Thought Bubble 2011: The Sensational Post-Convention Interview!

Thought Bubble is one of Britain’s best – well let’s get this out the way, it’s the best – comic-book conventions. Attracting writers and artists from Britain, Europe, and the colonies, Thought Bubble takes some of comics’ best talent and puts them all together in one room, to celebrate sequential art in all forms. Marvel writers rub shoulders with upcoming small-press creators (and give them a don’t even think about trying to steal my job glare) in the heart of Leeds, West Yorkshire, for one week every year.

Comics Vanguard have been going for three years now, and the festival has grown and grown over the years. Much like we have! So we thought it was only best to get in contact with the people behind the curtain and look back at one of the highlights of 2011. And, after throwing stones at their window for what felt like HOURS, we managed to secure an interview with Lisa Wood and Clark Burscough, looking back on the highs and the other highs from Thought Bubble 2011…

So! Would you say this probably was the best Thought Bubble yet?

Oh, definitely! We put on our biggest programme of events yet, bringing in our largest ever audience, with our most diverse guest list ever, and spread the good word of comics far and wide. We also gave away thousands of free comics and graphic novels through our book crossing scheme. The positive feedback we’ve received has been overwhelming, and we all had a great time doing it, so we’d definitely put 2011’s Thought Bubble in the win column. We’re hoping 2012’s festival (taking place 12th – 18th November) will be even bigger and better though!

What was your favourite moment from this year’s convention?

Personally, I think my favourite moment was sitting down and eating a sandwich on Saturday afternoon, I was pretty exhausted at that point.

However, I think the best moment that lots of people were talking about was David Aja setting an Iron Fist sketch on fire to give it a finishing touch. Brilliant.

Comics Vanguard missed out on seeing a sketch get set on fire, but were there, transfixed, as David got out what looked like a knife in order to make scores along a Daredevil scene, to make it look like it was raining.

Was there any HOT GOSSIP?

Sadly, the strict client confidentiality rules that all comic conventions are bound by rules which prohibits us from passing on any of the gossip we hear at the show. However, when you see that amazing thing from the people who did that one comic with the stuff in it – yeah, we heard about it first.

Also, Comics Vanguard are pretty certain that Peter Milligan and Bryan Talbot hooked up at the afterparty

How do you manage to persuade so many creators from warm countries to come visit Leeds in November?

Threats, bribes, crying down the phone. The usual.

Mostly though it’s word of mouth, we’re always hugely grateful when previous years’ guests say nice things about the show, and we’re finding more and more that the big name guests we’re approaching have already heard of us and wanting to come to Leeds. Which is awesome.

Thought Bubble’s central idea seems to be celebrating all kinds of creativity – from photos to mainstream comics, to fashion and painting. Is this something you’ve felt yourself actively pursuing over the years?

Totally! We’ve always wanted to show that there’s loads more to comics art than two blokes in spandex slugging it out. Not that we’re averse to that kind of thing. We love it all. There’s so much to see though that if we don’t try and highlight it all then people will end up missing out on all sorts of cool stuff, the creativity that the medium inspires is amazing.

Did you get any commissions or autographs you’re particularly pleased with this year?

The annoying thing about running the con is that we never get time to shop or even properly browse everyones wares. We did get to see one of our panels this year though, that was a first.

Did you expand to two halls this years due to overwhelming demand for tables – or because the second venue has a bar?

While the obvious need for a bar was paramount – everyone likes a quick tipple during the walking of the con floors – it was mostly an issue of space. We’ve grown so quickly since Thought Bubble began in 2007 that we had to take on a second hall to make sure we could fit everyone in who wanted to come. Our guest/exhibitor list was so big in 2011 that we wouldn’t have been able to fit any of the general public in if we’d stuck to just one hall. My current plan, if we need to expand again soon, is to emulate Braniac’s technology and shrink attendees down in a Bottle City of Kandor style. Possibly.

Walking round the halls, did you discover any new creators who surprised you with something amazing and unexpected?

He’s not a new face, but Dr Geof’s Travelling Tea Museum was wonderful, and we’re constantly amazed by the brilliance of all our exhibitors. The UK is a hotbed of talent right now.

In terms of a new guest/first time attendee who was great for the vibe of the con, I’d probably single out the aforementioned David Aja, who I could’ve stood and watched sketch for the entire weekend.

This year saw the first-ever Thought Bubble Anthology – published by Image – and featuring work by people like Mike Carey, Robin Furth, Tula Lotay and Charlie Adlard. How has the reception been to the anthology?

Fantastic! We’ve had people all over the world singing its praises, which is crazy, but in a good way. There was so much goodwill and support in the comics community for it, from Diamond and Image helping massively with the distribution, through to all our contributors giving their time and work for free, it was really overwhelming, and has helped raise money for Barnardos – which is a great cause.

Is there the chance of a second anthology next year, maybe?

Yep! 2012 will see the publication of issue 2, and we’ll be releasing details in the new year. In the meantime, you can still pick up a copy from comic shops all around the world or online via comiXology, and the profits go to charity, so you’ll be doing a good deed at the same time!

Readers, you can find that ComiXology link here

Final question!

Thought Bubble 2012: Is there any way you could incorporate the nearby jousting arena (readers unaware with Thought Bubble – the convention is located next to a War Museum, which legitimately owns a jousting arena) into the schedule at all?

We’ve looked into this, and sadly it looks like the insurance premiums required to allow our guests/attendees to participate in jousting would be through the roof. Which is rubbish. Same goes for cracking open the Samurai exhibition and having a Thunderdome style tournament. Health and safety. Pah.

And besides, everyone knows that Emma Vieceli is a master of the joust. And, well, that wraps up our post-con interview. We’d like to thank Clark and Lisa from Thought Bubble very sweetly, for answering our questions so neatly. The yellow-brick road to Thought Bubble 2012 starts here!


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