Thought Bubble 2018 runs 17th – 23rd September!

Better Things: The Life and Choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey gang!

Plans are continuing apace for this year’s Thought Bubble, and we’ll have a full update coming soon with regards to all manner of shenanigans we’ve got in the pipeline. For now, we’ve got a quick little post about a fundraising appeal (with some excellent rewards up for grabs) for a lovely documentary that we had the immense pleasure of screening during last year’s Thought Bubble festival.

Better Things

Here’s what our fearless leader, Thought Bubble festival director, Lisa Wood had to say about the film:

Better Things is an extremely insightful look into both the life and work of Jeffrey Catherine Jones – one of the foremost fantasy artists of her generation, and sure to be a source of immense inspiration for generations to come.

The film is beautifully put together with love and affection by Cabardo, who worked in the comic industry for a decade, and does great justice to both the artist and her body of work, as well as those of her contemporaries.

Jones was one of the few artists to pave the way for a more painted abstract feel to comic books in the 70’s and 80’s, and as such her work deserves much wider recognition, and this film serves as a testament to that need. Her artwork would have been just at home in a classical art gallery as a comic book, with Frazetta describing her as “the world’s greatest living painter”, and seeing the pieces, and their sometimes turbulent inception, brought to life on screen is a delight. 

The film’s parallel exploration of Jones’ life choices is handled with sensitivity and compassion, charting the development and evolution of her artistic style, as she was similarly changing as a person and exploring the possibilities that life had to offer.

The documentary also offers an invaluable look in to the lives and working environment of other similar artists and contemporaries of Jones who were working around that time such as Vaughn Bode, and the group known as ‘The Studio’, which included greats such as Michael Kaluta, Bernie Wrigtson, and Barry Winsor-Smith, all of whom would in some way drive and inspire the advances in comic art for years to come.

One of the best documentaries I have seen, on a much loved artist who will be sorely missed.

The Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the film’s wider release is currently running, and full details can be found here. There’s some amazingly candid interviews with creators that were working in comics at the time, and have been influenced by her work since, and some great rewards (including an excellent art book with an amazing line-up of contributors), so well worth checking out.

We’d like to be able to show more films like this at Thought Bubble, and part of that is making sure the ones that do get made find their audience.

We’ll be back soon with the first round of updates for this year’s festival. EXCITE!


1000 Words 2012 – Round-up by thoughtbubblefestival

Over the last couple of weeks, the extremely lovely Matt Sheret has been popping up videos from the ‘1000 Words’ strand of talks that he curated (along with web-presence-phobic Thought Bubbler Mikey B) at this year’s Thought Bubble convention. After the jump there’s a summary of the event, and links to all the talks collected in one handy block, but first – a few thank you’s…

If any of you went to last year’s We Are Words + Pictures strand of talks on independent comic creation at Thought Bubble’s convention, then that was organised by Matt too, and  this was coming off the back of his working as Thought Bubble 2011’s Writer in Residence, so to say that we owe Matt a debt of gratitude is a bit of an understatement. We’d highly recommend checking out his Paper Science anthology, and, if we can convince him and Mikey to put on 2000 Words: A Space Odyssey next year, then we’re sure we’ll be thanking him again in December 2013. Cheers Matt, you’re a Good Egg.

Another big thank you has to go to Anne Hollowday, whose films on Thought Bubble and the British Comic Awards had already put us eternally into the red on the karmic balance sheet, but her filming of the 1000 Words talks has cemented the Wookiee life-debt we now owe. Thanks Anne, may your lenses ever be clear.

Massive thank you’s as well to all the speakers, including Kate Brown, Andy Belanger, Kristyna Baczynski and Laura Snapes for delivering some excellent talks on the day, all those whose presentations are presented below, and our lovely technical crew. And a big final thank you to all those who came along and made up the audience, we hope you’ll be back for more next year!

That’s enough preamble, on with the shows!


1000 Words was a series of short talks about comics & culture by those who make them curated by Matt Sheret and Mike Bennet, full information on the talks can be found by clicking here.

1000 Words 2012 video presentations:

Emma Vieceli – 50 Shades of Niche
a talk about the distinction between mainstream and niche, and about one very popular novel…

Anne Hollowday – Don’t Over Manage the Scene
a few lessons from the world of documentary filmmaking and tells us how it links to comics writing with the Marvel Method…

Si Spurrier – Day of the Dingle
some delicious brainfarts on the topic of Collaborating With Creative Humans, as filtered through a true story from Spurrier’s brief and traumatic career in TV.

Antony Johnston – And His Massive Ego
setting us straight about the terrific and powerful ego of artists and writers everywhere… or does he?

Hannah Donovan – Digital Craft
a talk about music, personal expression, and the pixels we pin to our bedroom walls.

Kieron Gillen – Decimation [2012’s Keynote Talk]
As a writer, Kieron’s been dancing with comics for a decade now. He’s trying to decide if he’s learned anything. If he has, he’ll tell you about it. If not, this video will be extremely quiet…

1000 Words: Emma Vieceli by Matt Sheret
28/11/2012, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Programme 2012, Thought Bubble 2012 | Tags: , , ,

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be posting footage from many of the speakers at 1000 Words, the day of talks that ran at this year’s festival.

First up, it’s Emma Vieceli, taking about the distinction between mainstream and niche, and about one very popular novel…

50 Shades of Niche by Emma Vieceli from Matthew Sheret on Vimeo.

Fun with Monsters and Heroes – Matt Dyson by thoughtbubblefestival

Hi Everyone, Matt Dyson here again.

As promised I’m back again wearing the hat of “Thought Bubble Director of Silly Fun” fresh from our first two workshop sessions at Bradford Central Library.



Over the course of Tuesday we had sessions with four school groups planned and what fantastic fun we had.


The children and I set about making our very own comics based around a short fairy tale style story where they set out on an adventure to save their pet who had gotten lost in the deep dark scary woods!

It wasn’t just the children that got involved either, we had teachers drawing along and naturally we made them stand up at the end so we could see just how much better the kids had done!

All in all it was a fantastic day. We have another session tomorrow at Shipley Library so if you’re booked in there I’ll see you soon, otherwise I hope to see you all in Leeds at the weekend!

Bye for now,


Matt Dyson – Thought Bubble Director of Silly Fun by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey there everyone!

Matt Dyson here, I hope you’re all enjoying the festivities of the week so far and are looking forward to the convention at the weekend.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been getting so very excited about Thought Bubble. I got so excited in fact that tonight I managed to sneak my way into Thought Bubble Towers! I was walking the dusty halls when I noticed a beam of light coming down from the ceiling at the end of a long hall. I went to investigate and there, bathed in light on a risen platform, was the most beautiful of all hats! Written on it’s brim were the words “Director of Silly Fun”.

Naturally I put the hat on straight away.

My first act in my new role will to be to spread a little of that “Silly fun” around using the magic of AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION! Tomorrow morning we will be starting a series of three comics workshops at Bradford Central Library as part of the festival.

Children from local schools will get a chance to try their hand at making comics based on a short fairy tale where they are the hero! As part of my official hat based duties I shall come back and report on their progress later in the week with photos and some of their wonderful drawings of monsters!

So, if you’re one of the lucky locals who is coming along with your school then I’ll see you soon!

Director of Silly Fun (at least until they steal my hat back)

A sneak peek at 1000 Words by Matt Sheret
12/11/2012, 10:29 am
Filed under: Programme 2012, Thought Bubble 2012

Last year’s Writer-in-residence Matthew Sheret is back at Thought Bubble this year with 1000 Words. 1000 Words is a mini-conference running on Saturday 17th, featuring comics, culture and all the bits in between. Here’s a quick preview…

Come and join us in the Alea Casino Cinema this Saturday for 1000 Words. The event will be a collection of short talks about comics & culture, by people who love both. Ten guests will be talking about the things that inspire them, whether that’s games, music, or moving pictures, each telling the world how their industry & their interests collide.

The first session runs between 11am and midday. First up is Emma Vieceli with 50 Shades of Niche, a talk about the impact you can have on culture when you stop saying your work is for a clique. She’s followed by filmmaker Anne Hollowday with Don’t over-manage the scene, a talk about the crossover between documentary filmmaking and the comics writing technique known as the Marvel Method.

Finally, Si Spurrier will be inflicting Day of The Dingle on the crowd, which he claims will include “Delicious brainfarts on the topic of Collaborating With Creative Humans” as filtered through a true story from Spurrier’s brief and traumatic career in TV.

The next session runs between 12.30 and 1.30. The first person stepping up in that collection will be Pitchfork‘s Associate Editor Laura Snapes. Fake Urgency is her talk, a run-down of what Record Store Day could learn from comic conventions. She’s followed by my fellow Artist-in-residence from Thought Bubble 2011 Kristyna Baczynski, whose talk Invisible Comics & Silent Songs promises to explore the similarities between comics and music.

That session will be wrapped up by Hannah Donovan, the designer of social music service This Is My Jam. She brings Digital Craft to Thought Bubble, a talk about music, personal expression and the pixels we pin to our bedroom walls.

The third session runs between 2 and 3pm, and is kicked off by Kate Brown‘s talk No Fate in which we chat about Kate’s happy place. Andy Belanger is up next, with a spot about videogames and illustration, following up the success of Toronto Comics Art Festival’s Comics vs Games jam. Antony Johnston‘s Massive Ego is the penultimate talk. His session description is a delight:

“Antony Johnston writes comics and games, wins awards, writes New York Times bestsellers, and is an all-round brilliant, perfect genius who never makes mistakes. Except when he does, because he’s actually a terrible, awful fraud who screws everything up and is just waiting to be found out. Well, not really. Yes, really! (Which is it? Find out, as Antony reveals the internal fight between ego and humility in every creator! Or maybe not!)”

Brilliant. Finally, at 3.15pm, we’ve got a half-hour keynote from Kieron Gillen. DECIMATION is Kieron’s take on ten years of comics writing. He’s trying to decide if he’s learned anything in all that time. If he has, he’ll tell you about it. If not, it’s going to be a very quiet half hour.

Ten people, ten talks, ten takes on culture, comics and lots more besides. See you there from 11am.

Tom Humberstone – Artist Residency 2012 Part 1 by thoughtbubblefestival

Hello. My name’s Tom Humberstone. I’m a comic artist for the New Statesman, the creator of my own self-published comic Ellipsis, and the editor of the UK comic anthology Solipsistic Pop. But, more importantly, and more relevant to this blog, I’m also this year’s Thought Bubble Artist in Residence.

This year’s residency is a little different to last year. The idea is that I run four weekly workshop sessions at the Bradford Action for Refugee centre with children and adults of all ages. The aim of these workshops is to introduce the comic art-form to people who may not have been exposed to it before and encourage them to get involved, while sharing a few skills and techniques along the way. After the final session, I’ll be based in Leeds during the Thought Bubble festival week, compiling my thoughts on the sessions and on asylum seeking experiences, resulting in a comic which will be part of next year’s Thought Bubble anthology.

And so, with Thought Bubble project co-ordinator Martha, we headed to BAfR last week to meet Chris and the volunteers who ran the centre and who would be helping us meet and work with the families during these sessions.

We decided to build the first session as a relaxed, informal introductory drawing workshop. Something that gave everyone a chance to get to know me and what I do, while giving me the opportunity to meet everyone and get a feel for what people enjoyed drawing. It was an overwhelming experience with over twenty children (and their families) attending.

The session was planned with an informal structure in mind as we had no idea how many people or what age groups to expect. Without a specific lesson plan in place the workshop was chaotic and exhausting. But a hell of a lot of fun. Everyone’s drawings were superb and it was an exhilarating experience trying to keep up with the kids as they worked diligently away with whatever materials were within grabbing distance.

It was a success but we also came away aware that we needed a slightly tighter structure for the following week.

A little further forethought and planning – now knowing more about the people attending the workshops – worked a treat! Our second session introduced the comics angle in a more focused way. Younger kids who were less interested in drawing were given their own space in the centre to play with toys while the ones who wanted to draw remained on the desks provided. This allowed me to get in front of the class and teach a few comic basics up on the whiteboard. I started off with some simple tips and tricks for drawing faces, expressions and a little about economy of line. We later touched upon some of the visual language of comic art such as wavy lines to signify smells, or expressive dashes being used to denote speed.

In this new, slightly more controlled, although still informal, environment – we got to work creating comics in some specially prepared booklets with fixed panel layouts. This is the part of teaching comics that always blows me away. Kids don’t need you to tell them much at this point. They know instinctively what to do. The mixture of words and pictures is innately obvious to them. They may not know something is called a caption or speech balloon, but the concept is already lodged in their brain as a standard way to communicate a story. I don’t know whether this is because comics tap into some instinctual way in which we all want to tell stories, or if children are exposed to this medium from an early age, but it almost always surprises me how quickly kids take to the form.

The level of creativity and imagination the children displayed when drawing their comics was a delight. Some children took some paper away with them after the first session and came back with fully coloured, completed comics for me to read when they arrived and the things they did with panel layouts was wonderfully formalist. It made me slightly regret adding fixed panels to the booklets I’d brought with me but I think that having a bit of structure was the right choice as too many options can be off-putting to some of the kids and can be a bit intimidating.

We all came away from the second session with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the next one. I’m looking forward to introducing the children to some new comic and storytelling ideas next week as I think they’ve already nailed these early introductory sessions.

I’m also starting to remember names, faces, and develop a rapport with the kids now which was, I’ll admit, something I was concerned about as most of my experience with teaching has been one-off workshops and lessons. Nothing which has involved working with the same people over the course of a few weeks. For someone who spends most of their time working in a studio on their own, it’s a remarkably rewarding experience.

One I’d recommend all artists do at some point. I’ll be checking back in with some more thoughts after our third and fourth sessions.

Thanks for reading and see you at Thought Bubble!

– Tom