Thought Bubble Festival 2015 – A BCP Recap

For the third straight year, Team BCP was out in full force at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, and for the third straight year, we had an absolutely fantastic time.

One of the few purely comic-focused events in the annual UK convention circuit, Thought Bubble has a style and a vibe all of its own, with pretty much every single person we spoke to singing the praises of the organisers and their team of friendly red-shirts (who performed noticeably more smoothly than their Star Trek counterparts).

New Dock Hall in full swing - click to enlarge

New Dock Hall in full swing – click to enlarge

While Greg was chained to the BHP Comics table for most of the weekend, Ceej and Chris were able to get out and about and experience all that TB had to offer.  Here’s what they had to say;

Chris Says…

I finally popped my Thought Bubble cherry this past weekend and I’m almost lost for words as to how worth the wait it was.

BBQ time! Note the cheery optimism in Greg's eyes - click to enlarge

BBQ time! Note the cheery optimism in Greg’s eyes – click to enlarge

Personal Highlights: in Chronological order; Reds (goddamn that was tasty BBQ), seeing such amazing talent at the Young Guns Artist thingy, Finally meeting a slightly worse for wear Scott Snyder. Meeting so many incredible creators I’ve respected for years, and getting to briefly chat to them about their work. Especially Rick Remender, Sean Gordon Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth about Tokyo Ghost and the idea of “unplugging”. The Four Horsemen, and honestly? Just getting to catch up with people I don’t get to see often, I hate adulting!

Sean Gordon Murphy being all awesome and talented - click to enlarge

Sean Gordon Murphy being all awesome and talented – click to enlarge

Top Purchases: DTHRTL, both the Porcelain books, Beast Wagon 2, a Sandman/Death from Phil Buckenham, and you’ve all seen my Ben Templesmith Hellboy, right?

Behold, the Templesmith Hellboy - click to enlarge

Behold, the Templesmith Hellboy – click to enlarge

Small Press Recommendations: see above, but add to it Sleeping Dogs, Find, and Funk Soul Samurai.

I’m still trying to absorb everything we did at the weekend, but it might be the most fun I’ve had with Comic related stuff in years. Such a well organised event, the Red Shirts did organisers proud, the weather didn’t manage to dampen anyones spirits, and just how relaxed everything felt! Can we do it all again please? Same time, same place next year?

Ceej Says…

Personal Highlights:  The British Comic Awards were fantastic and well-attended, and provided a perfect opportunity for me to rub shoulders with some of my fellow committee members, tireless founder and chairperson Adam Cadwell, as well as several of the creators for the shortlisted titles.

Just some of the Orbital Young Guns Art Jam awesomeness - click to enlarge

Just some of the Orbital Young Guns Art Jam awesomeness – click to enlarge

From there, it was BBQ time at Reds, which was more than worth the wait (having missed out last year),  even if the severity of the ribs did nearly put Greg down for the count. The Orbital Comics Young Guns Art Jam was also a major step-up in scale and execution from last year, with some fantastic live sketching, music and copious amounts of cheap beer.  Hats off to Owen, John and the cats at Orbital for making it happen.

Matteo Scalera getting his draw on - click to enlarge

Matteo Scalera getting his draw on – click to enlarge

For the Con itself, the chance to catch up with some familiar faces (John Lees, Sam Read, Colin Bell, Neil Slorance and the folks at BHP Comics) was definitely welcome, as was the opportunity to finally put some faces to names by meeting some new creators.  Highlights below, and apologies in advance to anyone I’ve missed out;

Fraser Campbell, whose Sleeping Dogs was one of the unquestioned highlights of my pre-Thought Bubble review pile.

– The (un)controlled orange-hued chaos of Rob, Michael and Nick at the Madius Comics table.

– The outstandingly bearded and supremely talented Gareth Sleightholme at Iron Shod Ape.

– Fellow Scots Bob Turner and Alan Henderson, clearly having a blast punting their uniquely quirky titles.

– The wonderful Mike Medaglia, who seemed genuinely grateful for Jane’s review of his book, One Year Wiser

– One half of the team at Alien In The Outfield (I’ll get you next time, Jack!), who piqued my interest with their upcoming Bowie-themed title.

– Midnight Man artist Andy Bloor, who was shilling his awesome-looking new Andy-thology.

In terms of guests, everyone was universally cheerful and welcoming, with Ben Templesmith, Rick Remender and Charles Soule deserving extra praise for their willingness to chat.  I also think I kinda owe an apology to Kate Beaton, who I inadvertently hijacked as she was trying to get away from her table, but who was still gracious and charming regardless.

Mutual love... maybe - click to enlarge

Mutual love… maybe – click to enlarge

Top Purchases:  Sooooo many Swamp Things, with Scalera and Templesmith providing the highlights.  Also worthy of mention are my Thanoses (Thani?) from John Watson and Iain Laurie, who each went in very, VERY different directions.  Comic-wise, I grabbed (almost) more than I could carry, and while I haven’t had a chance to read many of them yet, Tillie Walden’s “I Love This Part” from Avery Hill Publishing is an outstandingly intimate portrait of the fine line between friendship and love. Highly, highly recommended.

Two very, very different versions - click to enlarge

Two very, very different versions – click to enlarge

Also, I managed to pick up my regular sketch from the supremely talented Phil Buckenham, as well as persuading both Chris and John Lees to hit him up for commissions as well.  Seriously, if you’re at a con that Phil is at and you don’t get him to draw something for you, I’m not sure we can still be friends. That is all.

The only real criticism I witnessed over the entire weekend was some (justifiable) griping that certain guests opted not to turn up until around 11:30-12:00 on the Sunday, in spite of the doors opening at 10:00. Some fairly unhappy people standing around for hours, and while I guess it’s up to the guests where and when they open themselves up for signings, a little extra information beforehand might have gone down well.

Overall though, Thought Bubble once again retains its crown as one of the absolute highlights of the annual UK convention circuit, with a chilled-out, friendly and small press-focused approach to the world of the comics. Roll on 2016!

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