Comics, cosplay and mahoosive conventions...Jenessa Williams finds out what fans can expect
It’s hosted a decade of successful comic art conventions in Leeds - so we weren’t the only ones surprised to learn that Thought Bubble is moving to Harrogate this year (some of it anyway). A cornucopia of gleefully geeky behaviour, we’ve long enjoyed scouring its heaving stalls of graphic novels, dipping in and out of interactive classes and talks and, of course, taking in some serious people-watching at the annual cosplay parade.
Now, we know Harrogate isn’t that far but why change? We asked festival administrator Chloe Green to spill the beans…and have been reassured that Thought Bubble 2019 (4th - 10th November) is going to be a an exciting time indeed for both cities. Suddenly that half-hour train ride is looking all the more enticing...
Hi Chloe, and congrats on another year of Thought Bubble - what were the biggest successes and struggles of last year’s event?
Thanks. Last year was incredible, it always is. The biggest struggle was something a little out of our control - the weather! Strong winds and marquees do not mix, so that was a real nail-biting moment for everyone. Thankfully it passed and everything went along without a hitch, but having something like that crop up after a year of planning wasn't much fun. The success was everyone that came, all our guests, our incredible exhibitors and our visitors. We really are humbled every year by how many people show their love for Thought Bubble.
What led you to decide to move the Comic Con to Harrogate?
We love Leeds, so moving wasn't an easy decision at all. Our head office is in Leeds, most of the team live in Leeds and we have been lovingly holding our comic con here for 12 years. But we've outgrown any space it can provide us. Moving to Harrogate Convention Centre means we can do everything under one roof (and not have to worry about weather!) It also makes it more accessible for everyone; our panels, workshops, guest signings and exhibitors are all right there for everyone to enjoy. It has meant we can grow too, which is really exciting.
There’s plenty of goings on in both Leeds and Harrogate for anyone who can’t make the main Con - could you tell us some more about these fringe events?
Yes! So our festival is full of fringe events all over Yorkshire; exhibitions, workshops, talks, socials... The ones I'm looking forward to the most are: Pints and Pencils; a fun drawing get together at Belgrave in Leeds; Hilda In Harrogate, a free exhibition based on the amazing comic and Netflix series at the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate; and the Travelling Man signing tour, in which staff pick some of our special guests to feature. It's a really great chance to meet some of our biggest guests on a more intimate basis, and I'm really excited for the guests they have picked out... keep your eyes on our social media for the announcements. We've got Kim-Joy from GBBO doing a workshop in a local school, quizzes, a two-day academic conference…
Tell us more about the big weekend event - why should Leeds folk make the trip?
This year is our biggest year ever, so making the quick trip over to Harrogate is totally worth it! Our guests have worked on the likes of The Joker, Batman, Spiderman, Venom and Star Wars - plus some of Netflix’s best films and series. Then there are the 450+ exhibitors - my favourite part and what make Thought Bubble Comic Con incredible. Filling our 2.5 giant halls at the convention centre, there’ll be an awesome selection of indie and self-published comics, graphic novels, exclusive prints, pins, patches and everything in between. Whether you're into superheroes or self-published zines, there is really something for everyone.
Who are your favourite artists taking part this year?
This is the hardest question to answer... So, I'm going to cheat and give you two! I am incredibly excited for Jhonen Vasquez. His comics were the first ones I picked up as a little Goth kid in Travelling Man Leeds years and years ago. It's going to be pretty surreal not just meeting him, but being able to bring him over to the UK for all of the other people who love him too. His new film, Invader Zim, went up on Netflix recently too so its a really exciting time. Second, Sweeney Boo - I've followed her work on Instagram for so long and seen her work evolve to featuring on the cover of Marvel comics. Sweeney is taking part in our Sketching Spotlight where artists draw live on stage, so I'll definitely be making time for that.
Last but not least - if you were to cosplay as anyone, who would it be?
I'm definitely not the kind of person that dressing up but, if I had to, it would be Tank Girl. She is just so incredibly cool - it's a great excuse to shave a bit of my head and writer Alan Martin is at the Con too…it’s all happening!
Thought Bubble Comic Con takes place at the Harrogate Convention Centre from 9th - 10th November, with wider events taking place from the 4th. For more information and tickets, visit thoughtbubblefestival.com