It’s now been nearly two weeks since the annual Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival & it’s 2-day convention and I figured I’d let all my thoughts sink in about it before trying to sum up how my weekend went at the event…..
The biggest change for most this year was the relocation from Leeds to Harrogate and having been at about 5 or 6 of the events in the last 8 years or so I was lucky enough to see it at both the Armouries & under the marquees in the City Centre. The move allowed the comic con to all be housed under one roof and that felt like a massive gain for the event. The single entrance seemed to keep the first of the 3 halls the busiest but over the weekend the masses did seem to spread across the whole venue in what felt like a nice balance.
The move back to November helped it feel like the bookend to the comic con season for most of the people attending – creators & fans alike and I was no different. After a long year of reading & reviewing comics it was a fitting way to close out the year by meeting so many people face-to-face. The halls themselves were laid out well although there were occasions where the halls felt cramped given the flow of people through and between them, but this didn’t seem to linger too long thankfully.
The mix of guests & indie creators worked well and the volunteers did themselves proud with their directions, queue managing and general interest in the comic world around them. The comics on offer from the indie creators covered every genre & demographic you could think of and my hefty haul from the year was testament to the talent that were there for the weekend.
The one drawback of so many amazing indie creators distilled into one event is that there’s only so much comic-buying money to go around and while this feels like an issue faced with most conventions it’s the sheer number of creators at Thought Bubble that makes the challenge greater. I could happily buy from everyone at the show and in most cases I’m getting hold of hard copies from these creators all year anyway but the number of stories of struggling sales seemed more prevalent to me this year than any other.
The creators themselves have to shoulder the majority of that sale-making burden though and given that it’s their story that’s trying to gain attention, it becomes a case of an event like Thought Bubble being an acceptable loss for most of them – but I can’t see why that should be the case. The social element to the weekend and the chance to catch-up with people you’ve worked with, chatted to online or get hold of the latest issue of an indie series becomes a crucial part to the scene itself so there’s still a positive to come from the number of creators that attend.
From a purely selfish standpoint I’d love to see more creators year on year but I think that model has had its day and oddly enough I think a reduction in the number of the tables could help make the comic scene more buoyant at a time when comic TV shows & Movies are failing to spark a significant interest in comic books themselves. That would reduce the cramped feeling at the event and make the spread of visitors quicker & smoother into the other areas…..or at least I hope it would.
In the end though, Thought Bubble 2019 made me realize just how much I’ve missed the event in the last couple of years, as well as highlighting just how significant it is for the comics in the UK & beyond. The scene in itself is all the better for an event like TBubs being around and with a couple of tweaks to the setup for the Comic Con there’s no reason why it can’t be a gain for everyone who attends both creatively & financially. The collection of creators it puts together and it’s willingness to be as inclusive & diverse as possible makes this THE comic-centric event to get along to fairly consistently.
It’s got enough on offer here for any level of comic fan – from the kids who are just getting their first glimpse of some new characters to obsess over through to the die-hard fans who have comic panels ingrained in their psyche. The big name guests are there, the comics are there, the workshops, screenings & cosplay are there and that’s all wrapped up in the comic con equivalent of a hug.
See you at Thought Bubble 2020 if not before I’m sure 🙂