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Wednesday, 24 November 2010
In Review: Thought Bubble 2010 by Matthew Badham
This report is a bit late. I was summoned back from Thought Bubble on Sunday morning (I had planned to stay for some of the events that were taking place on that day) because my wife had picked up a stomach bug and the kids needed looking after. She's up and about again, giving me time to process my thoughts after a hectic, but enjoyable convention experience.
So, here, in no particular order, are ten for Thought Bubble 2010. That is, ten thoughts on what worked and what didn't (very little, in terms of the latter), and stuff that you should make sure you do if you attend next year.
1. I think that Thought Bubble is going through a bit of a transitional phase at the moment. It's 'growing up', as it were. For the first time ever, the main exhibitors' hall was a little crowded and difficult to navigate. I suppose that's just a symptom of the fact that word of mouth has drawn more people to the con.
2. Despite the above, Thought Bubble feels like one of the most welcoming cons I've ever attended. It's hard to say why, really, but contributing factors possibly include the friendliness of the numerous volunteers working at the con; the cosplayers, whose exuberance and general good humour is massively infectious; the good cheer of the various writers and artists in attendance, who, despite the fact they're packed behind tables for most of the day, stay 'on form' for their fans; the fact that Thought Bubble is the last con of the year and so fans and pros alike are determined to have THE. BEST. TIME. EVER.
3. Which is what is generally going on at the after-con party. You have: comic creators DJing. A packed dance floor. A casino straight out of a David Lynch film. Dancing. Dancing. And more dancing. Time loops. Folds in on itself. Runs out of sequence. Matt Sheret plays the Pixies. Al Ewing plays Meatloaf. Masterful. Fantastic. Did I say THE. BEST. TIME. EVER. If you go to Thought Bubble in 2011, you should be there. I'll meet you on the dance-floor.
4. Which is when it occurs to me that the comics community owes a debt of gratitude to the people who run Thought Bubble. And all the other cons, big or small. Caption. The British International Comic Show in Birmingham. Bristol etc… Because as far as I know none of those peeps are getting rich from running cons and they work their arses off each year to provide a space for fans to play and professionals to network and play. Cheers, chaps.
5. Speaking of people who work hard: if you do go to any conventions next year, make sure you check out the various indie comics exhibitors that are selling their wares. There's some incredible work out there at the moment from the likes of Phillippa Rice; Sean Azzopardi; Francesca Cassavetti; Luke Pearson; Tom Humberstone; Lizz Lunney; Sarah McIntyre; David O'Connell and more… I could go on, but won't because I'll never stop. Seriously, ditch whatever super hero comic you're habit buying and spend some money on work from the likes of those guys instead.
6. Try and have some random encounters too. I think one of the best things about cons is that a mutual love of comics throws people together who wouldn't normally meet each other. For example, I ended up having breakfast on Sunday morning with a woman who works for the Swedish governing political party. Cue a fascinating discussion on Swedish politics.
8. Back to the report. One of the things I regretted this year was not getting to more panels and events. The programme for Thought Bubble was ridiculous (as in ridiculously good). Damn. Next time, I intend to rectify this state of affairs. You should also go to as many panels as possible. The one I did attend, on self-publishing, was great.
9. Buy a pastie. You should buy a pastie. Seriously. The pastie shops in Leeds are open until 4.00am or something. It's bizarre.
10. And finally, you should be inspired. I was. Don't think I'm going to do anything as a consequence. Make a mini-comic. Organise my own event. But, you know, maybe that's not always the point. Maybe all I'll be inspired to do is attend again next year. And dance. And dance. And dance some more.
• Bleeding Cool"Thought Bubble, hitting well above its weight with a guest list including John Romita Jr, Becky Cloonan, Tony Harris, Kieron Gillen, Bryan Talbot, Dan Abnett, Doug Braithwaite, Dider Crisse, Ian Churchill, Paul Cornell, Paul Duffield, Adi Granov, Antony Johnston, Barry Kitcon, Jamie McKelvie, Sean Phillips, Steve Wacker, Richard Starkings, Duncan Fegredo and so many more."