27 September 2017

Thought Bubble 2017 as seen through the eyes of a 2000 AD fan!

There are many comic conventions in the UK but there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest and is frequented by many 2000 AD creators, as well as names from across the industry. That convention is called, THOUGHT BUBBLE and it's held annually in Leeds.

Now, unlike LFCC, MCM, etc... this is a pure comic convention. Above all else, the comics medium is in abundance here, unlike those previously mentioned names. They may have comic in the title but it always seems to be treated like an afterthought!

There is merchandise to buy here and a strong and colourful cosplay scene as well but it's comics that are the star of the show!

This year Thought Bubble had moved from it's home in the Royal Armouries, into the town itself. It was situated just north of The Headrow. The three marquees were erected in front of the Town Hall, on Cookridge Street and in the Millennium Square. Numerous other locations around those three points of interest held panels, workshops and more creators. You can see all you need to know about the convention if you head HERE and navigate the site.

I traveled up on the Friday evening from Kent, with my family and so missed the two 2000 AD events held that night. The first up was the Zarjaz! An Art Tribute To 40 Years Of 2000 AD. This was the Vice Press exhibition of prints and art, with some props from Planet Replicas. There were a few prints that only went on sale that night and one was the Dredd one by Jock. Luckily for me, a mate picked one up for me. Number 13 out of 125. I met Dale late on Friday night in a pub and we did a hand over, so I could relax. It's now in the framers, so it'll be on the wall soon.

Here are a couple of links to show you what this event was all about. First up, the Vice Press announcement LINK Secondly this LINK from the gallery itself, which shows a lot of the art from the show but not all of it!

Also on Friday night was the 2000 AD Juve Cube. Which seems to have been a disco (get down with the cool kids) plus other exciting things and a freebie from Vice Press. Again, I couldn't make it, so can't really talk about it but here is the official announcement from 2000 AD, to explain what the event was LINK

Come Saturday morning as we set off from our hotel, it seems that Hagrid and I presume Professor Minerva McGonall (I just looked at pictures online to see who the lady was portraying) were staying at the same location, so we took a picture of Sam with them.

Then it was off for a hearty breakfast and then my wife and son hit the town for the day, while I had a nerdgasm firstly at the Vice Press gallery, which was a little out of the way. I was there for 10:00, which was lucky, as a mate went soon after and one of the prints that I had bought was sold out, as he tried to buy it.

It was a compact gallery with a cafe and meant that the art was even more enjoyable, as you could see a wall of 10 or 20 prints and wonder what that would look like at home, especially as you sat down with a coffee, or something stronger!
I had an enjoyable look round, then I bought two prints and then wandered back to my hotel to place them safely away and then head up to the convention itself.
Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them into a slide show!

Some props and merchandise from Planet Replicas and the Judge Minty & Search/Destroy fan films.

And the prints that I bought that morning were the Dredd sat astride his Lawmaster by Jake Lynch.

And one for a friend in the USA by Mick McMahon of Nemesis

Oh, I did buy this pin badge as well.

Once at the convention, I had to look at the 2000 AD tables first. Their first event of the day, the Writing Competition was already on and there was no way I could get to that and the Vice Press and back to the hotel, so I gave this event a miss. They left Oliver (I'm sure that was his name) manning the table, which he did admirably. I did have a little chat with him and bought a couple of items.

Vice Press had their tables opposite and they seemed to be having a good day but the only problem with this location was the width of the aisle. It was ridiculous and I bet a few buyers of prints were a bit worried about getting out the place without damaging their newly bought art.

I had a good chat with the team and congratulated them on putting their money where their mouth was and producing these prints and having the exhibition. Obviously not all the prints are to everyone's liking but there is something there for everyone and from seeing how well they were doing, it was a success for them and for those who bought stuff.

The next picture shows how narrow that aisle was!

I then managed to have a chat with numerous creators about their work, be it a particular story or certain pages of their artwork and with a few, look inside their portfolios, which is always a delight. To me this is one of the main reasons to come to such events. Seeing artwork close up, with the chance to buy some is great. Also some of the stories that are told are hilarious and enlightening but as the saying goes.


During this period I was collecting a few signatures for the 4 big books that I carry around from con to con. I bought a few books, sorted out a sketch and also began the process of having a commission for the walls at home.

Here's Tom Foster hard at work sketching for a fan. His Vice Press artist proof prints were on sale at his table, which you can see and I also took a few pictures of his Dredd tale from his portfolio. While having a chat about his art, he signed a Prog cover for me. He also told me about something that he's doing and I can't wait to see it on the page!

I wandered up to the Ian Edginton and D'Israeli table for a chat about their excellent Scarlet Traces and picked up a copy of the first collected trade, along with having some covers signed. This story is their version of The War of the Worlds and the continuation of it. It's an excellent read with stunning artwork. It also reflects the world today but not in a full on, in your face way. The characters are engaging, the settings out of this world and the horrors are brought to the reader with some interesting visuals! I highly recommend this and I know, it's not Judge Dredd!

From there it was a constant web of walking back and forth to tables to chat with creators, get stuff signed and buy items. In no particular order I saw the entertaining area that held Simon Davis, Richard Starkings and Boo Cook. Boo was constantly sketching every time I saw him and he told me off about my book burning, which was a joke advert I did for people to rush out and buy the 2000 AD Ultimate Collection. I'm sure you'll have seen it already.

Boo has created the spine for that very collection and Richard now owns it (lucky bugger) and he had it with him and it looks amazing in the flesh. All those details up close and how did Boo go about placing which characters next to each other, to make it work, I will never know!

When I was chatting with Richard an over enthusiastic fan barged me out of the way to buy some Elephant Men books and have them signed, which was funny. I then wandered off to another marquee and managed to catch John Wagner and we did an unboxing video of the 1/6th scale Judge Dredd from 3A. While there I bought the last 3 parts of his Rok of the Reds. This is going to be collected into a trade and series two will be coming!

I then had the obligatory selection of books signed and no Bolland wasn't there, his signature was already on the books, from another event.

I also showed him the Dredd Animation Pitch Book which is from the creative minds of Stephen Reid, Mick Cassidy, Richard McAuliffe, Eric Peterson and myself. We sent a copy to Rebellion and who knows what they think but at least we did give it a shot! I'll show more of that book in another blog!

I then had a look at the FutureQuake table and picked up three of their fanzines, two issues of Dogbreath and one of Zarjaz. These are excellent A5 books, which Tharg reads, so you never know! This can be a route into the Prog!

Next to this table was the Pigdog Press lot and I managed to pick up part 3 of Killing Moon, only one more part to go.

Neil McClements, Neil Bhuna Roche and Steven Austin manned their table and I had a look at their wares, which had an impressive amount across their display. I mainly chatted to Steven about a commission and that is now on the go. All I will say is that many a Superhero is gonna die ha ha!
I then wandered outside and bumped into some of the 2000 AD groupies and we had a drink before the actual 2000 AD panel.

The 2000 AD Panel was pretty enjoyable. The guests were Ian Edginton, INJ Culbard, John Wagner, Simon Davis, Tom Eglington and Emma Beeby. It was light hearted and informative and the audience had a chance to ask a few questions before it ended with a free raffle. This event was filmed by Steve Green, of the Judge Minty and Search/Destroy fan films, so I won't go into it, as you'll be able to see it, once it's posted up!

After that we had another picture of us all together before it was time to grab some food and then a few drinks.

I went back to the hotel, changed and took my family out for a delicious meal and then met up with the drinkers and after an hour or so I put Carolyn and Sam into a taxi, while I continued drinking.

When we all went our separate ways I went with Pete and Rob back to have a few drinks at their hotel bar and apparently there was a military do on in there.

While sat down with Pete I said I recognised a few of these people. There were lads from my old military day with various units including my Bomb Disposal days. How small a world we live in!

I eventually got back to my hotel at 03:00, which wasn't too bad!

The next day, it was off to the con with Samuel this time, so Carolyn could do some shopping in peace. This day was the day that I took my big books to get signatures in. Sunday is always a more quieter day, especially in the morning. I wonder why that would be! This meant it would be easier to get to the people that I needed to see.

Hannah Berry was a delight, as we chatted Sam was messing about and we got onto talking about Autism and how the world looks at people with all types of disabilities. She also mentioned that she was doing a story with Ben Willsher, which sounded interesting. This was for the upcoming Scream and Misty book from Rebellion.

I also had a chat with Jasper Bark and bought this trade paperback from him after he did his hard sell to me. A complex story, which I am looking forward to read.

I eventually made my way into the Victoria Hall, where I saw Pete Woods at his table and picked up this little Judge Death. He said that yesterday was insane, as the queue for the pop star was right in front of everyone's table in their aisle and until the staff sorted it out, they didn't have an enjoyable time. On the Saturday I did see the queue stretching outside and someone said that it was due to a pop star signing his book. It was some bloke from My Chemical Romance and my life is too short to bother checking online for his name. This put me off going into the hall, as I wasn't gonna join that to get in. Little did I know, the non pop star queue was non existent and I could've just wandered in. 

I picked up this sketch of Dredd shooting Batman by Roger langridge. I had placed my order in n the Saturday and Roger did ask if I knew his style. I replied that I did and that's what will make this so funny. I absolutely love it!

Here are a few more pictures showing Tom Eglington, Charlie Adlard and my son having a staring contest at the 2000 AD table.

Sunday was drawing to a close for me and what I had set out to do when I was approached to answer a survey about the convention and city, which I quite enjoyed. I presume that the council are trying to see how much the city benefits from the event being in the new location and expanding.

I had managed to accomplish nearly everything that I had set out to do from my list, just a couple of signatures not obtained due to timings but that's all part of the fun of these events.

My overall thoughts on the new location. Well, it's good for me, as we always book the same hotel and now it's not the yomp it used to be, so that's a plus in my book! The spread of the marquees and locations was compact but with the third marquee being about 200 metres up one street and around a corner, it was a case of wondering where it was initially. This also meant that the amount of times that you saw your mates was severely curtailed, as there were so many routes to use between everything. At the Armouries you would bump into mates constantly due to the one route back and forth between the halls.

The bounce in the marquees is also a bit of a problem for the artists, while they are doing their sketches.

The security on entering the marquees and locations involved checking large bags, which was okay during the current climate but there were lapses. I'm sure the staff were bored stiff doing this!

One thing that was a blessing, the sun was out over the whole weekend. If it had rained, I think the whole feel would've been different, especially with so much wandering about between locations.

If you are a comics fan, then this is the convention for you! If you are a 2000 AD fan, then this convention has the most creators from the Prog in attendance in the country. Lawgiver and Enniskillen are the next two events with decent amounts of 2000 AD creators in the same place!

Saying all that, once the dates are announced for next year, I will book my hotel room that very day!

ROLL ON 2018