22nd Nov2013

Mark’s guide to Thought Bubble 2013

by Mark Allen

Well, it’s upon us once again, and not a moment too soon: the superlative annual comic convention Thought Bubble is back as part of both the Leeds International Film Festival and Comic Art Festival, with a signing tour currently wending its way across Britain and the main events happening this weekend at the Royal Armouries.

And, boy, is there a lot going on.

So I thought I’d put together a brief guide to my picks of the panels and events being put on over the weekend. This is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully (if your tastes are anything like mine) it’ll at least steer you in the right direction. If you’re at all disappointed by where I send you, I can be found yelling at Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie for quitting Young Avengers…

Thought-Bubble-2013

Saturday 23rd

The morning of the first day has a couple of neat-sounding panels, including The Best Thing I’ve Read All Year and the digital-centric Comics 2.0, but things start getting really interesting for me with 36 Years of 2000 AD (12:40) - a look into both the past and future of The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, featuring creators Al Ewing, Si Spurrier and Rob Williams – and Decompressed: The Young Avengers After-Party (14:45). Hopefully you’ve already heard of Decompressed, YA writer’s irregular and eccentric comics craft podcast. If not, here’s your chance to find out what all the fuss is about and be a part of the festivities as Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and colourist Matt Wilson play host to a bunch of guest artists (Becky Cloonan, Ming Doyle, Annie Wu, “a cardboard cut-out of Emma Vieceli”) on the final two issues of their ‘season’ on the book. It’s gonna be a hoot.

Next up is the Image Comics Presents: Independence in the U.K.! (15:50), a somewhat misleadingly-titled panel that’s largely concerning the state of indie books and whose panelists are mostly from outside the United Kingdom. That’s okay, though, because I’m fairly certain Ming Doyle (Mara), Brandon Graham (Prophet), Antony Johnston (Wasteland, Umbral), Ales Kot (Change), Fiona Staples (Saga), Richard Starkings (Elephantmen) and moderator/Nowhere Men writer Eric Stephenson will have plenty of interesting things to say about independence. While also being in the U.K..

The fanboy in me won’t be able to stay away from the Marvel: Your Universe – Q&A (16:50), and with a line-up that includes Gillen, Matt Fraction & David Aja (the Hawkeye team making their first ever[!] con appearance together), Si Spurrier (X-Men Legacy), Kelly Sue Deconnick (Captain Marvel), Ramon Perez (Wolverine and the X-Men) and Paul Cornell (Wolverine), it’s hard to think of a reason to. Although it might be best for everyone if I refrain from asking why most of them are leaving books that I love.

The 2nd annual British Comics Awards are also taking place on the Saturday; it’s sure to be a place to see some great books you may not have heard about receiving their due recognition.

Sunday 24th

Everyone should be heading to the Laydeez do Comics Presents: Diversity in Comics (11:40) panel, because diversity is important and not enough people actively support it. Also, there’s always usually a topic or three that the panelists get into a disagreement about, which is never not fun.

The Writers Roundtable (11:50) probably makes it pretty obvious that I’m more interested in discussion panels with writers and artists than sketching or judging panels. You’ve got me; I can’t draw for toffee and it upsets me when other people do things I can’t in front of me. Thankfully, waffling about putting words on a page is something I can do blindfolded (if not coherently – you try typing a screenplay without being able to see the screen), so watching the diverse line-up of Gillen, Fraction, DeConnick, Brandon Graham and Robin Furth (The Dark Tower) should be a breeze, not to mention full of useful nuggets (and, hopefully, some kind of outrageous comments from Graham, as he is wont to make).

I’m not really into dressing up, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching other people do it. The best venue for that – apart from the main plaza where manga characters and zombies alike will be milling around, posing for photos and playfighting to their hearts’ content – is the Cosplay Masquerade (14:50), which is like a fashion show from another dimension.

The From Stands to Screen (16:40) panel is usually a pretty fascinating insight into creators’ opinions of the movies made from their work, especially when they really hate them.

So that’s it! There’s a ton of more information about these and other events on the Thought Bubble site (protip: you might also consider picking up a map of the con floor, being that there are three of them this time around), but I hope this has been in some way useful in curating your weekend. Oh, and make sure you blag a ticket for the mid-con party if you haven’t already got one. It’s a blast.

I’ll be keeping a con diary on Nerdly over the two days I’m there, so keep checking back to see what shenanigans (or not) I get up to and who I end up talking with. See you there!

[And if you haven’t already checked out this year’s charity anthology featuring a hoary host of great creators, you can always pick one up from your local store or from Comixology if you’re digitally-inclined.]

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