Thought Bubble 2014: 9th-16th November!


Friends of Thought Bubble: The Blog from Another World by thoughtbubblefestival

Greetings from Thought Bubble towers!

We’re close to six months away from this year’s festival, and things are looking good! We already have an awesome line-up of early guest confirmations for the Saturday convention, as well as some wonderful exhibitors, all of whom look set to make 2010’s Thought Bubble the best yet! You heard it here first, and we’re nothing if not apt to indulge in wanton (but justifiable) hyperbole.

For your viewing pleasure today we are pleased to present the latest entry in the select group of  Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or Friendlytron for short), namely Mr Matthew Sheret.

Matt is rapidly becoming one of the most innovative individuals in the UK comics scene at the moment and in five years I predict we’ll all either be working for him… or dead by his hand. Silliness aside, his work is really quite marvelous – you need only check out the recently updated We Are Words + Pictures manifesto to see how serious Matt is about comics – and he’s one of my favourite writers operating at the moment. For more information, and some examples, read on…

“Comics are just words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures” – Harvey Pekar

If you read comics, or even read about comics, I imagine you’ll find that quote enchanting. It conjures images of children buried in notebooks building impossible landscapes in crayon and of wonderful conceptual essays that spill across pages, illustrated with monk-like endurance by people who cannot help but see terrible things.

Pekar’s statement is wonderful, but it falls a little short of what I want to see.

I have written here as placeholders some reminders, three little words: Future; Optimism; Ambition. I am supposed to be writing about comics. Bear with me.

The future is a process. Time is not made of fixed instants, it is not binary, it is not a thing that leaps to dates or tipping points. The future is a long now, a time that moves towards all time, in which we change and are changed by what we do and what we encounter. You are taking part in this process, allowing your ideas and techniques to be shaped by this movement through time. When you become aware of this you start to see the effect you have on other things, people and places, and on the lives you never really know. You can do anything to the world around you: some you will never want to do again, but a lot more you’ll be happy to put your name to in that long, constant tomorrow.

Tomorrow is worth seeing. Since people began to think about the unknown ahead of them a prevailing sense of doom has crept into thought and discourse, but I’m becoming a lot more optimistic than that allows. People can and repeatedly do accomplish brilliant things, in the face of impossible odds, on a global and personal level. I work knowing that what I put out now I will better, knowing that I learn from my mistakes and will try to avoid repeating them.

I have the ambition to affect an audience, to change them in some way, if even a barely tangible one. You have to put yourself on the line to do that, but the rewards can be magnificent. We spend most of our lives going through experiences wrapped solely inside ourselves, and it would be beautiful if those rare moments of cultural or emotional specificity – when somebody reaches out to us and says “You are not alone” – happened more often.

You see I want you to think about the images you have seen of doomed worlds. Of nuclear death. Of solitude. Of rot, entropy and carnage. Of the flash-burst obliteration projected behind a thousand artists. These pictures, all around you, that say “What comes next is the end.”

Reject this; I will. My grandparents saw Europe break out in peace, my parents saw men walking on the moon and I have seen the world collaborate to pool its knowledge in the space between servers and source code. And before that begins to seem big and impossible I want you to remember that you are moments away from combining words and pictures to share a story, shape an idea, perhaps affect someone for years to come. You have an opportunity to fail a thousand times without judgement and you should take advantage of that.

So if we can do anything, what means we shouldn’t aim to do everything?

Do Everything is an essay from the first volume of Solipsistic Pop written by Matthew Sheret

Matthew is a freelance writer based in London. He has worked as an editor and copywriter for Last.fm, Newspaper Club, ditto.tv and Men’s Health Online, has contributed to Plan B Magazine, Solipsistic Pop and Electric Sheep Magazine and writes a column for Global Comment. His personal projects have seen him taking on roles that include journalist, web-hack, curator, market trader, teacher, student, critic, photographer, DJ, editor, and publisher, often at the same time.

In 2008 Matthew co-founded We Are Words + Pictures, a team who promote the work of small press comic artists and writers in Britain at fairs, festivals, club nights and workshops, alongside their biannual Paper Science anthology. They have worked with over 35 creators to date, and have in the past exhibited for Josie Long, Thought Bubble Festival and The ICA.

Projects like this and Phonogram vs The Fans have led to Matthew recently being described as “The Malcolm McLaren of indie comics” a title he could never hope to live up to.

There you have it, I seriously urge you to check out Matt’s writing, and the work of We Are Words + Pictures, well worth your time.

Thought Bubble planning continues unabashed, we went to the MCM Expo over the May Bank Holiday, and oh my stars and garters it was FUN. Thank you to everyone who came to our table, you were all lovely, and also to the organisers for putting on such an amazing event. It gave me a renewed vigour for putting on this year’s festival, and also confirmed the notion that the UK comics scene is host to some of the friendliest people in the whole wide universe. No fooling.

- Clark




Friends of Thought Bubble: Captain’s Blog by thoughtbubblefestival

Hello Thought Bubblers! There are only 193 days left until the start of this year’s festival, that’s a mere 4,632 hours! Time is flying. Literally. Today we have for you some exciting news of guests for this year’s convention, as well as another entry into our rapidly growing list of Small-Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or FRIENDS Inc). Don’t waste another precious second considering this sentence, simply scroll down and enjoy the ride. However, please remain seated until we’ve come to a complete stop.

This week’s Friend of Thought Bubble is the splendid Kristyna Baczynski, a local artist of wide reknown whose work is just marvelous, as proved by its winning one of our competitions in days of yore (2008). Further examples of this excellentitude can be seen below. Proof, if proof be need be, that there are some mad skills in effect.

Kristyna Baczynski makes pictures.

Pictures in sequence.

Pictures that move.

Pictures that stay put.

Kriss-Tenn-Er Bah-Chin-Skee

Kristyna self-publishes ‘zines and comics as well as creating throngs of illustrated wrongs which can be found in all sorts of places including poster designs, music videos, fancy books and bespoke prints.

Contributing and collaborating whenever she can -

Kristyna’s work is regularly featured in Nib-Lit comics paper, and appears in the very recently released (and amazing) Solipsistic Pop vol 2 – an anthology which contains her ‘Sapling’ comic. She planted a Sycamore tree the day it was completed.

Whilst drawing she listens endlessly to Kate Bush, Kiss and Costello.

Whilst dining she enjoys sweet potatoes, satay broad beans and strawberry laces.

Work and witticisms can be found on her blog.

***

Info on some early professional guest confirmations now! We have high hopes that the line-up for this year’s convention will be our biggest, best and most diverse yet, and these names seem to suggest that this will be the case…

First up is Paul Duffield, currently illustrating Warren Ellis’ webcomic Freakangels to widespread acclaim (and rightly so, the art’s freaking beautiful)!

Next is Richard Starkings, legendary letterer, founder of Comicraft, and creator of the brilliant Hip Flask and Elephantmen!

Last, but by no means least, is Tony Harris, artist on Eisner award-winning  series Starman and Ex Machina!

We’ll be announcing many, many more names as we approach the festival dates, so be sure to check back regular, like. You know you want to!

I’m off to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, byeeee!

- Clark



Friends of Thought Bubble: Building Blog by thoughtbubblefestival

Three blog posts in three weeks! It’s almost like we know what we’re doing here. Almost. If not for the fact that I’m writing this sat outside on the steps of Thought Bubble towers (having lost my keys in a Pokemon-based wager) there’d even be a vague air of professionalism to the proceedings. C’est la vie.

Here for your approval is the latest in our Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or Harry and the Friendersons) series! This week we have the privilege of welcoming Tom ‘Vented Spleen’ Humberstone into the ranks! Comic maker extraordinaire, and an amazing anthological architect to boot, Tom’s work is superb – some telling examples lie in the gallery a few degrees south…

Tom Humberstone is the creator of Art School Scum and Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohns Disease. His latest comic, How To Date a Girl In 10 Days, won an Eagle Award in 2008 for “Favourite black and white British comic”. He is also the co-author of My Fellow Americans, a book written and drawn during an eight week roadtrip across America following the 2008 Presidential elections.

In 2009 Tom created and edited the biannual anthology of UK comic artists – Solipsistic Pop – which was described by The Independent as “the British equivalent of Dave Egger’s McSweeneys“. Solipsistic Pop 2 is due for release on April 28th 2010 (this Wednesday!). He is currently working on a collection of short stories for his next book – Ellipsis. His illustrations have appeared in several publications including The Independent, Electric Sheep Magazine, Dazed&Confused, The Guardian and Word Magazine. His work can be viewed at his site or blog, and details of updates can be found on his twitter.

Tom’s 100 Days comic project was shaping up to be one of my favourite sequential art series of the year, and once it’s finished – sadly having been delayed due to illness – the results will be available to download for free as a special booklet that readers can create at home. I for one cannot wait to see the complete set!

Even more exciting is the news that Solipsistic Pop 3 will be released in November in time for Thought Bubble! Solipsistic Pop 2 isn’t even out yet and I’m already excited for volume 3! Whoo!

Tom’s comics are some of my favourite from the small press scene – they’re consistently moving and funny, (not to mention looking freaking gorgeous!) – and Solipsistic Pop looks set to be the indie anthology for the UK. You heard it here first! Well, not really, it’s a common sentiment, but true nonetheless.

***

In related news, this Saturday (May 1st) sees the phenomenon that is Free Comic Book Day arrive yet again (but, you already knew that, right?), and We Are Words & Pictures have a fresh free edition of Paper Science to delight you with. I don’t know, you wait ages for great anthologies to come along, and then two arrive at once. Note to self: don’t complain about things that are awesome. Details below on the spiffy flyer!

***

That’s your lot for now, and to be honest there’s so much hot small press goodness here that I’m going to have to let my Amstrad E-Mailer(tm) cool down before I can type anything else anyway.

Shazam!

- Clark



Friends of Thought Bubble: The Uncanny Blog-Men by thoughtbubblefestival

Hello! Has it been a week already? Well, as promised, here’s a new profile for the Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or Masters of the Friendiverse) portfolio, and also some information on a fantabulous new anthology which you should all check out. Would you like to know more? If so – simply read on, Macduff.

This week we’re extremely happy to be dusting off, and rolling out, the red carpet for Huw “Lem” Davies, a Leeds local whose lunatic tales of leporidaen life are lovely! Just take a look at the gallery (below), and I’m sure you’ll agree. If not, then there is simply no helping you.

Lem is a twenty-something, Leeds-dwelling graduate in Fine Arts with an
emphasis on sculptures that go beep. Somehow this has translated
reasonably well to the science of creating comics.

In-between drawing a webcomic called Bunny – which features a family of
small marshmallow like creatures on a mission to understand their world
and ours – and sewing together plush toys for a living he can be found
drawing covers and introductory comics for short-story anthologies about
Robots in the Wild West, stories about lonely cosmonauts for the 69 Love
Songs Illustrated project, and small bleak comics about sleepwalking
into a city made almost entirely of rather forbidding spires for his own
amusement.

You can also follow Lem’s work on twitter, and via his blog. I recommend you do, it’s seriously worth it.

***

In other Small Press news, the time is fast approaching for the launch of Solipsistic Pop volume 2!

Solipsistic Pop is a biannual anthology designed to spotlight the best in alternative comic art from the UK. It features diverse, beautiful, twisted and peculiar comics that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Comic artists old and new are encouraged to contribute.

Volume 2 contains 64 pages of sequential art from some of the best comic artists, illustrators and designers working in the UK today. With a 12 page newspaper insert, gorgeous gatefold cover and specially designed tote bag, it’s a must have for any comic fan.

Contributors include Kristyna Baczynski, Becky Barnicoat, Adam Cadwell, Stephen Collins, Joe Decie, Marc Ellerby, Sally Hancox, Anne Holiday, Tom Humberstone, Philippa Johnson, Daniel Locke, Lizz Lunney, Jack Noel, Mark Oliver, Luke Pearson, Octavia Raitt, Anna Saunders, Julia Scheele, Matthew Sheret, and Matilda Tristram.

The first volume received rave reviews (for good reason), so be sure to get your hands (or other appendages) on the sophomore issue. Awesome.

***

That’s it for this week, but we’ll be back in seven(ish) days time with some more sequentially goodness, so you won’t have to wait too long. Of course, if you’re really impatient, you could store yourself in carbonite for seven days and then get a friend to begin the thawing process (and aid your recovery from the associated hibernation sickness) just before then. But that would be silly.

Put the bunny back in the box.

- Clark



Friends of Thought Bubble: BloGalactus (it’s a big post, and it eats planets) by thoughtbubblefestival

Howdy Thought Bubblers! We’re back in business with a bumper edition of the blog bringing you a small press profile (below), info on some up ‘n’ coming events (below), more YouTube frolics (below) and a lengthy opening sentence (here). There’s only 222 days remaining until this year’s festival, and according to numerology that particular set o’ digits signifies we’re on the right path. Reassuring to say the least.

First up is the latest in our series introducing you to some of the crème de la crème of the UK’s comix community, members of this exclusive club are inducted into the Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or Defrienders of the Earth) for all of time. This week we’re welcoming into the ranks the awesomely talented Joe List, hijacker of the Guardian’s Saturday output with consistently hilarious results, and producer of fine comic wares, as can be seen in the handily placed gallery (below).

Joe List is designer and illustrator from Cheshire.

He is better known for his work on The Annotated Weekender, a blog where, each week, he doodles onto the Guardians Weekend Supplement. His first comic book, Freak Leap, was released last year and features a series of abrupt adventures in glorious black and white vectors. He has recently put together a mini comic, GUTS, which is a collection of sketch book comics

Joe enjoys running away from fights, stamping on things, and letting people know how they have nice shoes.

If you’d like Joe to compliment your footwear then he’s on twitter, and also has a handy site from which you can see his work.

I thoroughly endorse Joe’s comics, The Annotated Weekender is a regular source of mirth and is single-handedly helping to save the newspaper medium (I assume).

Next up, some info on forthcoming attractions which UK comics fans should be excited about…

April 22nd-25th sees the inaugural UniComics Festival – a celebration of all kinds of comics for everyone. The four day festival features sequential art superstars Pat Mills, Dave Gibbons and Kevin O’Neil, and a broad spectrum of work drawing upon and inspired by comics – from film and story-boarding to illustration and theatre performance, encompassing opportunities for learning, networking and idea sharing. UniComics is presented by the University of Hertfordshire and you can find out more at their site, following them on twitter, or their Facebook.

***

The MCM Expo have just released their guest list for this May’s comic village (which includes us!), and it looks set to be a good one. From the 29th – 30th May at Excel London we’ll be in attendance with a table, new flyers for this year’s Thought Bubble, free stuff/prizes, and smiles. Lots of smiles. Like the UniComics festival (above), the Expo’s comic village also has an aim  in common with Thought Bubble, one which should be encouraged: to allow creators of all styles, mediums and levels to join together in one equal space and promote the good word of sequential art. The Expo and its visitors provide a unique fusion event for comic creators and fans to gather and share in sequential art goodness with those new to the medium! Come say hi, howdy, or hello! (Other greetings may be acceptable, depending on context).

Finally, we’ve put up some more videos from 2009’s Thought Bubble on our YouTube channel, including Bryan Talbot’s excellent talk on the history of anthropomorphism in British comics, and the “Do Zombies Read Comics?” panel from last year’s convention (featuring Ben Templesmith, Charlie Adlard, Sean Phillips, and Antony Johnston). Both well worth your time and the effort of a few clicks of your mouse.

… And that’s it for now, next week we’ll be back with another Small Press profile, I vow to you that they’ll be weekly for the foreseeable future, and my word is my bond people, so you know I mean business.

Geronimo!

- Clark



Friends of Thought Bubble: The Return of the Blog by thoughtbubblefestival

Good ‘morrow Bubblers! Plans for this year’s festival continue apace and remain highly secretive for the time being, but as it is only 269 days away (coincidentally also the number of feet jumped by Travis Pastrana in his rally car last December, thereby setting a new world record) rest assured all will be revealed in good time.

Until that momentous, er, moment we’re pleased to present you with a fresh installment in our rapidly growing series of small-press/indie comicker profiles. This week, for your viewing delight, we’re spotlighting the wonderful work of Philippa “The Juzzard” Rice, whose webcomic ‘My Cardboard Life’ is surely the greatest outcome of the era of the Kraft process. Proof of this can be seen in the gallery below by simply lowering your gaze a few degrees. See you after the jump.

Philippa Rice is an illustrator/animator living in London. Philippa completed an animation degree in 2007, and since then her hand rendered and stop-motion films (examples of which can be seen here) have been screened at animation festivals including Animation Block Party (New York) and Animac (Catalonia).

For the last year and a half Philippa has been making people feel sentimental towards recyclable materials with her webcomic My Cardboard Life. Philippa’s internet shopping addiction and habit of looking through bins have provided plenty of cardboard and paper supplies for making five new collage comic-strips every week.

As well as online comics, Philippa, aka “The Juzzard” makes mini-comics and ‘zines such as her illustrated activity booklet series Intricate Dwellings. All of these things can be seen on Philippa’s website and blog.

We at Thought Bubble towers are big fans of Philippa’s work, and ‘My Cardboard Life’ is one of the main reasons (besides not wanting to anger Gaia) that we started a recycling programme. Love comics; love the environment, yo.

That’s your lot for the present, I hope that you enjoyed it (sorry if you didn’t, I’ll try harder, I promise) and will be back in a fortnight for some more profiling goodness!

Scotty, beam us up.

- Clark



Friends of Thought Bubble: Reborn by thoughtbubblefestival

Hola! It’s now only 285 days until this year’s Thought Bubble Festival (18th-21st November), and not only is this the degree of solar celestial longitude which marks the end of the 22nd annual East Asian solar term, but it also signifies the start of this year’s Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or 2010: The Year We Make Friends)!

For those of you who missed out on last year’s installments we basically use the blog (between festivals) to showcase some of the amazingly talented indie sequential art creators who we’re priveleged to meet at our convention each year. We love ‘em and we think you will too – or else

Kicking off the futuristic sounding 2010 series with great style and panache is the super-talented (and crazy prolific) Julia Scheele – an illustrator extraordinaire, examples of whose work can be seen in the nifty gallery below. Peep it, yo.

Julia Scheele is one of “those” 20-something illustrators living in London. Before returning to her undying love for comics, she had taken part in various film festivals and exhibitions, and used to co-organise an art/film/music event which mainly involved getting people to dress up as cardboard robots and dance. She has produced work in and around the UK small press scene under her own name as well as with her collective We Are Words + Pictures who are currently organising workshops and events in London and beyond. Julia also runs the 69 Love Songs, Illustrated project on the internet and can often be found at ‘zine fests and conventions throughout the UK. Her comics and illustration work can be seen at her site and her blog.

I think you’ll all agree that we’d have been hard pressed (unintentional pun +5pts) to find a better example of the UK’s awesome illustrative community to kick off this year’s series, and I think it serves as an excellent taste of the awesomeness to come (spoiler alert: awesome). I’m hoping to update the blog on a fortnightly basis hereafter with more entries into this canon, but there’ll be many surprise, ninja updates (more frequent the closer we get to the festival) with bonus Thought Bubble information as we officially announce the various sweet things we’ve got planned for y’all. Seriously check out 69 Love Songs, Illustrated though – it’s proper ‘mazing.

Ok, that’s it for now, if you want to keep up-to-date on our to-ing and fro-ing in Jack Bauer-esque real-time-o-vision then come hang with us on twitter or facebook. Social networking’s so hot right now (so my sister tells me).

Catch you later Bill & Ted!

- Clark




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