Thought Bubble 2017 runs 18th – 24th September!


Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine Mini-Interview by thoughtbubblefestival

Greetings Bubblers! Time to finally exhale the indrawn breath of anticipation that was induced by the news of our upcoming series of interviews with the Friends of Thought Bubble, because it’s finally here!

As a nice lead-up to this year’s festival we’ll be bringing you some mini-interviews (or minterviews) with the contributors to the Friends of Thought Bubble series which has been running on this very blog for the last handful of  months. All the folks who’ve, very kindly, taken the time to talk to us will be appearing at the convention on 21st November, along with a whole other bunch of wonderfully talented people.

Kicking us off, in style I might add, is the Pride of Yorkshire – Mr Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine – who also started the Friends of Thought Bubble ball a-rolling all those months ago. His TB profile can be found here, and I heartily recommend checking out his site, but without much further ado – let’s rap…

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hugh raine logo

Hi Hugh, thanks for talking to us, to start off do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?

I thought I’d ‘grown out’ of comics by the time I was a teenager, and was concentrating on being an illustrator, but I still watched a lot of cartoons and was attracted to programs like The Ren & Stimpy Show and The Adventures of Pete & Pete on Nickelodeon. I somehow found my way into reading Marvel, but in comic shops I eventually became exposed to Peter Bagge, Steve Weissman, Robert Crumb, and Tom Hart. I always made my own comics, but became more focussed at university – doing an animation degree – where I honed the storytelling and gag side of comic making.
I got involved making comic-zines in Hull, namely working with a bunch of lads making Lobster Magazine. When that ended, I decided to start my own, as a way to keep drawing, when I had little on creatively. It took a long time for me to tune into the small press scene but once I found it, I liked it! I never realised there was a scene for people like me until a few years ago.

Your comics have a slightly warped sense of humour running through them, juxtaposed with the often ‘cute’ illustrations – was this contrast intentional?

I think I started using that juxtaposition as a quick and easy way to get a laugh, or some reaction. Now I only really use it to upset my wife. The “set ’em up, knock ’em down” technique never really gets old though, does it?
My latest stuff deals with more adult themes and still employs a cute style, but it’s darker than before. Also, working as a greetings card illustrator, I think abusing cute characters helps me keep sane.

Do you view your commercial illustration work simply as a means to fund your comic-making endeavours, or are your small press projects more of a hobby?

I treat them as completely separate entities – it’s like having two jobs. I wouldn’t say I think of my day job as funding my comics financially; the things I learn at work “fund” my comics creatively. I like the things I do for work, or as a freelancer, but with the comics I can do whatever I want, and it’s important to me to have that.

You self-published Reet! for four years, do you think the small press scene has changed since you started?

When I was making and distributing REET! I was frequenting record shops, gigs, retro clothes shops, and only the occasional comic shop. I wasn’t really part of the small press scene – not intentionally, anyway. In fact, I was avoiding the term “comic” altogether, because some people didn’t really understand what comics were; I thought I was making ‘zines – I was actually doing both. My first experiences of the small press scene were some of the things I picked up in OK Comics, like Lee Hardcastle’s self-published comics, and when I went to Thought Bubble 07. And not much has changed since then, as far as I can tell. The main difference is that there are more outlets for comics on the internet, bringing us wider recognition.

Do you think the fact that when one mentions the term “comics” most people’s thoughts turn instantly to superheroes is part of the reason they’re not more widely accepted as a storytelling medium?

Unfortunately, yes! I’d like there to be a time when I don’t have to follow up the word “comics” without qualifying it, and explaining the difference between superhero and everything else. It’s really weird that we have such a rich comic history which a lot of people seem to have forgotten about.

You’ve worked on a number of anthologies, is the creative process different when working on those as opposed to your own solo projects?

I approach anthologies the way I used to approach some of the one-off strips for REET! I draw and write in lots of different styles so I pick one that suits, once I have an idea based on the theme. I just try to make sure it fits into the anthology nicely while still having my personal stamp on it. I always say yes to anthologies. It’s good practice – and I’m a bit of a comic slag, for anyone who’ll have me.

So, have you avoided rigidly defining a set style for your comics’ in order to allow yourself the freedom to go wild, creatively, if the mood takes you?

I don’t even know what my style is any more! I don’t think it was a deliberate decision not to get tied to one style – each comic just sort of suggests its own look. I think it pays to be versatile, too – I’d get bored drawing in one style all the time. Comic artists like Pat Moriarity always impressed me with the way they approach each project differently.

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

I’ll be bringing more copies of all my previous comics, including Barbs, Olive’s Mix Tape, Jenny’s Weird Friend, and the first REET! collection. New stuff includes the second REET! collection, badges and desktop calendars. I’ll also be bringing issue 1 of a four-part mini-series called Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep, which is the story of a scientist who decides to hide the fact that a comet is on course to destroy the world. I’m currently making music to go with the series.

I’ll definitely NOT be bringing Vodka and Coke, disguised in a Dr. Pepper bottle.

Finally – thought bubbles or caption boxes?

Don’t ask me that. I still haven’t made my mind up over Daddy or chips.

***

Big props to Hugh for taking the time to talk to us, incidentally Thought Bubble chose Daddy over chips, as it was on the Atkins diet at the time. Ha… Hello? Is this thing on? I’ll be here all week…

In other TB news, don’t forget the Adi Granov masterclass running at Travelling Man Leeds next month (sign up now if you don’t want to miss out), and we should be announcing the full festival programme line-up any day now. Exciting times.

I do hope you’ll join us on Thursday for the next Thought Bubble Minterview, in the meanwhile, stay safe and keep watching the skies

– Clark

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Adi Granov Masterclass for TB at TM by thoughtbubblefestival

Howdy hey Bubblers, a tasty bit of news for your mind grapes here – Thought Bubble, in association with Travelling Man, is proud to announce our next event in the build-up to November’s festival…

On Friday 9th October, as part of Leeds’ annual Light Night, Thought Bubble and Travelling Man will be hosting an art masterclass from Marvel talent Adi Granov. The free masterclass will run from 6.30pm – 8.30pm at Travelling Man’s Leeds’ store, and will focus on ‘how to break into the comics industry’.

To book email travellingmanshops@googlemail.com or call 0113 2436461
This workshop is very limited, so please book soon to avoid disappointment.

The evening will also feature a live drawing session on the store front window, so all you artistical people out there can pop along and join in drawing something for the whole of Leeds to see! There will also be give-aways, food and drink, and lots of fun (seriously, like, industrial strength quantities of fun). The store will be staying open until 10pm so everyone should come down and join in the frivolity, thus banishing the autumn blues to the phantom zone for all eternity.

All this will be taking place at Travelling Man Leeds, 32 CENTRAL RD from 5.30pm.

We hope to see loads of you there!

– Clark



More Anime League London Info by thoughtbubblefestival

Hiya TB fans (that’s thought bubble, not tuberculosis – mycobacteria fans will have to look elsewhere), I have some more information here for the Anime League’s London event which is taking place in November – a mere week before Thought Bubble’s main festival. I don’t believe you would begrudge me a ‘Whoop’ at this point. Whoop! Details are as follows…

Taking place on November 14th in The Slug and Lettuce, America Square, London, and running at between 200 and 400 people, ALCL is London’s fastest-growing anime convention. It’s just £5 for all day from midday to midnight, 18 or older only.

They have dealers, video gaming, anime screening, an Artist Alley, DDRing, roleplaying, card-gaming, along with many events such as a masquerade, pub-quiz, parties, special guests (Roppongi Street, and MasakoX of DBZ/Naruto Abridged are announced, with more to come) and much, much more!

You can read all about ALCL on the official website, forums, and facebook.

ALCL will take place every 3-4 months (three times a year). Their intention is to enable London to have a proper anime club again, following the sad demise of LAC last year.

The league is always on the look-out for new volunteers, and, lets be honest,who doesn’t want to be able to say they’re a member of a league – sign up to help a brother/sister out!

In Thought Bubble blog news – the, soon to be, legendary series of interviews with the Friends of Thought Bubble will be starting this weekend. It’ll be like Frost/Nixon, in space, on bonfire night. Guaranteed.

Oh, and there’s only 55 Days until this year’s TB festival – about the life-cycle of your average silkworm of the species Bombyx mori. Fact.

– Clark



Leeds University Anime Society GIAG Session by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey Bubblers! Let yourself in, I’ll put the kettle on. Continuing in our current sequence of informative blog posts I bring to you news of an up-coming event with our friends at Leeds University’s Anime Society…

The Anime Soc is holding a free Give it a Go event open to absolutely anyone, student or not, who is even vaguely interested in anime/manga and is 18 or over

It will be take place on Thursday 24th September, between 7pm and 10pm in the ARC Conference Hall, and some of the super-friendly AnimeSoc Committee members will be on hand to escort anyone unfamiliar with the venue from outside the Leeds Travelling Man shop at around 5.30pm, so just meet them there and they’ll show you the way.

The evening promises a whole host of festivities for those attending, with anime screenings, video games, a chance to browse the AnimeSoc’s lending library, or the opportunity to simply relax and debate the finer points of anime with the society’s existing members. All of this followed by some sociable alcohol appreciation at the pub. I’m sure you’ll agree there are few better ways to spend a Thursday evening, and it can serve as a nice precursor to Thought Bubble’s own Thursday-based launch party in November! What’s not to like? Answer – nothing.

For more information on the evening check out AnimeSoc’s website which also has an overview of who they are, what they do, and what you could get out of joining.  There’s also an e-invite on Facebook, and if you have any questions then email animesoc@gmail.com.

Thought Bubble is proud to be associated with Leeds University’s various student societies dedicated to the wonderful word of sequential art, and we think you’d be crazy to miss out on such an awesome opportunity for anime-based frivolity. Crazy.

In more Thought Bubble related news the Hotel for this year’s festival (henceforth to be known as the Fortress of Awesomitude) has been announced, details available here, and the programme of workshops and masterclasses taking place over the festival period is set to be announced any day now. Excited? You will be. You… Will… Be…

– Clark



Thought Bubble Hotel Announcement by thoughtbubblefestival

Quick bit of Thought Bubble news hot off the presses…

THOUGHT BUBBLE’s OFFICIAL HOTEL HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED!

City Inn, Leeds, is this year’s official Thought Bubble hotel. Situated in Granary Wharf next to Leeds Train Station – mere minutes walk from Saviles hall, home of the TB Convention – City Inn is a stylish welcoming, custom-made alternative to traditional hotels. You get what you should always expect: iMac computers, free WiFi and Sky in every bedroom!

This hotel will be available to book from Wednesday 16th September with our special discounted rate. To book online go to their site or quote directly via telephone (0113 241 1000) with the code PROLFF.

Imagine something along the lines of the hotel bits from Almost Famous crossed with Home Alone 2 and the Shining. Actually don’t, that would be hideously disturbing – the official TB Hotel is super-cool and a bargain to boot. Even more reason for everyone and their friends to come to Leeds this November and experience the magic and wonderment.

See you there!

– Clark



Friends of Thought Bubble: All Your Blogs Are Belong To Us by thoughtbubblefestival

Hiya Bubblers! It’s now just a scant 67 days until the start of this year’s festival – the orbital period for planet Gliese 581 D, a seven-Earth mass spacial body discovered in April of this year – a short enough period that you should all be well and truly psyched, I know we all are. To continue raising the anticipation to near insurmountable levels I have here, potentially, the final Small-Press and Independent Friend of Thought Bubble (or Challengers of the Unfriendly) for this year. For this week’s friend we continue our voyage across the Irish sea to be greeted on our arrival by none other than Patrick Lynch, an up-and-coming talent on the webcomics scene, whose work – examples of which can be viewed in the handily placed gallery below, or at his site – has shot from strength-to-strength over the past year.

Patrick hails from Dublin, Ireland and is a graphic designer, illustrator and independent comic artist who has been active in the Irish and UK Small Press scene for about a year and a half now. Since June of 2008, he’s published three comics – namely Last BusIn the Aquarium, and Stop Gap, as well as contributing shorter pieces to a couple of anthologies. Patrick is also one half of Cardboard Press, a small press publishing outfit which he runs alongside his partner Katie Blackwood, under which they issue comics and artists’ books.

Patrick’s personal work tends to be subtle, meditative, and slice-of-life based, although he’s not ruling out the long-form science fiction epic just yet. At the moment Patrick makes a living mainly through commercial graphic design, but is beginning to balance this with more illustration and comic work. Alongside this he is also one third of the Edition Book Arts collective, which formed in 2009 with fellow artists Katie Blackwood and Philip Barret. The collective exists to promote and organise events, showcase illustrative work, and foster interaction in and around the book arts, comic and fanzine communities in Ireland. Edition Book Arts organised the highly successful Summer Edition event in July 2009 – a  fair/convention held in the centre of Dublin – which brought over 30 exhibitors from throughout Ireland and the UK together for a day long celebration of self-expression through the medium of DIY publishing. They hope to continue to organise events throughout the coming year and have plans for a similar Summer Edition convention for 2010. They’d love to have more people come over from the UK, so if you’re interested (and you should be), get in touch!

As if this staggering workload wasn’t enough, Patrick also helps run the monthly Dublin Comic Jam event, which has been going for the last 12 months and serves as a great regular meet up for comic artists/illustrators.

That, I’m sure you’ll agree, is pretty damn fine comicking for someone relatively new to the scene – a great way to cap off this year’s series of profiles on some of the Small Pressers you can meet at Thought Bubble in November – if you don’t mind my saying. You don’t? Good. There may be one more special entry into this canon, but for the remaining run-up to the festival we’ll be having something a little different to tickle your fancy. Starting soon, maybe even sooner, the Thought Bubble Blog will be hosting a series of mini-interviews, or minterviews, with the various creators who’ve been featured over the past year. A, sort of, Inside the Artist’s Studio if you will. Look out for them, they will be epic.

In other small-pressy news, the super-cool Hugh Raine has created a poster (below) for this year’s convention, detailing some of the various Indie guests who’ll be appearing, I think you’ll agree it shows those high falootin’ superhero types a thing or two. We love it, and for this the blog is bestowing its highest honour on the man of the hour – an imaginary high-five. Use it wisely, Hugh.

Small Press @ Thought Bubble

And that’s your lot. We hope you’ve enjoyed the Small Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble for this year, commemorative programmes are available in the foyer, please keep your parking tickets handy for validation by an usher.

– Clar



Friends of Thought Bubble: Crisis on Infinite Blogs by thoughtbubblefestival

Greetings Earthlets! Time for another helping of the Small-Press and Independent Friends of Thought Bubble (or the League of Extraordinary Friends); the only series of blog posts which eight out of ten super-cat owners would say that their feline prefers, although quite how we worked that out I’m not sure, because, for the life of me, I can’t think of many past Captain Marvel’s Talky Tawny and Streaky, Superman’s cat. Our friend this time is a favourite from the emerald isle: Phil Barrett. His work, some of which can be viewed in the gallery below (featuring some art never before seen on the interwebs) or at his site, is both delightful and ever so slightly deranged – a thoroughly winning combination.

Philip Barrett resides in Dublin, Ireland and has been working on comics of one sort or another for as long as he can remember, an enterprise which became a bit more regular (i.e. producing at least something a year) in 2001, upon the release of his first self-published work.

Phil has, to date, written and drawn 9 issues of ‘Matter’, which is a catch-all title for various short stories mostly preoccupied with the collision between the worlds of the fantastical and the mundane. He has also worked with Liam Geraghty to produce ‘Gazebo’ and ‘The littlest Arsonist’ (some free copies of which are still available).

Phil has contributed to numerous anthologies including ‘Sorry I can’t take your call right now…‘  and ‘You Ain’t No Dancer‘, and at the moment he’s working on a couple of longer stories, but still allowing himself to be sidetracked at any opportunity. For more information on Phil’s excellent work please visit his blog.

Well, there you have it, we’re at the end of yet another Friends of Thought Bubble, which, as the festival looms, is slowly winding down for this year, inevitably cooling as blue-shift occurs, entropy grinding to a halt, the vast expanses of its reach collapsing inwards until it is nothing more than a super-dense dot of information, a kernel of knowledge if you will, waiting for the cyclical nature of space-time to re-ignite the flame and cause the big bang anew. However, don’t get too morose, the old girl’s got a few tricks up her sleeve, so we’ll be back with a couple more yet. Just promise to never tell us the odds, and we’ll see you with another friend of ours next week.

– Clark