Saturday 17th November was cold wet and grey but none of that mattered to me as my wife and I set off on the 13+ miles towards Leeds, today was my annual trip to the Thought Bubble comic convention and nothing could put a dampener on my spirit. Unlike previous visits to the convention this year I had a partner in crime my wife Helen was accompanying me on this trip, Helen had never been to a comic convention before so I did have a little trepidation on how she would react to the world she was walking into.
Like the previous year the convention would run over the whole weekend and be split between two conference halls, such has been the popularity and growth of Thought Bubble over the last few years.
Upon arrival we were greeted by one hell of a queue to get in but we happily joined the end of the line and patiently waited to shuffle along, to our delight one of the many and wonderful convention volunteers came along the line saying anyone with prepaid tickets can go through the door on right of the queue. I suddenly had a new best friend and within 5 minutes of arriving outside the convention we were having our wrist bands fitted and on our way into the main hall, once inside we decided to follow the flow and get a good look round although to be honest the flow was not that fast as people slowly drifted around. We passed one dealers table who was had silver age comics on display and Helen just gasped as she saw the prices of up to £300 per comic, one day I told her I will have one of those the look on her face said in your dreams.
I joined the line for Bryan Talbot who was there with his wife Mary and I picked up a copy of her and Bryan’s book Dotter of her Mother’s Eyes which they both signed, I also bought a copy of A Tale of One Bad Rat which I surprisingly didn’t have. Bryan not only signed it but drew a nice sketch of a rat on the inside cover, I now have quite a collection of Bryan’s work all signed with nice little sketches inside each of them.
Next stop was Charlie Allard who as you would expect had a very long line, but we waited patiently and I managed to get my copy of Walking Dead signed along with a copy of the 3rd trade of the book.
Then it was on to see Dave Taylor who signed my copy of Batman Death by Design,and I chatted with him about how much I had enjoyed the book and how much I enjoyed his art style in it, he said it was one he enjoyed doing but the pressure had aged him slightly while drawing it.
As we wondered around the packed hall I managed to get a wonderful sketch of Wild Cat from Gary Eskrin (I miss the JSA), he looked a little puzzled when I asked for it at first until so I said I had asked for that character as he had worked on the book JSA Strange Tales. After thinking for a while he answered yes I did I had forgot about that, it wasn’t until I got home and checked my back issues that I found the book came out in 2004. It’s no wonder he had forgotten about a 6 issue mini from 8 years ago, can’t wait to see his face next year when I ask for Alan Scott.
Next on my list was the surprise guests of the show Robert Llewellllyn, Kryten from Red Dwarf who has written several books(didn't know that) and had some of them with him, I spoke to him about the latest Red Dwarf series saying how much I had enjoyed it. He thanked me and said it was as much fun to make as it always was, I asked if there would be another series and he said nothing was planned but he would be surprised if there wasn’t. I picked up a flier for his new book about Red Dwarf called The Man in the Rubber Mask which he said would be out in December; I enjoyed my brief chat with Robert who was very friendly and happily to talk to everyone, an all round nice guy.
As always with Thought Bubble there were quite a lot of independents around and I spent quite a bit of time looking at their work and chatting with them, the guys who produce the comic Ladies & Gentlemen were there as you would expect as Leeds is their home town. I did a review of their first Issue and to my delight they have quoted me on the back of the second (fame at last), I also picked up issues from London Horror comics an anthology horror book as a horror fan I couldn't resist. I then came across Steve Tanner at the Time Bomb Comics stand as some of their books caught my eye, namely Dick Turpin and The Restless Dead, and Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague my family allegedly has a connection to this well known villain so every time I see his name I am drawn in. I chatted with Steve about his books and my family's alleged connection to the highway man and his gang and he seemed genuinely interested, which makes a change for me as peoples eyes normally glaze over when I talk Dick Turpin. Having enjoyed my chat with Steve who is a genuinely great guy I may add, I picked up the Turpin books which I will be reviewing these comics in the upcoming weeks.
In between our walking around and family ruminations we posed with the Dalek that was in the entrance hall, little did I realise that it was fully working and there was great delight when it came into the convention hall and interacted with the crowds.
Helen was happily taking snaps of the crowds, guests and cos players who seemed to be there in even bigger numbers than normal, to my delight Helen was really getting into the swing of the convention not only taking photos but also posing with some of the cos players for photos. The one where the joker gives her rabbit ears as she stand with him Batman and Black Cat is my favourite,she had become so involved that at one point she chased down a 10th Doctor lookalike and got him to pose with the Dalek I was so proud.
Other highlights of the day included my signed Swamp Thing & Batman prints from Yanick Paqutte who also signed my issue 1 of Swamp Thing, a wonderful Hit Man sketch from John McCrea who had previously drawn a Joker sketch for me in 1996 at a London convention. Several Doctor Who prints one of which showed all 11 Doctors and my talk with new Doctor Who writer Andy Diggle while he signed the 1st issue of his new book, to my surprise he asked me where I bought it from as he didn’t have a copy due it was hard to get in the UK. I told him eBay and he asked how much, when I said £6 he said I hope it was worth it I told him it was but I would wait for the trade for the rest.
My Thoughts on the show:
I personally had no complaints and thought the convention was very well organised, people I have spoken to since who had tables have said that everything went off as it should have. What I love about Thought Bubble is that despite how quickly it has grown in resent years, it still has that small convention charm and feel about it. Everyone is accessible and friendly and the commercial aspect that seems to dog other conventions isn't evident, and my it long continue to stay that way. If I could make a small suggestion its get some normal cider in the bar, the look on the barman's face as he offered Helen raspberry cider, and she said do I look like I drink overpriced poncey cider was priceless.
And finally special mentions go out to:
The cos players who were amazing this year, all the volunteer's who give up there time and kept the show running. Last but not least my wife Helen who helped make this the best convention ever, and also lent me some money when I had ran out I'm one lucky man.