Thoughts about ThoughtBubble

My comic-con comeback

I love comics. I love reading them and I love reading about them.

I don’t really love comic-cons (or expos or any other term for these gatherings) though. I used to enjoy the Bristol event but haven’t even popped in at all in recent years (did it even happen this year?). There were fewer and fewer panels and guests were basically just doing signings which isn’t my scene and to be honest it felt a bit cliquey.

So a few months ago when I saw the guest list for ThoughtBubble and the plan for their programming over the weekend I decided I’d plan a weekend in Leeds and give it a go.

Things I really loved

  • The atmosphere was lovely. The volunteers were friendly and funny (though one or two were just a little Jobsworthy) and there is just a really nice friendly buzz.
  • The mix of people attending. It was great to see so many younger people, so many girls & women, hardcore nerds and people just interested in having a look around. As well as all the old grey hairs like myself!
  • The panels on Saturday in Carriageworks were wonderful. I attended five(!) — The Best Thing I’ve Read All Year, Comics in Conversation: Brian K Vaughan, Black Crown — The Ruling Class, 40 Years of 2000 AD, Young Animal x Thought Bubble — and they were all very different but really well done. Getting to listen to Brian K Vaughan talk comics was a big part of the reason for making the trip but I came away from each slot with new things to check out added to my Evernote (and a growing list of books to order from Excelsior when I get home.)

Things I learned

  • Gerard Way is really famous. I kind of knew he had been in a band before he started doing comics but really Doom Patrol and the Young Animal imprint is all I really knew about him. People were queuing for ages to meet him and the Young Animal panel was crazy with people almost swooning whenever he spoke. Seems like a nice chap though.
  • Cosplayers are the new rockstars (at these events anyway.) Some of the homemade costumes were spectacular and most have taken weeks to make. I also loved some of the less elaborate ones though — one young girl entered the Cosplay competition in a homemade Squirrel Girl costume that I loved.

  • I know nothing about what kids are reading. The references to Manga stuff was everywhere and I had no clue at all.
  • My colleague Myf is an amazing cartoonist (well I knew this) but seeing her strip in the ThoughtBubble Anthology was a real buzz by association.

  • If you want to buy artwork/prints you really need to bring along storage tubes for the art. I saw a couple of prints I loved (the Vice-Press ABC Warriors and a couple from Mondo — the Shade the Changing Girls in blue/silver and a Bruce Lee Big Boss particularly) but given I’m not home until Wednesday night and have 3 hotels and 4 train journeys before then I couldn’t see getting them home in one piece.

Things I liked less

  • The queuing. Mainly caused by the constant bag checks. It started to get a bit frustrating as the dispersed nature of the venues meant it happened a lot.
  • The queuing part two. I had to sacrifice some activities to make sure I could get into the panels I wanted — which is to be expected with popular events but still a grind.
  • The location in the Town Hall for the panels on Sunday just didn’t work for me. The room was too noisy, the PA wasn’t great and I found I could only hear half the responses from the amazing Creating Worlds panel.

Anyway I had an amazing time and think the organisers did a truly amazing job. I’ll be back next year — better prepared and I’ll even try and convince some friends less enamoured of this world to come along (Leeds is a lively old place to visit anyway.)

Thanks to all.

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