Stewart R: With Bristol Comic Expo having now properly left the convention calendar, and various members of The PCG having work and family commitments throughout the year, it seems that we’ve been spreading our love for the convention experience across the nation a touch wider and mayhap a little thinner. I popped to my first MCM in London for an afternoon back in May, and was sadly busy for the fourth annual Melksham Comic Con back in August when Matt, James, Andrew and Kenny made the journey to Wiltshire. The fortuitous turn of events that comes from being unable to take your annual leave during the Summer months is that you are free to bimble off to events and locales when perhaps others cannot. And so it is that I sit here, in an Ibis hotel in Leeds, awaiting Saturday’s opening of the Thought Bubble comic art festival!
As a group we have all looked at Thought Bubble with envious eyes through the past few years, such was the wealth of UK and worldwide talent in attendance and so positive and fun-filled were their reviews of the experience. It seems that most of the industry tends to wind down somewhat following October’s New York Comic Con where many creators are on the company dime with Marvel or DC, or are having to network regarding projects brewing for the year ahead. As an outsider looking in it has seemed to me that the jaunt to Leeds has been a vacation for many of these prolific writers and artists who like a chance to unwind within their career wheelhouse and get a relaxed chance to socialise with each other, meet enthusiastic fans, and enjoy the chilly climes that Leeds in November has to offer (I cursed my lack of gloves when getting off the train an hour ago!).
Falling in November every year, the Thought Bubble festival actually runs for an entire week, the opening days being dedicated to sequential art of all descriptions with various competitions, lectures, events and an academic conference taking place before the two day 'Comic Con' caps things off on the final weekend. The masses of course descend upon this Yorkshire city for the Comic Con and I’m genuinely excited to see how this very successful convention organises things, treats its exhibitors and what it offers to the entrance-paying public. Before I’ve even arrived I’ve sourced a ticket to risque humourist illustrator Joan Cornellà’s first UK exhibition which opens in less than an hour (as I write this) and have my ticket purchased for the big Thought Bubble Mid-Con Party taking place at the Leeds Corn Exchange tomorrow night where I believe Kieron Gillen may well be droppin’ some tunes for all the girls, guys and geeks to strut to.
During the day I shall be perusing long boxes, checking out many a small press table and self-published work, and, if I’m lucky, lavishing dashes of praise on certain comic book creators from Rick Remender to Charles Soule, Bengal to Wes Craig, Matteo Scalera to Kev Walker. The depth of quality is quite astounding looking at the guest list and my only small regret at this stage is that my fellow PCG members couldn’t be here with me! I shall try to keep them and you loyal readers updated with my experiences over the weekend via our Twitter feed and a summary of the experience here once it's over.