The Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival, held in Leeds, West Yorkshire as part of the Leeds International Film Festival, will be returning to the city 9th-16th November with some amazing Special Guests in attendance – and with some fundamental changes to how the Festival is run.
The Festival is generally considered one of the highlights of the UK comics convention calendar, with the centrepiece of the event taking place this year on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November and drawing the finest comics artists, writers and publishers from across the globe.
Year over year, Thought Bubble has improved and expanded, with its Comic-Con almost abandoning its location of the Royal Armouries Exhibition Halls at Clarence Dock, Leeds due to lack of space. In 2013, the Festival took over necessary foot-space in the Allied London Hall as exhibitors sold out the available tables in less than two hours. For 2014, Thought Bubble have announced they will not be using the Allied London Hall, as it will be unavailable in November; instead, the organisers will be constructing a custom designed “state-of-the-art hard-shell marquee as a third Hall” in the Main Square at the Royal Armouries location, in between the New Dock Hall and Armouries Hall. Looks like the ever-enthusiastic cosplayers that descend on the Festival will have to find somewhere else to congregate this year!
The cost to build this third hall is going to be reflected in changes to how Thought Bubble runs itself 2014 as prices for tables will undergo a slight increase – “£90 for a full table for indie creators/professional artists or £55 for a half table, and £135 per table for retailers and publishers” – and this year will see the introduction of curation for exhibitors. “We have always prided ourselves on being as inclusive as possible, and it’s very important to us that we stay that way… However. there is a possibility that we will receive more exhibitor applications than we have space in the halls,” say the organisers in a release on the festival’s blog.
“As much as we’d like to be able to include everyone who may wish to exhibit at the show, we feel that Thought Bubble has reached the stage where we are going to have to curate our show for the foreseeable future.”
Exhibitors will have to complete an online registration form that will go live for two weeks on the TB website as of Monday 31st March. The Festival has always welcomed an arts and crafts element to the event; however, the organisers have stated that they will be focusing on the remit of the Festival as a celebration of ‘sequential art’, giving exhibitor priority to “…comic books, comic book publishers and retailers, and comic book artists and writers, either independent or publisher-affiliated.”
Another change to the cost of the Festival will be to the entrance to the previously free-to-enter Mid-Convention Party, traditionally held in the Corn Exchange in the city centre. This party has also grown in previous years, allowing creative and fans to down libations and party at close quarters. (Kieron Gillen’s impromptu DJ sets at these parties have become quite legen – wait for it… - ary, along with Al Ewing and Jamie McKelvie ‘spinning the tunes’ as well.)
Instead of handing out free passes to this popular party on entering the Thought Bubble Festival, this year people wanting to attend will be asked to buy tickets in advance – venues and costs are yet to be determined but, as soon as we hear any details we’ll let you know. Heaven’s forbid you miss out on seeing Kieron Gillen’s white suit and very funky shapes…
All of this is secondary to the main appeal of the Festival itself: the Panels are bound to be of considerable interest once again, especially after the success of the new, informal Speech Bubble panel space last year. The 2000AD, Diversity In Comics, Marvel Q&A and Image Independence In The U.K. panels were fascinating highlights, intimate and personal. And the Special Guest roster is impressive already, at this early stage: Scott Snyder, Adam Hughes, Natasha Allegri, Jeff Lemire, Jillian Tamaki, Matteo Scalera and Danielle Corsetto are already confirmed to appear, alongside artists and writers such as Becky Cloonan, Emily Carroll and Andy Belanger. As soon as a full roster of guests is announced, we’ll let you know what you can expect to see in Leeds this November.