Last year, Thought Bubble was terrific. This year it was better. Layout improvements, food options, queue management. It’s all a total dream.
Thing is, the big shiny-shiny Ameripublisher tables feel out of place. It’s all about small press with their matte paper and textured covers, 2000AD with their worn-in confidence and character-appropriately brusque stacking of thirty years of books, Cinebook’s gorgeous, obviously imported B-D covers and unusual size, self-pubbers, collectives, students, indies, start-ups, crowd-funded heroines, successful graphic novel creators and big-name talents from Image, Dark Horse and the Big Two whom nobody could argue found their popularity based on anything but artistic craft. Breakdown Press, Self Made Hero, and Jonathan Cape had small, quiet tables with perfectly refined heartbreaker collections (don’t get too close, it’s dangerous, their siren beauty will slay you), but large tables selling assortments of trades you can see in any/every LCS the country over… Even when it’s Saga and S-Crims, it gives me pause. Come on, swing over to the other side of the aisle, check out this risograph!
Of course, people can, and do, do both. There’s time. I’m not complaining. I just kind of love how these stalls seem atmospherically unnecessary.
I met a lot of people this time. I knew a lot of people TO meet this time; Twitter is real, it works. I’ve made friends, acquaintances, reviewed people’s comics, thought more about their art, discovered questions I personally, honestly, have for them. Selfies make con networking easier, too: when people can see me and say “Claire?” I don’t have to introduce myself. Yes! Yes! When I can see somebody and know they’re the right person behind the right table, it’s far easier to strike up conversation than when I’m worrying that maybe I’ll have to come back later and the people on the next table will KNOW I made a MISTAKE. Anxiety, friends: there are ways to beat it back.
Who did I catch? I talked to Hannah Chapman, Phillippa Rice, Rufus Dayglo, Markk Carrington/Anaseed Man, John Allison, Alison Sampson, Dilraj Mann, a university comics club (or two?), Hope Larson, the Saddest Man at Breakdown Press, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Kingpin Books, Oliver East, Kristyna Baczynski, rando friendly cosplayers, Ben Wright and Isaac Lenkiewicz, and Zainab Akhtar. And that was nowhere near enough! But I am just one woman, one woman who got lost and walked up and down hills for two and a half hours prior to arrival on the Saturday, and I was sleepy. Silver lining: sleepy enough to throw economic caution to the wind and buy a shitload of minis. Sarah Horrocks, Emma Raby, Samantha Holmlund… Thought Bubble expanded my window, oh boy did it ever. At every level; the roaming cosplay Judges and professional-grade accessory replicas stand drove the Britpocalypse itch deep enough that I Dale Cooper’d myself to a Psi Division phonebook trade (that’s Judge Anderson; not leading her own title, but driving her own stories in the 2000AD weeklies. They’re collected in black and white, I’m a third of the way in, and these comics are already just delicious), and talking with WolfWoman about Emma Rios’ layouts and Wong redesign in Strange at Marvel almost had me crawling back for more MU punishment.
Oh, I’ve got so much to tell you. Thought Bubble’s enough to fuel a year’s worth of conversation and I didn’t even hit the panels. I didn’t even document the kids’ workshops, or talk to the teenaged and pre-teen creators.
The British comics scene, my darlings. It is okay. It’s here for you to find.
Maybe next year the single on-site cashpoint will be filled a little fuller? Tesco? Tesco? Bueller?