Filed under: About Thought Bubble
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!
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