We spent this weekend in the company of a sea of creative types at Thought Bubble Comic Con in Leeds. Lots of folks have already blogged and tweeted in greater detail (and with a greater grasp of the English language), about the whole event. So here's my own take.
Comic Conventions can be an odd experience for some and downright terrifying to the uninitiated. I know. I've been that frightened soul frozen to the threshold thinking "Taxi!" Happily, I can honestly say this was one of the best we've been to.
I could be biased as I personally had two books launching at the event - Dark Judgement 2 and Operation Solomon; a story from the Unseen Shadows universe, but having been caught up in all the razzmatazz (do people still use that word?) at the entrance to Savilles Hall, I genuinely forgot they'd be on sale.
This is perhaps an oversight on my part. Perhaps I was distracted by a troop of rollerblading welcome staff, or a horde of Mega City judges and stormtroopers loitering, or people painting 2000ad characters on outsized boards so big you couldn't miss them. The point being that this was just the foyer.
I like big entrances. Make an impression. Think big. This kinda summed up the whole Thought Bubble experience. The staff were friendly, helpful and many in number. When you're in a place large enough to land a plane you're occasionally going to get lost. The staff were always on hand and a large 'thank you' must go to them for making the whole event run as smoothly as possible.
What really grabbed me was the amount of talks and panels available about the personal aspect of comic publishing as an artist - how to tell a story on a page, how to light it, how to make the panels and layout interesting, how to bring life to your characters and play with elements on a page, and then basically how to set yourself up, handle promotion of your products and put yourself out in the public domain, and how to avoid the pitfalls. This is the stuff I need to know. And if I think I already know everything, well, firstly, I'd be wrong - I don't , and secondly there's always something you can learn from others. The talks and panels I attended were goldmines in terms of tips, information or simple inspiration. Worth the ticket price on their own.
My work got a generally good response overall. There were some clangers I hadn't spotted and some things that can be fixed. Most comments were positive. Lots of new avenues have opened up as a result. I came away from Thought Bubble feeling inspired. You can't put a price on that.
I can also officially say I've been given the green light on my first graphic novel (Hooray, shouts my Mum. Hi Mum! Hooray shouts my Bank Manager. Hi Bank Manager!) More details as I'm officially allowed to tell them, but I can say it'll be released through Markosia. It's been a bit of a trek to this point. Long hours, not much sleep in places and a lot of graft up to now but in a good way. Hopefully a thousand times the amount in future.
Many moons ago, I promised myself when I got my first gig I'd do a big thank you to all who helped me get there. Looking at it now, of course, I know the fun is only just beginning. Now the real hard work starts. Laurel-resting is not in the plan. However the fact remains that without a certain number of people I simply would not be sitting here writing this and wondering if it's all going a bit too gushy. But it's my blog and I'll gush if I want to. I might not thank you again. Enjoy it :D
Thanks to the following people for either kicking my arse to this point, pointing out where I'm going wrong, or inspiring me to improve; Barry Nugent, Chris Askham, Chris Kelly, Chris Reid, Cy Dethan, Dave Evans, Dom Reardon, Eddie Deighton & Jon Sloan, Emperor, Harry Markos, Ian Sharman, Jim Campbell, John Freeman, JP Bove, Jon-Davis Hunt, Leigh Gallagher, Matt Smith, Matt Soffe, Matt Timson, Nic Wilkinson, Owen Watts, Pat Mills, Rich McAuliffe, Richmond Clements, Rob Davis, Rob Williams, Stacey Whittle, Stephen Downey and Vicky Stonebridge. And to Liz, for never complaining when I keep telling her it's all going in the bin and I've got to work all night again.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do :)