A Weekend at Thought Bubble in 2019

A rambling summary of our wee trip to Thought Bubble 2019 in Harrogate - from the perspective of a comic book noob!

This past weekend my wife and I attended the Thought Bubble comic art festival which was hosted in Harrogate, near Leeds in the UK. It was a great weekend away overall, but also an interesting insight for myself into the world of comic books.

We travelled from London to Harrogate on Friday night, which takes roughly 3 hours by train, and stayed in a bed and breakfast right outside the convention centre. The bed and breakfast was like a mini 7-bedroom hotel but with unfortunately poor sound-proofing between rooms and even floors. still - it was fairly good value overall for us.

On Saturday morning we arrived at the convention centre at 9.30am to the view of a humungous queue of hundreds of people. The convention opened at 10am, so we went for a pleasant walking tour of Harrogate and the shops inside. By around 11am the queue was short enough and the weather cold enough that we felt the right time to wait had arrived.

First up was a thorough walking tour of the many stalls of artists. There seemed to be a good mix between independent artists and large publishers, although for a newcomer to comics like myself it was very hard to tell the difference sometimes. This phase of walking around was a little awkward because I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking "for". I ended up pausing at stalls that had art I liked the aesthetic of, or had art of a character that I knew of. It was a good exploration, but I never wanted to linger long with an artist keen to talk to me about something I knew nothing! I guess it would have been a good learning opportunity, but social extroversion is not exactly one of my talents.

My favourite part of the convention hands-down was the panel sessions. We attended a Q&A panel session about webcomics, which turns out are comics published online. This has a lower barrier to entry than physically published comics, so I liked hearing from the artists about their monetisation strategies. All the artists expressed frustration with their platforms either in terms of customisation or compensation, so it seems there is definitely some room for further innovation in this market!

We attended a live drawing session at the end of each day, which was generally a free-form discussion about the comic book industry while one artist was drawing beneath a camera. Again, as someone who knows very little about comic books this was an interesting discussion to listen in on as the artists discussed different mediums (traditional or digital), drawing styles, and materials, as well as some background on their careers. My general impression from both sessions was that making a career in the comic book industry requires a tremendous amount of dedication and practice, and a relentless urge to put your work "out there" to begin selling it.

The other session we attended was a discussion on the "importance of colour", although some of this discussion went over my head as I didn't quite understand the nuanced relationship between a colourist and the drawing artist, and when the roles are separate.

Between panels and walking around, I also read some comic books which is extremely unusual for me - but I did enjoy them! Lily, my wife, was very successful in her "haul" - making up for lost time at previous comic book conventions when we couldn't afford to buy anything.

Haul from Thought Bubble (Descender and Into The Dungeon are mine, the rest are Lily's)

I didn't write this for an particular purpose, but as an easy way for me to try out some writing again. I have some plans for more tech-y posts in future if I get around to them. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

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