Countdown to Thought Bubble 2013 – Countdown News, Butterfly Gate Preview and Interview

thoughtbubblelogo2013It’s the 1st of November which seems like the perfect time to post my second countdown towards the ticking time bomb that is Thought Bubble 2013.

Looking at Twitter today and the various tweets you can feel the excitement and buzz starting to build even more for Thought Bubble. Thisis the first year in a while I won’t be setting up shop and selling my own stuff so I’m looking forward to immersing myself in everything the show has to offer.

Countdown News

  • Some of the news highlight coming from thought bubble this week are as follows.
  • For all of you folks looking to pitch your portfolios  to Image, Marvel and Vertigo there are 10 days until the submission deadline is reached for these portfolio reviews at TBF13.
  • Lee Garbet is putting together a commission list for Thought Bubble. If you’re interested you can either contact him via Twitter or his website.
  • Thought Bubble charity anthology is now available digitally via Comixology and your local comic shop.
  • There will be a limited edition print for the BCA nominated comic Winter’s Knight: Day One Print by Robert Ball available at Thought Bubble. More details here.
  • Remember it’s not too late to pick up some Thought Bubble tickets.

I would like to do more with this little news section so if you’re up to something at thought bubble 2013 then drop me a line  at [email protected] and let me know.


Debut Book of the Day – Butterfly Gate



A Brother and Sister leave our world and its rules behind, journeying into legend through the Butterfly Gate, where every step they take will come at a price.

Butterfly Gate follows the story of two siblings who, after throwing themselves headlong into another world, must face the brutal reality that lies beyond and find their place amidst an empire built after a revolution against the Gods.

A comic by Benjamin Read & Chris Wildgoose, published by Improper Books.

RRP: £7.99

One thing that Thought Bubble always has in abundance is new books for people to enjoy. What I hope to do in these countdowns to try and hone in on a few of those that are launching at the convention that have caught my eye. First up is Butterfly Gate from Improper Books.

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Butterfly Gate from Improper Books and as I turned the last page was stunned into silence which was apt giving that the entire story is done without any kind of speech. It was a fantastic read and I think this is going to be one of my stand out highlights of the show.

The story is compelling and reminds me of some of European titles I’ve read from the guys at Cinebook. The art work by Chris Wildgoose, with colours by Derek Dow, which works twice as hard to support Read’s silent narrative, is stunning and shoulders its responsibility with ease. This is to take nothing away from what Read has done with story which starts off like something from the mind of CS Lewis then becomes something refreshingly different . I’m looking forward to seeing where Read transports us with the next volume.

I  thoroughly recommend that people make their way in an orderly fashion to the Improper Books table to pick up a copy of Butterfly Gate at Thought Bubble. Personally would love to see some kind of absolute style hardback edition when the entire story is complete. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this title popping up on next year’s British Comic Awards.

As a little taste to get you in the mood we’ve got a preview of Butterfly Gate and an interview with its writer Ben Read. Look or rather listen out for a full review of Butterfly Gate on the next episode of Geek Syndicate.


Interview with Benjamin Read


Geek Syndicate:So was it always the plan to do Butterfly Gate without dialogue?

Benjamin Read: Oh god, absolutely. It sprang into being as a small, silent, nasty, little tale that finished where what-is-now the first episode finishes. It then gnawed away at me, and eventually sprang back up again as the fully-formed somewhat more epic tale of what happened next, still told only through the pictures. There’s never been any voice or dialogue attached to it in my head. (Apart from the voice that goes, “You must be crazy trying to do this. CRAZY”, but I try not to listen to that one).


GS: Did you find the scripting process easier or harder without having to write dialogue?

BR: Harder. Not horrendously harder but it’s more of a struggle. If I were trying to tell a tale that had started out with dialogue in my head, then I think it would be impossible, but this has never had that. It’s tricky though but, I’m sure, remarkably good for my writing muscles, as counter-intuitive as that may sound. I’m a wordy writer, and I do love me some dialogue and I’m, without flattering myself, reasonably good at character voice. Going without that, and still selling the story and the personalities, really makes you think about the page, the structure, the panels, and all the little details, in a way that is sometimes ghosted over when you can just say the complex thought aloud to sell the scene. It’s telling that the scripts for BG are getting on for a third longer than my usual.


GS: I got a real C.S Lewis vibe from the opening pages. Were those books something that influenced you when developing the script?

BR:Yes indeed, although by ‘those books’, I’d take that to mean the portal fantasy as a whole (e.g. protagonists cross a threshold and enter a place that is other), particularly the versions of those I grew up on – Lewis, Cooper, Garner, etc. I confess that the ‘crossing of the wall in to the otherness’ is very much one of my themes, but I’m always interested in the alternative uses of the trope. I think one of the concepts was what would actually happen in a harsh foreign empire to two Victorian children – it certainly wouldn’t be the romanticised version we normally see – no one would declare them royalty or, even, be kind to them. As we see in the second half of the book…


GS:The story opens in a very all ages way then descends into a much darker fare. Who would you say this book will appeal to most?

BR:The all-ages opening is strictly intended as counter-point for the vicious sucker punch of the rest of the very adult, very nasty, story. It’s absolutely riddled with adult themes, and a series of very bad things are going to happen. It’s adult sci-fi/fantasy (depending on whether you interpret the odd stuff as science or magic) and not meant for children.


GS:How many chapters are you hoping to do with Butterfly Gate?

BR: Lots. It shows ten years in their lives in pre-determined intervals. See next answer for details in fact 😉


GS:Now the story does have a slight time jump (I won’t spoil it by saying how much) which was a great way to move the plot along. Can we expect another time jump between chapter 1 and chapter 2?

BR:No need to worry about spoilers; it’s one of the prime structural parts of the series. Each episode is six months (or so) after the last. We advance forward without explanation or any catch-up and we will find our two enfants terrible in very different circumstances every time.


GS:I do think readers will want to read the book two or three times to fully immerse in the story. Was that something you intended when working on the story?

BR:Hoped for more than intended, I think. Curiously, comics without dialogue actually read slower than those with (well, unless they’re just boring fight scenes anyway). We’ve certainly strived to layer some fairly complex information about the world into the panels, whilst still keeping it eminently readable (I hope).


GS:Will we ever see the adult adventures of the brother and sister?

BR:As mentioned before, they’re ageing in real (comics) time, so you’ll watch them grow up as we go. That’s fun for Chris to play with too. (He hates me).


GS:How far along are the plans for chapter 2?

BR:Written and in the queue. It’s a great big long-form and complex piece, and I don’t get to fix any balls-ups with expository dialogue later, so I’m having to plan very carefully as I go. The whole piece is plotted, and there’s a chunk of it in script already.


GS:You also wrote Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale. The opening scenes feels like both stories are set in the same world is this true or false?

BR:That would be telling. It could just be my Victorian children’s book obsession showing through, or it might be a cunning multiversal master-plan. I’ll go as far as to say that there’s something in the story that crops up in both books, and in some other places too…


GS:Even though we do not know the names of characters or locations do you have some parchment locked away with all the names and places written down? Will the readers ever get to see it?

BR:Yes. No. Which is somewhat devilish of me, so I’ll explain a little further. I’m determined that the piece should stand as is, without explanations or director’s commentary. The odd name will come out here and there, as we have episode titles that will be used at some point, but that’s it. One of my most disappointing narrative experiences ever was reading the screenplay to Donnie Darko, ages after I’d watched the excellent film. NO detriment intended to the writer, but having it explained took all the magic from it (and it wasn’t half as cool as what I’d cooked up in my head). I don’t want to do that to anyone and I’m fascinated to see what people come up with without me or Chris telling them anything.


GS:Can you give us some hints as to what we expect from the boy and girl next?

BR:Selfless love. Ruthless betrayal. Entanglements with gods and monsters. Just the usual. We’ll see much more of the world they’ve fallen into and start to meet some of the other main players we’ve caught a glimpse of in the girl’s visions. A series of unfortunate events is then likely to ensue.


GS:Would ever consider doing a special dialogue edition?

BR:Absolutely not. If it needed words, I’d have written them in the first place.


Thanks to Ben and the Improper Books team for taking the time to answer the questions. You can find out more about Butterfly Gate and some of the other great titles from Improper Books *coughs* Porcelain *coughs* over on their website.

I’ll leave you with a little preview of Butterfly Gate and I’ll see you on the next countdown!
ButterflyGate_colour02 ButterflyGate_colour03


GS Reporter: Nuge

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