Thought Bubble, or to call it by its full title, The Leeds Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival, this year celebrated its fifth year and is probably already the biggest and best the UK has to offer. More than just a mere convention, Though Bubble is a weeklong celebration of sequential art in all its variety. If you’re there looking to score overpriced autographs from has-been sci-fi stars or want the skinny on the latest genre movie releases you’ve turned up at the wrong event because Thought Bubble is for comics and the love held for them by fans and creators alike.
Organised to coincide with the popular Leeds International Film Festival, the lines are blurred between the two events with the film festival screening movies that should appeal to the Thought Bubble crowd, amongst the this year were Mars, Waltz With Bashir, Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods, Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts and a huge amount of anime and Japanese fair within the Planet Japan screenings.
Then came such a massive amount of events as to make your head spin, some which you would expect, such as an art exhibition, big company portfolio reviews, art and writing workshops, creator panels, cosplay masquerade, parties and award shows, then some that are totally from leftfield and should be commended on their originality, such as the Henry Moore Institute’s conference on sculpture and comic art, where curators, historians and artists speak on the relationships between the two art forms, the Travelling Man comics swap, in which fans are encouraged to bring their unwanted comics and graphic novels and play swapsies with other fans, and the truly bizarre Graphic Illness: Visualising the Stigma of Illness conference, which entailed scholars, creators and healthcare professionals examined narratives in which illness or disability play a key part.
Even more commendable though was the festival’s child friendly events, wherein parents could bring their children and instil and share not only a love for comics but also the creation thereof and further. Workshops included create your own superhero, have your art turned into a motion comic, cute and silly cartooning with Matt Dyson, Diamond Comics’ comics for all ages give away, and any number more workshops centred around general arts and crafts. All these events were free and housed at various interesting venues around the city, and the icing on the cake was that children under the age of twelve got into the convention proper for free. If the comics industry truly want to increase the readerships of their books less effort should be put into the exponentially growing amount of crossover events and renumbering schemes, and more should be put into this kind of forward thinking attitude towards the possible futures fans.
At last came the weekend long convention. Stationed at the world famous Leeds Armouries, the convention took up two huge halls and was brimming with the usual creators, exhibitors, sales tables, amateurs and fans, all buying, selling, talking, drinking, sketching, fawning and generally having a great time. It’s true that the majority of the creators were British, though considering the amount of British writers and artists in American comics (Charlie ‘Walking Dead’ Adlard, Mark ‘Fables’ Buckingham, Andy ‘Daredevil’ Diggle, Duncan ‘Hellboy’ Fegredo, Kieron ‘X-Men’ Gillen, Adi ‘Iron Man’ Granov, Sean ’Criminal’ Phillips, Rob ‘Daken’ Williams, Kev ‘Thunderbolts’ Walker… the guest-list goes on) such a thing is not to be sniffed at, but there were also any number European creators (Esad Ribic, Diddier Crisse, David Aja and more) and American special guests (Tim Sale, Adam Hughes, Gail Simone, Becky Cloonan, Tony Harris…) as well as guests spanning the length and breadth of independent comics, which all told illustrated the true diversity of the comics world.
Topping all this off was the Thought Bubble anthology comic that featured stories by many of the mentioned creators, the proceeds from which went to the Bernardos children’s charity. The comic is published through Image Comics and should now be available through any good comic stores.
It’s hard to imagine a more pure outlet for the comicbook loving community, and now that I’ve experienced it for myself you can be sure that Fanboy Confidential will be backing the event and it’s ethos whole heartedly in future.
For more info on what went down visit the Thought Bubble website.