Thoughts From The Bubble: Thought Bubble 2011 Retrospective

This was my 3rd year of attending Thought Bubble at the Saviles Hall in Leeds (yes it is named after Jimmy Savile) and every year I’ve seen it grow.  However this year it pretty much doubled in size; not only because it now took up hall space in the Royal Armouries opposite but also because the convention was spread across two days.

Outside Saville Hall - 9:30 AM

Emma Vieceli summed the convention up during the women in comics panel when she dared anyone to come to it, whether they were a fan of comics or not, and find nothing that they were interested in.  Thought Bubble has something for everyone, two of my purchases were Cover Run by Adam Hughes and The Fascinating Madame Tussaud by Andre-Paul Duchateau and Rene Follet, possibly two books at opposite ends of the spectrum, a homage to the covers of Adam Hughes and a graphic novel about the life of one of the most famous wax artists.

This is what I love about Thought Bubble, every year you get the goliaths of the American comic book world, which this year included Adam Hughes, Tim Sale and Gail Simone, rubbing shoulders with some of the best indie creators in the country, such as Bevis Musson, Marc Ellerby and Daniel Clifford.  This is seen throughout the whole day and more so at the Mid-Convention party, held in the beautiful Alea Casino.

With having more space this year it meant the aisles were a lot wider which was fantastic as it was so busy, when I saw the queue I thought I’d feel uncomfortable inside however inside both venues it felt very chilled out and relaxed.  The extra space meant that some stalls could actually expand, one fantastic example being Dr. Geof’s Travelling Tea Museum.

I love that this convention doesn’t have huge stands blaring out music constantly as it means you can stop and talk to people and not lose your voice.  This was something Gail Simone pointed out as she casually sat and chatted with anyone who wanted to talk to her or get comics signed.  It was fantastic seeing Gail Simone at Thought Bubble as I am a huge fan and in my opinion she is one of the best writers in the industry.  She tweeted that she loves Daleks.  So I expected her be swamped by them over the course of the weekend, however shame on you UK she only got a couple and one was a Dalek Sec given to her by Wedgedoc from Geek Syndicate’s Next Level podcast, which she proudly displayed on her table.

Gail Simone & Myself!

Adam Hughes and Tim Sale must have arm ache today as the amount of signings and sketches they did were phenomenal.  I was lucky enough to get a sketch from Adam Hughes of Batgirl which is beautiful but I had to queue for ages for that and unfortunately the queue for Tim Sale was even longer.  I think it’s safe to say that if anyone did want to meet them over the weekend they got to as the two of them put in a lot of hours at their tables.

I have to mention a very special table for me and that was the Unseen Shadows table.  This was Barry Nugent’s table where he released the new Tales of the Fallen graphic novel along with an updated version of the fantastic Fallen Heroes novel.  It was great that Thought Bubble placed this table alongside the tables of The Copydesk, Cy Dethan and Beyond the Bunker, all of which had creators on them which are contributing to the Unseen Shadows universe.

The Unseen Shadows Table

I think a big thank you should go out to the girls of the Hot Wheels and Bruising Banditas Roller Derbies who checked wristbands of ticket holders all day and skating around helping people whenever they needed it.  They must have been freezing in their T-shirts and hot pants.  The cosplayers were also fantastic this year which the best for me being a beautiful Snow White.  I really wish I had had the guts to go up and ask to take pictures of some of them because their costumes were amazing.

The spread of panels was excellent again and double the days did mean double the panels.  I only got to go to two, the Unseen Shadows panel, which was set in the intimate cinema room in the Alea casino and the Women in Comics panel which was held in the huge Bury theatre.

The Unseen Shadows Panel

Each venue was set up well so you didn’t need to worry about hearing or seeing the guests who you went to see.  Unfortunately both were only 45 minutes which in my opinion wasn’t long enough for either.  The large amount of guests on each panel meant that after introductions had been done we were already half way though and the guests were so interesting and insightful I was left wanting more.

This is by far the best convention I’ve been to for a long time however there is always room for improvement and these are what I think this convention needs to make it close to perfect.  There is not enough seating around, there was a bar area in the armouries with no seating at all and a café in Saviles Hall with 3 tables and 12 chairs. This meant over the 2 days my feet were hurting and I did want to leave earlier than if I was able to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea instead of having to drink it on the go.  However while the lack of sitting down was a problem for me I suspect the lack of walking around was a problem for some creators, the tables, especially down the two sides of the hall were literally right up against each other so if a creator wanted to escape for a few minutes they had 2 choices; either squeeze past various other creators until they got the gap at the end of the row or 2 climb under the table and risk hitting into passing visitors.  Maybe a gap every 3 or 4 tables would be a good idea?

My last gripe came down to organisation, and trust me it is minor, I was difficult to know if I had a ticket in the first 500 to get into the mid-convention party, something I had enjoyed for the past 3 years.  Apparently tickets for the party were just handed out during the day but I didn’t know about this until the evening and as I was getting ready I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to get in and would have to stand up all the people I agreed to chat to there.  Maybe a RSVP system would be a good idea where if you are in the first 500 you fill out a form online to say if you will be attending and if you aren’t then someone else can be invited.

Overall my gripes are minor and it doesn’t stop me already thinking about next year and being excited.  Thought Bubble is possibly one of the best comic conventions in the country because it is just that, a comic convention.  It hasn’t got caught up with all the merchandise and computer games, it’s just creators, their fans and a few retails talking about what they love.

GS Reporter: Amy-Jayne Liff

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  1. Thanks for the memories! I actually never knew about the second hall of stalls until it was too late! And I basically just want to say thank you– I’m MissyTetra and was cosplaying Snow White that saturday for judging the costume competition and I’m so squeeish and blushy at your high praise! Glad you had a good time at the event- maybe I’ll see you next year 🙂

  2. Alea Casino is one of the best casinos in UK 🙂 glad you have mentioned it

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