Thoughts on Thought Bubble

Last year’s Thought Bubble was a treat: a convention which happily combined all elements of comics, bringing new talent to a new audience, and rewarding its guests with an exclusive after-party in a local casino! It was definitely an experience worth repeating.

Thought Bubble is part of the month-long Leeds Film Festival, with its own series of films programmed to tie in with the event, so each year I’ve gone up to Leeds a day before the main convention and taken the rare opportunity to catch some anime on the big screen. This time I went to the Hyde Park Picturehouse, a 95-year old cinema, complete with one tiny ticket booth, a tuck-shop style kiosk, and even a balcony – all on a street corner in a residential area! It took some finding, but I got there just in time to see ‘Angel’s Egg’, from 1985. Unfortunately I missed the introductory talk, which might have been helpful; the film didn’t have an easy story to follow, with very little dialogue or action. But like an animated David Lynch film, it successfully drew me in to its eerie mood, and left me with some weird images sure to stay in the mind. Not a film to munch popcorn to, though. The brand new ‘Summer Wars’ was more enjoyable, and I’d recommend it highly: I didn’t think the premise of boy-meets-girl-and-fights-computer-virus too promising, but the story is gripping, emotional and funny in turn, and the animation is just awesome, contrasting more traditional Manga styles with crazy game-inspired visions.

On Saturday, the convention included several panel discussions, guest signings, workshops and competitions, but for me it was all about the small press comics. I was sharing tables with Hugh Raine and Joe Decie, and arrived first to set up stall in good time. Unfortunately I found when Hugh arrived that I had the wrong table, and had to quickly move all my things! We had a good spot between the We Are Words & Pictures band and John Allison of Scary-Go-Round and Bad Machinery fame. There was a steady flow of crowds around the convention hall: occasionally our alley would seem empty, then a few customers would pop along at once and huddle around the tables. As at MCM Expo, we could amuse ourselves by cosplay-watching (best sights: the Penguin with a big stick-on beak of a nose, and the cardboard Transformer girl), and our spirits were kept up by visits from friends and by free Red Bull! I was pleased to meet some repeat customers from last year, a girl who laughed at every page of my Animal Paper, and a guy who asked to interview me for a student documentary… although I just managed to babble a lot about nothing while waving my hands around a great deal.

It was good to meet up with comic friends from all over: honorary member of our twelve-eyed comic team Dale O.F. came from Ireland; Audrey & Julia Morning brought sweet zines and comics from Scotland; I also had a chat with the Paper Jam collective from Newcastle and the comic-creating students from Glyndwr University in North Wales. And of course there were a lot of tourists up from London

I bought a good batch of comics, including the new issues of music/magic series Phonogram, Marc Ellerby’s Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter, Banal Pig’s Ethel Sparrowhawk, and a newspaper-format anthology from We Are Words & Pictures.

After the convention and a home-cooked meal from my friends (thanks Chris & Naomi), it was time for some drinking, drawing and dancing at the Thought Bubble after-party. I was obliged to do a little jumping about to ‘Can I Take U 2 the Cinema’ by Kenickie, ‘Broken Face’ by Pixies, and ‘Where’s Me Jumper?’ by Sultans of Ping FC… it was just a shame the music couldn’t have been louder! There were some big sketch pads by the bar, on which various reprobate artists scribbled things that included a zombie Charlie Brown and a naked Asterix

Before long it was 3am, and since the room seemed to have turned into a 1970s disco I decided it was time to go get some sleep. The next day I enjoyed the Christmas market in town and a couple of beers in the North Bar, decorated with cartoons by Dr Simpo, before heading home. Thanks to the organisers, customers and friends – I’d do it all again next year!

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on Thought Bubble”

  1. Joe Says:

    I used to live right by the Hyde Park picture house. Right by it.

  2. Al Says:

    Lucky you!

    I forgot to get your new comic, Joe! Bah.

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