Thought Bubble – Leeds Comic Convention review

Posted on 26 November 2013
By James McAllister
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A ‘comic book convention’ has become an umbrella term for an event that showcases the culture that has become associated with comic books – and not just comic books as the name suggests.

Rarely will you see a comic book convention today that actually celebrates and applauds only the sequential arts and its talents.

Long ago entertainment corporations caught onto the captured niche market that attends these events and exploited them to their advantage – as a result bigger than life monsters like San Diego Comic Con have been born.

The true comic fan that simply enjoyed discovering the latest exploits of Spider-man or Batman in the illustrated panels of their weekly comic books have slowly been marginalised by entertainment executives looking to showcase their latest blockbuster movie.

This is why festivals like Thought Bubble are so important. It is a rare opportunity to celebrate the sequential arts in all of its glory without getting bogged down with the media circus that comes along with the culture.

Thought Bubble has achieved the perfect festival to both nurture and celebrate the talent in comic books without becoming involved with the glamour that can be associated with it.

This years festival felt like the perfect size. Small enough so you didn’t miss out on anything, but at the same time there was always a great feeling that you were part of something big and very special.

The festival felt big with high profile names like Image and Marvel attending, but they were showcased alongside self starters and independent artists – which highlight the inclusive nature of the weekend.

If you have been a fan of comics since childhood, or if you were just a curious observer, all of the exhibitors were completely approachable and open to questions.

The panels discussed broader issues of the comic book industry instead of individual artists and books. A complete novice could enjoy a Marvel panel without brushing up on 20 years of Iron man history and still follow what was being discussed.

Although, it wasn’t all talks and discussions about the issues in the comic book industry. Workshops and competitions were organised to help establish up and coming artists and develop young talent.

The Thought Bubble Art Competition helped to showcase unsung talent throughout the festival, and workshops like How to Draw (Awesome) Robots invited artists of all ages to brush up on their talents under the guidance of industry professionals.

The weekend event may have been all about the comics, but cosplayers were out in force this year. Characters from a Warhammer 40K Space Marine to multiple incarnations of Doctor Who were in attendance.

Not only did all the costumes look great, but Heroes Alliance UK, among other exhibitors even used there presence to raise money for various charities.

The fun didn’t stop when the convention ended. Unlike big corporate comic conventions, Thought Bubble doesn’t turn away true comic lovers for high flying movie executives. The artists and talent that were being showcased all day, partied all night with the convention goers. – Kieron Gillen, author of Iron man even DJ’d the event!

Taking place at the stunning Leeds Corn Exchange, it rounded off the celebratory feeling of the weekend nicely for fans and talent alike.

It’s refreshing to see a convention that is still in touch of it’s roots despite the presence of some famous names. Growing from the Leeds Town Hall basement six years ago, the festival has chosen to nurture and celebrate the art of comics, instead of exploiting it.

Thought Bubble comes highly recommended to anyone who holds a remote interest in comic books. Regardless of your age, experience, or whether you are looking to break into the industry or just enjoy reading, there is something there for everyone.