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.
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