Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Film and Sequential Art, Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble, Thought Bubble 2011, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Comics, Kayla Hillier, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, UK Conventions, Webcomics
Hello! We’re back!
Back after an exhaustingly good time at the MCM Expo down in the big ol’ city known as Londinium. While there we announced some new guests for TBF11, and generally had a jolly old time with Team Comics, as well as handing out some lovely new Thought Bubble flyers along the way. But we are now ensconced in the lofty spires of Thought Bubble Towers once again, and we have work to do, so let’s get this party/blog post started!
First up – tickets for this year’s convention are now up on sale, first 500 weekend passes sold confer guaranteed entry to our party on the Saturday night, and full details as to pricing and purchase options can be found on the website! We’ve changed things up a bit with the festival and convention expansion, so be sure to read all the details – makes life a lot easier for everyone.
Next up, news of a competition for all of you out there with their sights set on being the next big thing in comics. The publisher Myriad Editions has launched a competition for aspiring graphic novelists and are looking for a first-time GN in progress, with the winner working with the publisher to complete the title. The writer who comes first in the competition also stands a chance of being offered a contract and seeing their title published.
On the judging panel will be author Ian Rankin, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, author and cartoonist Ed Hillyer, graphic novelists Hannah Berry and Bryan Talbot, and Myriad Editions creative director Corinne Pearlman.
Full details on the Myriad Editions website.
News has also reached us of a new arts event in Leeds taking place this month! The north’s first applied arts fair, LOOP Arts Fair, will take place June 17th-19th at Marshalls Mill, Leeds.
Keynote speaker on the Friday is James Jarvis “Born in London in 1970 and raised on a diet of Richard Scarry, Hergé, Judge Dredd and Albert Camus, Jarvis studied Illustration at the University of Brighton and the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1995. Since then he has gone on to establish himself as a graphic artist of international repute.In 1998 Jarvis designed the iconic toy figure ‘Martin’, unwittingly helping start the ‘designer’ toy phenomenon.” And they’ve also got open studios, talks, live art, workshops, printshops from TOY, Analogue Books, Drew Millward, Lizzie Stewart, Best Joined Up, Kibbo Kift and more! Tickets are on sale through their website.
Finally, we’re welcoming a new Friend of Thought Bubble into the fold! This week’s super friend is the awesome Kayla Hillier, a Canadian comic creator now living here in Blighty. There’s a selection of her work below (click the images to embiggen), and a description of the lady herself in her own words under that. Give them a gander, eh!
Kayla Marie Hillier has been livin’ large for a little more than a quarter of a century. She hails from a small town – nay, village – of 600 people called Stoney Point or Pointe-aux-Roches which is found in the most southern part of the Canadian province of Ontario.
She spent 18 years of her life there where she became BFFs with the internet although she was limited by her dial up connection. Shhhhh shhhhhh beep bop boo beep shhhhhhh-
She left the nest to pursue “higher education” in the Niagara region at Brock University where she achieved a degree in both Philosophy and Film and managed to write well over 100 articles for the Canadian University Press. She left Toronto about a year ago to return to Manchester, England – as the country managed to woo her with an impressive display of overcast skies.
She digs comics, so she makes some of her own. Her work includes the now completed webcomic GALAVANT which documents her travels throughout the UK over a period of 3 months – she’s also involved in Julia Scheele’s 69 Love Songs, Illustrated project.
Kayla’s one of my favourite people in comics, and I’d really recommend checking her stuff out, or come along to Thought Bubble 2011 and say hi to her in person!
That’s all for now, back soon with more TBF11 news and other shenanigans.
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, News, Thought Bubble 2011 | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions
Hello Thought Bubblers!
Long time no see, eh? You’re looking well, good New Year’s Eve? Excellent.
Ok, so the blog is back off hiatus, and we haven’t been slacking. No, sir/ma’am. We’ve been busy getting things into position for this year’s festival, which is going to be our biggest yet. It’s our fifth birthday this year so we’re doing something a bit special. Because of this there have been a few major changes/upheavals, so if you want to get the skinny then read on! If you prefer to be surprised then that’s fine, skip this spoilerific post, but you’re missing out on some very cool beans.
We’re delighted to announce that this year’s festival will be a week long affair, running from the 14th – 20th November in conjunction with the Leeds International Film Festival. We’ll be playing host to a whole bunch of workshops, screenings, parties, academic talks, book give-aways, competitions, and various other shindigs, all leading up to our first ever two day convention on the 19th & 20th of November!
One of the comments from last year’s convention was that things were getting a bit crowded (it’s hard being popular), and apparently my idea of using a shrink ray on all attendees to increase relative hall space was “stupid”, so we decided to double the length of the convention to ease congestion. Along with this we’re expanding to incorporate a second exhibiting hall at the Royal Armouries (directly opposite Saviles Hall) to accommodate an extra 100 tables, and we’ve adapted the floor plan for Saviles Hall in order to increase the width of the aisles.
We’re hoping an expansion in terms of both size and duration will mean even more people can enjoy some bubbly goodness, while maintaining the relaxed atmosphere that we’ve been blessed with year on year. Not that we’re complaining about increased attendance, we love seeing new faces each year, so the more the merrier!
The changes that this has for exhibitors are explained in a bit more detail on our website, but basically there are two options for exhibiting now, and two price tiers. It should also be noted that table registration for this year’s convention is now open, and early bird price rates are available until 1st August, again, full details on the website.
As always we’re expecting a stellar line-up of guests, and we can announce that we will be welcoming the legendary Tim Sale (Batman the Long Halloween) to his first Thought Bubble this year, and will be welcoming back the wonderful Richard Starkings (Comicraft, Elephantmen) who was one of our favouritest guests last year.
We’ll be announcing many, many, many, more guests as the build-up to this year’s festival continues, so check back here regularly for updates, as well as interviews and showcases with some of our favourite indie creators at the moment. We’re expecting tickets for the convention to go on sale in the spring, and an announcement will be made here, on our twitter feed, and on our Facebook page when they do go on sale, along with any other big news regarding our endeavours this year, so keep an eye on ‘em!
That’s all for now, we’ll be back shortly with an exclusive reveal of this year’s festival image by [super-secret guest artist's name obscured] soon!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Art by Guests, Film and Sequential Art, News, Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble, Minterviews, Thought Bubble 2010 | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic con, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions, Adi Granov, Joe List, Kristyna Baczynski
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 List – Guardian 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;
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.
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
Tony Harris Art Workshop 15:00 – 16:00 Leeds Art Gallery Henry Moore Room
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grandville Mon Amour talk 15:30 – 16:30 Leeds Art Gallery Hepworth Room
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: email@example.com
Andy Diggle’s Breaking & Entering For Comics Writers 15:45 – 16:45 Leeds Library Exhibition Space
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Art by Guests, News, Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble, Minterviews, Thought Bubble 2010 | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic con, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Sequential Art, Webcomics, Small Press, Leeds International Film Festival, Philippa Rice
Greetings bubblers! There are now only five weeks until this year’s Thought Bubble Festival (18th – 21st November), and to celebrate we have a fresh minterview for you, and some Thought Bubble news as well. We spoil you, do we not?
This week we talked to Philippa “The Juzzard” Rice, whose wonderful webcomic My Cardboard Life continues to entertain us here at thought bubble towers on a regular basis. Philippa’s entry into the Friends of Thought Bubble roster can be found here, and more of her work can be seen on her blog. Let’s rap!
To start off, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?
I didn’t start making comics ’til I’d graduated from my animation degree and was looking for more accessible ways to tell stories. Prior to that, I always enjoyed reading comics. The first comics I read were probably from the comics section in the Sunday Times called “The Funday Times” which I used to collect in a ring-binder.
Was the transition from animation to static storytelling an easy one?
It’s a nice transition I think. And easier than say, animation to picture books. Because even though comics are static, the story can move through time quite quickly.
I have used animation in a few comics. It’s fun to have a moving panel or two but I’m not sure if it works really. As soon as there’s something moving in there, it distracts your eyes from reading the comic in the proper order. I’d like to experiment with that more at some point though.
So, what prompted the initial choice to create characters from cardboard and other materials, as opposed to simply drawing them?
Just experimenting with different techniques really. When I first wrote about Cardboard Colin I imagined him being painted, which seems a bit strange now.
Collage might actually be more straight-forward than drawing to be honest, because I don’t have to do any pencils, I just cut the pieces out, stick them down, draw the faces and other details on and that’s it.
How long does it take to create a new character? Does the physical making of them take longer than thinking them up?
It really depends on the character. Cardboard Colin doesn’t take long, but Silvia Foil is a nightmare to cut out. She blunts my scalpel. Cardboard Carl probably takes the longest because he’s made up of three different materials. Cardboard body, Denim jeans and a fabric beard. I remake them for every panel they appear in, so if it’s a comic with six panels and Carl is in every one, it will take lots of hours.
Thinking them up doesn’t feel like it takes very long, because I write things down in my sketchbook when I think of them.
What are your favourite comics at the moment? Are there any you consider an influence on your own work?
I just finished reading My Brain is Hanging Upside Down by David Heatley. That was a goodun! I like autobio comics, they can be so touching plus they’re guaranteed to be original.
Most of my influences come from picture books or animation rather than comics. Like the way Lauren Child mixes together loads of different patterns and textures in the Charlie and Lola books. I’m a big fan of unusual materials or techniques, as in animations by Jan Svankmajer and Caroline Leaf. Also I enjoy any kind of silliness. I love those old silly symphonies cartoons, and also Spongebob Squarepants.
You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?
At the last few conventions I’ve done I’ve had a diorama on my table. A 3D model of the My Cardboard Life characters in a shoebox. At MCM Expo it was a picnic, at UK Web & Mini Comix it was a tea party. My idea for Thought Bubble is that the My Cardboard Life characters are going to be having their own mini convention inside that shoebox and they’ll have mini versions of the comics, mugs, badges and prints that I’ve got on my table, plus some other surprise items (surprises for me too since I haven’t made them yet).
Are the characters in the shoebox environment ‘life-size’ versions of their online counterparts? How big are they in ‘real-life’?
Well the actual size of the characters in the comics varies a bit from panel to panel, but they are generally the same size as the models in the dioramas. Pauline is about 7cm tall and Colin is 4.5cm. The only real difference about the models is that Colin’s got wire legs and arms instead of ink lines.
Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?
I do! It’s a novelty for me to meet real, actual people who read my comics. Plus it’s a massive inspiration boost to see everyone else’s work.
Have you noticed any changes in the UK community since you started creating comics yourself? Is it different to those in other countries from what you’ve seen?
This is a tricky question! It’s difficult for me to judge. In the past two years that I’ve been making comics, it does seem like the UK comics community is changing and growing, and that people are talking about comics more, but perhaps I just feel that way because I’m gradually getting more involved myself.
No, what am I talking about, UK comics are going through the roof! Look at all the stuff that’s going on, I’m seeing events and workshops appearing all over the place. Look at Solipsistic Pop! It’s amazing. I don’t really know about the communities in other countries, but let me tell you, UK comics are hot news, and we are going to show them!
Finally – Thought bubbles or caption boxes?
If they both asked me out on a date I’d go for the thought bubble. He’s kooky yet considerate.
Thanks to Philippa for talking to us, and you can see her talking in person on a panel as part of the Thought Bubble programme which was released recently (segue!).
This year the festival has even more wonderful (and mostly free) events taking place around our centre-piece one-day comic convention! For full details check the website and if you’re planning on attending any of our limited place events then please e-mail thoughtbubbleinfo[at]googlemail[dot]com as soon as possible to book a space and avoid any disappointment!
Related to this, our friends at Leeds Central Library’s Your Space are running a regular series of free manga meets for people under the age of 20. Full details on the flyer below.
That’s your lot for now, last few minterviews coming soon, and we’ll have some last minute Thought Bubble 2010 surprises for you as the start of the festival draws ever closer! Zounds!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Film and Sequential Art, Thought Bubble 2010, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Anime, Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions, Webcomics
Alright guys, this is a big one, we’ve got a lot to get through and we’re losing daylight here people. Read like you’ve got a purpose! WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MAL- sorry, sorry, started channeling R Lee Ermey. Again. Seriously though, we’ve got a whole bunch of news for you in this here post, and it’s all pretty dang BIG.
Ok, We’re now able to officially reveal the two TOP SECRET newly announced side-projects that Thought Bubble has had up its sleeves for this year.
The first is the Northern Sequential Art Competition – a contest we’re running in association with Travelling Man comic shops, Imagine FX, and 2000AD – open to all artists/writers (12 years old +) in the United Kingdom. There are some great prizes on offer, and we can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. ALL entries will also be displayed as part of a digital exhibition in venues across Leeds and the surrounding areas in the two weeks prior to this year’s Festival. To the drawing boards!
The second is related to the first (and is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now), namely compiling a Free Comic Book Day Anthology. This will feature big name contributors from across the sequential art spectrum, as well as our competition winners, and will be launched on May 2011′s FCBD! Thought Bubble will bring the comics to YOU. (Yes, you)
Next up is the heartening news that Thought Bubble 2010 is well on the way to full lock down – we finalised the programme for this year’s festival at the weekend (and it’s looking pretty spiffy if we do say so ourselves), and there should be some shiny new flyers and brochures winging their way across the country soon.
A few things to be said on this note – first is that pre-order tickets are selling fast. If you want guaranteed entry to the Saturday evening’s after-party (as conferred by the first 500 pre-booked tickets) – with music provided by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Team Phonogram and the Thought Bubble Soundsystem – then don’t delay. We’ll put out an announcement once they’re gone.
The second is that we’re now running very low on exhibitor tables for the Saturday convention. If you’re still planning on attending with your wares then get in touch quick to bagsie one of the remaining few. Again, an announcement will be made when they’re all gone.
In related event news, our friends at the Anime League are running their Alcon again next month and it should be a blast!
Alcon will run from the 9th-12th September at De Montfort University in Leicester!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Film and Sequential Art, News, Thought Bubble 2010 | Tags: Comics, Emma Vieceli, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, LYPFF, masterclass, Sequential Art, Signings, UK Conventions
Who’s ready for a paradigm shift?! Well you’d better be, because boy howdy do we have one for you here at Thought Bubble towers.
First up you’ll probably notice that the blog (this thing you’re looking at), the website, the facebook, and the twitter have all had a stylistic overhaul courtesy of the amazing Eleanor Davis who has designed this year’s logo. The website also contains updated information about Thought Bubble 2010 and our expanded contact options.
Next, we have some up-coming events to announce to y’all…
First up is Emma Vieceli’s workshop which takes place as part of the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival on Tuesday 6th April at Travelling Man Leeds (details here). This year’s LYPFF looks set to be their best yet and has loads of amazing events throughout for youngsters of all ages. Well worth checking out!
Next is the Doctor Who roleplaying game day, also taking place as part of the LYPFF at Travelling Man Leeds on Wednesday April 7th (details here). Hosted by Steve Lyons and with all the information you need to create a suitably heroic chrononaut it’ll be heaps of fun. Allons y!
Following closely on the heels of those superb events is Travelling Man Leeds’ Walking Dead Zombie Day on Saturday April 17th, featuring a signing by illustrator extraordinaire Charlie Adlard! Not to be missed, more info on the poster below…
Finally, for the time being, we’ve started making the videos of Thought Bubble ’09′s workshops available via our YouTube channel, so far we have Andy Diggle and Jock’s talk on comic creation, as well as the brilliant Frank Quitely masterclass wherein he converses with fellow illustrator – the similarly amazingly talented – Peter Doherty about his art! Just part of the service we provide to you, the fans, ’cause we loves ya.
That’s it for the time being, enjoy those sequential art based wonders and friends of Thought Bubble will be back sooner than you can say “series profiling various UK-based small press creators”. Try it, I dare you.
By the power of Greyskull!
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, News, Thought Bubble 2010 | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions
Heya Thought Bubblers! Did you have a good holiday season – how about that snow, eh? Well we here at TB Towers didn’t slack off one bit (not true), we spent the entire time working on this year’s festival (not true), we didn’t make any snowpeople (not true), so now we have some juicy festival information for you (true).
This year’s Thought Bubble Festival will take place from November 18th – November 21st 2010 (futuristic!), and will feature a centre-piece one day convention on Saturday 20th November.
Table bookings for the Saturday convention are now open, and further details can be found on the booking form. Please note it is worth registering early as the prices rise from August 1st 2010.
Tickets for this year’s convention will be priced at £10, with half price entry for cosplayers (£5), and free entry for children under 12.
That’s it for now, we have so many super-cool things planned for this year that I am finding it hard to contain myself. Be sure to check back here regularly for updates on Thought Bubble 2010, as well as more small press profiles and interviews with our guests. Awesome.
See you soon!
If you enjoyed last year’s festival, and can’t bear waiting 10 months for the next one then we heartily recommend the London MCM Expo’s Comic Village in May!
We’ll have a table there promoting Thought Bubble 2010, so you can come say “hi” in a context where we’re not running around shouting into… radios (we may be shouting into radios anyway – it’s fun!).
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Film and Sequential Art, Guests 2009, Programme 2009, Minterviews | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic con, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Sequential Art, Anime, UK Conventions, Ben Templesmith
Alright guys, this it it – we’re now less than a week away from the start of this year’s Thought Bubble. Fasten your seatbelts, keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, and do not leave your seat until we’ve come to a complete stop (around 5pm Sunday 22nd November). Otherwise enjoy yourselves, it’s promising to be a belter.
In celebration of the impending awesomeness, we have the final in our series of minterviews with some of our professional guests – today sees Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Fell, Wormwood Gentleman Corpse) take time out to talk to us, the results of which are below for your delight and delectation. Get some.
Hi Ben, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today; for starters, could you tell us how your comic book work first came about?
I technically broke-in twice into comics, at the same time virtually. One was via Joe Casey on a project he wanted to do at Vertigo, called The Darwin Theory, which we actually started, but, alas, never ended up seeing print for one reason or another. My first actual work the world knows though was as the new artist on Todd McFarlane’s Hellspawn, after Brent Ashe, then TMP art-director saw my work online, and I think he said Todd walked by and noticed he was looking at something on his screen, and it basically went from there!
Your artistic style is not what most people would consider ‘traditional’ comic book art, was this a conscious decision to reflect the, often gothic, tones of titles you’ve worked on, or is it simply your natural illustrative style?
That always makes me laugh. Being “non traditional” in comics means I’m, kind of, just “art” to the rest of the world instead of the perceived stereotypical “comic” style. It’s great that the medium has opened up now to a whole variety of eclectic styles though, in the last few decades certainly. As with most artists I guess my style is simply about being an extension of who I am to some degree. I always loved the darker side of things, and atmospherics - that just translates to the art really. I always try to slightly tailor things depending on the project though, of course.
Do you feel that this ‘stereotypical comic style’ is, perhaps, one of the main reasons that it’s taken so long for comic books to become accepted, by the mainstream, as a culturally relevant storytelling medium?
I still don’t think it has. Sure, we now have the “graphic novel” being a cool buzz-word, but all the general population still think they are, in general, is superheroes. Obviously they’ve had great success now, but a medium still isn’t one genre. A few more successful non-superhero stories that are just, well, good stories that have more interesting art could change that, but I won’t hold my breath just yet. It would just be nice if comics had the comparable success of, say, a Harry Potter, or a Twilight series – to really break it open with a bona fide cultural phenomenon - to change mindsets completely. I can dream, no? I only see the quest for “acceptance” as a way to guarantee a viable future for the medium though - not for riches, or glory for glory’s sake.
Has your individual style adapted to embrace the recent advances in digital illustration techniques, or do you prefer to work with more orthodox materials?
To be honest, not really. I started using the computer soon after I started. Nothing that I do now has fundamentally changed since then. Sure, I updated to a new version of ‘photoshop’ a couple times, but I’m not doing anything differently than before. No fancy tricks or button pushing! I’ve probably decided to go more the other way, and do more real world art before I add any computer elements now, actually. I just want to make art, rather than have things only exist digitally.
You’re one of a select group of individuals within the comics industry who work as both writers and artists, notably having created a number of your own titles – is the artistic process markedly different when illustrating another writer’s script as opposed to your own?
Absolutely – well, until telepathy becomes more commonplace. Since I know what I’m doing in my own head, and I don’t need to bother explaining what I want to another person, doing it all yourself definitely is a different, more short hand experience. Pros and cons to both though. My scripts are more just loose notes until I really solidify the dialogue, which I have all worked out before I actually start to illustrate.
Within your own writing the subversion of human nature, either by supernatural (e.g. the vampires of 30 Days of Night) or scientific means (in Singularity 7), seems to be a recurring theme – is this something that you feel has a special relevance to the modern world?
Well, we’re a moderately intelligent species. As human beings, we’re almost masters of our own destiny these days. The only things that can really screw us are technology and fear, or a combo of both. We’ve seen the results of fear rather recently, and some aspects of science. My little stories that deal with things like that probably show I’m rather cynical when it comes to my thoughts as to if we’ll actually see the year 3000, I guess.
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, the series which you’re currently best know for, while primarily gothic in tone, also has a very dark, macabre sense of humour running through it – do you enjoy the idea of making people laugh while also terrifying them?
Well, if anyone reads my twitter they probably know by now, I don’t hold back too much. I kind of dig challenging people, and saying uncomfortable things, but also funny things. I figure if you can show people rather nasty, uncomfortable things but make them laugh at them at the same time, it’s a rather good way to get by - something a little more complex and harder than simply grossing someone out for its sake alone. It, kind of, gives me a thrill to know I can actually make someone laugh out loud at my sick ideas sometimes. I feel honoured whenever anyone tells me that - never thought it’d be something I could do as a kid.
30 Days of Night was one of the first major cinematic adaptations of a less well-known comic property to find success at the box office – do you feel Hollywood’s increased interest in titles which don’t necessarily feature an eponymous Superhero for a protagonist has been beneficial to the comics industry?
Actually, it technically wasn’t! Previous to that one there’d been things like The Crow, or Road to Peridtion, etc, but, yes, as an actual comic that was trust more into the mainstream of the time – it did wonders to revitalize horror comics at the time - I guess you could say that.
Having non-super hero movies made, especially if they meet with success, is ultimately far more important to the comics medium than doing just superhero films. That’s a genre, one that people will get sick of one day perhaps, but stories themselves never go out of style, so if creatives can transfer successful ideas across mediums it helps keep talent creating new things, and bringing in new readers, hopefully, who don’t just have to like one genre. Imagine if the only ever books to get turned into movies were the Fabio romance-type novels, or just spy thirllers? Diversity is the best thing possible.
Speaking of films, the creatures in the 30 Days of Night comic series appear to draw inspiration from cinema rather than literature – did you have any specific referential sources in mind when developing your vampires?
I’ve been told my vampires looked like “Euro-trash”, though I’m not really sure what that means since I’m Australian, and don’t know what “Euro-trash” actually look like. I just figured they shouldn’t be the overly frilly-dressing romantic looking types, frequently popular, and now rather popular again. I guess. Never once did I think of Blade or anything though - for me I just drew inspiration from Charles Darwin (for my wanky theories on how vampiric eating machines would look via evolution), and the movie John Carpenter’s The Thing.
One final question, on the nature of comic conventions – are they something which you personally enjoy attending, either as a creator or a spectator?
I’ve been told I travel a lot, so I guess I do more than most. I personally love going to new places and meeting people who read my work in them. I could be working in a box factory, in an alternate universe, but instead I get to travel the world to meet people who actually appreciate my work. To me that’s amazing, and I never want to forget that or take it for granted. To meet the people who allow me to earn a living, well, that’s really something every creator should treasure.
Big props to Ben for talking to us, a fitting end to this series of minterviews. I’d just like to take the time to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s contributed to the blog this year, you’re all amazing! Hopefully we’ll have even more awesome stuff to induce wonderment in your brain sacs next year, but for now let’s focus on the more pressing engagement: Thought Bubble ’09!
In TB ’09 news, Leeds University’s Anime Society has made us some lovely promotional material, which, I’m sure you’ll all agree, kicks some serious ass.
Okay, enough for now, remember that Thought Bubble ’09 kicks off Thursday 19th November in the fair city of Leeds, we hope to see you there!
Filed under: Film and Sequential Art, Guests 2009, Minterviews | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic con, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Sequential Art, Frank Quitely, UK Conventions
Hey there Thought Bubblerinos, hope you’re all well? Good, glad to hear it. Today sees the next in our mini-series of mini-interviews (minterviews) with some of our excellent professional guests for this year. If the TB blog continues at this rate, then by (approximately) June 8th 2013 it will represent a repository of all known information in this, and any other, universe – rivalling the mighty wikipedia. Possibly. My maths skills are notoriously weak.
Today’s guest minterviewee is the sublimely talented Frank Quitely, multi-award winning comics illustrator who has worked on a myriad of titles including New X-Men, All-Star Superman, We3, Flex Mentallo, The Authority, and – most recently – Batman & Robin. His work is, quite frankly (pardon the wordplay), mindblowing, and we’re extremely pleased to be able to number him amongst our (uniformly brilliant) guests for this year. We had a talk, the results of which you can see just below… To the reading-mobile!
Hi Frank, thanks for talking to us today; first off, could you give a brief overview of how you first got into sequential art?
I started in self-published comics. I was one of the founding members of a Scottish underground comic called Electric Soup. We published 17 issues in the 3 years we were together, during which time I developed a real love for comics and after sending unsolicited samples to all the publishers listed in Comics International I eventually got commissioned to work on a strip for the Judge Dredd Megazine.
You have a very distinctive illustrative style, rendering your work instantly recognisable – was this an intentional ploy to make you artwork stand out from the crowd, or simply a by-product your own individual way of drawing?
My style’s a mixture of my various influences filtered through my personal tastes and shaped by my strengths and limitations as an artist. As the years have rolled by I’ve concentrated less and less on ‘style’ and more and more on story-telling, to the point where my style is just a by-product, like my handwriting.
Has the evolution in digital art-techniques over recent years resulted in many changes to the way you work?
Yes, to some extent. The biggest change for me was moving from colouring on paper using tradition materials, to colouring digitally. I sometimes do my thumbnails and lay-outs in photoshop and print them out so I can trace over them, and occassionally I’ll do a spot illustration or a cover completely digitally, but mostly it’s the colouring.
You’ve worked on mainstream titles, such as New X-Men, and creator-owned properties, such as The Invisibles - is the creative process different when working with high-profile characters, most of whom have an extensively depicted history, as opposed to those that are relatively new, or obscure?
The creative process is always the same. When you work on a title or character that everyone knows loads of people say ’I hate his ?Wolverine?‘ or ‘I hate his ?Superman?‘ or whatever, because it jars with their own favourite versions of the characters - no one ever says ‘I hate his ?We3 animals?‘ because they didn’t start reading it with any preconceptions or prejudices. From that point of view it’s always easier to work on new stuff, or your own stuff, but I enjoy the challenge of getting to do well-known characters and I generally don’t really care if some folk don’t like what I do, it’s personal taste, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin. But as I said, the creative process is just the same
Do you have any characters in particular that you enjoy portraying? Are there any you’ve yet to work on, but would relish an opportunity to do so?
I enjoy making new characters, like the mutant kids in New X-Men, or the circus freaks in Batman and Robin -
actually, I’m really looking forward to drawing The Joker in the closing arc of Batman and Robin.
You’re perhaps best known for your collaborations with writer Grant Morrison – how did your initial partnership come about?
I had met Grant once or twice in Glasgow at comic-things and I knew something of his reputation. I didn’t know that he was a fan of my Greens strip in Electric Soup, though (well the drawings anyway – he never commented on the writing!). Then he phoned me up one day and asked me to draw Flex Mentallo, I asked what it was about, and when he started talking about it I was hooked. And when I started working on it I remember thinking that I wanted to keep working with this guy.
Are you ever tempted to return to both writing and illustrating – creating characters and telling story – or is it now the case that you feel your story-telling is best facilitated purely through your artwork?
Only for humour stuff.
I’m actually writing a script for a couple of guys who want to try to animate The Greens, which is a humour strip I used to write and draw when I started 20 years ago. I wouldn’t waste my time trying to write serious stuff because I don’t understand enough about how good writing works.<
Superhero comics in general seem to be gaining more recognition by the general public every day, do you think this is the cause of some of the massive upheavals that have been seen in many of the big comic publishers’ universes, or is it simply that existing comic fans are demanding more bang for their buck these days?
I think the superhero movies have had a hand in getting the general public more aware of superheroes, though I doubt that translates into new comic book readers. As for the upheavals in the universes, I suspect that’s more of a publisher-led marketing thing ather than something the fans are demanding.
Speaking of the current vogue for superhero films, do you think such adaptations ever have anything to add to the comic book stories – a medium with far fewer creative limitations than the silver screen – that they’re based on?
I think the main thing movies can bring is a sense of realism – but that’s a double-edged sword. It’s great seeing super powers done convincingly with the latest special effects, but if a costume looks slightly goofy on paper, it usually looks pathetically amusing on screen.
You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble – do you enjoy attending comic conventions, either professionally or as a casual attendee?
I’ll let you know at the end!
Many thanks to Frank for taking the time to talk to us, remember that this, and the other of our special guest minterviews, can currently be found in the Leeds International Film Festival catalogue (a steal at £7) wherein you can also find some information on Thought Bubble. Biblioriffic!
In some other news, our friends over at Manchester’s Tokyo 15 are having a signing this weekend (November 14th) with the massively awesome Naniiebim (artist on Mephistos). If, like us, you’re from the norf [sic] of this fair sceptred isle – thus meaning you can’t make it to the Anime League Club London’s mini-con – then you should definitely ch-check it out. Details on the flyer below.
… And there you have it, we’ll be back at the weekend with our final (guest) minterview before the festival starts! Exciting times…
Filed under: Film and Sequential Art, Guests 2009, Minterviews | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic con, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Sequential Art, Leeds International Film Festival, Charlie Adlard
What up gang? It’s now two weeks to the festival, and as promised earlier in the week we’ve got some fresh minterviews for you with some of our amazing big name guests at this year’s Thought Bubble. These can currently be found in the TB section of this year’s Leeds International Film Festival Catalogue (which you should really check out for details of over 200 amazing films currently showing across the city), but we’re happy to bring them to you, live and direct, here on the TB Blog. We really do spoil you guys, but hey – you deserve it.
First up we had a chat with Charlie Adlard, currently astounding and terrifying readers in equal measure with his illustrative work on the break-away comics hit of the last few years – The Walking Dead. So get your best zombie shuffle on and read away. All together now… Braaaaains…
Hi Charlie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us; to start, could you give a brief idea of how you first got started in the comics industry?
Well, I got in just as so many other pros have – through the London and Glasgow conventions in the late ’80′s. I just basically took my portfolio around each con until someone was foolish enough to give me work. At those two major cons back then, it was a lot easier getting work off the major companies because they were all represented there, as opposed to now when you’re lucky to get an editor from DC comics and perhaps 2000AD, so I stood a much better chance back then. My first work was through the Judge Dredd Megazine (I got my first commission at a Glasgow con after about two years of trying) and thankfully it’s never really slowed down since then.
Your illustrative style has changed markedly over the years, was that adaptation due to the demands of the titles you’ve worked on, or was it more of a natural evolution of your own talents?
Bit of both, really. When I first started to get a portfolio together for these conventions, the work in it mainly consisted of B&W illustrations – that’s where I was at style-wise back then – but I was also looking for work at a time where it was fashionable to do fully painted artwork. Consequentially, I thought I’d better try my hand at that to improve my chances of cracking the industry, and it was that work that got me my first commission with the JDM.
Personally, I don’t think I was that good at it, and I spent roughly my first professional year doing fully painted comic strips, then I was asked to do few strips in B&W for the JDM and I haven’t really looked back since.
I’ve always felt more comfortable in monochrome – I think it’s where my strengths lie – I probably reached a “competent” level with full colour but never surpassed that, and now I rarely paint. It’s a shame really because I would have loved to have gotten better at it, but alas I never found the time – I was too busy doing B&W! Occasionally I do get the chance to paint or colour on the computer, and I really enjoy it because I do it so little – it’s a break from the norm – but it’s never enough to really improve my technique. It’s in my B&W work where I can see constant improvement, and I should be happy with that, but, y’know, I want to be a master of all trades.
You’re currently best known for your artwork on zombie-apocalypse epic The Walking Dead – is it liberating working on such a title where you get to portray characters involved in moments of quiet introspection as well as horrific acts of violence?
Yes, definitely! If this was just a plain “horror” book not only would I have got bored with it but the readers would have as well. The beauty of TWD is the fact that it’s a character book first and foremost and that’s what keeps me interested. If Robert [Kirkman, series’ creator] had written just issue after issue of people in peril and zombie mayhem then I don’t think I’d be still talking about it today, six years down the line.
Of course, the other great thing about working on a title like this and what makes it so liberating is the fact that I don’t have to draw Superheroes to make a career for myself. It’s totally amazing to see TWD buck all trends, to go up against all the mainstream superhero stuff and stand alongside quite respectably. There’s not many non-superhero books can claim that – it’s a very privileged place to be in.
Comics in general seem to be shifting more and more into the mainstream, what do you feel has caused this change in public perception to sequential art?
Do you think comics are more in the mainstream? People might be more aware of them than, I suppose, 15 years ago, but it hasn’t really translated into huge sales.
I think the industry has resigned itself to being a niche, to be honest, a healthy niche, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think we’ll ever see sales in the millions again. Mind you, I think that’s the case with the whole print industry, not just comics.
Comic books are doing OK though – I think we’re in a good space at the moment. The graphic novel side has certainly taken off for the industry, particularly for certain books, TWD included. We actually sell as many trades as single issues. If most publishers could get those figures then I think the death of the single monthly issue would be inevitable and we might become more like the European template.
Having said all that, the movie and TV industry has done a lot to raise the profile of this industry and it’s only been possible in recent times to make good looking superhero movies that people won’t laugh at (there’s always been exceptions to the rule of course, Superman The Movie, The Rocketeer, and I’m certainly not saying that all the recent comic movies have been critical successes), because of the advancement in effects, and the influx of self-confessed “geeks” to direct and write the things. Thanks to them we have a healthy profile, and, in slight contrast to what I said before, it does make people more aware of the lesser known comics out there that have become films, and that does translate to better sales. However, the big mainstream ones – not a jot of difference anymore.
The increased interest in comic properties by Hollywood is certainly undeniable at this point – TWD the latest series to be commissioned for television – has this led to any noticeable operational changes within the comics industry?
I think comic companies are increasingly aware of their properties becoming movies and the rewards that that can reap. Consequentially, they may publish things that might not necessarily make them immediate money back on publication – especially if there’s movie interest beforehand, which can quite often happen.
Publishers now are able to think beyond just publishing a book, and to the possible greater awards that movies, TV, and merchandising can give them. Before publishers were just that – publishers – the concept of anything else was rare, if at all. Personally, for me and many other creators – we have also started to think “out of the box” – the advantage to doing something which you own is much more appealing when it can generate the rewards that other media can offer. So, quite often, even before pen has hit the paper, thoughts of where this particular project can go outside of comics is all too relevant!
You’ve worked on a number of different titles, from Judge Dredd to Green Lantern, do you have any particular favourite characters, either to illustrate or as a comics fan?
Yeah, you could say that, up until TWD, I was a bit of a journeyman artist – taking work from wherever I could get it – not a particularly fulfilling first 10-plus years, but I did get to tackle many different styles and characters because of that.
In all honesty, I would say that I don’t have a burning desire to do any one character and the reason for that is TWD has put me in really good place creatively and professionally. It has enabled me to do whatever I want, so doing work for the money alone isn’t a factor any more – and one could argue that doing projects for the “big 2″ would be purely for “the money”. Let’s face it; there really is no other reason. Why would I want to work on someone else’s characters when I can have total control and own my own creations? That’s so much more fulfilling than anything Marvel or DC could offer at the moment.
Having said all that, there’s no reason why I might not return to other people’s characters one day, it would be just for a bit of fun and probably not a lengthy project though (Dr Doom or Conan might be fun to do at some point) and it won’t be in the near future. I’m with TWD for the long run and I have plenty of creator owned books on the side in the pipeline as well – enough to see me well into the next couple of years.
Finally, regarding comic conventions – are they something that you enjoy attending, either as an artist or as a spectator?
It’s been years since I attended a con as a fan. I used to attend Angouleme in France on that basis, but even going there now I attend as a professional. I kind of miss it – to just go to a convention for the “fun” of it and without all the baggage that being within the industry entails. Though that really is a minor gripe – on the whole I really enjoy going to conventions, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t go. Drawing comics is a fairly isolated business, so it is good to get out there and meet the fans. It’s great to meet up with the other pros and socialise as well. It’s not often we all get the opportunity to gather together in one area and we’re all too lazy to organise get togethers ourselves!
Many thanks to Charlie for taking the time to talk to us, we’ll have another big-name minterview up next week. If you blog it, they will come.
Two weeks to go ’til TB ’09! Shazam!