Thought Bubble 2018 runs 17th – 23rd September!

On Comics and Conventions… (A TB2010 Round-Up) by thoughtbubblefestival
26/11/2010, 4:20 pm
Filed under: About Thought Bubble

Hey gang!

I hope you’ve recovered from this year’s festival, and if you have please tell me how as I am still a broken husk of a human being. However, as I have slowly regained the use of my faculties, I thought it would be best to do a little round-up of all the bubbly goodness that last week brought while it’s still fresh in my mind. Think of this as a State of the Union for Thought Bubble (having just completed its first term in office to continue the analogy – make of that what you will).

Last week saw the behemoth that was Thought Bubble 2010 finally roll into Leeds and bring with it all the fun and shenanigans that you’d expect from a four day art festival. Lots, and lots, and lots has been said about this year’s events, and it would take a stronger man than I to even begin compiling all of the posts about it, but I will just say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who blogs, tweets, facebooks, and even speaks out loud to another human being (how quaint!) about Thought Bubble – word of mouth has helped us grow insanely fast, and we wouldn’t be where we are now without all of you. Bottom line – you all rock. Hardcore.

And that’s the funny thing about Thought Bubble – it’s still in its infancy. We’re growing super fast (think Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock fast), and this spurt is showing no signs of abating, which I guess is a reflection on the state of comics in general. Maybe(?). I certainly hope so. Thought Bubble started in 2007 in the town hall basement as a one day affair, with a couple of hundred people in attendance, and now, a mere three years down the road, we’re in Leeds’ biggest venue, with attendees in the thousands, and a multi-day event that has a real buzz about it. Not bad for a young un. And like youngsters everywhere we’re still learning – we strive to make each year’s festival better by building on the previous strengths and solving any problems with Maguyver-like cunning.

As Thought Bubble’s grown, so has the team that runs it, including the group of volunteers that make everything possible. It constantly amazes me that each year we keep getting more and more friendly, enthusiastic people who are genuinely passionate about comics and sequential art, and they make the whole thing that much more enjoyable from an organisational point of view. A lot of the reviews I’ve read coming out of the festival highlighted how well run the events were, and, much as I’d like to take a big chunk of the credit, it’s largely down to having a great team on our side. Kings and Queens among men the lot of ’em.

Obviously the portion of the festival that gets the most publicity is the convention, but that’s only a quarter of the festival temporally speaking (and from next year probably more like 2/7ths), and I think I’m right in saying everything else that took place was as equally well run. Special thanks going out to Matt Nathan for our 24 Hour Comic Challenge; Ian Hague, Sarah Lightman, and Mel Gibson for the academic conferences; and Matt Sheret of We Are Words + Pictures, and Adam Cadwell of the Manchester Comics Collective for a very enjoyable comics jam. Oh, and Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, Haroon, Mikey B and Matt Sheret (again) for djing with me at the after-party, Team PhonoBubble will ride again.

I could go on, and on, and on, as Thought Bubble’s very much a collaborative effort, but I won’t, as an endless list of thank yous (while polite) would get a bit boring. Likewise, I won’t go into my favourite bits of the festival, as, thinking about it, they’d probably involve those very few occasions where I got to sit down and/or eat. Few and far between. Oh, actually, no, my favourite bit was seeing a room full of youngsters happily being taught French via the medium of bande dessinée which reminded me why it is that I do Thought Bubble, and made it all seem worthwhile. Lovely.

The UK comics scene seems to be in a period of transition at the moment, and Thought Bubble came along just as people seemed to be releasing manifestos and various calls-to-arms for creators to step it up a notch, and what have you. As always, whenever something like this occurs, I was completely disconnected from the internet and so had no idea that a paradigm shift had taken place until I got to the convention hall. Thought Bubble serves to reflect the community that it provides a forum for, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the changes that occur to ensure we remain culturally relevant. This year, for example, we tried as much as possible to tie talks and panels into the shift towards Comics 2.0, and the number of exhibitors I saw showing off their wares using a laptop or iPad (or other such device), was certainly food for thought (heh, wordplay).

Far be it from me to miss a good bandwagon boarding opportunity, so here’s my Comic Festival manifesto (and only a week too late)…

1. Make sure as many attendees as possible thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Ideally this should be all of them – guests, punters, volunteers – and if you’re (i.e. the organiser) not enjoying it then don’t do it.


And that’s it. It may seem trite, and obviously there’s a lot more that goes into it (9 months more to be precise), but the reason I and my fellow bubblers do this is because, at the end of the day, once the dust has settled, it’s a good laugh. I get to hang out with my friends and plan a comic convention that people actually come to! It’s ace. Srsly.

Next year there are a lot of new comics events popping up and I welcome it, I like having a varied season of events in the UK, and it’s good for the comics community. The main thing that people flag up about each Thought Bubble is the ‘buzz’ that it has about it – guests and exhibitors are having a good time, and it’s kind of infectious. I have no idea why this happens, if I did then I’d write the secret down in a pamphlet and tour around the world getting rich selling it. I am, however, very grateful that it happens at Thought Bubble year in, year out, as it makes it something truly special to be a part of.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made it our best yet.

See you in 2011!

– Clark


Joe List Minterview (and more!) by thoughtbubblefestival

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

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

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

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

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

Long train journeys and cheap pens!

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

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

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

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

Dan Clowes;

John Allison;

Tony Millionaire;

KC Green;

Luke Pearson;

Jonny Ryan;

Lizz Lunney;


David Mazzuccelli;

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

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

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

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

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

Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally – as ever – Thought bubbles or caption boxes?

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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:

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:

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:

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

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

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


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


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

– Clark