A common grumble I hear about comic conventions is why do they always seem to take place in the South?  I suppose that’s a fair question, except that London is awkwardly positioned mostly in the South.  I say mostly, it’s less a case of urban sprawl and more urban consumption, having swallowed so many other cities into its voluminous depths.  One can’t really escape the fact that London is a world-renowned city.  Sometimes even for good reasons.

But take heart all ye who live in the Midlands and North.  You’re not always required to venture into the beast that is London for your comic con needs.  Thought Bubble is now into its sixth year as a convention and each year grows to meet the demand for a comic convention of substance.

Thought Bubble Festival is a week-long celebration of comic book art with exhibitions, shows and workshops in the week of 11-18 November 2012.  They even handedly mark out which events are particularly suitable for children should you wish to bring your wee geeks-in-training.  I was especially excited to see that the Tiger & Bunny feature film (dubbed, alas for me, I am a subs man) was being premiered on 11 November at the Leeds Town Hall.  I’m such a huge fan of Tiger & Bunny I could gush for hours.

But I won’t.

That isn’t why you came here.

The Comic Convention takes place on the weekend of 17-18 November.  There’s so much going on that I’m personally so very excited about that I may derail into hopeless, incoherent flailing.  Bear with me.

Buying Comics/Books
There are a lot of books making their debut release at the comic convention, you can check out in advance what’s being released on the website all in the Royal Armouries Hall.  I’m pretty excited about ‘Cakes With Faces’ by Amy Crabtree (what a wonderful name).  I get more excited about cookery than superheroes, true fact.

For every aspiring comic book artist, there are several people on hand for portfolio critiques.  Because of demand, you will need to make appointments in advance with the Marvel team.  Both they and the Image team, represented by Steve Wacker and Eric Stephenson respectively, will need you to email your portfolio in advance*.  Both Marvel and Image are located in Alea Casino First Floor Bar.  You can also get portfolio critique from SelfMadeHero, a UK publishing house.  They will also hear your pitches for new titles in Saviles Hall.  These three are open all day on both days of the convention.  Finally, 2000AD are holding a portfolio competition to shake things up.  They have a sample script available on the Thought Bubble website, which they ask aspiring artists to draw their own version and bring that to their table at the Saviles Hall on the Saturday.

For a full list of the panels available, check out the Thought Bubble website, I’m just going to list the ones that pop out at me as especially interesting.

The first on my list is Comics and Society, which is presented by Mark Zaid, a National Security attorney from Washington D.C., who will be discussing how comics through the ages have addressed social issues of their day.  That’s meat and drink to me, as you may have guessed from my previous commentaries on comics.

The British Comic Awards will be held on Saturday 18:00-19:00 (that’s 6pm to 7pm for most) at the Royal Armouries Bury Theatre.  This is, I believe, its very first year and the launch of something I hope will become a fixture of the UK comics scene.  You can find all the details of nominees, judges and ceremonies at their website britishcomicawards.com

On Sunday at 10:20, the ‘Northern Sequential Arts Competition’ winners will be announced, so that’ll be worth a gander.

‘Women in Comics’ is on Sunday at 11:00 and this is the one I’m most stoked for.  The panel is hosted by Mel Gibson (no, no not that one, Dr Mel Gibson) with Alison Bechdel, Kate Beaton (omigosh, omigosh, omigosh), Simone Lia, Hannah Berry, Fiona Stephenson and Robin Furth.  Even if you’re not fans of their work (you must just not have seen it), it promises to be an energetic, lively panel and I can’t overstate how excited I am.

Love it or hate it, you have to admire the talent and artistry that goes into making cosplay.  If fabric is your inclination, the Cosplay Masquerade is on Sunday 15:00 to 17:30 (3pm to 5.30pm).  There will be both cosplayers and cosplay admirers so remember to save some battery life on your camera.  To register for the competition, be aware of the rules and make sure you register between 12:00-14:00 (12 and 2) on Sunday at the Cosplay table in the Saviles Hall foyer.

The Phoenix family area will be available both days at the Royal Armouries Hall from 10am to 5pm, included in the con ticket.  It’s free for under 12s and there are events and family friendly activities to get kids involved.  You can check out the Phoenix website here.

Otherwise, there is the Comic Book Heroes competition all day, both days, where you/a kid can create your own comic book hero and enter it into competition.

There’s also Hexjibber’s Colouring-in Art exhibition, for all ages, especially kids big and small, and Dr Simpo’s Create and Dress Up a Crazy Comic Book Character.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  Not only can you/your kids design and create a superhero, but there’s a big old wardrobe full of oddments and accessories to play dress up.  Part of me really hopes there’s a real wardrobe, but that might be kind of hard to get in place.  Oh well.  I can dream.

For full, comprehensive listing of all events and guests for the entire week festival as well as the Comic Convention, check out the Thought Bubble website, there will be professional mainstream artists and editors there as well as independent comics artists and writers.  It’s going to be a delightful event and I hope to see you there.

* Marvel portfolio submission address: tbportfolioreview@gmail.com
Image portfolio submission address: martha@thoughtbubblefestival.com

Published by Mark Brassington

Father and Husband. Works in Corporate Banking. Loves Books, Comics, Cycling, Music, Games, going to the Gym and Writing.

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