Random Thoughts on Thought Bubble 2011
So, over the weekend, I toddled down to Leeds for the Thought Bubble comic convention, only the second con I've ever been to, but probably not my last. I should say right now that this isn't going to be a "con report", because there'll be enough of those popping up on the news sites during the week by people who are far more seasoned con-goers than me. This'll probably be more like some rambling thoughts on the day (I know the con was held over the weekend, but I was only there for the Saturday).
Heading down there, I assumed the con was going to be pretty much the same as last year: a huge hall packed to the rafters with fans and creators alike, and a metric ton of Cosplayers running around outside. But, with the event being stretched across two halls for the weekend, it became clear that it was a very different beast this time around. A more relaxed atmosphere seemed to permeate the event, which actually proved to be great for catching up with people (and have fun re-introducing myself) - especially in Saviles Hall with the bulk of the exhibitors. The Royal Armouries Hall, where the majority of the professionals were signing, was the aforementioned packed to the rafters place, not really helped by massive queues of fans winding their way around the room (apologies to anyone I jostled as I tried to get past...). But, hey, you can't really blame them for wanting a chance to get some stuff signed and meet their favourite creators. Again, though, I found myself coveting a lot of books and comics, but had to force myself to not snap them up due to limited finances and my desire to get make a dent in the pile of stuff I'm trying to get rid of. And I deeply regret not bringing a book or two to get signed by the legendary Mick McMahon...
More than anything, though, it was great to finally get to meet some people for the first time, no matter how briefly. I caught up with Dunk Nimmo (hopefully, we'll have something special out there for the next TB) and The Mighty Kevin Levell (who I could've talked to all day about Judge Dredd and Ron Smith). Also got to catch up with Stephen Downey (and see some art for a Zarjaz strip we've got brewing) and have a wee chat with Dave West of Accent UK and Dave Evans of FutureQuake (one day, I'll get those two mixed up and much hilarity will no doubt ensue). Finally got to meet Daniel Clifford, Graham Pearce, Nic Wilkinson, and, of course the Com.X overlords - who I should probably apologise to for keeping them talking so much (but I did manage to get a copy of their BlueSpear ashcan by Andi Ewington, Eddie Deighton and Cosmo White). It was weird, too, recognising faces of people I know from various blogs and news sites, but then having to stop myself from calling them by name as if I knew them personally. I thought it was only people who watched soap operas did things like that, but I do, too, apparently.
While I'm disappointed that I didn't get to talk to everyone I wanted to, I think the key thing about this year's Thought Bubble for me (apart from an aching pair of feet), was that I've come away from it feeling more energised and upbeat about comics and writing in general. I'll admit that over the last few weeks, I've been seriously re-considering my attempts at trying to carve out a writing career, due to various reasons. I've become aware of some, well, pretty questionable attitudes on certain topics from writers in various mediums - including some professionals - that have made me wonder why I'm bothering. I've seen people be dismissive of non-professionals, become zealots over self-publishing and generally let their egos run rampant. It begins to grind you down after a while, and makes you wonder if the person with the biggest ego who can shout the loudest is the one destined to get furthest. I know that writing is a lonely practice, and sometimes, it's difficult not to let that kind of attitude affect you, especially when the internet becomes your main source of social contact during long days in front of a keyboard. But getting out to a con like this, connecting with people face-to-face, can make a lot of difference; you realise that there are some fucking awesome people out there making comics, people with a real passion for what they do. It was good to remind myself of that, and I think it's just what I needed.
Oh, and I also signed my first book... A copy of Accent UK's Robots anthology, to be exact. It was a bit strange, but kind of fun. And I can now genuinely say that I've signed at least one book in my life. You can find the ways to buy the book over on the right of the screen there, if you're so interested. Probably won't be signed, though, but, hey.
So, Thought Bubble 2012 for me? I most definitely think so...