For a mere freelance artist, normally hidden away for months on end under a pile of paper, pots of ink and the occasional 'blue screen of death' (TM), Thoughtbubble comic festival in Leeds is often referred to as the Christmas party. A place to catch up with old friends, make new ones, enjoy a small sherry and take stock of the 'current state of stuff'.
The only real drag is getting home to realise you've missed even seeing an alarming number of friends, creators, books that you may have had your eye on, and in this case a whole area decked out like a forest. It's a fault that can hardly be laid at the feet of the organisers. If I missed catching up with you, I really am sorry!
But back to Friday. Friday was a different fish altogether. If you've ever met Owen Johnson, you'll probably know he's someone who gets things done. If you've ever met John Pearson, you'll know he's the same. Someone put them in a room together and the result was the unofficial Thoughtbubble launch party, featuring live music, live canvas painting, and a ridiculously cheap bar - all in a disused shop, right in the middle of the city centre.
A great night out and a big thank you to everyone involved in putting it on.
We were, of course, at Thoughtbubble to launch Cross, the political satire anthology we've been banging a drum about for the last few months (you may have noticed), and UKComics came through with a lovely print run that awaited us in the Royal Armouries Hall on Saturday morning.
Selling and promoting a book of this nature in amongst a myriad of great stuff was always going to be a tall order. We had no idea if people would go for it at all. Saturday would show us that the book touched a nerve with pretty much everyone who stopped by. Cross is turning out to be one of our most popular endeavours, and I can't begin to tell you how happy that makes us here.
It was also great to catch up with a large number of the creators involved in the book - Jim Campbell, Richmond Clements, Cy Dethan, Tom Foster, Howard Hardiman, Owen Johnson, Gavin Mitchell, Spinx and Rob Williams - and to hand over comps! We couldn't have done it without them, and everyone seemed to be as excited about it as us.
The whole weekend was a great experience and reaffirmed - as it tends to do - that comics is an amazing world that is forever evolving and open to new ideas. Going hand in hand with that, between helpful staff, plenty of signage to get you around, talks and workshops, and a rather awesome location for the Saturday night bash, you really have to hand it to the folks who put it all together.
Sunday evening, as is fast becoming tradition, was set aside for the 'have a nice relaxing sit down and a laugh' session at the nearby Holiday Inn bar. For those of you who have a long distance to travel after the convention, I can thoroughly recommend staying the Sunday night for such giggles and heading home the next day. Less stress, and good for the soul. And with any luck, you'll get to hear Row Bird tell the most awesome stories.
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So I was going to list everyone we met and said hi to, but I always worry that that approach comes across as
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On a purely selfish note, last year's Thoughtbubble was a great success for Disconnected Press, but not for me personally. I had a big list of things I had wanted to achieve as an artist by November of 2013, and when it arrived pretty much the opposite had happened. I had become so blinkered in my approach that I couldn't enjoy the weekend. Suffice to say I wasn't particularly happy about it, and resolved to make this year's version a more positive experience.
One of the main things I've found, at Thoughtbubble and at other conventions this year, has been sharing tricks and tips on drawing and inking with people. Instead of hording such secrets like stolen treasure, it's been more rewarding telling people how I go about drawing hands, inking straight lines and dry brushing etc. I won't claim to be the best in such fields, but knowing that someone has learnt something that'll help them going forward is better than keeping it to myself.
With that in mind, I'll be digging out some old notes made from older talks I've attended and posting them here in the next few weeks.