Thought Bubble 2014, which took place in Leeds this weekend, was the biggest incarnation of this annual Festival so far. It had a few added twists to its layout and style, with the TB Teepee the biggest addition and occupied a place in the central concourse. It was here that most of the big names were signing and was, after just an hour of opening, packed with lines spiralling around its perimeter. There was also the addition of a lot more outside seating and a couple of food trucks.
Sadly, there was a real lack of back issues available to buy. There were only a couple of stalls selling old comics and this was a real decrease on the dealers there in the last few years, which was a bit of a shame for an otherwise great event.
Once I got my wristband I got a great bag of comics as freebie, which was really great to see. Four issues of The Death of Wolverine and four of Detective Comics is not to be sniffed at.
I got to poke around and chat to a few of the comics guests and stall holders as well. Here are a few of the many that wee there…
I got to catch up with Jim Alexander and Ed Murphy from Rough Cut Comics. Good Cop, Bad Cop Issue Two (read our review) was a really interesting mix of Jekyll and Hyde and a Scottish crime drama and it was great to hear that Issue Three is well on its way with Aaron Murphy on the art. It’s looking like it will get a release next year and continues many of the mysterious threads from the first two issues in DI Fisher’s life.
Jim also showed me some artwork for Savant, a science fiction story that is now getting serialised in upcoming issues of Dark Horse Presents. Featuring art by Will Pickering and stunning colours by Fin Crumb, it was previously released by Planet Jimbot and has a real European look to the style – look out for it soon. (More about the Planet Jimbot release here)
Rachael Smith was on the Great Beast table. After the excellent House Party I’ve been looking forward to her next release. Ask Flimsy is a little change of pace and is a limited print run comic where readers have posed questions to the titular Flimsy about “love, romance and heartache.” We get pages entitled “What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to get over a crush?” and “Yo Flimsy! I just got cheated on! What’s the best way to get revenge?” It’s cute and funny and had a great personalised sketch.
Avery Hill Publishing have had a stellar year. Putting out around a dozen high quality books it all keeps on trucking for this South London collective. Launching at Thought Bubble this year were Comely Girls and Manly Boys from Gareth Brookes and Steve Tillotson, Maleficium from EdieOP and the second issue of Metroland by Ricky Miller, Julia Scheele and Rebecca Stickson.
Metroland Issue Two continues the story of a group of friends structured around a dream like world of music and strange goings on. It’s one of my favourite books at the moment and has a uniquely individual feel. It is caught in a trance like weekend of music and existentialism. Ricky plays with the concepts of time and experience. It’s gorgeously designed and is available to buy from the Avery Hill online shop: www.averyhillpublishing.bigcartel.com
The Futurequake Press guys were out in full force. These enthusiastic gents have been part of the small press scene for years, constantly putting out product of really high quality and relentlessly promote new talent. Centred on horror stories and 2000AD characters they are the breeding ground for some really interesting and professionally crafted stories. I was really pleased to hear that one of my favourite artists Alfie Gallagher has just started an A.B.C. Warriors story for Zarjaz. Definitely a series of books to look out for.
They had new issues of Futurequake, Something Wicked, Zarjaz and Dogbreath for sale at the festival and you can buy them from their website www.futurequake.co.uk. You can find them on Twitter @FutureQuakePress
As Jeremy Briggs reported last week, Jessica Martin has just published her latest book, Vivacity, the story of the rise to prominence of Vivien Leigh. Leigh was a huge movie star and famous in part for being married to Laurance Olivier. I was particularly excited to meet Jessica as Olivier’s first wife was a distant relative of mine by the name of Jill Esmond. Jessica described the comic as a ‘Graphic Vignette’ where she has imagined certain aspects of the actress. She comes to the project as both an artist and an actress herself and it really is a classy product. Told with old school glamour, you can see the dark edges creeping through to the surface. It also examines the secondary nature of the woman on the stage and in movies in that age.
Jessica’s next project is the rags to riches story of Elsie Harris: Picture Palace. It tells the story of a tea lady who rises to become one of the most powerful women in Hollywood.
After recently reviewing and really enjoying Dark Matter from Redshift Comics, it was great to finally meet with Chris Sides and Chris Travell. They are planning another Dark Matter style anthology for 2015 and have some other projects in the pipeline. Intersection is on the way and tells a story that starts at a set of traffic lights before moving off fast into a twisty turny horror story. The cover art on this looks really intriguing.
They also have a project called Deus Vult that is happening over at Markosia Press in the next year. Big times ahead for this new company.
Blood Blokes by Adam Cadwell was a real pleasant find for me this year. Put out by the mighty Great Beast Comics it tells the story of an argumentative group of hilariousl and creepy urban UK vampires. Told in black and white, with beautiful line work, it’s a real pleasure to read. It was really cool to chat to Adam and hear that a new issue is on the way in the new year.
Scottish comic creators were really out in force at Thought Bubble this year and I got to have a chat with Gill Hatcher (above right) who was nominated for an award this year for The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside and her table mate Jef Sinclair who produce the creative juggernaut that is Glasgow’s own Team Girl Comic.
I grabbed a copy of Issue 10 of Team Girl Comic and it’s a prestige format A5 book that’s packed full of stories. (A personal favourite of mine was The Winston Churchill Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by Shona Heaney).
Gill, the creator of the recently-released The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside, tells me that she has a new project for 2015 that carries on the wildlife theme and this time centres around the birdlife of Scotland. It’s beautifully told comics and I can’t wait to see what it’s like.
You can find Team Girl at http://teamgirlcomic.co.uk.
You can grab a copy of The Beginners Guide … at www.averyhillpublishing.bigcartel.com
I met up with Christian Ortiz and calligrapher Alice Mazzilli. Together they are about to launch Issue Three of the incredibly beautiful future war series Golden Campaign. Christian had some sketchbooks that I spent ages leafing through and really have to be seen to be believed. His work forms a type of autoboigraphical statement. albeit an often fantastical one. His line work cuts to other artists like Jim Mahfood all the way through to Bill Sienkiewicz. These stories are lettered and decorated by Alice who uses caligraphy to create titles, words and often even tattoos on the characters. It’s is genuinely incredible work.
Andy Poiadgi brought out Tea Pot Therapy, a fold out short comics story, to great acclaim last year. It’s the tale of a workman who arrives at an old lady’s house to carry out some work and sits and chats to her. The tea itself being central to the art, it’s a comic that is designed to fold out into a story of loneliness and personalities. It’s a masterclass in touching and thought provoking comics and I loved it when I read it and he tells me that he has some new comics well on the way for 2015. He’s hugely enthusiastic about his art and a great pleasure to chat with.
Owen D Pomery is the writer/artist of Between The Billboards and The Megatherium Club. He’s got a really interesting style of linework that uses sparse colouring and shading to excellent effect. I was lucky enough to see some pages from an upcoming project that I have to be a little tight lipped on but looks like a (snowy) triumph. This new book uses open spaces on a huge canvas, breathtaking stuff!
Keep an eye on Owen as I sense big things are happening for him.
Samantha Holmlund recently appeared in a short tale in Halloween – A Horror Anthology put out by Mike Garley (and reviewed here). I was immediately impressed by her style which borders on a colourful version of woodcut art and is absolutely gorgeous. She tells me that her next project is superhero based.
The TB Teepee was packed out most of the weekend but I did manage to get in there and watch the likes of Simon Davis, Tony Harris and Tim Sale drawing.
The Festival had some really interesting guests this year who represented a real mix of the mainstream and indie/small press crowds. Of course I shall be back in 2015!
Many thanks to the St Albans Comic Club, Alex Martin, Matt Harrower, Natasha Healey, Marc Laming, Dave Stokes, Dean and Victoria Beattie, Chris Wildgoose and Laura Trinder for the company and assistance.
And finally… this is proper cosplay if you ask me!
Many thanks for reading.