Comic conventions are some of the places to go. Not just to scope out new talent, meet creators or make new friends, but the undeniably fun and amazing community feeling that you get. Since I am unable to travel up and down the country for other conventions (as much as I’d love to!) I make a big point of going to Leeds every November for Thought Bubble.
Taking place on the third week of November, Thought Bubble takes over the Royal Armouries in Leeds for a week worth of sequential art goodness. During the week, a variety of free art classes, writing and art workshops, academic conferences, talks, and a variety of sequential art related film screenings. At the weekend, that’s the when the convention gets into full swing! People from all over the country flock to Leeds for the chance to cosplay, meet some of their favourite and revered comic book creators, and the chance to socialise with many other people with the same interests. In short, Thought Bubble is an enormous community, packed full of people who love what they do, and are not afraid to show it. Thought Bubble has had an incredible line-up of guest creators in its seven years, and this year was no different, featuring the incredibly talented Fiona Staples, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and much, much more. As well as big-name creators, Thought Bubble also boasts an impressive selection of independent creators, and after last year’s success, now has a whopping three halls to accommodate the huge range of talents.
Having had such a good time last year (see my write-up here) I was sure not to miss it this year! I booked my ticket way back in February, booked a hotel with my best friend, and on Friday night, Lawrence (@AGuyPlayinGames) and I came over to Leeds. Starting (ahem!) bright and early on Saturday, I did an understated Barbara Gordon wardrobe cosplay, and after getting lost a bit around Leeds, Lawrence and I eventually arrived at the Royal Armouries, and the con got underway for us.
On Saturday, the Main Dock Hall was absolutely PACKED. There must have been twice as many people as there was last year! It was pretty hard to move around the hall, and there was an almighty press everywhere you turned. However, it was still possible to move around and chat to people! My first port of call was to my good friend Jon Lock and Nich Angell’s table, where they had copies of Afterlife Inc. and 7String, their respective comics. Jon, Nich and I had a catch up, and we talked about how the con was going. Jon was also nice enough to give me some really cool Afterlife Inc. badges left over from the Kickstarter project, which I will soon be attaching to various surfaces. After saying goodbye to Jon and Nich, Lawrence and I went over to the Twisted Dark table (I reviewed their title Twisted Light here, and did an interview with Neil Gibson, the brain behind TD here) where Lawrence picked up a copy of Twisted Dark, and I chatted to Will about the book. From the Twisted Dark stand, Lawrence and I fought our way through the crowds and checked out a few more stalls, including Rachael Smith’s, and I bought The Way We Write, and got a super cute Flimsy badge! All in all, we spent about an hour and a half in the New Dock Hall before we finally emerged again.
Our next stop was over to the Royal Armouries Hall, which, like the New Dock Hall, was full of people! Thankfully, it was much less crowded, and it was definitely easier to move around. The people I spoke to in the Royal Armouries were super friendly and easy-going as well, and the overall community feeling was incredibly high! I chatted to quite a few people about my sparkly Batman necklace, and made a lot of new friends. I also met Joe Quinones and got several of my Captain Marvels signed, including my favourite cover! We also went over to the newly built and smelling-of-hot-glue Allied London Hall which had a lot of other sellers, including Guillermo Ortego (who did this lovely Layla Miller sketch for me last year and remembered me!) and my friend Owen MacRae of Beep Club. Lawrence and I also found a seller who had an incredible amount of Pop Vinyl figures, and we just couldn’t help ourselves! I came back with a super cute Batgirl figure (who now proudly sits atop my pile of books on my desk) and Lawrence got a Thor one.
After a brief stop for tea in the Tea Bubbz café, Lawrence and I went back into the deluge of people that was streaming through the New Dock Hall! I was on a mission to get things signed, and did pretty well! I met Nick Spencer again, and we talked about Morning Glories season two, variant covers and crazy theories! I’m still in shock that he remembered me from last year, and I was glad to catch up with him again- Nick’s such a sweetie! Lawrence and I then made our way up to the top of the hall, where devious duo Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen were signing, along with colourist Matt Wilson. Again, I had a great chat with Jamie and Kieron, and I talked about my love for Phonogram, and who my favourite Young Avenger was! Lawrence and I walked past Kelly Sue DeConnick’s signing table about three times and missed her, but the fourth time was definitely the charm! As I have mentioned many times on this blog (and my previous post) my love for Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work is pretty much off the charts. Her Captain Marvel series has pretty much defined my year in reading comics, and I have really enjoyed all of her titles, as well as Pretty Deadly, which debuted last month. Also as a wannabe comic writer, Kelly Sue is pretty much my writing role model, and I love her voice and style. Sadly, this is all the stuff I didn’t get chance to tell her as I was so shaky and speechless! Either way, when I finally met her and got the chance to speak to her, she recognised me from my work here and hugged me! She, Lawrence and I chatted about various cons and how she was enjoying TB, and I eventually got my picture taken with her. It was an incredible moment for me.
After we met Kelly Sue, Lawrence and I went back to the hotel, shoulders aching, back aching and settled in for the night. I forgot how tiring cons could be! We had originally planned on going to the after party, but by 4PM we were already pretty tired, and got an early night, ready for the next day.
Unfortunately for us, our hotel kicked us out at twelve, so for the Sunday, Lawrence and I were stuck dragging our suitcases with us, which made the con much harder to navigate. Thankfully, there much less people! However, I spent much of the Sunday taking photos of cosplayers (there were some amazing ones! However, I didn’t get many photos) and getting my last bits and pieces signed, including meeting John McCrea again and asking him to sign some issues of The Boys for me. Lawrence went home earlier than me (he couldn’t cope carrying his bag around all day, the poor lamb) so I wandered around the halls on my own for a few hours. I met Lyndon White and Rudra Purkayastha, the creative team behind upcoming comic Cosmic Fish, and had a great chat with them about their new comic, unpronounceable names, and desserts!
My only regret of the con is that I didn’t get chance to meet Matt Fraction and get Sex Criminals signed. I would have loved to meet him and talked about Sex Criminals (and how my entire household think I'm some sort of creepy perv for reading it) and his other works.
As could be expected, Thought Bubble 2013 was incredible. I met some amazing people and made some great friends, and I will definitely be there again next year. Sadly I didn’t make it to any panels, but I plan on getting there next year! It was slightly better than last year in that it was better signposted, but I would have liked a cloakroom somewhere. However, these are only really minor faults, as Lawrence and I had an amazing time.
Thank you so, so, so much Thought Bubble 2013. To all the creators I met, new friends I made, internet folk I spoke to, and organisers, a very big thank you to all of you. You’ve pretty much made my year with your awesomeness.
If you want to find out more about Thought Bubble, they’re on Twitter, on Facebook, have a blog, and have a website that is regularly updated.
Until next year!
Follow me on Twitter- @Ariellalphabet