Thought Bubble 2018 runs 17th – 23rd September!

Minterviews 2012 – Paul Duffield by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey Gang!

Thought Bubble 2012 is approaching at a constant rate: we’re working on time acceleration technology, but, ironically, it’s slow going, so in the meantime, why not scroll down for a fresh minterview, or check out the website for our updated guest list and exhibitor pages!

We’ve also just released details of this year’s official hotel for the festival, including exclusive prices (from £89 per night) for attendees staying the weekend. The Leeds Marriott is a lovely hotel, and is sure to fill up fast, so book soon to avoid disappointment!

Onwards to minterviews!

Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. And we’ve got nowhere else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. So to pass the time until interstellar travel is a reality, we’ve been chatting with a few comics creators and writing down the results! Minterviews!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to the excellent Paul Duffield illustrator on epic free-to-air webcomic FreakAngels, whose self-penned work Signal is an excellent read, and whose latest project The Firelight Isle looks set to be a good ‘un. Have a read of our conversation after the jump!


TB: Hi, Paul to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

A bit of both I suppose! I think I got a quick break in that I was able to make a living from comics straight out of University thanks to some prize cash that I got from winning the International Manga & Anime Festival and the Rising Stars of Manga award whilst still at Uni, but I’d also been drawing webcomics for years before that too! After that it still took a good amount of work to raise my profile enough and get to a place where job offers came with the regularity needed to make a proper living from comics.

It’s a hard question to answer properly though, since it’s hard to tell from my perspective what has been due to luck and what has been due to hard work. It’s also a contentious issue when it gets discussed, since it’s inevitable that anyone who has experienced success will be keen to attribute it to their own efforts, and anyone who has experienced failure will be keen to attribute it to external circumstances (unless they’re a bit masochistic).

I think there’s a large proponent of “right-place-right-time” in any successfully started career, but on the other hand I believe strongly that people make their own luck – something that despite being a bit of a trite saying is actually backed up by psychological research (Richard Wiseman has written quite a bit about that. Whatever the flaws in my work, I can say for sure that I’ve never lacked confidence, which has meant that I’ve rarely shied away from a challenge, missed a potential opportunity, let failure preoccupy me for too long, or believed that I was incapable of achieving something.

TB: Do you think this attitude towards your own work is why the projects you’ve been a part of recently are so varied? Everything from an epic webcomic with Warren Ellis, to a crowd-funded creator-owned graphic novel, and through to contributing to The Phoenix, you don’t seem content to plow the same furrow for long.

Possibly! I’ve always been a bit creatively restless, flicking from project to project and discipline to discipline. Freakangels is the longest time I’ve ever spent doing just one thing. It may also be that I’ve got a wide ranging taste when it comes to what sort of work I like to read and watch myself. I don’t think there’s a single subject on earth that wouldn’t be fascinating to read about if it was communicated by a skilled storyteller with a passion for the subject.

There’s a huge amount that interests me, so I suppose that means there’s a huge amount I’d love to be able to do, and very little that turns me off just because of the subject (although ironically, muscle-men with constantly bared teeth and veins in their necks is usually one of those things).

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

I think that probably has to go to winning The Rising Stars of Manga competition. It would be easy to play down how it felt – in hindsight Tokyopop are just one company among many (and one with which I and other people have had some bitter experiences), and I’m used to working with editors and talking to publishers now, but at the time, I’d only ever drawn comics out of personal interest.

The idea of doing it professionally was like a wild dream for me, and at that time the internet wasn’t full of easy ways to get in contact with professionals, so I had no sense of connection to the industry whatsoever. So, when I got the call about winning the competition it was really something special – to know my work had been chosen from hundreds of other entries, to have an editor from America calling me personally and talking with me about my work, to know that a comic I’d drawn would be published! That’s a feeling I hope I don’t lose sight of in the future.

TB: So, what were you considering as a career before that point, if comics had been, say, more of a hobby?

I’ve considered a number of different careers at different times in my life. For a while it was something related to physics and astronomy, then it was graphic design, then illustration, then comics, then animation, then back to comics again. I think depending on how my life had gone I might have ended up in any of those areas, and I’m still deeply interested in all of them.

The thing that continually attracts me to comics though is how many different disciplines it encompasses – there’s concept design, graphic design, illustration, observational drawing, storytelling, typography, elements of animation and storyboarding – it’s all in there, so it keeps me continually interested and throws up new challenges all the time.

Having wanted to do so many different things, and having tried a good number of them, I’m certain that comics is a truly unique medium – the most versatile form of storytelling that it’s possible for one person (or a very small team) to work on, and complete a substantial story in reasonable time.

TB: And do you have any formal artistic training, or did your illustrative ability develop out of a general interest to tell stories?

Both at the same time! I’ve been interested in drawing and storytelling since a tiny age, and consequently I made it a major goal of my education from as early as possible (something that was helped by having supportive and creative parents). I chose art at GCSE, A-Level and Foundation, and then went on to do a BA in animation/illustration at Kingston University. It’s been a hard thing to balance though – there hasn’t always been an easy avenue within my education to pursue the sort of art that I’ve been interested in. Whether at the time that was fantasy art or manga and anime, or comics in general, I tended to encounter resistance from at least some of my teachers/tutors. So whilst I took a more classical “arty” route through education, I always drew and wrote in my spare time too, and applied the lessons I learned in both areas to my work.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Absolutely! I’ve been a convention addict ever since I attended my first anime convention when I was 16. I’ve never quite been able to recapture the amazing buzz that that first convention gave me though – it was so unlike anything I’d experienced, being surrounded by other fans, getting a chance to watch fan-subbed animation way before it was released on video (video!), being able to buy actual imported merchandise from Japan. From that point I attended every convention I could manage, and quickly found out about comics conventions too.

It’s amazing thinking about the scale that conventions have reached now – from my first (a few hundred people in a couple of rooms of a Novotel), to something like The MCM Expo (tens of thousands in a giant convention hall). In a way, I’ve become numb to everything that once excited me about that type of convention – I’ve seen all the toys and merchandise over and over again, I can legally stream new anime straight to my computer, and there are dozens of stalls selling the same things at every convention every year. I’m sure all the teenagers going to their first Expo feel just as amazed as I did that first time (if not more) and it’s fantastic that they’ve got such a huge scene to get into, but that’s something I can only ever enjoy via nostalgia now.

I get my up-to-date kicks instead from the amazing and welcoming community of artists that you find at British conventions, and the huge amount of incredible self published stuff out there – something that was an exception rather than a rule at my first few conventions. Shows like Thought Bubble, or the Comic Village at MCM have such a lovely crowd of comic artists, and there are so many new self published pieces to check out every convention that it actually gets a bit overwhelming! Especially if you throw in exhibiting to the mix as well – which is its own pleasure!

With new cons like Super Comic Con and Kapow aiming to bring the celebrity-centric American Con experience to England, I hope that the creator-centric cons where publishers and self-publishers share the same space continue to grow and thrive – I personally find picking up a new comic and being surprised by a creator I’ve never heard of much more exciting than waiting for hours in a queue for a celebrity scribble (although I’ve done my fair share of that too)!

TB: Do you think conventions are still an important part of the comics industry then, influencing future generations of comics creators and customers?

Absolutely, they’re a fantastic place to meet other creators and publishers socially, which is a great help when seeking jobs or being mentioned at the right place and the right time. It does however shift the focus onto networking and social skills as a large element of the qualifications needed to find jobs in comics, and means that your manners and levels of exuberance can make just as much of an impact as your actual work – but to a certain extent that’s true of any freelancing job. A lot of organisational skills are required to find jobs and maintain your own business, and getting to know the right people is invaluable. A good convention with a good range of guests turns that from a chore into a pleasure, and my experience from attending conventions is that the current generation of creators and organisers are almost without exception warm and welcoming people.

In terms of customers, I think conventions that invite publishers and self-publishers alike help to blur the line between fans and creators. If you attend a convention like that as a fan, you get to see a range of skills and talk to people with a diverse range of experiences – maybe as a consequence, a fan who has dabbled in art or writing might even come away with the idea that it would be fun to try for themselves.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

I’m really enjoying Yotsuba and Twin Spica at the moment – they’re actually the only ongoing comics I’m buying right now, although I’m sure there’s loads I’m missing out on. Yotsuba is hilarious and has this fantastic sense of wonder at even the most mundane things that you experience vicariously through the main character. Twin Spica at first seems to be a simple story aimed at kids about a child who wants to grow up to be an astronaut. As it goes on though, there’s a strong theme of losing the simplicity and intensity of childhood dreams in adulthood, and the sacrifices and compromises that the adult characters have made cut a stark contrast with the simple passions of the younger characters. It’s a much more complex piece that it first appears and it has a habit of moving me close to tears quite often!

My all-time favs include Black Hole and Blankets (which probably need no intro), but there’s also a lovely piece by Jiro Taniguchi called The Walking Man which has always been a favourite comic of mine. To hear it described, it might be the most boring comic on earth – it’s literally just about a man walking from place to place – but the careful observation, wit and depth with which it’s all executed makes it a fantastic read. It’s also a comic which intrigued me long before it was ever available in English. A good decade or so ago there was an exhibition of art from Japanese comics (Manga: Short Comics from Modern Japan) that toured the UK, which I went to when it was in Southampton. Part of the exhibition was a short sequence from The Walking Man, and it so captivated me that I kept on coming back to it again and again. Later I found the same book referred to in Paul Gravette’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics, as well as another book called Manga: Masters of the Art, but at that time it hadn’t actually been published in England! I remember despairing that it would never be translated, but when it finally came out it was every bit as captivating as those first pages that I saw in the exhibition. It was also one of the first comics I’d encountered that didn’t have a fantastical plot or setting, and it taught me a lot about how subtle story telling can be, and how a story doesn’t necessarily need narration or dialogue to unfold.

TB: In your own work you appear to take influence from a variety of sources, your comic Signal, for example, referencing Carl Sagan and SETI, what are your key interests when it comes to storytelling?

I think that it’s everything and anything interesting really. I don’t limit my influences to a particular genre or medium – I read books, comics, manga (which I think of as a sort of fluid subsection of comics), listen to audiobooks, play videogames, watch films and animation, listen to music from a range of different genres and time periods. I also don’t just limit my interest to storytelling, but take a lot of influence from non-fiction sources. I’m fascinated by science in general, especially physics and astronomy, I love reading about neurology, the study of consciousness, anthropology, history, sociology – like I mentioned before, nothing’s dull if it’s presented right (provided you don’t dismiss it or underestimate your own ability to understand it).

Unfortunately, if you have the wrong teacher or the wrong class, full time education can have the perverse effect of shutting people down to disciplines which are rich with insight and knowledge about the world around them. I was lucky enough to have a really good range of teachers and parents who encouraged me to learn, so since leaving university, I’ve developed a passion for seeking knowledge on my own time. Because of that I’m drawn to public figures like Carl Sagan, who believed that a good and inspiring education is the key to emancipation – not just from poor circumstance, but also from your own potential for prejudice and ignorance.

So, when I think about what I want to stories I read and create to capture, it’s not just a moment’s drama and excitement, it’s a sense of wonder, of complexity or subtlety. I believe that although we have just one life each, we can all live many extra lives through fiction, the arts and the sciences. The quality and relevance of those extra lives we take on is an extremely important thing that shapes us and our views, so when I’m working on a comic or on any creative narrative, I’ve got all of this in mind!

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

Depends if your character is narrating the story or not! I’d normally do thought bubbles for incidental thoughts, caption boxes for narration. Or sometimes something else entirely for both – as long as the visual device makes sense and is used consistently!


Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to talk to us, you can do the same if you come to this year’s Thought Bubble!

There’ll be another minterview with one of this year’s festival guests up on Monday, check back then to see who we talked to!


Minterviews 2012 – Leah Moore & John Reppion by thoughtbubblefestival
23/04/2012, 8:09 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, What is Sequential Art?

Howdy Hey! Happy St George’s Day, Shakespeare’s Birthday/Deathday, Cervantes Birthday, and ZX Spectrum’s Birthday! Phew!

In non-birthday news, this year’s Thought Bubble Festival is creeping inexorably closer, waiting to pounce upon you and show you the best that comics has to offer. Kind of like a tiger, if tigers liked to pounce upon you and then show you the best that comics has to offer, instead of eating you.

Convoluted animal metaphors aside, we’re happy to announce that Saviles Hall tables for this year’s convention are now sold out! Royal Armouries Hall is likely to follow closely on its heels, so if you want to exhibit at 2012’s convention then be sure to book soon!

Tables have sold in record time and numbers this year, and we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s booked one. Check out all the exhibitors who’re confirmed so far on the website, and see why we think this Thought Bubble is going to be our best yet!

Ok, so, it’s only 202 days until this year’s festival, but in the meantime, we have a little something for you…

People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood. But it did happen. However, that’s not what we’re here to talk about! Instead we’ve been chatting with a few comic creators and writing down the results! Minterviews! Wheeeeee!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we chatted to John Reppion and Leah Moore one of our favourite comic writing teams; creators of ripping yarns, whose free-to-air webcomic The Thrill Electric is a great read. You can see what we talked about after the jump!


TB: Hi guys, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

Leah:    I submitted a little 8 page story called King Solomon Pines anonymously to Scott Dunbier at Wildstorm and he liked it enough to publish it. I did another short story for Terrific Tales and then Scott set me homework of concocting my own series. I kicked ideas round with John, and we gradually came up with Wild Girl, and decided to write it together. We Completed the 6 issue miniseries together, and have been writing together ever since.

I think it does count as a big break, as it was a big gig to land from a standing start, but I think it kind  of left us a bit clueless about how other companies worked, or what to do next really. We just had to try and get on with it, and somehow we managed to build up contacts and projects for different companies. it was slow going though, we’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years now!

TB: So, do you think there is a traditional, formal way of breaking into comics, or would you advise people to forge their own path?

John:     Writers need to write stuff and artists need to draw stuff. That’s the minimum requirement. Write and draw and get your work out there; be it self-published, or small press anthologies, or whatever. Have a finished product to put in someone’s hand (or inbox) to show how you can work with others and how your skills translate into a completed comic. It’s up to you who you want to show that work to, what direction you want to go in, etc, but that’s the very best starting point, I think.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

John:     As parents we’re bound to say the birth of our son, Eddie. As clichéd as it might seem, he makes us both immensely, immensely proud every single day.

Professionally, The Trial of Sherlock Holmes is still probably the series I’m proudest of, just because we set our selves a goal of writing something that we’d never done before (and something that wasn’t easy) and it worked out really well; people really liked it. Saying that, I’m very, very proud of The Thrill Electric too (which is still free to read online at

TB: Do you find it intimidating working with revered characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, as opposed to creating characters/worlds, such as in The Thrill Electric?

Leah:   Adapting Dracula felt less intimidating, because there are so many versions out there already and lots of them are kind of known for being a bit crap, so we felt we were already doing more by keeping to the original story, staying with the original plot etc. We had that angle to give us confidence.

When we did our first Sherlock Holmes book, we absolutely felt terrified that we’d do it, and all the Holmes fans in the world would just blow a collective raspberry at us, and stamp it “FAILED”. Amazingly, it has been incredibly well received by Holmes fans, and new readers alike, so we must have got away with that one.

Writing Doctor Who too, the pressure was enormous, but again people seemed to enjoy it. I think the fear keeps you very careful with the feel of the story. You don’t want to “give it a new twist” so much as “not horribly balls it up”, so I think it’s a good thing!

TB: And are there any characters you’d relish the chance to write for, any literary classics you think are ripe for adapting?

John:     Well, let me preface this by saying I do not read monthlies at all (sorry) and am completely out of touch with all the new re-launched revamped rebooted continuity, but some part of me does still dream of writing Batman. I actually only just read Gotham by Gaslight properly very recently and it gave me the same excitement that reading The Dark Knight and The Killing Joke did when I was ten years old.

As for literary classics, there are so many great stories that could be adapted really well for comics and brought to a whole new audience. I’m not naming any otherwise someone else will do them and we’ll be out of a job! Well actually, a book we wanted to adapt and that didn’t work out was Day of the Triffids, and I still think that could be really, really good.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Leah:    I love going to conventions, especially as we don’t get to so much anymore since Eddie was born. It’s a great chance to meet the readers, see our friends and catch up on the industry gossip. It’s a weird job socially, because we all sit in our spare rooms on our own, talking on the internet or the phone, but don’t meet up much except for the cons.

They end up torn between work and fun, with everyone trying not to end up too hungover to function by the end of the weekend. (I say that mainly from memory as I was pregnant at the last Thought Bubble I attended!)

Thought Bubble is a really amazing convention. It’s really well organised, the guests are looked after, the communication is great, the location is really easy to get to, and the vibe is always really relaxed and fun. I’ve never heard a bad word said about it, which for saying how much comics professionals like to moan and gripe to one another about ANYTHING, is nothing short of supernatural! We were there at the first one, and we’ll keep coming back as long as you’ll have us. Long may it continue!

John:     Thought Bubble is the one! Best UK by far in my opinion.

TB: Thanks guys! We’ll keep putting it on as long as everyone lets us! So, have you noticed any changes in terms of the people attending conventions over the years you’ve been attending them as guests?

Leah:     I think there are more young people, more teenagers, more kids, and a lot more girls. The whole cosplay thing has done masses to drag in teens to conventions, but it’s also brought together comic fans, gaming fans, anime fans, steampunk fans.

A convention now is so much more than old guys and one woman dressed as Electra; it’s a much more lively vibe now. More family friendly, less cliquey. You don’t have to be hunting through long boxes for a back issue to enjoy the con.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

John:     Neither of us is keeping up with the monthlies at all these days, sadly. The most recent books I read are probably Neonomicon and Captain Swing, which are both quite mental in their own way. We both read the Owly book most days as our son is pretty obsessed with them. Comics I’m most likely to pick up from the shelf and read again are the Hellboy Library volumes. I love them!

edit – since we conducted the interview John’s read some more comics, and recommends one of them here.

Leah:    I read Erica Moen’s Bucko, and Danielle Corsetto’s GirlsWithSlingshots online too, but, as John says, we haven’t bought actual paper comics in ages. I got Adam Cadwell’s Blood Blokes as the MCM Expo, and I’m looking forward to more of those, but we are rubbish at buying things! The only thing I actively go out of my way to get is anything by the Hernandez Bros. You can never have too much of those guys. I’m happily addicted.

TB: So, if you both had one book to recommend to someone who’d never looked at a comic before to convert them into a lifelong fan, which would you pick?

John:     My God, that’s a tough question. Not either of the books I just mentioned! It really depends on the person and what they’re into. Whatever it is, there’s bound to be a comic that’s perfect for them. That’s a bit of a cop-out, isn’t it? But I do think it’s true.

Leah:  I would go for something like Bryan Talbot’s Tale of One Bad Rat, just because it’s so clean and expertly done, and heart wrenching and beautiful all at once. Anyone who wasn’t impressed by that would need their head read really.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

John:     I think we’ve only ever used thought bubbles once and that was in our Alice in Wonderland adaptation. No, wait, we might have used them in some of the DC Thompson pastiche bits in Albion. But, 99.9% of the time its caption boxes for us.


Many thanks to Leah and John for talking to us, we’ll have another Minterview for you next Monday!

Minterviews 2012 – Kate Brown by thoughtbubblefestival
16/04/2012, 8:07 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Greetings blogtronauts!

Happy Monday to you all, we’re pressing ahead with plans for this year’s Thought Bubble, even more so now that Fearless Leader Lisa Wood has returned from the Emerald City (scroll down to Sunday’s signings). We’re in the process of finalising things with some more guests, so they’ll be revealed soon, and we’re seeing the halls for the convention fill up fast, so act soon if you want a table as over 70%  are already booked!

In terms of events coming a bit sooner, as opposed to November (TBF12 only 209 days away!), this Saturday coming sees the return of the Comica Comiket!


Saturday April 21st in the spectacular Great Hall at the Bishopsgate Institute near Liverpool Street station in London, there’ll be a brand new Comica Comiket for the Spring, a one-day comics and art fair – offering the best of British creators, publishers, small presses, graphic artists and suppliers under one roof, and admission is free from 11am to 6pm. Throughout the day, John Allison, Darryl Cunningham, Tom Gauld, Simone Lia, Maarten Vande Wiele, and Andi Watson are among the top artists who will be taking part on stage in the Comica Drawing Parade, with their live artworks and demos projected on a giant screen!


And so onwards to today’s feature attraction

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies manage to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy.

But we’re lovers, not fighters! So, instead of getting involved with all that, we decided to chat with a few comics creators and write down the results! Minterviews!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Kate Brown, creator of cool comics, whose story The Lost Boy is currently being serialised in The Phoenix and is excellent! See what she had to say after the jump!


TB: Hi Kate, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

Sort of both, I guess! I’d been cartooning and making comics all my life, but I suppose the first thing I did when I got REALLY SERIOUS about comics, was this web-comic I had (which is no longer online, thank god) around 1999/2000. I learned a lot from doing that, and it helped make up my mind that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life (if I could!)

I went to uni to study comics – did several mini-comics and things in anthologies – and a few years after that I was in the right place at the right time and landed the job of working on A Midsummer Night’s Dream for SelfMadeHero. That was basically when I became self-employed, anyways.

TB: So, was your university course helpful in terms of preparing your for the practical realities of working in the comics industry?

For the practical side of things – no. I didn’t even know what bleed was when I got out of uni, for instance. We’d not covered lettering or anything like that. Most of my Photoshop knowledge is self-taught, or I’ve learned stuff from online tutorials. The only thing approaching practicality was a few lessons on how to fill in a tax return form. Oh, and we had it instilled in us to FEAR THE DEADLINE more than anything, and if we miss a deadline that’s it – our career’s over and everyone will know and it will be shouted from the rooftops. But yeah… that was all really. We didn’t focus on anything industry-based, to my recollection.

It would have been mightily useful to have had some comic artists in and been able to chat to them… but that didn’t happen. It wasn’t necessarily the fault of the people running the actual course; the course itself was part of the general illustration course, and the person who oversaw that hated the comics course, I think he thought it was useless. So, we were always made to feel like the bastard child and never had any budget. The whole experience was a bit of a battle.

TB: And, once you’d graduated, had you always intended to focus mainly on creating and illustrating your own stories/worlds, or was it something that happened naturally?

I think it was kinda both? I do think that having a firm goal when you’re working in comics is a good idea – to have something definite to work towards.

I’d been writing/drawing my own stories since I had been really quite little, and so I just… kinda wanted to keep on doing that if I could!

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

I think it would have to be experiencing Playbox Theatre’s theatrical version of The Spider Moon. I admit I’d always been very sneery of adaptations before that, but my mind was blown at the collaborative skill.

I’m not terribly sentimental (I think!) but I got super choked up watching it all. It didn’t feel like my story at all – in a good way! It felt more… like, much more than I could ever have made it. (I’m not sure if that counts as something I’m proud of having done? ‘Cause…. well, it wasn’t really me. But it was REALLY COOL).

TB: So, do you think the recent rash of comic adaptations for stage/screen are detracting from the source material?

In terms of actual adaptations of comics stuff, to be honest I’ve not seen that many of them… but things really seem to be being adapted all the time! Seems like every other film is an adaptation. Maybe it’s always been like that and I’ve never noticed properly. But, no, I don’t think they are detracting, really. I think that even a really poor adaptation can have a positive effect on the original source material in terms of who might go and check it out. That said, I don’t know if I’m naive, but I worry about falling into the trap of “If my comic/book doesn’t make it to the cinema screen, then it’s useless.”

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Sure do! I’ve been doing conventions since about 2000, I guess. I like being in a positive, comics-fuelled atmosphere. There’s a big mix of events in the UK now, all of which have their own unique atmospheres to my mind.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

Hmmmm… I’ve been working my way through a fat bunch of stuff I’ve picked up from conventions over the past year, so I guess most of my reading at the moment is UK comics.

As for my all-time favourite? I actually decided on that, recently! It’s The Aromatic Bitters, by Erica Sakurazawa. I super love it. And the rest of her work. But… Tokyopop only translated volume one of The Aromatic Bitters! HEARTBREAK!

TB: Of those that you’re reading at the moment are there any UK indie gems you’ve discovered that we should be checking out?

I think The Lengths by Howard Hardiman is really excellent. It’s up to Issue 5 now and I’m really enjoying it. I also love anything by the Burgess sisters, Sarah and Rebecca. I think they are really great comics creators, and I’m always interested in their stuff.

TB: How’s it been working with the DFC team again on The Phoenix? Are you enjoying working on The Lost Boy?

It’s great! I really missed working with the guys. I’m 100% behind the team… I know they care so deeply about what they’re doing and I think that has a knock-on effect on the creators, too. Same as when I was working for The DFC, I don’t even consider my comic as a separate entity… um, like, I think of The DFC/The Phoenix as one big thing that we’re all in together. Hope that makes sense!

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

I like to think they both have their place!


Many thanks to Kate for taking the time to talk to us, you’ll be able to meet her for yourself at this year’s convention, and be sure to pick up a copy of her excellent book Fish + Chocolate in the meantime!

Another minterview, and more TBF12 updates next Monday!


Minterviews 2012 – Ivan Brandon by thoughtbubblefestival
09/04/2012, 8:12 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Hey gang!

TB plans continue to be afoot, and we’ll have some more news for you soon on what we’ll be bringing to you in November. In the meantime, however, spring appears to have unsprung itself, if the weather is anything to go by, so to pass the time until the sun comes back to warm us (obviously this only applies if you’re reading this in England/on Earth), we’ve got another minterview for you and some details of another comics-related event coming soon to Leeds!


Zine Making Workshop: Saturday 19th, 11am – 5pm

This workshop is all about doing it yourself. It will look at what a ‘zine’ is and the many ways people go about creating them. Zines can be a quick and often inexpensive way to get your ideas out there. They can be visual, written or a mixture of the two. During the workshop we will make a number of zines using different folding techniques and exploring content matter. The quantity of zines produced is up to you, you could come away with a small handmade library!

Helen Entwisle is an illustrator based in Leeds. She regularly screen prints illustrated zines and organises collaborative small press publications with a number of artists and illustrators around the world.

You can find out more about the tutor here

Online booking and more info available here:


Onwards to today’s comics chat!

No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. So, to give them something to read, we decided to chat with a few comics creators and write down the results! Minterviews!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Ivan Brandon, a wonderful writer in many mediums, whose comic Viking is a great take on the crime genre, and the collected edition is well worth picking up. See what he had to say after the jump!


TB: Hi Ivan, to begin with can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

I’d been a fan since I was a kid, more or less… I dropped out in the 90s to focus on girls and when I got back into it I’d been doing some prose writing and was inspired by some creator friends to give comics a try. I spent a weekend trying to learn the format, to force myself to write a “finished” script. It was about an old man who’d quit killing and instead was raising tomatoes. I sent that around and got offered some work.

There’ve been a lot of ups and downs in the 10 years since then, but those initial few months were definitely a “break”.

TB: So, do you now have a standard routine for writing scripts, or is it different depending on the project? Does your process change depending on the medium?

It varies. I’m known for painting myself in a corner, I for no good reason come up with a new approach every time that makes me rip my hair out. I think I can’t perform in stasis. I need a challenge. A lot of the time it changes for the sake of collaboration. Not because anyone’s requested it, but I think a lot of how we make comics as an industry in 2012 is a little lopsided in terms of collaboration, and I’m always trying to figure out ways to bring out a more genuinely shared expression with an artist. Trying, basically, to figure out how to spark an artist to be the voice of the final work rather than dictate to them my own vision.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

My first official day as a full-time writer. The first day I woke up in my own bed and realized I didn’t have to go to anybody’s office. It was immediately followed by panic, but that first moment was pretty amazing.

TB: What’s your workspace like now? Do you have a set office, or do you get out of the house to write?

I have a set office that I almost never sit in. I work everywhere. I’ve worked on my couch, I’ve written on a train in Peru and a park in Paris.

A lot of planes.

A lot of bars.

TB: Is there any individual script of yours that you’re particularly proud of?

Ha – I wish I could say there was. I’m proud of my scripts for about 30 seconds before I hate them forever.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Oh yeah, I love it. I love meeting readers and other professionals, talking about craft, about the potential of comics. I especially love it in a context where it’s a different culture in a place I’ve never been, like Leeds. I’ve only ever been to the UK very briefly once last year.

TB: You seem to be very vocal about the increasing availability of, and options presented by, digital comics, do you think they’re the future of the medium, eventually superseding print copies?

No, I think that polar attitude you hear a lot is a mistake. I think comics is the most agile and malleable entertainment medium, I think we’re capable of being 100 different things to 100 different people. What digital presents is a new potential conduit for story, new people to talk to. That’s a new conversation, SUPPLEMENTING what we already are, not replacing it.

TB: So, which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

Right now my favourite comic, and also one of my favourites all-time is Scalped. Probably the best ongoing work Vertigo has ever published. Other recent favorites include Prophet, Casanova, Phonogram… I’m enormously excited for Brandon Graham’s King City. On the newer tip, Loose Ends is one of the few books that rises to the full potential of the medium.

TB: Are there any characters/properties that you’d relish the chance to write for?

The ones I’m not smart enough to have created yet.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?



Many thanks to Ivan for taking the time to talk to us, if you would like to speak to the man himself in person, and many more great comic creators, then come along to this year’s Thought Bubble Festival 11th – 18th November!

We’ll be back again with another minterview next Monday, but, until then, have a good week!

No. Have a great week.

NO. Have an amazing week.


Minterviews 2012 – Paolo Rivera by thoughtbubblefestival
02/04/2012, 8:31 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Howdy pardners!

We’ve got another brand spanking new minterview for your delectation and delight below, but first some information on a couple events happening in/around Leeds over the next few months that you might enjoy…

April 28th 2012 – 4th Leeds Alternative Comics Fair

The 4th Leeds Alternative Comics Fair will be held at A Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds, on Saturday 28th April 2012, from 12 noon – 5pm

It will be free to enter and the bar itself is open until 3am, serving good food and a large selection of drinks.

We’ll be there, wandering around, chatting, looking, existing, and possibly revealing some Thought Bubble secrets. You can find out more information, and see who’ll be attending and exhibiting, at the LACF Blog!

May 4th – May The Fourth Be With You

A Star Wars themed exhibition and event featuring artwork by various wonderful artists, including previous years’ Friends of Thought Bubble – John Allison, Steve Tillotson, Hugh Raine, and Kristyna Baczynski.

To commemorate Star Wars day ‘May the 4th’ FullCircle Gallery Leeds, The Hang Gang and Leeds Alternative Comics, have got together to host the ultimate celebration of the greatest films ever made!

Starting on Friday May the 4th from 6pm till Sunday 6th May, FullCircle will be transformed into a gallery not so far far away, hosting not only a huge display of vintage Star Wars toys including over 100 carded figures and boxed vehicles, but a contemporary / lowbrow look at the Star Wars universe supplied by over 30 amazing artists!

Full details can be found on the website.


Onwards to today’s bloggy goodness – we’ve got another Minterview for you! We’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. We’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. However, all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain, so we’ve been chatting to some of comics’ best and brightest to build up a collection of weekly conversations to last the ages! Yay!

The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.

This week we spoke to Paolo Rivera currently knocking it out of the park with his artwork on Daredevil, and who will be attending his first ever Thought Bubble this year! Goodness after the jump!


TB: Hi Paolo, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

It was all thanks to Jim Krueger, who started giving me projects when I was still a teenager (I had met him at Megacon in Orlando). By my senior year of college, he had introduced me to a few editors at Marvel, and Joe Quesada hired me via email.

In one sense, it took years of trying, but in another sense, it all happened very quickly. I was working for Marvel before I had graduated from RISD [the Rhode Island School of Design].

TB: So, was comic book illustration always what you were considering as a profession while you were studying, or did you initially have a different career path in mind?

Comics was always what I wanted, but it never seemed like a sure bet. Things worked out very well for me, but they could easily have gone in another direction. I was seriously considering Industrial Design as a major, but Illustration eventually won me over.

My dad made it very clear for me: the skills required for industrial design could be picked up on my own, almost on the sly, but comics would take years and years of intense dedication. Now I get to have all the fun of Industrial Design without all of the real-world limitations.

TB: I know you’re a keen sculptor, do you ever make 3D models of any of the Marvel characters that you’ve illustrated?

As often as I can (which is not very). I used to make Super Sculpey maquettes of all my major characters, but can’t seem to find the time these days. I’ve recently come around to digital sculpting, which provides all the same benefits and takes a fraction of the time. I hope to do a lot more.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

It’s tough to say. I’ve been at Marvel for nearly a decade now, and every project and collaborator has been better than I could have hoped. What I can say is that Daredevil has, by far, garnered the most buzz and critical acclaim. Mark Waid has made similar statements, and he’s been in this industry since before I could drive. The best part for me is that I’ve been involved with the relaunch from the ground floor — it feels like I’m contributing to the narrative in a way that wasn’t possible previously.

TB: So, Is it daunting working on high-profile comic characters that have such a history behind them, and being so instrumental in reinvigorating them for a new generation?

Not any more than my other projects. I think I felt more pressure during Mythos, and I needn’t have. I’m not the first to put my mark on these classic heroes, and I won’t be the last.

I put enough pressure on myself to make high-craft work—I don’t need to add to that by thinking of my place in the pantheon of creators.

TB: Do you find it more enjoyable producing the interior sequentials for a story, or painting covers for titles?

Each has its own benefits. I like switching back and forth. I’ve been lucky enough to have a say in which projects I do and I’ll keep alternating for as long as they’ll have me.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Most definitely. Conventions are the only chance I get to meet the people who support my work. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet many of the creators who inspired to make comics in the first place.

TB: So, who’s the coolest person you’ve met at a convention?

My favorite moment, hands-down, was at SCAD’s Comic Art Forum in 2006. As I was standing in the hallway, mustering up my courage to speak to Adam Hughes (quite literally going over what I would say to him) he came up to me and asked “Are you Paolo Rivera? I loved Mythos: X-Men.”

I don’t remember what happened after that.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

I’m actually a really bad comic book fan. The last non-Daredevil comic I read was Amazing Spider-Man #677, and that’s because it was a crossover with Daredevil. If all comic fans were like me, the industry would crumble.

That being said, I love countless classics: Kingdom Come and Batman: Year One are just two that are sitting on my drafting table right now.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

I’m fine with either, and it’s usually up to the writer. If I were writing myself, I’d probably use one or the other, depending on the tone of the story.


That’s it for this week, we’ll have another minterview with another first time Thought Bubble attendee same time, same place next week!