Review: Thought Bubble #1 / Featuring: Charlie Adlard, Mike Carey, Becky Cloonan, Andy Diggle, Duncan Fegredo, Robin Furth, Stuart Gordon, Antony Johnston and more / Published by: Image Comics / Release date: Out Now
This first anthology created by Leeds’ sequential arts festival is everything that you would expect from Thought Bubble – diverse, unconventional and ambitious. Collecting winning entries from their Northern Sequential Art Competition alongside work from internationally renowned comic creators and donating all profits to the children’s charity Barnardos, this anthology is every bit as successful as the festival that it represents.
There can be no mistaking the assured storytelling on offer in Antony Johnston and Charlie Adlard’s short Wasteland tale or Andy Diggle and D’Israeli’s charming one-page strip, but the real stars of the anthology come from unexpected places. Robin Furth, whose work I know only from Marvel’s Dark Tower, has a strip called A Thief’s Tale about the Norse gods that easily matches the best Thor comics of the past decade. Mike Carey has collaborated with two of Starburst’s favourite UK creators M D Penman and Andrew Tunney on an unexpectedly funny two-page strip that’s would be worth the cover price of the whole anthology. Sally Jane Thompson’s one-page The Very Best contains a warmth and wit that reminds me of the work of Sara Varon and Thought Bubble 2011’s Artist-In-Residence Kristyna Baczynski accomplishes more in half a page than most people could with a whole comic. The Hound, adapted from H P Lovecraft by Stuart Gordon and Tula Lotay, echoes James Jean and Mike Allred in a haunting tale with eerily atmospheric colouring that takes excellent advantage of the newspaper-style printing.
Even the paper stock and fold-out, broadsheet style printing denote the Thought Bubble anthology as something innovative and bold. As a platform for exposing talented new comic creators and an advertisement for one of the UK’s best loved comic festivals this anthology is a success and I hope very much that it will become an annual event that develops in tandem with the festival. Endeavours like this are exactly what the UK needs if we’re to compete globally and avoid the familiar fate of Marvel and DC poaching all of our best writers and artists.