Thought Bubble Comic-Con 2010

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Well it’s Sunday night and Thought Bubble is over for another year, and like the previous few years it’s gotten bigger, better and more tightly organised, it’s hard to believe Thought Bubble once fitted in the basement of Leeds Town Hall, which judging by the heat is very close to earth’s molten core…

It was good to see the adoption by some artists (John Romita Jr, Tony Harris, Adi Granov, and maybe more that I don’t know about) of a take-a-number system when queuing for sketches, meaning that fans could wander around the con whilst the Pros took part in panels, rather than having to stand in line all day. Another improvement was the removal of the curtained off panel area in favour of holding panels in Royal Armouries Hall and Alea Casino, freeing up more space for exhibitors and guests.

The Thought Bubble staff were helpful and organisation seemed very professional, but still friendly, with many familiar faces volunteering again this year. Some fans forget that the staff, or “Red Shirts” as they were nicknamed this year, are fans as well and don’t get a pay-check, but help because of their love of comics and all things geek.

The only complaint I had was that large queues built up during the morning at the big name guest tables and restricted traffic to the guest and exhibitor tables down the centre aisle. This is a common problem at fan driven events, and you could tell that the organisers had done as much as they could to avoid conflicting queues, giving the far guest tables more open space than previous years. The only way I can see of avoiding this is by using some form of ticketing system, as used by other pop culture signing events.

Thought Bubble has always had a brilliant guest list, and this year was no exception:

John Romita Jr (Kick Ass, Avengers) – self effacing comedy genius, and possibly one of the Sopranos

Tony Harris (Starman, Ex Machina) – one of the nicest guys in comics who loves what he does and puts a huge amount of thought and work into each comic panel.

Paul Cornell (Acton Comics, Knight & Squire) – a true British gent, giving away comics with a huge grin on his face. You will never find a more British comic than Knight and Squire.

Duncan Fregredo (Hellboy) – A mainstay of Thought Bubble and the 2nd best Hellboy artist in the world… Mike will always be the best Hellboy artist

Sean Phillips (Criminal, Incognito) – Another mainstay and Morecambe to Fregredo’s Wise. If you like noir and pulp comics you’ll pretty much want to buy everything on his table, I don’t think he’ll ever produce a bad issue of Criminal.

Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, Uncanny X-Men, Generation Hope) – Always fun and entertaining, and can talk the ears off a donkey… whilst feeding it tiny fun-size Mars bars and writing it a custom playlist.

Jamie McKelvie (Phonogram, Suburban Glamour) – A talented British artist, and Gillen’s tablemate and possibly registered carer

Adi Granov (Iron Man, Astonishing Captain America) – Friend of Travelling Man and one of the nicest, most self effacing artists you’ll ever meet.

Antony Johnston (Wasteland, Daredevil, Dead Space) – Friend of Blogomatic3000, and a multi format writer to watch out for, it can only be a matter of time before he’s on something high profile for Marvel.  Check out his Comics to Consoles talk on the GDC website and give him a “thumbs up from the back”.

Rob Williams (Cla$$war, Deadpool Team-Up) – Soon to be an “overnight success” after 8 years of writing comics. A genuinely nice bloke and another writer whole I suspect will soon be on something high profile at Marvel.

Becky Cloonan (Demo, Northlanders) – A last minute addition to the line-up and a bit of a hidden gem, I’m amazed by her ability to show so much emotion in her comic art. The Cloak and Dagger sketch she did for me was my favourite this year, if Marvel ever do more Cloak and Dagger she’d be my pick to draw it. Teenage runaways with hard-to-control powers… it’s a no brainer. I hope she comes back next year – I’ll be queuing for a Shade the Changing Man sketch

Kev Walker (Thunderbolts) – Another late addition, and a welcome one as he’s always a gent and stopped on past his signing time to sketch for fans.

Barry Kitson (Spider-man) – I got a Nightcrawler sketch from Barry at the first Thought Bubble. His water colour “sketches” are stunning, good things do indeed come to those who wait. Plus he couldn’t be nicer and is usually the last one out the building after a solid 7 hours of sketching for fans.

These were only a few of the guests at Thought Bubble 2010, check out http://www.thoughtbubblefestival.com for the full list. It would take the addition of Alan Davis or Stan Lee to improve this guest list, and I don’t mean Alan Davis the actor!

Well done everyone at Thought Bubble for another amazing convention, and well done to Space Pirate Will for making Spider-man a dark, sexually disturbing character that will haunt my nightmares for months to come, I dread to think what you’ll be wearing next year – Star Sapphire or glowing Tron lines all over your naked body? (shudder)

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