Countdown to Thought Bubble 2012: Interview with Thought Bubble

 In today’s countdown we caught up with Clark Burscough, one of team behind the Thought Bubble Festival, to chat about the show.

GS: Since its inception Thought Bubble seems to have grown leaps and bounds. What do you think is the secret to the show’s continued success?

TB: Oh, man, that’s a tough opener! I don’t really know, myself and Lisa Wood (Thought Bubble’s founder and director) have this conversation every so often, usually after each year’s festival, trying to pin down what we did right (and wrong), but I reckon if we think about it too hard we’ll scare whatever it is away!
Actually, having said that, I know what the main ingredient is to our success, and it’s definitely not a secret, and that’s our army of amazing volunteers. We couldn’t put the festival on without all their hard work, and if you come to any of 2012’s Thought Bubble events over the festival week (11th – 18th November), then you’ll see first-hand just how awesome they are!

GS:What changes, if any have you made to the way you’ve put the show together this year?

Mostly, it’s just getting on top of things early! We knew the guests that we wanted to bring over for the show, and the events that we wanted to focus on and develop, so we tried as much as possible to get all that information locked in as soon as possible. It just makes everything a bit less stressful in the late build-up having all that stuff finalised, meaning we can focus on the logistics, and troubleshooting, and basically making everything as streamlined for everyone attending as possible.
Having said that, we’ve expanded the programme, and we’re putting on our biggest Thought Bubble ever, so having more time to organise everything mostly just means making more time to organise all the new extra stuff! The full programme is up online now to view at http://thoughtbubblefestival.com/full-programme/ so you can see just how much comicky goodness we’re bringing to Leeds!

GS:Could you tell us more about the up coming anthology that will be on sale at the event?

TB:Sure! This is our second Thought Bubble anthology, following on from last year’s really well received inaugural issue, and we’ve pulled out all the stops, showcasing some amazing comics talent, and all in a good cause. We’ve worked closely with Image Comics, who’ll be publishing the anthology on 7th November, in order to build on last year’s success, and this year’s anthology is even bigger and better! The anthology has a pretty amazing line-up of creators contributing to it, to all of whom we’re eternally grateful for their time and efforts, and the stand-alone stories they’ve created are just amazing. The anthology contains new and original works by past and present and future Thought Bubble guests, as well as the winning entries of 2011’s Northern Sequential Art Competition, and, having seen the proof copies, is really well served by the over-sized ‘Wednesday Comics’ format we chose for it.
One of our team, the amazing Martha, created a trailer for the anthology, which you can see at http://thoughtbubblefestival.com/anthology-2012-issue-2/ and, as you say, the anthology will be on-sale at this year’s Thought Bubble convention (17th and 18th November), and will be available in comic shops world-wide from 7th November. We’re really proud of how it turned out, and all profits will be donated to the Barnardo’s Charity, a cause which is very important to us here at the festival, so we hope people will like what we’ve created, and pick up a copy when it comes out!

GS:Thought Bubble has a really different feel to it in comparison to other cons. You get that festival vibe. What made you think of going with a festival instead of a typical con?

TB:Thanks! We’ve tried hard to build Thought Bubble to have that festival feeling to it, so it’s really heartening that that comes across! I think it was a natural progression really: Lisa founded Thought Bubble in 2007 and it was a one-day event that took place in the Town Hall basement, with about 300 people in attendance, then it moved to the Clarence Dock halls, became a weekend event, took over more venues, and incorporated more and more events, until we’re here in 2012 with an 8-day, multi-venue, multi-city festival, which thousands of people attend. Which is really cool, but kind of scary to think about for too long, otherwise the magic’ll disappear.
This year we’re putting on two exhibitions, screening a whole bunch of films with Leeds International Film Festival, running various competitions, giving away loads of free comics, bringing free workshops to schools around Yorkshire, putting on more live events than ever, and throwing our biggest convention yet!
Mostly, we’ve never over-thought where Thought Bubble should go, it’s a pretty organic evolutionary process, so, as long as the demand remains there, and we keep getting the wonderful crowds of enthusiastic comic fans making it all so much fun, we’ll keep putting on bigger and better events!

GS:To many indie creators, Thought Bubble is the event of the year. How does it feel to have created something that means so much to so many people?

TB:Ah! Thank you again – we’re really pleased people view it in that light, it makes it all so worthwhile! Personally, I really enjoy that end-of-term vibe that Thought Bubble has to it; for a lot of people we’re the last show of the year, and everyone gives it their all, and it makes the atmosphere electric, which I think is why we work so hard to reflect that – we want everyone to have the best time possible at Thought Bubble, so that they’ll be energised to get out of the post-festive season winter doldrums and make more comics!
Everyone involved in Thought Bubble’s organisation really does love comics, so we’re just pleased to be able to give something back to the medium that’s already given us so much.

GS:As our Autumn of Indie feature shows the UK indie scene seems to be prospering at the moment with some amazing talent. What are your thoughts on the current UK scene?

TB:Oh, man, there is SO much good stuff out there at the moment, it’s crazy! Tables for our convention sold out in record time this year, and lots of those were to first-time exhibitors, so the new talent emerging at the moment is great to see, and the comics being produced by established creators shows that everyone’s just going from strength-to-strength. One recent thing in particular that was cool to see, was Warwick Johnson Cadwell being named as the new artist on Tank Girl, which I think is a great idea, and can’t wait to see what that produces.
We’re really pleased to be hosting the first ever awards ceremony for the British Comic Awards at this year’s convention, and I think the shortlists for the nominations show just how much talent there is in these fair isles at the moment. A great time to be a fan of great comics, no matter what genre or style!

GS:This year will see the first British Comic Awards where did the idea come from? What has the feedback been like so far on it?

TB:The British Comic Awards are all down to the hard work of Adam Cadwell! I remember sitting down and talking to him about the awards back in May 2011, and it grew from there really. Myself and Lisa are members of the awards committee, and it’s been a lot of fun working with the other committee members trying to figure out how to do it right, and come up with an award that reflects and rewards the great creators who will be winning them.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which is great! I was a bit nervous putting forward my nominations for the shortlists, because they were all really hard choices, and I know how subjective picking favourite comics is, so I think all the committee members did an amazing job of assessing the comics based purely on how good they are as works of illustrated storytelling. Personally, I think the list of titles and creators is a really strong one, and reflects perfectly how diverse the creative outpouring of British creators is at the moment, and I’m really looking forward to seeing who the judges choose as the winners. I’m not looking forward to having to pick my nominations for the 2013 shortlists though, as I think it’s going to get harder and harder each year.

GS:Your After Party shows have become legendary. Will we see Kieron Gillen manning the decks once more?

TB:Ha! Legendary? I like that! We’re glad that everyone seems to enjoy them as much as we do; we work hard, and we play hard here at Thought Bubble.
It’s written in Thought Bubble lore that if we ever have an after party at which Kieron doesn’t man the ones and twos, then civilisation will crumble. Actually, what it really says is “please switch off lights when leaving the office”, but it’s open to interpretation.

GS:What can we expect from Thought Bubble in the future?

TB:Bigger, better, faster, stronger! Maybe with a touchscreen UI. You can get live updates of all our shenanigans from our twtter feed: @ThoughtBubbleUK

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