When Thought Bubble Festival comes around, comic book fans and writers from the North of England get that twinge of excitement over the chance to talk to other like minded individuals – though their wallets will suffer.
Thought Bubble Festival 2014 was no exception, with amateur and professional artists coming together to discuss their work, sell comics and sign them. Here are just some of the highlights that made this year’s festival great.
Bee and Puppycat panel
Followers of Cartoon Hangover on YouTube may already be in love with Bee and Puppycat. So naturally it’s exciting for fans to find out more about their beloved web cartoon. Natasha Allegri, Madeleine Flores, Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson – the team behind Bee and Puppycat – offer a panel of art, insight and comedy, not to mention a screening of episode three of Bee and Puppycat before its upload to YouTube. Natasha describes the whole show as a “love letter to [the anime] Sailor Moon” but with the addition of characters and experiences taken from real life. Then fans get to ask questions like “which Sailor Scout would you be?” to “can I have a hug?” – the person asking that question did get a hug from each panel member.
With every comic convention comes Cosplay. You may spot Ramona Flowers retouching her hair and make up in the bathroom, Harley Quinn scanning for her favourite comics or Judge Dredd bringing law and order to the convention when he isn’t posing for pictures.
Image comics panels
At the I is for Inspiration: The Artists of Image Comics and subsequent I is for Innovation: The Writers of Image Comics panels, fans could hear from the masterminds behind Image Comics. Artists included The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard, The Wicked and the Divine’s Jamie McKelvie and Thought Bubble organiser and Image comics artist Lisa Wood.
Making up the writers’ panel: The Wicked and the Divine’s Kieron Gillen and Scott Snyder of Batman and Swamp Thing fame among others. Speakers’ topics of conversation include the advantages of drawing digitally against drawing on paper and the subject matter it is appropriate to write about in a comic, such as Image’s comic titled Sex Criminals. At each panel, fans could hear about each side of the writer-artist relationship – like that of Jason Latour and Jason Aaron of Southern Bastards.
Talking about comic art is great but it’s even better to see artists in action. Natasha Allegri, Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and others each got 20 minutes each to draw a picture in front of a crowd at The Sketching Spotlight. That’s in between discussing drawing techniques and the importance of drawing for themselves.
Of course, you always come away from Thought Bubble with a heavy bag of merchandise and a lighter wallet but it’s very different to visiting your average comic book shop. You can buy comics from the artists and writers themselves, maybe get to meet some of your favourites.
New artists and authors emerge here too. There is no separation between independently published writers or those signed to the likes of Marvel and DC, everyone sells in the same rooms. That’s the key takeaway from Thought Bubble 2014. There’s no division between the new artists, the professional artists or the fans. Just people passionate about comic art coming together.