Thought Bubble is a very odd comic convention. Based in Leeds, Thought Bubble (T Bubs to its friends) runs in November every year in the Royal Armouries complex. This is the campus of buildings surrounding the Royal Armouries museum. They’re really pretty, and quite quiet, meaning the entire area has this slight Starfleet Academy via colossal rooms filled with death vibe.
It’s all a little bit Grant Morrison, which means Thought Bubble fits right in.
It’s also odd because it’s a completely level playing field. This is a comic convention. It’s about comics. That’s it, which is brilliant, especially as they don’t enforce the sort of misguided nonsense that leads to comics, costumes, LARP weapons and fun being banned from dealer’s rooms. If you’re even slightly a fan of comics, you’ll enjoy this show, it’s really that simple.
If you wanted to go in depth there were plenty of panels to attend too, all located in Speech Bubble, a single room just off the central hall. These ranged from discussions of 2000 AD and Image’s upcoming plans to a gloriously meta Young Avengers panel that included writer Kieron Gillen making everyone pinky swear not to reveal any secrets, editing out characters from preview art and showing us some pages for just a couple of seconds.
At the other end of the day, Jon Lock and Nich Angell, two of the best indie creators working today announced plans for a crossover between their books, Afterlife Inc and 7 String. They do amazing work, and I’ll be reviewing both those books here shortly.
The growing reputation of the show was evident earlier this year when table bookings were released. The entirety of New Dock Hall’s table slots sold through in two hours and this year the show expanded to three trade halls, all of which were crammed. It wasn’t an entirely smooth transition, with the newest hall sparsely decorated and cold, but that’s the nature of the site.
The Royal Armouries complex is constantly being developed and the con put a great deal of money into getting Allied London, the new hall, as ready as it was. Next year, odds are, the third hall will be somewhere else and the constant improvements to the con’s size and facilities will continue. Regardless, it was busy throughout the weekend, always filled with fans and creators.
That’s where the beauty of Thought Bubble lies, in just how easy it is to go and talk to creators whose work you enjoy. The signings were all very well attended but each guest was at their table for long enough that canny con goers could get some extra time to chat at the end of the afternoon.
Anyone who didn’t want to queue, or wanted something new, could spend hours wandering the aisles and looking at the countless great indie books being sold there. I know I did. Those tables and books, that sense of energy and creativity and fun runs through every aspect of the show and gives it a light atmosphere that very few cons have. This is a show run by people who love comics, for people who love comics and it’s clear from the moment you arrive.
Thought Bubble is one of the newest, and best, comic conventions on the circuit. It isn’t clogged with movie promotion, it’s exponentially cheaper and easier to get to than London for many people and it’s just really good fun. If you love comics and you want to have fun or maybe be inspired to make some yourself, this is the show for you.
It’s also the only comic convention I’ve ever seen that sells homemade cake and has a dedicated tea shop called, amazingly, Tea Bubs. It’s a gleefully odd, massive enthusiastic show and immense fun from start to finish. See you there in 2014.