Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Thought Bubble 2014 | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions
As the dates for this year’s Thought Bubble draw closer, we just wanted to let you all know what’s going on with this year’s festival, our plans for the convention venue, and how exhibitor registration will be working this year.
As we’re sure you’re all aware, we were staggered by just how quickly the tables sold out last year – with all initial available exhibiting space filling in just two hours, compared to taking two months the previous year! It’s an amazing reflection of how much the comics community has grown recently in the UK, but we had no way of preparing ourselves for the speed at which the tables sold out. Obviously, this meant we had a long waiting list of exhibitors we were unable fit into the two halls down at Royal Armouries that we’d used in the past.
We never like to disappoint anyone who wants to come to the festival, and we were so grateful to Allied London for stepping up at the last minute and facilitating the use of a third hall – Allied London Hall. In order to get that site up to code before the convention, we had to do a fair amount of work to make it safe and usable, including installation of a new floor, electricity, heating, and cleaning/painting of the walls. This all cost quite a large chunk of last year’s budget and took a lot of work, and we really appreciated the patience and understanding of everyone who exhibited in there. We know the space wasn’t ideal, but we were so pleased that we were able to accommodate everyone who missed out when the tables first went on sale. However, this was only ever a temporary solution, and because of this Allied London Hall is not available to us again for this year’s convention.
So where do we go from here? For the last four months we’ve been hard at work trying to find a suitable space to hold the ever-growing festival. There’s no single venue big enough in Leeds at the current time, so there are only two options available to us – to leave Leeds and, in turn, all our amazing local partners and sponsors, or, alternatively, to build our own venue! The idea of leaving Leeds is a last resort to us, as we love this city, and everything that it’s brought to the festival. Without our partners, like Leeds City Council, Leeds and Bradford Libraries, and Leeds International Film Festival, Thought Bubble would change entirely and we just can’t have that. We love Leeds too much, so we’re going to do everything we can to stay here.
So, for 2014’s Thought Bubble, the convention will stay at Clarence Dock, and will utilise New Dock Hall and Royal Armouries Hall as with previous years, but in addition to those halls, we are going to be building a state-of-the-art hard-shell marquee in the main square as a third hall. We think that this new space will make the convention better than ever, but, as you can imagine, it is very expensive to build and install.
As well as expanding the convention to serve the increased demand, it’s also of paramount importance to us that all of our exhibitors are as comfortable as possible, so the marquee needs to be very sturdy, safe and warm. Because of this, we are having to slightly increase the cost of tables this year, to help to pay for this new space.The basic costs for tables in all halls this year will be £90 for a full table for indie creators/professional artists or £55 for a half table, and £135 per table for retailers and publishers.
Thought Bubble was founded as, and always will be, a not-for-profit organisation, and as such we’ve always strived to keep our table prices as low as possible, but there’s no way we could create this extra space if the prices were the same as last year. We understand some smaller publishers and independent artists might find the extra cost prohibitive, so to keep the festival as accessible as possible we are offering more half-tables this year, and, as with previous years, we are more than happy for exhibitors to share table space.
We have always prided ourselves on being as inclusive as possible, and it’s very important to us that we stay that way. With the addition of the new space we hope we can include everyone one who wants to come to the show. However. there is a possibility that we will receive more exhibitor applications than we have space in the halls. As much as we’d like to be able to include everyone who may wish to exhibit at the show, we feel that Thought Bubble has reached the stage where we are going to have to curate our show for the foreseeable future. This will involve a simple online registration form which will be going live on the website on Monday 31st March, and remain open for two weeks until 5pm on Monday 14th April. After this time, we won’t be able to accept any more applications, and we’ll contact those who applied shortly after to confirm whether we’ll be able to accommodate them this year, and take payment for the table.
Every year, we also have a number of people who book tables and are then unable to attend, and so we’ll form a reserves list of unsuccessful applicants who will be offered tables should they become available. Once the registration form goes live, we’ll be asking for your help to spread the word, so that no one misses out on applying to attend. If we are unable to fit everyone who applies to exhibit at the show in the space available, then the decision on who we can accept to the convention will be made by the organisational team as a whole, to ensure the process remains as fair as possible.
Because of this move to curation, and the nature of the festival as a forum to promote comics and those who make them, it means that where possible we need to give priority to comic books, comic book publishers and retailers, and comic book artists and writers, either independent or publisher-affiliated. If you have exhibited with us in the past and do not fit into this category, please do still fill in the online form once it goes live, as we would love you to come if we do have room in one of the halls.
Last year, as well as the convention, the Saturday night mid-convention party also grew beyond our expectations! This year, to make sure everyone who wants to come to the party can get in, we need to hire a bigger space and licence that venue, and for that reason there will be a small charge for tickets. We also need to be able to keep track of attendance numbers for safety purposes, and so we need to know beforehand how many people are definitely coming. The only way for us to do this is to have people buy tickets in advance, and so this year we will be unable to confer free guaranteed entry with exhibitor passes, or the first 500 pre-ordered convention tickets. We realise that this may not be ideal for some of you, but it won’t be possible to hold our party any more without raising the necessary funds to rent the venue, and pay for a licence and security.
We hope you understand the changes that we’re making this year, and that you can still come to the party as it’s one of our favourite parts of the show. Please bear in mind that numbers are always very limited for this event, and tickets are likely to sell out quickly. There may be tickets on the door, but we can’t guarantee this and we don’t want to have to turn people away at the door! Final ticket details for the party, including prices, will be released soon, as we’re still confirming venues and costs, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can, and we’ll pop another update up in advance of their going on sale.
Thanks so much for reading all this! We really hope you can understand the need for the changes we’ve made, and will stick with us as Thought Bubble gets bigger and better. We’ll be putting up full terms and conditions with regards to exhibiting once the form goes live on the website next week, and these will give information on table specifications, exhibitor passes, and the halls themselves (including capacities).
We’ll be sending an email out to all previous exhibitors notifying them of the information above, and posting this on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, but we’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word to anyone who’s looking to attend the show this year.
Thank you again for all helping make Thought Bubble such a special event for everyone involved.
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Thought Bubble 2014, What is Sequential Art?, Workshops | Tags: Comics, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds comic workshops, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, UK Conventions
We’ve just had the second in our series of four Bub’s Social art workshops at the Travelling Man Lounge, Leeds. They’re going really well, so I thought I’d tell you a little more about them.
The workshops are a continuation of the work that we started in the new Bub’s Lounge space at Thought Bubble Festival last year. Bub’s Lounge came about following a series of meetings with David Newell from Specialist Autism Services. We discussed how to make the festival a more welcoming place for people on the Autism Spectrum who may find the bustling convention halls a little overwhelming, and the idea for Bub’s Lounge was formed.
With the help of Arts Council funding, we created a small, quiet and calm space down at New Dock. We had some fantastic artwork in there – incredible paper cut-out lamps by artist Tom Eglington and an exhibition of comic art by Portland artists. We also had projections and art therapy sessions, led by Art Therapist Alison Herbert. Due to the temporary nature of the space kindly given to us by Allied London, we were able to invite people to draw on the walls.
Wall art in Bub’s Lounge – Thought Bubble 2013
Lamps by Tom Eglington
Bub’s Lounge was used by many people throughout the convention weekend. A big group of people from Specialist Autism Services came over on the Saturday afternoon, when the convention is at its absolute busiest. A couple of members did have difficulty dealing with the crowded halls, and found Bub’s Lounge to be a useful respite.
Our Arts Council funding meant that the Art Therapy sessions can continue this year. Art Therapist Alison Herbert was really excited about working with us some more, as she found the Bub’s Lounge sessions to be extremely fun and rewarding. The new Bub’s Social workshops are running on the last Thursday of each month at the Travelling Man Lounge in Leeds.
We didn’t know what to expect from the first workshop but we were delighted when lots of eager faces arrived. Everyone introduced themselves and drew a portrait/avatar to start things off. Some of the attendees were burgeoning artists who wanted to gain more confidence in their work and bounce ideas off other people, while others had very little experience but just wanted to have a chat and a draw. We’ve created an email group where everyone can talk to each other between sessions too.
The second workshop was last week. Many of the attendees from the first session came back, and there were some new faces too. This workshop focussed more on creating art collaboratively; drawings were passed round, added to and modified by different people. The group discussed what they’d like to do with the next two sessions, and it was decided that they would work together on a large-scale sequential art piece; a creative group effort on writing a story with each person drawing a frame.
We would love it if you want to come and join in the next session. It will be held on Thursday 27th March in the Travelling Man Lounge (107 Kirkgate, Leeds, LS1 6DP) from 5pm til 7pm. Here’s is the Facebook event http://on.fb.me/1fd5xY2. If you want any more details, or if you’d like to discuss the workshops or Bub’s Lounge, please email me at email@example.com or call me on 07585 504 763.