21st Sep2018

Preview: Thought Bubble 2018

by Phil Wheat

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UK comic con (and its actually a comic con, not an MCM type mixed-media affair, this one actually focuses on comics and their creators) Thought Bubble started life in November 2007 as a one-day event in the basement of Leeds Town Hall and has grown in status and stature over the years. The festival celebrates the full breadth of sequential art as an important cultural art form – from comic art, illustration and storytelling to graphic novels, posters and animation.

We’ve attended the event for a number of years; with one of our team, Jack Kirby, even attending as a creator with his book Aliens in the Outfield – check out our coverage of Thought Bubble 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 – but distant and time have put a kibosh on being there the past couple of years. However that doesn’t stop us from previewing the event and letting you know what to expect should you be in Leeds this weekend…

Now in its twelfth year, Thought Bubble is the largest event of its kind in the UK, and this year boasts an incredible line-up of over 500 leading comic creators, international artists, illustrators, storytellers and guests from all over the world, attracting an international audience in excess of ten thousand people. Running from 17-23rd September, the festival is not just for die-hard fans – it’s the perfect place to dip your toes into the world of comics for the first time. There is something for everyone; from talks and signings from leading comic book artists to practical workshops, special family events and a truly unique exhibition where each piece literally comes alive.

Heading up the festival’s guest programme is internationally acclaimed, award-winning comic writer, novelist and screenwriter Warren Ellis. With his books adapted into films such as Red, X-Men and Fantastic Four as well as the Netflix series Castlevania. This will be Warren’s first UK comics festival appearance in 10 years, and the first where he’ll give the closing keynote lecture. Warren will be talking about the history of the comics form, his own history in comics as a writer and the future of the medium. Almost a hundred incredible artists will join Ellis, flying in from all over the world to complete the stellar line-up. Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman), Carey Pietch (Adventure Zone: Here Be Gerblins), Leslie Hung (Snotgirl) and Victoria Ying (Frozen, Moana) are just a small selection of the incredible names that make up the list. Exhibitors include the Etherington Brothers, who are debuting their new book at the festival – made possible after the most successful comics Kickstarter of all time! Famed for their unique shows and their focus on engaging the next generation of young artists, Lorenzo and Robin Etherington have created award-winning comic book stories for Star Wars, Transformers and many more major film brands.

Other festival events highlights include the Women World Builders event at Leeds Arts University, showcasing leading female artists who have built a successful career in this traditionally male dominated environment, with talks and a panel debate. Thanks to major Arts Council England funding, Thought Bubble will launch their innovative new Augmented Reality project ‘Comics Are Alive’ at the weekend convention, creating a hidden trail of digital comic art pieces across the site. And marking the 10th anniversary of Nobrow’s magazine with ‘Studio Dreams’ is a celebratory exhibition featuring the work of 70 artists and illustrators and their portrayals of artist studios and creative spaces.

2018 also brings the return of 2000 AD – the only comic talent competition of its kind in the country. The prize? Being paid to work with the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic! Internationally renowned creators like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Charlie Adlard got their big break at 2000 AD – could you be the next undiscovered star?

The week-long Thought Bubble festival culminates in a huge, two-day comic con on 22nd and 23rd September in a specially built festival village in the heart of Leeds. Here fans can meet some of the biggest names in the industry in what are frequently their only UK and European appearances. In addition to 450 exhibiting professionals, the convention offers exclusive panels, workshops, portfolio reviews and talks with the con’s 90+ international guests and culminates in an amazing cosplay parade to finish off the festivities.

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Says Festival Director and internationally renowned comic artist Lisa Wood (artist name Tula Lotay):

We are thrilled to be back in the heart of Leeds for a second year – last year was absolutely brilliant and the new venue is perfect for us to share the world of comics with an even bigger audience. Thought Bubble is the biggest comic art festival in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe, so we are immensely proud that we can continue to bring such an amazing event to our home city and have the support of Leeds to continue growing and spreading the love of comics.

Martin Dickson, Head of Marketing at LeedsBID (Leeds Business Improvement District), added:

LeedsBID is committed to raising the profile of the creative, cultural and artistic story of all that the city has to offer, bringing more people into Leeds to engage with our festivals and events, love their experience and get hooked by the special personality the city has. Being able to support and help Thought Bubble, the best comic convention in the world according to Forbidden Planet, is both a delight and privilege and we know it will, once again, bring a wonderfully colourful, memorable and successful festival to the city centre, showcasing Leeds as a fabulous, diverse global city.

The festival doesn’t require the purchase of tickets (although some free events are ticketed) – but the convention does. Tickets are £16-£30 and group deals are available. Families and children are welcome, and under 12’s and over 65’s come free. Keep up to date with latest announcements and tickets details at thoughtbubblefestival.com; and you can buy tickets for thisweekend’s events here: https://www.thoughtbubblefestival.com/ticket

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