I spent most of Saturday at the annual Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds - a comics and sequential art convention held at the Royal Armouries New Dock Hall (formerly the Jimmy Savile Hall, with various different events at venues all over Leeds in the run-up to the weekend. I had previously been in around 2009 and 2010 when covering it for the late lamented Squidge Magazine and it was interesting to see how different it was to previous times. It’s certain grown a lot bigger than the previous years that I’d been, with a big marquee in between the two halls to handle more exhibitors. Notable names there this year were Kate Beaton, Joan Cornellà, Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC, Gemma Correll, Olly Moss, Adi Granov, Adam Cadwell and loads more.
The artists that I was most looking forward to seeing was the aforementioned Joan Cornellà and http://pbfcomics.com/Nicholas Gurewitch from the Perry Bible Fellowship. I also came across Dan Martin who makes the http://www.deathbulge.com/comicsDeathbulge comics which was a nice surprise as I didn’t know he was coming (or rather, I didn’t bother reading far enough down the exhibitor list).
I got a signed copy of Zonzo from Joan Cornellà, who did the inside cover drawing of a giant head with hairy bollocks in one line with a Sharpie (above). He looked like the day was getting to him a bit as he was starting to look proper knackered. As a side note, all the artists seemed to be well looked after - the organisers had people running about getting the artists food and drinks from what I could see. I also got some prints from Nicholas Gurewitch who was over the moon that we were his best customers so far.
My girlfriend and a few friends who were over for the weekend also came with me and it was nice to see that they got as much out of it as I did. My girlfriend got to do her favourite thing of people watching, and my friends also got some nice tshirts and prints. I think the organisers pride themselves on the convention being as accessible as possible. There’s a really broad range of exhibitors who range from the more serious end of comics involving crime solving super heroes to hobbyists and small press books, to people who make badges with cats and unicorns on them. Everyone seems to be smiling and there’s an effort to be inclusive amongst a group of people who aren’t known for their social skills. There’s also a big family friendly vibe, with lots of kids under the age of ten wandering around dressed as fairies or monsters. I’m definitely going to try and get back next year and drag as many people along as I can with me.
This is the conversation we had on the way back from the train station:
Taxi Driver: Have you had a nice day today?
All of us, cheerily: Yes!
Taxi Driver: What have you been up to?
Me: We’ve been to a comics convention.
*Taxi Driver: *Is that where people dress up?
Taxi Driver: ….awkward silence…