Last weekend I ventured North and attended the Thought Bubble festival in Leeds for the very first time. It’s a convention that I’ve only every heard good things about and it was only factors like the distance and the fact it was a one day event that had stopped me going in the past. When I found out it was a two day festival for 2011 it was time to bite the bullet. The guest list at Thought Bubble puts other UK conventions to shame, especially those outside of London. Adam Hughes, Jeff Lemire, Tim Sale, Gail Simone, Peter Milligan, Nick Spencer, Doug Braithwaite, Cameron Stewart, Mick McMahon….the list goes on and on. So the fanboy in me was happy too.
Now I was initially contemplating doing the typical blow by blow account of every moment from the minute I left the house on Friday afternoon until I waltzed back in bleary eyed on Sunday night. But I’m pretty sure that a blog post that long and detailed, taking in every dip in self confidence, every meatball marinara sub, every overpriced hotel drink, every creator, cosplayer, customer or comely roller girl might get a bit tedious. So instead I thought I’d pick out some of my own personal highlights and lowlights from the weekend in a futile attempt to keep things bright and breezy.
Old friends. Like at most conventions I got to meet up with a plethora of like minded people that I don’t get to see often enough. My cohorts at Orang Utan Comics, the Markosia crew, scores of UK comic podcasters (I think David Wynne won podcaster pokemon) , their followers and forum members (including my new dance posse), the Unseen Shadows creative collective, pro and indie artist and writer friends etc, etc. And it was especially good to speak to them all with more than the usual 140 characters at my disposal.
New friends. I got to meet Martin Conaghan (Fallen Heroes, Burke & Hare) for the first time, which means I’m edging closer towards having met the whole Unseen Shadows team now. And I seemed to find more time to spend with people I’d only had fleeting opportunities to talk to before. People like Stephen Downey ( Cancertown), Dan Thompson (Moon), Daniel Clifford (Sugar Glider) and PJ Montgomery (Stiffs).
Working on my new co-writing project. Being in Leeds also meant I had time to spend with Stephen Aryan, who along with being one half of podcasting duo Comic Book Outsiders is also a very talented writer (Mythos, The Empyre). We’ve been working on a project together for a few months, plotting out a sci-fi series over Skype and email. So having the chance to block off an hour early on Saturday evening to plot further and iron out some of the creases in person was great (He was the sit at the table making notes one, I was the think out loud pacer in case you wondered).
Rogers and Aryan
Tales of the Fallen -I got to see Barry Nugent and the other assembled masses that make up much of the Unseen Shadows creative team again which was great. I managed to just about hold it together on the panel to launch the anthology book despite a distinct lack of sleep (although my compliment aimed at Cy Dethan came out totally wrong). As well as getting to talk about my contribution to the book we also announced was that I’ll be working on a Napoleon Stone mini series in the not too distant future too. The main highlight of course was picking up my own copy of Tales of the Fallen, which I read on the way home. It’s a real tour de force, a great read if you haven’t read the original novel and a must read if you have.
Tales of the Fallen panel
The Interactives – I managed to sell a few copies and people seemed to have either heard of the book or really wanted to pick it up once they’d read the back and flicked through the art. Hoping those who picked up a copy enjoy it.
The vibe – I haven’t been to a comic convention that had this kind of “we’re all in it together and isn’t it great” feeling since back when Bristol was still in the railway shed. Being in a new city for the first time probably helped, but I think there’s something a bit different about this show. Something credible, something family friendly, something a bit more grown up and professional. Something that makes you drink free Jeremiah Weed and dance until the wee small hours.
New creative teams – Spending two days with fellow Orang Utan Comics founder Ian Sharman and new FTL editor David Wynne meant the chance to talk about the future. A future that will include me writing more short stories to be found in the pages of our Faster than Light anthology title. Show & Tell (with Jonathan Aguillon) and The Eve (reverse engineered with Jason Copland) will be in forthcoming issues, and following this weekend I now have two new artist collaborators for my next batch of stories. Watch this space for more news.
Ghost Rider and Daken getting the chop – I got to catch up with Rob Williams ( a huge help when I was working on The Interactives) on the way there as we were both on the same train. I’m not quite sure how but I’d managed to miss the news that Ghost Rider has been cancelled, only finding out as we sipped cans of Carling between carriages (as glamourous as it sounds). A day later it was announced that Rob’s other Marvel title Daken: Son of Wolverine had met the same fate. I was totally gutted for him. And I really hope that Marvel give Rob one of their flagship titles, not just because he’s a friend of mine but mainly because I’m a big fan of his work. (I added Low Life:Paranoia to my Amazon Christmas wish list tonight if you don’t believe me).
People I missed – Spending so much time behind the Orang Utan Comics table, being on a panel, being half asleep on Sunday and leaving by 1.30 restricted the time I had to mingle. I missed the opportunity to finally meet Roy Huteson Stewart (the artist on Fragments of Fate, my contribution to Tales of the Fallen), I didn’t get to talk to another old friend Si Spurrier, to tell David Aja how much I love his work, to give Steve Wacker a copy of my book, to ask Chris Staros about Top Shelf‘s future plans, not even to join the queue of people falling at Gail Simone‘s feet. So regardless of the amazing guest list, aside from fleeting glimpses I wouldn’t really have know such stellar industry names were there.
Babygate – Seeing the terrible treatment of David Montieth, his wife Siobhan and their stunningly cute bat baby Alannah by an over zealous, insensitive, jobsworth member of staff at the Casino was shocking. I hate parents being treated like second class citizens, hate good people being treated in a bad way and don’t like friends missing out on the chance to support each other.
You’ll notice none of the lowlights had anything to do with the show itself, so all in all, a great weekend with some great people. A chance to talk comics, talk life and let my hair (and Movember moustache) down. Thank you Leeds. I just wish Thought Bubble was nearer, and on again sooner.