PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

In the last few years, the UK has seen a burst in growth in Comic Cons, with pretty much every sizable town and city in the UK enjoying a weekend event designed to gather crowds.  Alas, the majority of them have been more about film, TV and related media than actual comic books, and they have mostly been lacklustre affairs that have concentrated on getting hordes of the general public through the doors. Those looking for something better came to Leeds this weekend, to experience the growing phenomena that is Thought Bubble.

Thought Bubble describes itself as a Comic Arts Festival. Now in its ninth year, it’s a weeklong festival that cumulates in a weekend-long comic convention. It’s safe to say that this year was the best event so far.

The great and the good from the wide world of comic books descended to celebrate sequential art. This was an event where the stars were artists and writers, all who love comics. There was not a single ex-Star Wars actor in sight, but some of the brilliant talent behind the Star Wars comics were present instead.

By now, of course, Thought Bubble is a slickly organised affair. Despite the large press of people on the Saturday, the volunteers have become expert at managing the crowds. The various panels were managed well, with everything pretty much happening on time. The content of the panels were fairly broad and general, and this was a good thing; it allowed the guests to explore their topics with creativity and freedom, which made it all thoroughly entertaining.

Highlights included 2000AD’s Writing Competition, in which people had 120 seconds to pitch their short story to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic and an excellent panel on world building, featuring Kate Leth, Noelle Stevenson, Rick Remender, Scott Snyder, Ales Kot and Kieron Gillen. The Mid-Convention Party was particularly remarkable thanks to the presence of Darryl McDaniels, the DMC part of Run DMC, who was of course in the UK to promote his comic book and we understand a good time was had by all.

Thought Bubble is usually quieter on the Sunday, and this year was no exception. It was a great chance to catch up with comic fans and friends, as well as checking out some of the comics available for sale. Queues for signings weren’t too long and were very well managed.

Thought Bubble is a good event to take a measure of how healthy the British Independent comic book industry is, and we’re pleased to say that it is very, very healthy indeed. There is an overwhelming amount of talent in the UK and public demand is also growing. Everyone wants to read the next big thing, after all. Overall an excellent event and we’re already looking forward to next year.
Photo: Anne Davies

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