Thought Bubble 2014: 9th-16th November!


Minterviews 2012 – Ivan Brandon by thoughtbubblefestival
09/04/2012, 8:12 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Hey gang!

TB plans continue to be afoot, and we’ll have some more news for you soon on what we’ll be bringing to you in November. In the meantime, however, spring appears to have unsprung itself, if the weather is anything to go by, so to pass the time until the sun comes back to warm us (obviously this only applies if you’re reading this in England/on Earth), we’ve got another minterview for you and some details of another comics-related event coming soon to Leeds!

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Zine Making Workshop: Saturday 19th, 11am – 5pm

This workshop is all about doing it yourself. It will look at what a ‘zine’ is and the many ways people go about creating them. Zines can be a quick and often inexpensive way to get your ideas out there. They can be visual, written or a mixture of the two. During the workshop we will make a number of zines using different folding techniques and exploring content matter. The quantity of zines produced is up to you, you could come away with a small handmade library!

Helen Entwisle is an illustrator based in Leeds. She regularly screen prints illustrated zines and organises collaborative small press publications with a number of artists and illustrators around the world.

You can find out more about the tutor here

Online booking and more info available here: http://www.wypw.org/courses/34/Zine_Making.html

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Onwards to today’s comics chat!

No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. So, to give them something to read, we decided to chat with a few comics creators and write down the results! Minterviews!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Ivan Brandon, a wonderful writer in many mediums, whose comic Viking is a great take on the crime genre, and the collected edition is well worth picking up. See what he had to say after the jump!

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TB: Hi Ivan, to begin with can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

I’d been a fan since I was a kid, more or less… I dropped out in the 90s to focus on girls and when I got back into it I’d been doing some prose writing and was inspired by some creator friends to give comics a try. I spent a weekend trying to learn the format, to force myself to write a “finished” script. It was about an old man who’d quit killing and instead was raising tomatoes. I sent that around and got offered some work.

There’ve been a lot of ups and downs in the 10 years since then, but those initial few months were definitely a “break”.

TB: So, do you now have a standard routine for writing scripts, or is it different depending on the project? Does your process change depending on the medium?

It varies. I’m known for painting myself in a corner, I for no good reason come up with a new approach every time that makes me rip my hair out. I think I can’t perform in stasis. I need a challenge. A lot of the time it changes for the sake of collaboration. Not because anyone’s requested it, but I think a lot of how we make comics as an industry in 2012 is a little lopsided in terms of collaboration, and I’m always trying to figure out ways to bring out a more genuinely shared expression with an artist. Trying, basically, to figure out how to spark an artist to be the voice of the final work rather than dictate to them my own vision.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

My first official day as a full-time writer. The first day I woke up in my own bed and realized I didn’t have to go to anybody’s office. It was immediately followed by panic, but that first moment was pretty amazing.

TB: What’s your workspace like now? Do you have a set office, or do you get out of the house to write?

I have a set office that I almost never sit in. I work everywhere. I’ve worked on my couch, I’ve written on a train in Peru and a park in Paris.

A lot of planes.

A lot of bars.

TB: Is there any individual script of yours that you’re particularly proud of?

Ha – I wish I could say there was. I’m proud of my scripts for about 30 seconds before I hate them forever.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Oh yeah, I love it. I love meeting readers and other professionals, talking about craft, about the potential of comics. I especially love it in a context where it’s a different culture in a place I’ve never been, like Leeds. I’ve only ever been to the UK very briefly once last year.

TB: You seem to be very vocal about the increasing availability of, and options presented by, digital comics, do you think they’re the future of the medium, eventually superseding print copies?

No, I think that polar attitude you hear a lot is a mistake. I think comics is the most agile and malleable entertainment medium, I think we’re capable of being 100 different things to 100 different people. What digital presents is a new potential conduit for story, new people to talk to. That’s a new conversation, SUPPLEMENTING what we already are, not replacing it.

TB: So, which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

Right now my favourite comic, and also one of my favourites all-time is Scalped. Probably the best ongoing work Vertigo has ever published. Other recent favorites include Prophet, Casanova, Phonogram… I’m enormously excited for Brandon Graham’s King City. On the newer tip, Loose Ends is one of the few books that rises to the full potential of the medium.

TB: Are there any characters/properties that you’d relish the chance to write for?

The ones I’m not smart enough to have created yet.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

BOTH.

***

Many thanks to Ivan for taking the time to talk to us, if you would like to speak to the man himself in person, and many more great comic creators, then come along to this year’s Thought Bubble Festival 11th – 18th November!

We’ll be back again with another minterview next Monday, but, until then, have a good week!

No. Have a great week.

NO. Have an amazing week.

&c



Minterviews 2012 – Paolo Rivera by thoughtbubblefestival
02/04/2012, 8:31 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Howdy pardners!

We’ve got another brand spanking new minterview for your delectation and delight below, but first some information on a couple events happening in/around Leeds over the next few months that you might enjoy…

April 28th 2012 – 4th Leeds Alternative Comics Fair

The 4th Leeds Alternative Comics Fair will be held at A Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds, on Saturday 28th April 2012, from 12 noon – 5pm

It will be free to enter and the bar itself is open until 3am, serving good food and a large selection of drinks.

We’ll be there, wandering around, chatting, looking, existing, and possibly revealing some Thought Bubble secrets. You can find out more information, and see who’ll be attending and exhibiting, at the LACF Blog!

May 4th – May The Fourth Be With You

A Star Wars themed exhibition and event featuring artwork by various wonderful artists, including previous years’ Friends of Thought Bubble – John Allison, Steve Tillotson, Hugh Raine, and Kristyna Baczynski.

To commemorate Star Wars day ‘May the 4th’ FullCircle Gallery Leeds, The Hang Gang and Leeds Alternative Comics, have got together to host the ultimate celebration of the greatest films ever made!

Starting on Friday May the 4th from 6pm till Sunday 6th May, FullCircle will be transformed into a gallery not so far far away, hosting not only a huge display of vintage Star Wars toys including over 100 carded figures and boxed vehicles, but a contemporary / lowbrow look at the Star Wars universe supplied by over 30 amazing artists!

Full details can be found on the website.

***

Onwards to today’s bloggy goodness – we’ve got another Minterview for you! We’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. We’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. However, all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain, so we’ve been chatting to some of comics’ best and brightest to build up a collection of weekly conversations to last the ages! Yay!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Paolo Rivera currently knocking it out of the park with his artwork on Daredevil, and who will be attending his first ever Thought Bubble this year! Goodness after the jump!

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TB: Hi Paolo, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

It was all thanks to Jim Krueger, who started giving me projects when I was still a teenager (I had met him at Megacon in Orlando). By my senior year of college, he had introduced me to a few editors at Marvel, and Joe Quesada hired me via email.

In one sense, it took years of trying, but in another sense, it all happened very quickly. I was working for Marvel before I had graduated from RISD [the Rhode Island School of Design].

TB: So, was comic book illustration always what you were considering as a profession while you were studying, or did you initially have a different career path in mind?

Comics was always what I wanted, but it never seemed like a sure bet. Things worked out very well for me, but they could easily have gone in another direction. I was seriously considering Industrial Design as a major, but Illustration eventually won me over.

My dad made it very clear for me: the skills required for industrial design could be picked up on my own, almost on the sly, but comics would take years and years of intense dedication. Now I get to have all the fun of Industrial Design without all of the real-world limitations.

TB: I know you’re a keen sculptor, do you ever make 3D models of any of the Marvel characters that you’ve illustrated?

As often as I can (which is not very). I used to make Super Sculpey maquettes of all my major characters, but can’t seem to find the time these days. I’ve recently come around to digital sculpting, which provides all the same benefits and takes a fraction of the time. I hope to do a lot more.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

It’s tough to say. I’ve been at Marvel for nearly a decade now, and every project and collaborator has been better than I could have hoped. What I can say is that Daredevil has, by far, garnered the most buzz and critical acclaim. Mark Waid has made similar statements, and he’s been in this industry since before I could drive. The best part for me is that I’ve been involved with the relaunch from the ground floor — it feels like I’m contributing to the narrative in a way that wasn’t possible previously.

TB: So, Is it daunting working on high-profile comic characters that have such a history behind them, and being so instrumental in reinvigorating them for a new generation?

Not any more than my other projects. I think I felt more pressure during Mythos, and I needn’t have. I’m not the first to put my mark on these classic heroes, and I won’t be the last.

I put enough pressure on myself to make high-craft work—I don’t need to add to that by thinking of my place in the pantheon of creators.

TB: Do you find it more enjoyable producing the interior sequentials for a story, or painting covers for titles?

Each has its own benefits. I like switching back and forth. I’ve been lucky enough to have a say in which projects I do and I’ll keep alternating for as long as they’ll have me.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Most definitely. Conventions are the only chance I get to meet the people who support my work. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet many of the creators who inspired to make comics in the first place.

TB: So, who’s the coolest person you’ve met at a convention?

My favorite moment, hands-down, was at SCAD’s Comic Art Forum in 2006. As I was standing in the hallway, mustering up my courage to speak to Adam Hughes (quite literally going over what I would say to him) he came up to me and asked “Are you Paolo Rivera? I loved Mythos: X-Men.”

I don’t remember what happened after that.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

I’m actually a really bad comic book fan. The last non-Daredevil comic I read was Amazing Spider-Man #677, and that’s because it was a crossover with Daredevil. If all comic fans were like me, the industry would crumble.

That being said, I love countless classics: Kingdom Come and Batman: Year One are just two that are sitting on my drafting table right now.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

I’m fine with either, and it’s usually up to the writer. If I were writing myself, I’d probably use one or the other, depending on the tone of the story.

***

That’s it for this week, we’ll have another minterview with another first time Thought Bubble attendee same time, same place next week!



Minterviews 2012 – Becky Cloonan by thoughtbubblefestival
26/03/2012, 8:55 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Hello you!

Today’s minterview can be read below, but first a bit of TB Festival business…

Tables for this year’s convention are selling fast! We’ve got all the information on how to book up on the website, and early-bird prices are in effect until August 1st, but we reckon they’ll all be booked long before then, so act quickly if you want to bag one for yourself.

If you’re not that interested in the purchasing of a table, but instead curious to see who’ll be sat behind them at this year’s convention, then we’ve been updating the hall pages on the website. You can see everyone who’s confirmed so far for Saviles Hall here, and Armouries Hall here, and we’ll be updating the pages every Friday until all the tables are sold. Cushty!

And so onwards to today’s treat – we’ve got another Minterview for you! They said it wouldn’t happen (they didn’t), they tried to shut it down (they didn’t), and the man doesn’t want you to read them (he is most likely indifferent), but we went ahead anyway, and we chatted to some of comics’ best and brightest, and we’re bringing the results to you on a weekly basis.

The format’s the same each week – five questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Becky Cloonan one of our favourite storytellers, whose mini-comic Wolves was one of the highlights of last year, and who provided the cover for last year’s TB Anthology! Words to read after the jump.

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TB: Hi Becky, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

Breaking in was so gradual that at times I feel like I’m still doing it! This year I am a guest at San Diego comic con, does that mean I have finally arrived? Who knows! Demo was the book that put me on the metaphorical map for sure, but every new book I do comes with that feeling of exploring new territory. The trick for me has been to keep busy.

TB: So, when you first started out was it a case of learning by doing? What’s your background with regards to artistic training?

I went to the School of Visual Arts for animation, and ended up dropping out because the industry collapsed. I took one cartooning class while I was there and it kind of opened up my eyes that all the comics I had done until then were unfinished, so I decided to focus on short short stories. I started making mini-comics (this was in 1999), and a few years later my work was seen by Brian Wood who wanted to work with me.

Until that point my work had been very much for myself – personal and abstract at times, I wasn’t thinking about comics as a medium to communicate, I was more trying to experiment with layout, design and just building my chops. I never thought of people reading my mini comics, I did them more for myself. Brian liked what he saw, and it was working off his script that I started to think of comics as a means to tell a story; I thought less about doing comics for me, and more about what people will get out of them when they read them. This was a big turning point for me.

I still learn on the job so to speak – every book is an evolutionary process, and I finish each one differently than I began it. I learned a lot from school, and I still learn from my peers – but most of it is pushing myself to constantly improve and to never be satisfied with what I am doing. Always try to make the next page better than the last.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

I was playing the first Guilty Gear game for Playstation, and I managed to pull off an instant death move on Justice, the final boss. That was pretty impressive, and luckily my best friend was there to agree that I probably won’t do anything as cool as that ever again.

As far as comics go, probably self-publishing my last mini comic Wolves. Between conventions and online sales I’ve managed to move 3,000 books in ten months! The overwhelmingly positive response is really encouraging, and I’m psyched to print my next book in a month.

TB: Insta-kill on a final boss? Nice. So, do you prefer working on your own, self-published projects then, or do you find illustrating titles like Conan just as fun?

Each has its perks – I wouldn’t want to work on every book by myself. Brian and I make books together that I’d never be able to do on my own, and let’s be honest; working with friends is so much fun! Especially when they push you to be better. But there is something about doing a comic alone that is very introspective. It’s something that represents all of you in words and pictures.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

I love going to conventions! I still attend as a fan too, last year I went to Boston comic con just for fun, and ended up being invited as a guest this year! And truthfully, I really enjoy the medium and smaller size cons. They feel more personal! I admit every now and then I get exasperated – the hours are gruelling and it’s hard to have so many conversations in such a short time – but I always look forward to convention season, and seeing friends again.

TB: So, who’s the coolest person you’ve ever met at a con? Any personal heroes you’d like to share table space with?

I’ve met so many awesome people at cons! Like Ray Harryhausen! I told him that his films still influence my sensibilities as an artist as much as they did when I was a kid, and he told me that my tattoos will never come off. I hope I’m that cool when in 90. And, Clark, if I’m not mistaken, we met at a convention! Pretty much 95% of my friends I’ve met through comics and cons – I always count myself lucky to be part of an industry with so many amazing people!

TB: We did meet at a convention! The people you meet are the best part of all this, for sure. People aside, which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

I hate to say this but I haven’t been to a comic store in months! The last comics I read we’re Otomo’s Domu, which if you like Akira I highly recommend hunting a copy of this down!  I’m also picking up those huge BPRD hardcover collections, because I can’t live without Guy Davis’s art.

I’m really psyched to pick up some of the image re-launches like Prophet and Glory, and I’m psyched to read Corey Lewis’s long-awaited Sharknife sequel. When I get back Stateside, the second thing I’m going to do is go comic shopping.

TB: Domu is so good, with you 100% on that. So, when you do go comic shopping, are you a single-issue collector or a trade-waiter? And, as a follow-up, digital or hard copy?

Once I get an iPad or something in a vertical format I’ve decided to start buying more digitally – but I really hate reading comics on my computer, and my phone screen is too small to make it enjoyable. I’ll always choose print first, but my shelf space is very limited so I’ve been forced to be picky. I used to collect more single issues – I still buy them if I’m looking for new trades to get, but not sure if I’d enjoy it – singles are a great way to sample a story without investing too much in a trade.

TB: If you had to recommend a comic to someone who’d never read one before, which would you choose to get them hooked on the medium straight away?

I got my sister hooked on Peach Girl, a totally girly manga – she doesn’t read comics at all but she loves the drama in a lot of the Japanese shojo comics! Anyone who is into Jane Austin or BBC period pieces should read Emma by Kaoru Mori – it’s like a comic book version of Masterpiece Theatre!

There are comics for everyone out there – it’s just a matter of knowing what that person is into and suggesting something they’d enjoy. Like crime and noir mysteries? Criminal is the perfect comic. Into mind-bending action films? Casanova is a great read! Looking for a comic to read with your kids? Pick up a copy of Amulet!

It’s all about breaking the stereotype that comics are for awkward kids and degenerates who live in their parents’ basement. The goal is to get more people to read comics casually – and with so many amazing books coming out, it’s only a matter of time before we see a renaissance in comic book readership.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

I use caption boxes exclusively – but, let’s face it, Caption Box is a shitty name for a festival!

***

Thanks to Becky for chatting to us, and check back same bat-time, same bat-blog next week for another Minterview!



Minterviews 2012 – Duncan Fegredo by thoughtbubblefestival
19/03/2012, 9:55 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, Thought Bubble 2012

Hey gang!

We hope you’ve all had a great weekend, and that your adventures were fruitful. Personally, I managed to facilitate the escape of a shoggoth from a mansion in Arkham, MA, but it only had a few HP left, so who knows how far the cheeky tentacled Eldritch horror got.

In TB news, and importantly if you’re hoping to exhibit at this year’s convention, the tables are selling like extremely hot cakes. If it continues at this pace we’ll be fully booked before spring has even had a chance to be sprung, so book quickly to avoid disappointment!

But to today’s first order of business: Minterviews are back! It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely time since we chatted to some of comics’ excellent talent, so we figured we’d dust off our vocal cords and get a-talking.

The format’s the same each week – five questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Duncan Fegredoillustrator extraordinaire, whose work can be seen gracing the pages of Hellboy, as well as the inaugural issue of our very own TB Anthology! Words to read after the jump.

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TB: Hi Duncan, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

It was kind of grindingly inevitable really. I’d finished my second year at Leeds Poly and had just gotten back into reading comics in a big way. I packed samples of art and attended my first ever UKCAC – this was ’86.

It was great, never enjoyed a con as much since, I was purely a fan! I showed my samples to anybody I could, got feedback, made a few connections that, in time, paid off. It all comes down to putting yourself out there, listening, understanding criticism, doing the work.

Grinding inevitability.

TB: So, do you think that the convention circuit is still as important for budding artists and writers looking to get their first break?

It can be, if there are editors present who are willing to take the time, but you have to be prepared. I’ve seen so many subpar folios of work: badly presented and with attitude to match. I’ve also seen very promising work, but it’s very competitive – pin ups won’t get you anywhere unless they are astounding!

Evidence of an understanding of anatomy, mood, environments and storytelling are your weapons, use them. If you don’t have them, get them. You have to show that you can do the quiet stuff as well as violence and unconvincing breasts!

TB: Did studying in Leeds, or exposure to the Northern sensibility more generally, have much of an influence on the development of your artistic/storytelling style do you think?

I don’t know about that, it was just a nice place to be! I was very aware of a difference in attitude to those who lived and worked in London though, I felt literally outside of comics, outside the loop. I don’t think that’s an issue anymore, with the web you can be that much more connected at any distance.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

It’d be easy to say the first time I saw my work in print, but that’s always a double edged sword. I can say without a doubt I was more disappointed by my efforts – that would have overridden any sense of achievement. Still does if I’m honest. I’m proud of all my work with Peter Milligan, with the same caveat, naturally.

Ultimately: being invited to work with Mike Mignola on Hellboy. I was and am a huge fan, but I knew I was letting myself in for a hard time… I stayed the course and changed many people’s expectations, I can be proud of that.

TB: So, is it difficult first starting out working on a character/title as iconic as Hellboy, as opposed to, say, Enigma where you’re effectively world-building?

With Enigma I just didn’t have a clue, at first anyway, but I wasn’t struggling against anything other than my own shortcomings. Oddly enough that is also true of Hellboy – I was in awe of Mike’s work and so was constantly trying to live up to that. I knew going in that was all too unlikely but that wasn’t going to stop me making the attempt!

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Thought Bubble is great, it somehow seems to be a more positive experience. My point of view is very limited, I tend to be nailed down at my booth the entire weekend – not complaining, I appreciate the effort people make and the time they spend waiting to chat and get stuff signed – but I would say that the general mood seems that much more pleasant. I’m less likely to leave the con feeling tired, bitter and twisted. Just tired.

TB: Have you noticed any changes in terms of the people you get coming to your table at cons over the years?

Yes, they age more slowly than I do! There seems to less of a gender split, it used to be a predominantly male crowd. A few more kids too, that’s encouraging.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

I enjoy all the BPRD books, all those books that spin off from the Mignolaverse. Locke and Key – I came late to the series, but as I write this I’m checking online for the latest digital issue: it’s superb.

What else? I really enjoyed Rob Davis’s adaptation of Don Quixote, very funny stuff. I’m intrigued to see where Brubaker and Phillips go with Fatale. Loved Joe the Barbarian, Sean Murphy is terrifyingly good for such a young artist. Who is Jake Ellis? Great story and again, I loved Tonci Zonjic’s art. I’m sure theres more, brain tired…

TB: Joe the Barbarian and Who Is Jake Ellis made our end of year list too in 2011. Excellent books. So, are there any writers you’re yet to work with that you’d relish the chance to? Any favourite characters you’d like to illustrate?

If JK Rowling fancies doing some untold tales of Harry Potter, I’m there! Similarly I’d love to work with Joss Whedon on early Buffy stories, or anything else for that matter. See what I mean about aiming high? Other characters…? Not really, it was always Hellboy… That worked out quite well.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

Both are fine if appropriate to the story, what I really dislike is all the colouring in captions these days, or sound effects that smother the art, rendering it unreadable, ugh!

***

Thanks to Duncan for chatting to us, and check back same time same place next week for another Minterview!



Thought Bubble 2012! (the story so far…) by thoughtbubblefestival
12/03/2012, 10:07 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Hey gang!

Long time no see, we hope you all had a good Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Leap Day, Eschaton, and whatever else happened while we were in hibernation (and then subsequently recovering from hibernation sickness). So, you may ask, what have we been up to all this time since last year’s thought bubble? Let me explain! No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

We have been planning all sorts of crazy stuff for this year’s Thought Bubble!

It ain’t broke, but we’re still looking at every way we can make it bigger and better. On that note, we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who came out and made last year’s festival such a success and we hope we’ll see you all back again this November. In terms of specifics, well, we’ve announced a few bits and pieces on Twitter and Facebook recently, and re-launched our shiny updated website with our lovely new festival image by the amazing Tran Nguyen, so here’s what we have so far:

  1. This year’s festival will take place on the 11th – 18th of November, at venues around Leeds and Yorkshire, in partnership with the 26th Leeds International Film Festival, and with a centre-piece (massive) comic convention on the 17th & 18th November. You can get an idea of what’ll be taking place by having a look at our event archives, but every Thought Bubble’s bigger than the last, so expect MORE COOL STUFF;
  2. We’ve announced our first batch of guests for 2012’s festival, and we think that this year we’ll be bringing together the biggest, most varied line-up yet. Comics can be about anything and be created by anyone, so we try to reflect this. We’ll be updating the guest list throughout the year so check back regularly as we’ve got some surprises up our voluminous sleeves;
  3. Speaking of guests, we’re currently in the process of getting this year’s anthology together, which, like last year’s will contain exclusive stories by artists and writers that we’re digging right now, as well as last year’s Northern Sequential Art Competition winners, and with all the profits going to charity;
  4. Speaking with guests, Minterviews are back! We’ve been chatting with Thought Bubble guests past, present and future, and we’ll be putting up the transcripts every Monday right here on the ol’ weblog;
  5. Table registration for this year’s convention is now open! Early-bird prices are in effect until August 1st, but they sold out way before then last year, and we’re expecting them to sell out even quicker this year, so act fast. I’ll try and do a blog post soon about tips for first time exhibitors, but there’s a whole bunch of handy information on the website that’ll give you an idea of how it works and what to expect;
  6. We’ve teamed up with the lovely people over at Comics Forum to put on a comics and philosophy event later this month at the Henry Moore Institute – ‘Comics and Philosopy: From Maus to She-Hulk’ will take place on the 29th March, and is free to attend, but spaces are limited, so be sure to sign up soon;
  7. I’m probably forgetting loads, as Thought Bubble is getting so big that eventually we’ll probably have to put together an elite squad of military operatives and scientists to destroy the monster it has become. However, until that happens, you can find out everything that’s happening, as it happens, by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, subscribing to the RSS feed for the website, or looking for the messages that we hide in various comics that hit the stands on a monthly basis. Which ones? That’s for you to find out! YAY!

There’s always something going on with us, but on the blog, then next thing coming atcha will be the first of this year’s Minterviews. To find out who it’s with, check back here next Monday!

We <3 you all.



Joe List Minterview (and more!) by thoughtbubblefestival

Borag thung bubblets! It’s now only 9 DAYS until the start of this year’s festival, and we’re so excited we can’t think of any analogies to properly convey that anticipation to you, dear reader. In lieu of an apology please find attached to this – our final blog post before the Thought Bubble 2010 begins – a brand new minterview, and a whole host of news about events later this month. But don’t just take my word for it, enlightenment is mere sentences away…

For our final minterview of 2010 we talked to esteemed fellow Mr Joe ListGuardian Weekender defacer extraordinaire, and creator of the magnificent Freak Leap – who is a true Friend of Thought Bubble. For a transcript of our conversation, simply read on, and I can personally confirm that everything he say in there is 100% true.

To start off, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?

I’ve always enjoyed doodling; more recently I’ve tried to force them into various shapes, like boxes or hexagons, It’s a tricky procedure, but I’m getting there.

What led you to transfer the doodling onto the Guardian’s Weekend section?

Long train journeys and cheap pens!

Would you ever consider producing a long-form narrative comic, or do you prefer more condensed, self-contained story telling?

One day I’d love to write a three part novel. I’d call it “THE HOUNDS OF INFERNO” and would be full of maps and diagrams, as well as big words, like Octopuscloth and fungreatfulness

Are you a fan of comics in general? Any favourites you’d recommend reading?

I am a comics fan, but I don’t read as many as I should, I highly recommend the following comics creators;

Dan Clowes;

John Allison;

Tony Millionaire;

KC Green;

Luke Pearson;

Jonny Ryan;

Lizz Lunney;

Seth;

David Mazzuccelli;

There are many more that I adore; I would probably give you a different list in half an hour.

So, do you consider any comic creators to have a direct influence on your own work?

I do, although I’d say a lot of illustrators and animators had an equal influence. I recently did an inspiration map, which may better explain this. [see below – Clark]


You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?

I will be bringing Freak Leap again, and also my sketch book comic Guts, as well as a promotional book for my new web comic (also called Freak Leap). I will be bringing badges too, and some new stickers that you can have for free! I will also be framing some of my favourite drawings from the annotated weekender for the kind people of Leeds.

Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?

YES, they are a lot of fun, shaking hands, buying and selling comic, seeing people’s confused faces when they quickly study a strange drawing you can’t remember including in a book. IT’S ALL WORTH IT.

Do you find your comics get a good reception from the general public? Do you think the UK is a good environment for nurturing local indie talent?

Well, I have never expected to be a big name, like Sir Roger Sunderfields or Derek P Saunders, but people seem to like my comics, as long as they aren’t lying to me.

And yes, I do believe comic shops are wising up to the inexhaustible power of the small press. A few large operators will now stock interesting books by the comic book wonder children of the UK. I saw a copy of Steven Gravy’s Acorn Diary next to a copy of Disney’s Invisible Space Aladdin the other day!

Well the UK small press community does seem to be packed with good folk, have you noticed any changes to the scene since becoming a part of it?

Good question, I got my UK small press license and ceramic Biro holder about a year and a half ago, and in that time, so much has changed. We’ve come up with a new secret handshake, had a number 1 hit single (with the instant classic, ‘Ink and Vimto’) and built England’s widest tree-house.

Finally – as ever – Thought bubbles or caption boxes?

Thought Bubbles my friend! Forever and all ways, Joe List

***

Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to talk to us, you can also see his illustrations in the Answer Me This book, available at all good bookshops, and quite a few disreputable ones too I’d wager!

…And now for some Thought Bubble news! As you may have noticed from the opening paragraph of this post 2010’s festival is pretty close, so here’s some last minute highlighting of awesome stuff(tm)!

To start we’re super pleased that Kristyna Baczynski (another Friend of Thought Bubble) is putting on her debut solo show as part of this year’s Thought Bubble! We here at TB towers love Kristyna’s work, and we think you will too, so pop on down to the Hyde Park Picture House from November 14th to get a glorious eyeful!

***

Next up, our friends at Momiji are inviting you all to bring your designs for their dolls to our convention! They’ll be running a workshop at their tables all day, and for £5.50 you can paint your own dolls and submit designs to be taken back to Momiji HQ and the creative team, with the potential that it’ll be put into production. As well as this 50% of the money will be going to the humanitarian charity Medicins Sans Frontiers. Super fun times and a worthy cause! It literally doesn’t get any better than that, y’all. Just drop by the Momiji table at Saviles Hall on Saturday 20th to find out more.

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Finally, a quick mention of our programme of FREE workshops and masterclasses as part of this year’s Thought Bubble Festival! We still have places left on a few of them, but they’re filling up quickly so move fast to avoid disappointment! Details as follows…

ComixBox with Laydeez Do Comics! 13:30 – 15:00 Leeds Art Gallery Hepworth Room
16+ FREE
Laydeez do Comics is a comics forum, open to all, focusing on autobiography & domestic drama, set up by artist Sarah Lightman & illustrator Nicola Streeten. This is a fascinating opportunity to hear from an array of comics artists & academics, who each get just 10 minutes to share their work and research. The international line-up includes: comic artists Maureen Burdock, Francesca Casavetti, Monica Hee Eun Jensen, Rikke Hollaender, Karen Hansen, Ina Kjoelby Korneliussen, Edward Ross & academic Rikke Platz Cortsen. Please note places are limited, to sign-up email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

Create Fun Eco Mini-Comics! 13:30 – 16:00 Leeds Art Gallery Tiled Hall
Ages 12 to 18. FREE
HI-EX’s Vicky Stonebridge will show you how to make your own handmade small story books using a variety of waste products, old magazines, scrap paper & packaging! Quick, easy, & fun to do. Please note: this is a drop-in workshop but places are limited, to sign-up email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

Storyboarding & Portfolio Workshop 13:10 – 15:00 Leeds Library Exhibition Space
Ages 14-19 years FREE
Join concept & storyboard artist Steve Beaumont to find out how to create storyboards for film, video games or tv advertising. Plus bring your portfolio with you to recieve a portfolio critique. Please note: places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment, email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

Diarise Your Thoughts Workshop 14:50 – 15:50 Leeds Library Your Space
Ages 14-19 years FREE
Want to make a comic of your favourite gig, day out, or experience? Adam Cadwell can show you how! Well know for his Glastonbury postcard strips & his work with the Manchester Comics Collective, Adam will take you through the steps of making your own comic & recording experiences in comic form. Please note: places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment, email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

Tony Harris Art Workshop 15:00 – 16:00 Leeds Art Gallery Henry Moore Room
16+ FREE.
Eisner award winning artist Tony Harris (Ex Machina, Starman) is one of the most critically acclaimed & respected artists working in the business today. This special insider look at his creative process will give an insight into how those award-winning comic book panels came to be & is a must-see for any fan of sequential art. Please note: places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment, email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

Grandville Mon Amour talk 15:30 – 16:30 Leeds Art Gallery Hepworth Room
16+ FREE
Comics Legend Bryan Talbot discusses his graphic novels Grandville and Grandville Mon Amour, and the venerable & ongoing tradition of anthropomorphic characters in illustration & comics from which they have grown. Please note: places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment, email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

Andy Diggle’s Breaking & Entering For Comics Writers 15:45 – 16:45 Leeds Library Exhibition Space
16+ FREE
Following the sell-out success of last year’s writing workshop, the former 2000AD editor & writer of such comics as The Losers, Hellblazer, and Daredevil will be here to pass on some tips & tricks that help separate the wannabes from the gonnabes. Topics include the value of your own initiative & the “DIY aesthetic”, as well as concept, structure, theme, pacing, conflict, exposition, how to pitch to editors… and how ‘not’ to! This class will conclude with a Q&A, so come armed with questions. Please note: places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment, email: thoughtbubbleinfo@googlemail.com

***

Finally, the amazing Adi Granov is raffling off his ridiculously awesome double spread cover from Incredible Hercules #138 in order to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care! Tickets, and further details, can be found on the website. You can also buy tickets from his table at this year’s thought bubble convention, and the winner will be announced at the end of the day (Saturday 20th November). Don’t miss out on a chance to own some superb comic book art, and help yet another exceptionally worthy cause in the process!

***

That’s it for now, and probably until after this year’s festival. We’re super busy getting all the last little details squared away, and we’re thinking this could be our best Thought Bubble yet. Thanks for reading during the build-up and I hope we’ll see a lot of you at our various events from the 18th – 21st November!

- Clark



Huw “Lem” Davies Minterview by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey guys! Things are really cooking here at Thought Bubble towers –  it’s just over three weeks until the opening of this year’s Festival and all hands are on deck to make this year our best ever. And apparently nautically themed. Who knew?! To tide you over on those agonising last few moments before 2010’s events finally arrive we’ve got a new minterview for you!

This week we had a lovely old natter with Huw “Lem” Davies, creator of the brilliant Bunny, who is part of the greatest team ever known – the Friends of Thought Bubble!

To start off, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?

I was interested in comics in general reasonably early I think. Of course the Dandy and Beano featured, alongside a dusty old hard-backed annual of Hotspur comics from the 70s that’s particularly dear to my heart. The Hotspur was especially interesting because it felt much more grown up, a bit darker, more rounded. And it had pictures of passenger jets that looked like Concorde flying through thunderstorms, which obviously the Dandy didn’t. I am sure that informed some part of my comic-drawing brain.

The longer I try and work out what actually made me think “Yes, I would like to draw comics”, the less certain about it I get. I know I used to draw primitive “comics” when I was 10 or so, but I can’t remember why. I think I just assumed that reading comics were fun, and drawing was fun, and obviously if I combined the two it would be double plus fun. And, what do you know, I was right in that assumption.

It was certainly more fun that whatever you’re supposed to do on long caravan holidays anyway.

Was there a discernible transition from making comics for fun to seriously producing them? Is it still double plus fun to do?

Not really, I think it just gradually happened over time by doing things which were a little more serious. They’re still double plus fun to do, else I think I would have given up ages ago.

Do you still read comics as well as produce them? Any favourites?

Oh yes, both online and off thanks to the local library carrying quite a broad selection of trades.

Stopping short of listing a whole lot of books that I’ve liked, I’ll just single out Northlanders Vol 1 by Brian Wood & Davide Gianfelice. It’s a great blend of beautiful art, great storytelling and it feels like a bit of a history lesson as well. I feel that Brian researches things properly and it makes the work stand out.

Is there any work, not necessarily in the medium of comics, that you consider an influence on your own?

Music is a big deal to me when making things, comics especially. I think it helps me concentrate and focus on the visual language I’m trying to use. Gosh, that sounds awfully pompous and Arty. But it’s all about getting into the right head-space, the right mood inside and kicking all the brain machinery into gear to make things work.

You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?

If everything goes according to plan I will be bringing little Bunny mini-comics covering the first three chapters of The Continuing Voyages, Bunny book collections, random mini-comics and hand-made Bunny figurines and soft toy mascots! Maybe some posters and stickers? And perhaps a little something unusual to go along with them, a game of intrigue and chance perhaps? Keep an eye out for a watermelon.

What was it that prompted you to select (the admittedly adorable) Bunnies as your signature characters?

I think they were a meme, way back when. How it happened I’m not actually too sure.

Was the production of accompanying Bunny collectibles something you’d always had in mind, or did it stem from a desire to branch out and make something a bit different?

I think it comes down to really enjoying making things. I enjoy working out how items come together, how to refine the process, how to make them look just as I want them to. Problem-solving, essentially.

Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?

I love Thought Bubble and conventions/shows in general because they’re fun and they’re work, and it’s so rare that you get to combine them. It’s great to meet existing readers, introduce some new ones to the rather confusing world of Bunny, getting to see old friends and catching up with comic-creating colleagues.

The only bad part is there is never, ever enough time. Sometimes it’s hard to leave the table and walk around a bit as a pedestrian and see the immense creative sea that stretches as far as the eye can see (or at least until the end of the hall). I generally leave feeling inspired… and very tired.

The
UK small press scene does seem to be growing ever more rapidly, have there been any noticeable changes to the community since you started?

To be honest I haven’t been involved at all in the UK small press scene at all until recently. I only did one UK convention and I was more involved in the US webcomic scene, so I’m really only just discovering just what’s out there on my doorstep so to speak. It’s all terribly exciting!

Finally – thought bubbles or caption boxes?

I have to admit to being fond to both. I require a lawyer to comment further.

***

Mad props to Lem for talking to us, if you want to talk to him too then come along to the convention next month!

In other comics news we’re super excited that Solipsistic Pop – the biannual and best UK comics anthology ever – is launching volume three on November 12th at The Black Heart in Camden.

Volume 3 comprises an 80 page comic extravaganza for the discerning sequential art fan, featuring 30 original and exclusive stories from 26 of the finest comic artists living in the UK. Every imaginative, inventive and inspiring graphic tale within Solipsistic Pop 3 is uniquely tailored to be accessible to readers of all ages. An alternative comics primer for adults and children alike. Each anthology Includes a free Solipsistic Pop pencil for readers to create their own comic! Plus! An A3 poster & set of stickers designed by Philippa Rice.

There’s limited print-run of 500 copies, so be sure to nab one for yourself, and if you can’t make it to the launch party then it’ll be getting an official unveiling for the general public at Thought Bubble, where you’ll be able to meet most of the contributors too. Get them to sign it!

***

Finally, it’s the MCM Expo this weekend, running from 29th – 31st October at the Excel centre in London, we’re going to be there with our friends from Travelling Man, and we’re bringing copies of our lovely brochure with us, including the full 2010 festival programme! Come say hi if you’re popping along, and if you see us at the after-party maybe we’ll let slip some super secret Thought Bubble 2011 news. Mystery, intrigue, comics! YAY!

- Clark




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