Thought Bubble 2017 runs 18th – 24th September!


Visiting Thought Bubble – A Brief Guide for 2016 by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey gang!

As we head towards this year’s festival (only a month away!) we thought it would be a good idea to update our visitor’s guide for 2016. If you’ve never joined us for a Thought Bubble before, or you’re returning for more comics fun and want to get more out of your trip to Leeds, then we hope the information below will be of help. We’ve also got a number of early ticket releases currently open for events, so you can find a quick summary below, before the full festival programme launches later this week.

We’ve been busy updating the guest pages for this year’s festival, with some brilliant creators for you to meet in Leeds this November (with over 100 guests now confirmed as attending), and we’ve also been updating the exhibitor icons on the site for 2016’s convention, which should be our biggest yet!

Convention exhibitor information can be found on the links below for:

New Dock Hall exhibitor list and provisional floor plan;

Royal Armouries Hall exhibitor list and provisional floor plan;

Marquee exhibitor list and provisional floor plan.

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Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Thought Bubble convention, taking place on the 5th and 6th November, and can be pre-purchased on our website or picked up in person from Travelling Man stores!

We’ve also opened up the ticket pre-sales for our Mid-con party, which this year is taking place from 7pm – 1am on Saturday 5th November, and we’ve full information on this, including details of our excellent new party venue right here on the blog.

Registration is now open for 2016’s Comics Forum academic conference, which takes place at Leeds Library on 3rd and 4th November. Full details of this, including how to register, can be found here.

Registration is also open for our free festival event, Creative Networks @ Leeds College of Art Present An Evening With Mike Mignola, where the legendary comics creator will be discussing his career with Richard Starkings. Spaces on this are filling up fast, so we’d recommend booking soon to avoid disappointment, and full event details can be found here.

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Travel

  1. Getting to Leeds itself is relatively easy, both from within the UK and internationally, as regular rail services bring you into the heart of the city. Leeds rail station is about a 15 minute walk from the convention site, or about a 5 minute taxi ride, and there’s a taxi rank that’s constantly manned just outside the main station entrance.
  2. If you’re flying into Manchester airport then there’s a direct train every half hour that will bring you into Leeds station in around 1.5 hours.
  3. If you’re flying into one of London’s airports then you can catch a direct train from London Kings Cross to Leeds that will bring you into Leeds station in around 2.5 hours;
  4. If you’re driving into Leeds then there’s detailed instructions of how to get to the convention site here, including information on parking at the Royal Armouries’ museum, which is attached to the convention square. Please be aware that Leeds has a slightly tricky one-way system, so it’s best to allow for some extra time when setting off;
  5. If you’re getting the bus into the city, then the convention site is serviced by a number of routes, full details of which can be found here.

Accommodation

The official hotel partner for this year’s convention is the Radisson Blu which is located in Leeds city centre, and is about a 20 minute walk from the convention site. The hotel is a 5 minute walk from the rail station, and close to central bus routes in the city.

Free water taxis run on the weekend which will take you from the city centre to the convention site at Leeds Dock in approximately 10 minutes. More information on the water taxis can be found here – please note, the water taxis are weather permitting, and may not be operating if the river levels are too high.

Leeds itself is a fairly compact city to get around, and you can walk from the top part of town (the university areas on Woodhouse Lane) down to the convention centre on Leeds Dock in around 50 minutes. If you need any supplies while you’re in town, then the shopping district can be found clustered around The Headrow and Albion street, with a large shopping mall at Trinity Leeds on Boar Lane (the site of this year’s Mid-Con party). There are also a number of convenience stores located around the convention square, but they can tend to sell out of a lot of essential items quickly on the convention weekend.

The convention – 10 important points:

  1. This year’s convention takes place on the weekend of November 5th & 6th, and set up for exhibitors runs from 7.30am on Saturday 5th, with doors opening to the public at 10am and closing at 5pm on both days;
  2. Tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the convention, but this may involve some queueing, and your convention wristband will get you into all events taking place at the Leeds Dock sites (including panels and screenings) – your wristband can be picked up from the ticket desks at the convention on the day (just bring along your booking email or physical ticket to exchange);
  3.  Venue information for 2016’s events can be found here, and all listings in the festival programme include the individual event’s locations (including postcodes where appropriate) and timings;
  4. We’d recommend bringing some warm/waterproof clothing, as Leeds can be quite chilly in November, and there are open spaces between the three convention halls;
  5. All venues at the convention are wheelchair accessible, and baby changing facilities are available in the Royal Armouries Museum (which has free entry);
  6. We’d recommend bringing a decent amount of cash (especially change) with you, as the nearby cash-points can run out during the weekend, and our supply is generally taken up with handling on-the-door ticket sales – also, exhibitors will love you if you can pay with exact change;
  7. We currently cannot offer on-site storage at the convention, so while we don’t impose limits on the number of items people can bring to be signed, please be aware that you’ll need to be able to carry them with you all day, along with any purchases that are made at the event;
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, as our red-shirted volunteers will be happy to assist you in anything you need during the weekend;
  9. A simple one, but an important one – keep hydrated and remember to make time to eat as well, low blood sugar and dehydration can make even the simplest of tasks a lot more daunting, so be sure to look after yourself during the convention;
  10. The most important aspect of any convention is to have fun – Thought Bubble is an extremely friendly show, and we aim to cater to a wide spectrum of attendees, many of whom may be attending a show like this for the first time, so we ask that:
    • attendees treat each other, including exhibitors, guests, and volunteers, with respect;
    • anyone wishing to take photographs or film at any Thought Bubble events please ask the subjects before doing so.

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TBF16 Mid-Con Party! by thoughtbubblefestival
27/09/2016, 11:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey gang!

As we head into autumn (here in the northern hemisphere, at least) we’re cracking on getting the festival programme ready for launch next week, but in the meantime, as a taster, we have some exciting news about this years party!

2016’s party will be taking place on the evening of Saturday 5th November at the incredible Trinity Kitchen, in the heart of Leeds – an exciting new venue that can fit way more people than we’ve been able to previously! The timing will be a little different than previous years, and we’ll be starting a bit earlier at 7pm, with music going until 1am to celebrate another Thought Bubble Festival, and our tenth birthday!

This years party will have more music and dancing than you can shake your moneymaker at, with our amazing Wicked and Divine DJs Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, plus other very special guests on the wheels of steel TBA!

2016’s party at Trinity Kitchen will have a much bigger capacity than previous years, as we’ve been searching for a new venue that can hopefully fit in everyone who wants to come, so this year we should all be able to party together, and enjoy our first ever bonfire night Thought Bubble party!

Tickets will be going on sale at 6pm on Thursday 29th September at this page, with attendees also needing a valid weekend convention wristband (or guest/exhibitor wristband along with a party ticket) for entry, and, as always, we’ll have a limited number on the door, but these will be cash only, first-come first-served, and may require queuing at the venue. Please note that the ticket page will not go live until shortly before tickets are to go on sale.

Tickets this year will be priced at £6 (+ a small booking fee.) While we’d love for this to be a free event, we have to pay for staffing costs (and make sure we have an excellent soundsystem), so unfortunately we’re unable to do this, but we do try to make sure the prices as low as possible, in keeping with our not-for-profit status.

Please note: this will be an over-18s event only, as alcohol will be served on the premises, so valid photo ID may be required to gain entry, and we would strongly recommend having this on your person when you arrive.

Trinity kitchen is easy to find in Leeds City Centre and will also have an amazing selection of food vendors open on site until around 10pm! Keep an eye out for some special food vouchers/offers for our party night so you can get your dining and dancing all in one spot.

We’ll also have some quiet breakout spaces for those who prefer to chat, want a more chilled evening, or just need a break from dancing. We’re really pleased to be working with Trinity and would like to say a massive thank you to them for being so accommodating, and for giving us this opportunity to expand the party.

We’d also like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s provided feedback on the party in previous years, and we’re hoping that this new venue will let us address the issues we’ve face in the past, with a much bigger licence letting us have as many ticket holders, exhibitors and guests attend as possible, and with less chance of it selling out as quickly as it has done in the past, while still retaining the amazing atmosphere we’ve had since we started partying ten years ago!

We’re really excited for this year’s festival, and the full festival programme will be coming very soon, so I hope we’ll be seeing a lot of you joining us for some comics celebrations in Leeds this November!

Don’t forget that you can buy tickets for 2016’s convention right now at this page, with under-12s and over-65s getting in for free! We’ll have a brief visitor’s guide for this year going up soon, for those who haven’t been to a Thought Bubble before, or for those who have, but are looking to get a bit more out of their visit this time around, so keep an eye out for that!

Lisa and the Thought Bubble Team xx

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TBF16 Convention Tickets! by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey gang!

We hope you’ve had a good start to the summer (for our northern hemisphere bubblers), and are ready for some big festival updates coming your way over the next few weeks, including academic talks, competitions, convention exhibitors, and (even more) guests, but first…

Tickets for this year’s Thought Bubble convention will be on sale here from 10am Friday 24th June! Taking place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November, at venues on Leeds Dock, the convention tickets include access to three exhibition halls and multiple panel and screening events, and you can find prices and more information below.

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This year, we’ve partnered up with the lovely folks at SEE Tickets to handle the sales for us, which will give us improved ticket tracking and make things a lot easier at the convention when gaining access to the venues for customers. We’ve had to implement a small booking fee to cover this, so we’ve brought the prices down from previous years to offset this, and 2016’s tickets, when bought online, will cost:

 

ÂŁ26 (+ÂŁ2.60 booking fee) for a weekend convention pass;

ÂŁ16 (+ÂŁ1.60 booking fee) for a single day convention pass.

 

Tickets for the convention can also be bought on the day from the venue, including those for discounted cosplay entry and Breeze Card discounted entry (only available on the day), but may involve a bit of queuing on the door. Tickets bought on the day will cost:

 

ÂŁ29 for a standard weekend convention pass;

ÂŁ18 for a standard single day convention pass;

 

ÂŁ27 for a cosplay / breeze card discounted weekend convention pass;

£16 for a cosplay / breeze card discounted single day convention pass.

 

As always, under-12s can enter the convention for free (when accompanied by a ticket holding parent or guardian,) and disabled carers enter for free (more information on this can be found on the ticket booking page.)

Thought Bubble remains a not-for-profit organisation, and your support of the festival through convention tickets and exhibitor tables remains invaluable to us, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attends every year, and if you’re going to be joining us for the first time in 2016 we look forward to welcoming you to Leeds, and will have an updated visitor’s guide going up online soon!

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Thought Bubble Charity Art Auction 2016 by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey gang!

Last year, as part of Thought Bubble 2015′s convention, we ran our regular Sketching Spotlight event, where 8 brilliant artists came up on stage and had a chat with Peter Doherty about their approach to comics while drawing live for our amazing audience.

Because comic artists are the nicest human beans in the world, they all agreed to let us auction off the sketches they produced, and donate all the proceeds to The Barnardo’s Charity. We’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all those magnificent people for their time and generosity, and (with your help) we hope to be able to raise a lot of money for a great cause.

You can see a preview of all the pieces below (click to embiggen), with full details of the sketches underneath, as well as a link to the individual items’ listing pages, or for videos of previous years’ Sketching Spotlights, please visit our YouTube channel.

The auction will take place on eBay and will run for 10 days from 10am Monday 25th April until 10am on Thursday 5th May, with bidding/delivery open to fans worldwide. We’d really appreciate it if as many as you could spread the word as possible, so we can raise a whole bunch of money for a good cause, and find some new homes for some wonderful artwork!

(all artwork A4 in size, full information available on individual item listing pages, live from 10am – Monday 25th April 2016 via http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/thoughtbubblefestival worldwide shipping available)

Individual pieces up for auction include:

TB-2015-AMY-1 TB-2015-AMY-2

Rocket Girl / T-Rex, by Amy Reeder, pencils and ink on paper, November 2015 (sold as a pair)

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-BEN

Zombie, by Ben Templesmith, watercolours and ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-DOUG

Batman, by Doug Braithwaite, ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-FAREL

Tad (Wrenchies), by Farel Dalrymple, watercolours and ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-ISABEL

Outer Space, by Isabel Greenberg, ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-KATE

Mystery Solving Teens, by Kate Beaton, pencils and ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-TULA

Tara (The Wicked and the Divine), by Tula Lota, ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

TB-2015-WES

Marcus (Deadly Class), by Wes Craig, ink on paper, November 2015

(please click here to visit individual item listing)

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Our special thanks to go out to Peter Doherty for all his help and for hosting the Sketching Spotlights, and to Jip and all our technical volunteers for making these sessions possible, as well as the wonderful audiences who attended on the day!

 

 

 



TB2016 – Exhibitor Registration by thoughtbubblefestival

Hello hello!

Ahead of table registration for this year’s tenth anniversary Thought Bubble convention opening on Friday 4th March, we wanted to put up some more information on the curation process, and how that will work for this year’s show.

2016’s convention will run on the weekend of 5th and 6th November, taking place at Leeds Dock, on Armouries Square. A map of Leeds with the festival venue locations on can be found by clicking here.

This year’s Thought Bubble convention will have three exhibition halls: New Dock Hall,Royal Armouries Hall, and the custom-built TB Marquee (a hard-shell structure, with carpeting throughout and heating). For more information on all three halls, please click here.

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We have always prided ourselves on being as inclusive a show as possible, and it’s very important to us that we stay that way. As much as we’d like to be able to include everyone who may wish to exhibit at the show, Thought Bubble has now reached the stage where the demand for exhibition space exceeds the venue space available to us, and the convention is curated.

This will involve a simple online registration form which will be going live on the website on Friday 4th March, and remain open for two weeks until 8pm on Friday 18th March. In order that this process remains as fair as possible, after this time we won’t be able to accept any more exhibitor applications (including to the reserves list).

Following the close of the registration window, we’ll contact those who applied by Friday 25th March to confirm whether we’ll be able to accommodate them this year, and also to take payment for the table.

Because of this 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 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.

Every year, we also have a small 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. As these offers are based on previously confirmed exhibitors cancelling, we are unable to advise on the date at which they will become available, but as soon as we receive a cancellation we’ll contact the next person/group on the reserves list with first refusal.

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, but due to the number of applications we receive, we’re unfortunately not able to give feedback to unsuccessful exhibitors, as we’re only a small team. However, to give an idea of what we’re looking for, we’ll need to see:

  •  Examples of your work, ideally online versions (including webcomics)/e-shop listings of comics/graphic novels/prints/illustrations you’ll have for sale at the show;
  •  If the above is unavailable, then a portfolio website such as DeviantArt or Tumblr will also be suitable;
  •  If your work is mostly print, as opposed to online, then we’d also be able to view scanned versions of documents via dropbox links (or similar);
  •  If you’re a solo creator with no online examples of your work, then please link to a bibliography/list of credits where possible;
  •  If you’re a retailer with no formal online presence, then please give as full an idea as possible as to the range of merchandise/titles you’d be bringing to the convention;
  •  If in doubt shout it out – tell us about what you think you can bring to Thought Bubble, even if it may seem obvious to you, if it’s not immediately apparent on the information you provide to us we may not know about it, and we don’t want anyone to miss out;
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when filling out the application form, take your time – you’ve got two weeks from the form going live, and all applications received in that window are considered fully after the close of the registration period before a final decision is made, so make sure to fill it in correctly and with as much detail as possible to the answers.

Full details as to pricing and tabling terms and conditions will go live on the website along with the registration form on Friday 4th March. Please make sure to read these carefully, as they contain very important information about attending the convention, should your application be successful.

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. We’ll be shouting out on our twitter (@thoughtbubbleuk) and Facebook Page (search “Thought Bubble Festival”), and we’ll also be emailing all previous year’s exhibitors and applicants to let them know that registration is open.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who supports Thought Bubble, and we look forward to seeing many of you this November!



Thought Bubble 2016! by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey gang! We hope you’ve had a good 2016 so far, and are as excited as us for this year’s Thought Bubble and our 10th Anniversary celebrations!

The countdown to 2016’s Thought Bubble Festival begins here – our website has undergone its annual overhaul, and has been reborn like a mighty phoenix, and now features the first batch of updates about this November’s events!

This year’s Thought Bubble will be taking place from 1st – 6th November at venues across Leeds (and beyond!) and will see hordes of comics creators and fans travel from around the world to visit Yorkshire. For the first wave of information, please read on!

 

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FESTIVAL IMAGE

This year’s official festival image can be seen below, and has been illustrated for us by the brilliant Emmeline Pidgen! We love nothing better than spending a quiet afternoon in Leeds’ gorgeous Hyde Park with a stack of comics, so this speaks to the festival’s very soul! You’ll be able to find this on the cover of our anthology later in the year, as well as all our web presences, and the festival programme.

TBIMAGE2016

 

GUESTS

Each year we have the immense pleasure of welcoming some brilliant artists, writers and publishers to Yorkshire for Thought Bubble, and for our tenth birthday we’re hoping to see even more new faces coming to the city and helping expand the minds of the comics-loving public, as well as welcoming those who’ve never even picked up a graphic novel before into one the the friendliest creative communities out there!

Our first wave of guests can be seen below, and we’ll be adding to this list on the website throughout the year, so be sure to check back regularly!

Initial guests confirmed to attend this year’s festivities are:

Mahmud Asrar (All-New All-Different Avengers)

Lee Bermejo (We Are Robin)

Tess Fowler (Rat Queens)

Kim Jung Gi (Spy Games)

Lisa Hanawalt (My Dirty Dumb Eyes)

Stephanie Hans (Angela Queen of Hel)

Faith Erin Hicks (The Nameless City)

Mike Mignola (Hellboy)

Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl)

Babs Tarr (Batgirl)

Claire Wendling (Iguana Bay)

 

dates

 

EXHIBITORS

We’ll be opening up our exhibitor registration on Friday 4th March this year – we’ll have another blog post coming with more details on Wednesday, and the registration form will go live on our website for potential exhibitors to complete on the date above. We saw some amazing talent at the convention last year, and we’re hoping that Thought Bubble 2016 will be our most diverse yet!

 

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YOUTUBE CHANNEL

As part of 2014’s Thought Bubble, we were awarded a very generous grant from Arts Council England in order to allow us to take video recordings of the panels and talks at 2014’s convention, and we hope that these will get you in the mood for this year’s festival!

We uploaded lots of videos to our YouTube channel throughout the year (joining those from previous year’s festivals), so, as 2016’s Thought Bubble (or Thought Bubble (Weapon) X as we may at some point call it) gets ever closer, you can get into the bubbly mood by revisiting some classic panels and masterclasses from our past! Make sure to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss any! You can find Thought Bubble’s YouTube channel by clicking here.

 

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We’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned for 2016, as well as big plans for Thought Bubble’s future in the pipeline as we enter our second decade, and we hope to see you soon at an event!

We’d also like to say a big thank you to everyone who supports Thought Bubble and makes organising it such an enjoyable and rewarding experience – it’s mind blowing that we’ve come so far in the ten years the festival has been running, and it’s all down to you, the creators, publishers, retailers, visiting public, and of course our amazing volunteers – we couldn’t do this without you, so thank you.



Leeds Inspired Project – Get Into Comics by thoughtbubblefestival
22/01/2016, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

2015’s Thought Bubble project started life as a question: how do we get people into comics? We don’t just mean reading; how to we make people characters in their own stories? How do we make them part of the action?

Last year we attempted to answer that question through Get Into Comics, our Leeds Inspired funded project, spearheaded by artist Tom Eglington and completed in collaboration with the amazing students at the Leeds College of Art. Following a series of workshops, activity days and a lot of very late nights for Tom, Get Into Comics resulted in 8 giant comic panels that have been inhabited by the imaginations of hundreds of people across Yorkshire and beyond. You can see some of our favourites here, but don’t forget to also check out the #GetIntoComics hashtag for all the fun!

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We couldn’t have done any of this, of course, without the wonderful people at Leeds Inspired, whose enthusiasm for Get Into Comics  was invaluable in getting the project off the ground. After the success of last year’s Kodama Woods project, also funded by Leeds Inspired, we were thrilled that our funding application was accepted and Get Into Comics could be made a reality. Thought Bubble is a non-profit organisation so funding bodies such as Leeds Inspired provide much of the support we need to be able to bring the festival to you each year.

We were also very lucky to have the help of the awesome students at the Leeds College of Art. Over the course of this project we had several workshops with the students that resulted in the creation of one of our most popular panels; a UFO abduction! Over the past few years we’ve built a great relationship with LCA and it has been fantastic having the input of so many of the rising stars of comics and illustration. Tom has written more about the work they did together, as well as the whole process of creating the comic panels, below. Tom did such a stellar job on this project and his blog is well worth a read.

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Our first outing with Get Into Comics was at Leeds Trinity shopping centre, where we encountered a large selection of people, many of whom had no history reading comics. We were swarmed with people all day which was amazing to see! Young and old alike were really excited about jumping into the comics and creating their own stories with all the props and sound effects we had created.  We had similar experiences on our other outings at The Light, Victoria Gardens (outside the art galleries) and the Children’s Library at Leeds Central Library. It was so much fun seeing everyone get really stuck in and for families and friends to create and laugh together. We felt really special to have enabled that.

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The panels also proved really popular at the Thought Bubble convention on 14th and 15th November. Tom and our wonderful Get Into Comics volunteers spent the weekend helping our convention attendees create all sorts of amazing and hilarious panels with the booths. Even our exhibitors and guests got involved!

Now the project is over we’ve been on the hunt for homes for the booths. One has already found a place at the Forget Me Not Hospice where it spent the festive season bringing cheer to children and families dealing with life-limiting illnesses. So if your organisation would enjoy having one of our panels we would love to hear from you!

We’d like to say thank you again to everyone who made this project possible: to Leeds Inspired, the Leeds College of Art, our amazing artist Tom Eglington and the dedicated volunteers who helped set up and run the booths at all our event days and the TB2015 convention, and of course to all the people who got involved and created their own stories with Get Into Comics. You guys rock!

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The artist’s perspective

Tom Eglington

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I was very lucky to have been asked to create last year’s Kodama Woods project, which was so fun and rewarding that almost immediately following TB2014 I was thinking of ways to create another art project for 2015 that could build on the interactive elements of Kodama Woods and inspire lots of people to get creative. I wanted it to be something fun and un-intimidating, that didn’t assume a base knowledge of comics or pop culture.

After several excited conversations with [Festival Manager] Martha, we began to put together the basics for Get into Comics. I suggested creating comic book scenes with a cutout foreground image against a background, allowing people to occupy the middle ground. The inspiration for this came directly from classic comic covers where complicated scenes are created using a similar composition.

I began trying out models to demonstrate the process and also to figure out both how to construct the boxes on a large scale and to see where any problems or difficulties might occur. I quickly found that certain compositions worked while others didn’t at all . One of the more successful ones was an iconic Superman-esque cover, which provided a good starting point for my first prototype.

photo 1

After our funding was granted I began refining the designs to meet our requirements. The booths would need to be mobile as we wanted to take them around Leeds for the public to engage with in the  run up to the festival. We also wanted to create a wide selection of comic scenes that would appeal to all ages, as well as both seasoned comic fans and people who were not familiar with the comic medium. Finally, after the success of our Kodama Woods lantern-making workshops at Leeds College of Art last year, we were all really keen to get their students more involved in the creation of the comic panels, so there needed to be elements of the panels and props that we could create together. Originally I had conceived of the booths as static ready-made constructions, but after we decided to tour them I approached a builder/ carpenter friend, Paul Ansell, who came up with an ingenious way of using a lightweight plastic frame that could be dismantled  whilst still being strong enough to hold up the large sheets of plywood used for the scenery. Paul saved me a lot of time and headaches by creating a prototype I could work from.

photo 1 (1)

This moved me on pretty quickly to the second planning stage; coming up with suitable scenes that would cover all the most popular comic genres.  They all had to be family friendly and easily recognisable. I decided early on that the scenes should be homages to classic comics rather than direct references, as this would allow plenty of creative leeway for us and the people using the booths., My first attempt was a homage to classic old horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and Creepy. What better way to kick things off than with a mad scientist’s laboratory?

          In creating the booth designs I began by making a thumbnail and then refining the image by sketching directly onto the plywood panels. I could then alter the image accordingly – the foreground image needed to be of a particular shape so that it would be structurally strong enough, and I found it  easier to judge how to do this on a larger scale. I added the background after the cutout had been completed, so I could alter the height of the background scene. I had previously discovered that it changes depending on your line of sight.

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With the initial booth under my belt,  we were ready for our Leeds College of Art workshops. Over two days, illustration students from the second year (organised by Gareth Wadkin) were going to come up with a design for one of the comic panels as well as create props to be used in all eight booths, along with sound effects and speech bubbles. It was a pretty tall order for two days!I was hugely impressed with the range of designs that the students came up with and their skill in creating the props and painting the booth. . What was interesting was how similar ideas recurred. The sorts of things that I had found myself trying out during the concept stage were the sorts of things a lot of the students were trying out, from adapting classic comic covers to playing with scale and perspective.

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We finally agreed on a design that two students had come up with independently. Daniel Stevenson and Sophie Wright both came up with a UFO scene that had the beam of spaceship as the cutout, which was a really great use of the format that I’d not thought of. It was too good not to use. Sophie created a third design using elements of three different pictures of the UFO concept, which a small group of students began drawing onto the plywood sheets for the finished box. We also began creating a colourful mixture of sound effects that we needed (following the fine pop art tradition of onomatopoeia) and a mixture of props for the themed boxes. I also had student ambassador, Adam Allsuch Boardman, help start on the background for a city scene. He had shown me some excellent city scenes he had illustrated, and since one of the booths involved a superhero fight scene in a city, he was perfect for the job.

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The booth that the students created proved incredibly popular with the public, as did the props they designed. I did, of course, insist that they try out their creations with the horror themed comic booth for the obligatory photo op!

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After the development and initial build process was completed it was a (relatively!) simple affair constructing the remaining boxes. It was great to see our work being enjoyed so much on our event days and at the Thought Bubble Convention.