Thought Bubble 2018 runs 17th – 23rd September!

Minterviews 2013: Emma Rios by thoughtbubblefestival


I hope you’re all eggcited for Easter, or an equivalent egg-based non-denominational holiday of your choosing! EGGS! Here at Tho Bubs Central, we’re continuing with our plans, plots, and schemes for this year’s festival, and because of that we have some fresh as the dickens updates for you!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only, and because of this we’ve updated…

The Thought Bubble 2013 guests pages! Including… Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, and David Aja!

The Thought Bubble 2013 New Dock Hall exhibitor pages!

The Thought Bubble 2013 Royal Armouries Hall exhibitor pages!

It’s gearing up to be our bestest festival ever, so keep your eyes out for more and more goodness coming at you, thicker and faster as the festival dates near, exponentially increasing in amazingness until it all collapses into a singularity of super cool awesome times.

If you’re exhibiting with us and are yet to send over an icon then please do, you can see all the details of what’s needed on this page, and if you missed out on a table, then you can sign up to our reserves list here.


Now. You may have heard that each year we like to have a chat with some of the wonderful creators that we get to meet through the festival, and pop the transcripts up online. We ask the same 5 starting questions to everyone, and then figure out 5 more questions from their answers to those to form a mini-interview, a MINTERVIEW! They’re also called MINTerviews because that’s our favourite flavour ice-cream, and we always eat it when Minterviewing people. Mint ice cream is good for you because it is green. THIS IS SCIENCE.

This week we had a talk with Emma Rios, amazing artist on Dr Strange, Prophet, Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel, and more besides. Her art is lovely, as can be seen on her blog, flickr, and tumblr. You can see what we talked about below, so get readin’, pilgrim!

TB: Hi Emma! First off, how did you get started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

ER: I learned how to read by reading comics, so creating them felt quite natural. I started drawing comics quite young, when I was 13 or 14 years old, and I’ve been involved in comics during all that time, but actually never thought I was going to become a professional. 

TB: So, which comics did you start off reading as you were growing up?

ER: Asterix and Obelix, Donald Duck, some old Spanish stuff I inherited like Jabato, anime adaptations like Mazinger and Gatchaman and Superheroer. I didn’t read any manga stuff until starting High School.

TB: And what’s your proudest moment been, in comics or otherwise, to date?

ER: Probably when I took my first self-published work to a professional printers when I was 21. I’d already done several photocopied ‘zines at that moment, but this felt different.

Artwork by Emma Rios

Artwork by Emma Rios

TB: Do you still produce any self-published stories, or does your work on titles for publishers like Marvel and Image mean you no longer have time to do that?

ER: Not really, just short collaborations. I definitively have to find time for that.

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

ER: I have a lot of fun, but they always make me feel a bit nervous. I’m not very fond of huge cons but I do like small ones, a lot.

TB: You sketched live on stage for our audience at 2012’s Thought Bubble convention, how was that as an experience?

ER: Less traumatic than I thought it would be, actually. I always freak out regarding these things because of not being an English speaking person, but it went great. I had a lot of fun, thanks to Peter Doherty and all the guys there.

Artwork by Emma Rios

Artwork by Emma Rios

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

ER: More than anything I’m quite obssessed with anything that comes from Taiyou Matsumoto. I do like Brandon Graham’s stuff, Frederik Peeters, Angie Wang, Hwei Lin Lim, Guy Davis, Frank Quitely, Burns, Pope, Samura…

I’m enjoying Hawkeye, Daredevil, BPRD, Prophet, what Josh Tierney and the gang are doing in Spera, and Brandon´s Multiple Warheads quite a lot… I’ve also had a blast reading the Spanish edition of Prison Pit last week, the Shigeru Mizuki bio… My reading is pretty chaotic, but I enjoy that.

I´m reading Fantagraphics’ Heart of Thomas right now. And some all-time favourites are Wolfman and Colan’s DrĂĄcula, Batman: Year One and DD: Born Again by Mazzuchelli and Miller, Ditko´s Doctor Strange, Nocenti´s run on Daredevil, Otomo´s Akira, Lone Wolf and Cub, Sienkievicz and Claremont´s New mutants, Tezuka, specially Ode to Kirihito and Ayako, Moto Hagio, Shigeru Mizuki…

It´s completely impossible to do a full list, honestly.

TB: So, do you think that your varied reading habits have influenced your artistic style? Are there any creators in particular that you see as having had a strong influence on your own work?

ER: Yup, definitively. I think I have quite a lot of different influences because of that.

Bernet, Colan, Samura, Ikeda, Pope, Miller, probably Crepax, some Bilal… The first Ghost In The Shell movie had a huge impact on me, and also Yoji Shinkawa, the guy who does the concept art on the Metal Gear games.

TB: Have you got any big work plans for this year? How’s Pretty Deadly coming along?

ER: I have quite a long schedule planned so far, which is a bit frightening but great. These are exciting times for me, I couldn’t be more grateful. The only thing I can talk about though is Pretty Deadly.

I’m having a blast working on this book. Kelly Sue and me are pretty close, we are a dream team, honestly, having so much trust in each other’s work. Everything feels smooth, the collaboration is organic and perfect. About what I’m doing there – one of the reasons I decided to move to creator owned stuff was because I needed to stop a bit, and think about how to improve the quality of my drawing. I really want to do something a bit different here and moving a step forward.

The western atmosphere, being so suggestive, helps a lot. Everything seems to flow on the page. I know this feeling is not going to last long -I’m always so insecure and a maniac perfectionist – but I’m kind of OK with how my work is looking so far.

TB: Finally, as always, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

ER: I do like both, but the way you use them is a bit different, I think. I normally try to express the character´s thoughts through their acting, before writing their thoughts – I can´t help it.


A huge thank you going out to Emma for taking the time to talk to us, Pretty Deadly is looking like it’s gonna be a whole heap of awesome, so keep an eye out for that dropping at your local comic emporium – and we’ll have the creative team behind it at this year’s festival, so come along and say howdy!

More Minterviews and updates coming sooooooon!


Minterviews 2013: Giannis Milonogiannis by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey you guys!

Did you have a nice vernal equinox? I went to school with someone called Vernon Equinox, but he was no relation, and that’s a whole different story for another time!

The story right now is one of updates! These are not bad dates, these are the best dates, and they lift your spirits, hence being called UP-dates. Or something? I’m no word scientist. Anyways, we have updated…

The Thought Bubble 2013  guests pages!

The Thought Bubble 2013  New Dock Hall exhibitor pages!

The Thought Bubble 2013 Royal Armouries Hall exhibitor pages!

All of which are slowly, but surely, getting crammed to the gills with some absolutely brilliant comics creating talent. It’s gonna be a fun ol’ time in the city of Leeds this November. BOY HOWDY!

If you’re yet to send over an icon then please do, you can see all the details of what’s needed on this page, and if you missed out on a table, then you can sign up to our reserves list here.


Now, every year, we like to have a chat with some of the wonderful creators that we get to meet through the festival, and pop the transcripts up online. We ask the same 5 starting questions to everyone, and then figure out 5 more questions from their answers to those to form a mini-interview, a MINTERVIEW! We also call them MINTerviews because reading them is like inhaling a cool blast of mountain air for your mind grapes, and leaves your noggin minty fresh. For any neurobiologists in the house, please don’t email in, we’re just having some fun. WHY YOU GOT TO HATE?

This week we’ve been talking to Giannis Milonogiannis, the excellent creator of cyberpunk webcomic Old City Blues, and whose (awesome) work can currently be found in Prophet and Spera, the collections of which are both worth picking up, as they’re firm favourites here. You can see what we chatted about below, and for more of Giannis’ work you can check out his website, or his art tumblr.

TB:Hey Giannis! So, to open, can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

GM: I sort of gradually scammed my way into comics – I got started doing small things locally in Greece, before putting up Old City Blues online in 2010. I suspect most people have found out about my stuff through Prophet, though.

TB: And how long were you publishing OCB online before Archaia expressed an interest in putting the book out? How did that come about?

GM: The book was online for about 7 months before Archaia found it – I had actually submitted it to them when they found it online themselves around the same time. So it’s like the book worked itself out in that way.

TB: So, do you prefer working on projects like OCB that you have complete control over, or collaborative projects with other writers/artists like Prophet and Spera? 

GM: Both are great for different reasons, I suppose – and doing one helps you better understand the other. Working with a writer is infinitely easier, most of the time, but I like to be able to show readers something like OCB and know it’s all my own, for better or worse – the characters and situations in a solo project are part of the creator in a different way than on collaborative books. It’s a totally different feeling.


Artwork by Giannis Milonogiannis

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

GM: Finishing anything up is a pretty proud moment. The feeling doesn’t last long, but the high you get from finishing a story is probably when I feel proudest – “wow, we actually finished this?”

TB: And does that feeling of satisfaction become addictive after a while then? Do you think it’s that high that drives you to create, or do you just like telling stories?

GM: I think the cartoonist’s high is addictive even if we don’t realize it at first. I’d like to say it’s solely the stories that push me to make comics, but I’d probably be trying to write novels or something if that were true. The high I get from being in the zone while drawing or from just having finished a book is a big part of the fun in making comics.

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

GM: Definitely. I’ve only been to two or three because I live a ways from everything, but it’s been fun the times I’ve been. It’s fun to see people walking around for an entire weekend in a constant state of excitement.


Artwork by Giannis Milonogiannis

TB: So, did you ever go to any conventions as a fan, when you were still trying to break into the industry? Do you think showing your work at events can help when you’re starting out? 

GM: I did go to a convention in the States in 2010 purely as a fan trying to break in. It was great to finally get to meet people up close, and see their immediate reactions to my work. It’s definitely something that helps you grow more comfortable with being someone who draws to be in such an environment.

TB: And as a comics fan – which titles are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

GM: Some favorites: Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair: Sim Hell, Yukinobu Hoshino’s 2001 Nights, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese, obviously anything by Shirow and Otomo. Right now I’m going back and reading a lot of Tezuka, Golgo 13 and 90’s X-Men stuff.

I should really read more current books.

TB: Do you have any characters, that aren’t your own, that are particular favourites to draw? Any that you’d jump at the chance to work on a title featuring? 

GM: I draw too much Metal Gear Solid fan-art probably, but I don’t know if I could draw a decent book of that. It’s definitely the first thing that comes to mind, though.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

GM: Both – in my head they’re two entirely different things with their own use. I don’t see how we can ban the use of thought bubbles – it’s like saying we can’t use red in our comics anymore.


We’d like to say a massive thank you to Giannis for taking the time to talk to us, and you really should check out the excellent free-to-read cyberpunk awesomeness of Old City Blues. It’s ACE.

We’ll have another Minterview for you next week, as well as more guest and exhibitor updates, so be sure to check back, check in, and check it out.


Minterviews 2013: Pia Guerra by thoughtbubblefestival

Hola amigos!

Hope you’re enjoying the first sprunging of spring sunshine, mixed in with icy death winds, and hyper-condensed snow blizzards. Isn’t global warming wonderful?

We’ve gotten through the avalanche of bookings that arrived last month for this year’s convention, and have started popping up some wonderful exhibitor icons on the website to reflect that – you can see the ones we’ve received so far for New Dock (Octopus) Hall and Royal Armouries (Wars) Hall by clicking on the links!

We’ll be updating the pages throughout the year, and be sure to have a click around on the icons to discover some wonderful creators. We’ve also been updating the guests pages regularly over the last month, so go and have a gander to whet your appetite at some of the awesome talent that’s coming to Leeds this November!

If you’re yet to send over and icon then please do, you can see all the details of what’s needed on this page, and if you missed out on a table, then you can sign up to our reserves list on here.


Every year, we like to have a chat with some of the wonderful creators that we get to meet through the festival, and pop the transcripts up online. We ask the same 5 starting questions to everyone, and then figure out 5 more questions from their answers to those to form a mini-interview, a MINTERVIEW! In an ideal world thunder will crash and lightning will flash as you read that mighty word, but if it doesn’t, just use your imagination.

This week we’re speaking to the awesome Pia Guerra whose artwork in Y – The Last Man is a perennial favourite here at Thought Bubble towers, and we were extremely honoured (and grateful) to be able to auction some of her original art earlier in the year as part of our charity sketch event. You can see our chat below, and for more of Pia’s work, check out her website.

TB: Hi Pia! So, to start off, could you tell us how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

PG: I was always drawing my own comics and friends told me I should do it for a living. I went to some local comic cons and showed my work to other artists and editors and their feedback convinced me I could make a go of comics as a career. It was a very slow creep upwards, I worked on a lot of indy books, and this being the early 90s, just as the whole industry was about to implode many of those projects never saw the light of day or were so limited no one got to really see it. I did work illustrating role playing game manuals, cards and storyboards for television on top of crappy part time jobs to keep a roof over my head. Every year I went to San Diego Comic Con to show my work and it was there I met Heidi MacDonald who made me her pet project. I tried out for many books over about a three year period, got rejected for each but kept going until 2001 when I got a call about Y. The rest you know.

TB: Are you a tabletop gamer yourself as well as a comic fan then, or were the RPG manual & card illustrations just a job to pay the bills?

PG: I did a lot of tabletop gaming in high school and with friends after that, mostly D&D. I came across White Wolf gaming manuals while hanging out in game shops and really liked the artwork, especially Tim Bradstreet’s pieces. We never played those modules, it seemed complex and a bit too gothy for our group but I always kept an eye out for the manuals when they came in.  Later, after trying out and landing some work on the books some Masquerade gamers tried to explain how the system worked but it didn’t really grab me enough to try it. A lot of it involved LARPing and I wasn’t into that. I enjoyed the work though, I approached it from the perspective of a National Geographic photographer roaming the world of Vampires and Werewolves, I was very happy with how it looked.

TB: Did your working style change much over those three years before Y? Do you markedly tailor the art style to a given project / story, or does it develop more organically?

PG: I spent most of that time just trying to get up to working speed and still making it look right. It was a few months before Y that I was finally comfortable with basic technique and that was when I started experimenting with style.  Also, since I was getting a lot of rejections from Vertigo I figured I’d switch focus to superhero books, my portfolio was starting to loosen up and feel more dynamic, enough so to get me on a waiting list for the Buffy comic (which I was pretty excited about) and then Y came along and I had to pull my style back to a more cinematic realism as fitting to the script.

Artwork by Pia Guerra

TB: What do you think is your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

PG: Proudest moment in comics? Wow. Safeword is up there. That arc was fun and different and struck some nice notes. I really like how it came out. And then of course the last issue. I was wreck after that but in a “Holy shit it works!” kind of way. I never feel a hundred percent about any book I’ve done, there’s always a part of me that thinks I could have made this better if I’d done this or maybe if I did that in another way it would have popped more… the last issue could have been better in many ways but it was the strongest I’ve ever managed and I’m proud of that. I hit the marks just the way I wanted to hit and every time I hear how it messed someone up reading it I just feel “yeah, nailed it.” It’s a rare and good feeling.

TB: Would you say that that’s the hardest part of making comic for you – sending them out into the “real world” once you’ve finished working on them?

PG: Working on them. Absolutely. Sending them out, or to put it bluntly, getting them out of my hair so I can spend crazy hours on the next batch, that’s the part you live for.

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

PG: Working in comics is very isolating, you work in a studio for most of the year, you don’t get out much to socialize, especially if you’re on deadline. Your main form of communication is electronic, whether it’s with colleagues or readers and there are limits to what comes across. Conventions are fantastic because you just get a face full of interaction. You get to really hear what people think of the work you do and there’s a great back and forth exchange that’s immediate and engaging. There’s also the chance to give advice to new artists and see the enthusiasm that’s just bursting out of them, it makes you want to point them in all these new and, hopefully, helpful directions. Not to mention getting to hang out with other creators, many of them long time friends, who are in very much the same boat and eager to catch up and share all the stuff they’ve found in the time since you saw them last… or you’re meeting new creators who you’ve alternately adored for years or never heard of before and you want to hear everything they have to say, look at everything they have to show. It’s a very exciting time for all involved, very electric and I love it.

TB: So, do you think that that human interaction, and face-to-face criticism/appraisal of work, is an essential part of breaking into the industry for a budding artist or writer then?

PG: It is possible to get work through email and internet networking but I believe it’s a tougher slog. Editors don’t just want to see your work, they want to see YOU. It’s the direct interaction that gives them an idea of how you’ll be to work with, whether you’re good at communicating, whether you’re an easy or difficult personality, whether you’re the type who listens to feedback or gets defensive, whether you behave professionally and most important, whether you’re consistent. Artists rarely get a job after one meeting, it usually takes several follow ups with an editor to get a clear picture, and that’s why going to cons, establishing and building relationships is worth the time and effort to go.

Artwork by Pia Guerra

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

PG: I am so digging Hawkeye right now. It’s a well written, very funny book with amazing artwork from David Aja (the kind of amazing that makes you SO ANGRY BECAUSE IT’S SO GOOD! ARRR!) Also, Wolverine an the X-Men is fun and Saga which is so damn beautiful. I’ve been getting sucked into manga lately, Bakuman and Drops of God are very good. All time favourites… Uncanny X-Men #205 has mind blowing art from Barry Windsor Smith that made me want to make comics, Sean Phillip’s run on Hellblazer was very inspirational.

TB: Have you been enjoying the recent superhero title upheavals from the ‘big two’?

I’ve never been a big follower of “events” in comics. I have my titles that I read every month, creative teams I prefer and if I suddenly have to read a bunch of other books that never grabbed me before just to stay up to date, I get irked. That being said, I have been impressed with what Marvel has been doing with their big arcs. While it’s helpful to read other titles, it’s not as essential, and the tent-pole books, those mini-series that run separately and tell the bulk of the story, I really like that. The fact those books have brilliant eye popping art helps too.

DC is a bit different. I admire the effort to revamp and streamline EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE but the execution felt really rough and rushed. A lot of creative teams got shuffled about, there was inconsistency in places, a lot of changes made and then all these stories seemed interconnected in that way that I personally can’t stand. It kinda lost me.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

PG: Oh that’s a tough one. I was raised on thought bubbles and in a way I miss them, but yeah, caption boxes bring a very different feel to it, a more personal approach, like it’s closer to your ear as you read it, conspiratorial.


We’d like to say a massive thank you to Pia for taking the time to talk to us, and we hope you enjoyed reading – we’ll be bringing you some more comic chats in the coming weeks, and you can check out the archives of previous years’ Minterviews at this page.

Remember, the force will be with you. ALWAYS.