Part 3: THOUGHTBUBBLE 2017

There was a huge change for this year’s Thoughtbubble with a move away from the Long term home at the Leeds armouries into the Leeds City centre. Instead of the former 3 location event, The Convention was centred on 4 major locations with a number of offshoots in various other buildings around the central 4. Plainly a significant additional cost and a massive risk moving away from a tried, trusted and successful formula. I understand the idea behind the move was to try to copy the successful Angouleme con format in France. The biggest danger was the loss of the Thoughtbubble electric buzz atmosphere which is such a major part of the event.

The guest list for this year’s Thoughtbubble was massive, probably the largest number for any UK Comic convention. At the top of the list was Gerard Way, erstwhile front-man for the band My Chemical Romance and more recently curator and creator for the DC Young Animals line. Also top of the list was Saga author Brian K Vaughn, a host of Young Animals creators plus a plethora of top talent from all corners of the globe.

I did worry about the changes in location to this year’s con. There were problems with the old location particularly in the main area where most of the creators were being massively crowded with little room for queuing but answering that with a move of this magnitude?

I needn’t have worried as the changed worked in spades. The guests were now spread across the 4 halls and this worked just brilliantly. The much larger attendance spread itself across the wider spaces and everyone was comfortable. The atmospheric buzz was not just still there, it was actually better. Every guest I spoke to was absolutely loving the event and those that were there for the first time were already hoping they would be invited back next year. Sketching and signing was happening side by side, everyone was just having a ball.

The idea of bringing over Gerard Way was a complete masterstroke. Many Newbies to comics attended a comic con for the first time just to get to meet him from his musical past and the queue by Saturday lunchtime for his signature was probably the longest I have ever seen at a comic convention. The important thing was however that those Newbies were STILL at the con hours after meeting their hero with bags full of stuff they had bought from going through the 4 venues. I wonder just how many new comic readers this year’s Thoughtbubble created?

For the first time ever at a UK con, I failed to get round everybody I wanted to see because there were just too many guests. I  really wanted to get to see Pete Doherty to wish him well on his recovery, to have a natter with Rob Williams and Rich Starkings  to name but a few but  I just did not get the chance. Sorry I missed you all!  Really, a third day would have been ideal. The guests I did get to meet were brilliant.  I particularly enjoyed meeting and chatting with Joelle Jones, Marley Zarcone and Jody Houser who were all first time attendees at the Con.

Thoughtbubble set the tone for what should happen at every con with regards to signings (which I’m aware that NICE, Lakes and Edinburgh already do). NO CHARGING AND LIMITS TO SIGNINGS AS AGREED BETWEEN GUEST AND ATTENDEE. LSCC and others setting off down alternate routes, please take note! There was of course one notable but extremely understandable exception to this which was Gerard Way but he had to limit due to the size of his queue. How he kept going for as long as he did with the signings, I’ll never know.

Do I have anything negative to say from Thoughtbubble apart from the fact it was not long enough? Yes just one thing which was the heat in the 3 temporary buildings. I know this was not expected at the end of September but could we please get some fans / air conditioning in next year to reduce room temperature as I don’t think anything else is going to work even if the weather is colder

So my final verdict on Thoughtbubble 2017 is that it was a massive success. Probably the best UK con I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to loads). If you missed it, never make that mistake again as it is just the top dog. Many congratulations and attendees thanks to Lisa, Clark, Nabil and all the other organisers and supporters of Thoughtbubble for the brilliant show. A special mention to all the redshirts for doing such a brilliant job particularly the poor lad at the front of the Gerard Way queue who maintained such a brilliant attitude despite supreme crowd pressure.

It only remains for me to pass the crown for the biggest and best UK Comic con to Thoughbubble for 2017. Well done guys and try and match that for 2018!

Peter Brewer