out for us but they couldn't find us. All good as I was going to his house the next day but was disappointed that the others couldn't meet him.
Drinks in London after at Cro Bar, a spot I had seen on Zane Lamprey's Three Sheets show, where they have infused bourbons. Mmmmm....bourbon. Shortly after, Dave and I head back to his place as I was staying with him all weekend. Big day the next day and all that.
Friday rolls around and Dave takes me on a tour of local London comic book shops. The first one we enter, Orbital Comics, was really great. I immediately noticed the lovely girl behind the counter but then went on to my perusing. Then I heard her speak in an American accent. Fellow American! Liz has been living in the UK for over 2 years from Massachusetts. She's living my dream! Living in London and working in a comic book shop! I pulled out the recorder and did a quickie interview with her. Orbital is a great shop with an art gallery and quite spacious. We hit a few other shops including Gosh Comics and Forbidden Planet. Orbital and Gosh were my favorites by far. Go visit them when in London!
We were to be at Jonathan Ross's house at 5pm. He had mentioned we could only stay until 8pm as they were leaving on holiday at that time. I thought, "3 hours is enough time for an interview and to see his comic/art collection." Dave and I meet up with Richard Starkings (Comicraft, Elephantmen) to head over to the Ross household. As we approach his address, I was surprised that it wasn't gated or that there was a big wall. We just strolled up the driveway. However, we were immediately stopped by his security to check that we were legit. Good thing!
The house was beautiful, though we didn't see much. We waited in the large kitchen with the 5-6 dogs. I got to meet Mr. Pickles! Huge backyard. Jonathan came out and asked if I wanted to do the interview first or see the comics/art collection. I suggested seeing the works!
We walked into his office and it was a nerd's wet dream. Not a huge office but sizeable. One wall had nothing but comics. He has every Silver Age Marvel comic, it seems. All of the first appearances of X-Men, Thor, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, etc. He's a Marvel kid but does have some DC stuff too. Another wall was covered in original comic book art from the likes of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko and other legends. And another wall was full of toys/action figures that you have probably never seen. Unbelievable!
We spent about 1 1/2 hours in that room. Jonathan was like a little kid. Pulling down art from the wall and digging through comics. "Guys! You have to see this one!", he'd exclaim as he excitedly grabbed a piece of art or comic. We all just chatted comics, creators and all things nerdy. We seriously could have stayed in that room for another hour or more.
Time for the interview! I had given Jonathan some cigars as a gift. He wanted to save them for another time but said he had some Cohibas. We went out to the backyard and lit them up! It was a bit windy so after about 10 minutes we had to move inside to continue.
We talked for over an hour. About his new Image comic, Turf, his love of comics, Sci-Fi, artists, writers, celebrities, etc. Again, we could have talked for another hour. His wife, Jane Goldman, wrote the screenplay for Kick-Ass! and is writing the new X-Men flick. She came into the room right at 8 as I was finishing up my last question. Perfect timing. They were all packed for holiday and ready to head out. After a few more pictures, we departed the Ross abode. Jane agreed to come on the show in the near future and Jonathan said he'd stay in touch and let me know when he's over for a convention. Possibly San Diego Comic-Con and/or New York Comic-Con.
I can't thank Jonathan enough for letting me into his home and for being so generous with his time. He seemed genuinely disappointed that we didn't have more time to hang out. Amazing. He's a ridiculously huge star in the UK and the fact that he took time for me and my friends just goes to show you that he is a great guy. You can hear the interview in Episode 264 of Comic News Insider. Apologies again for the random crackling in the first 10 minutes or so due to wind. As I mentioned, we moved inside shortly after.
Go listen and enjoy! And tell him on Twitter (he's @Wossy) that you heard the interview on Comic News Insider and loved it.