We had heard many good things about Leeds Thought Bubble Festival and long wanted to go. As event organisers ourselves it’s good to have a nosey at the other comic events, to see what we could do better, differently, how they all fit into the UK comic event scene, and find ways that we can all work together. I certainly don’t view another event as competition, the UK comics industry needs all the promotion it can and I see us as all working on the same side, covering different genres, regions and demographics.
We usually can’t make this Leeds event, due to finances (none) and time (none), running Hi-Ex early spring means that by the winter months I am glued to the computer desperately trying to pull some funding, guests and exhibitors together. We have cancelled Hi-Ex 2011 to allow us time to catch up with our own projects and try to access funding in time for 2012. This has also meant we could change our routine and instead of travelling to the Big show at Birmingham in October to promote Hi-Ex, we could do Leeds, relax and enjoy the company of many great comic people instead.
Enjoy it we did! Its hard to describe events like this without shamelessly namedropping like mad. I love to get to spend time & get to know better people. I love meeting new inspiring people- always easier when I’m not trying to promote something. I love getting to put faces to names of social network contacts and talking to folks face to face. I love relaxing and laughing until I’m giddy with people on the same wavelength, talking art, talking storytelling, talking geek stuff, talking rubbish. Good times.
Lisa the organiser and her team deserve many medals. Running our own convention we know only too well the brain frying utter exhausting months of graft, the frustration, the highs and lows. Yet Lisa always managed to remain charming, calm, helpful, attentive and radiant, all the time dealing with 73 things at once. Much kudos to her and all the others who worked so hard to bring this festival together.
Another lovely thing about Thought Bubble, was that I was instantly struck by the gender balance- this can only be healthy, the rest if the world seems to not have the same hang ups about comics as the UK ( and the USA? ). Comics are not just for kids, nor just for adults, not just for middle aged men who live with their mum- nor are they a Genre, but a medium, a medium which overlaps many others which normal non-geeks readily consume. Stories, pictures, words, art.
Comics are not just created by and for men. In Japan there is a comic for every taste, in France every household reads them, they are available on supermarket shelves. Wonderful then to see that Though Bubble reflected this balance, I can’t help but think that this was also down to the character of the organisers, does having women on the management team encourage women participants? or are things just shifting ?
During the Saturday convention there were also many small children and babies even which was wonderful to see.
I ran a workshop on Sunday in the Leeds Art Gallery. There were Gormley and Moore statues in the entrance, Goldsworthy and Perry peices on the way to the ladies room- We forget living so remote, the impact that great artworks can have, I never thought of Leeds as an arts centre, but it certainly seemed that way this weekend.
( Rich and Dave, the ever popular Futurequake booth babes )
The workshop was on Eco-mini comics- We’ve taken a box of old comics, paper & cardboard down, add stables, hole puncher, string , scissors and glue and some great and groovy little comic books got created- the participants all assuring me that they’d got lots of ideas for books to make at home. Result! You see, a blank piece of paper can be too intimidating to a young person, the act of making their own books, out of rubbish takes away the pressure and it becomes fun, which of course stimulates creativity and imagination. Using collage, existing words and pictures can be a starting point- all on a subconscious level. Grown-ups would do well to remember the ‘fun’ word too, never mind creative blocks, start doodling and cutting up old magazines, see what happens, never mind what for, why, does it look good or is it art? PLAY.
Which is what I did this weekend- many many thanks to the many folks that accompanied us in all our fun and those that organised Thought Bubble. We’ll be back! ( and so will Hi-Ex in 2012! )