I never know what to get for my birthday. I accept that it’s a very much a first world problem, but it is what it is. Purchases fall very much into 2 categories for me, necessities (which I should pay for myself) or usual things I buy (also best to be got by me rather than someone else) which puts most people in the ‘what hell do I get that person’ camp. Which I accept is quite frustrating for the people who know me. So no one knows what to get me and I don’t know what I want. I occasionally buy blu-rays, I frequently buy comics, but beyond that, what do I spend money on that isn’t a necessity of some description.
This year though, I didn’t do any of that. As part of a whole happiness thing, which has had mixed success to be perfectly honest, I have been trying to do things that I hadn’t done before or things I had been scared of doing. One of which was Halloween’s trip to an indoor sky-diving centre. But for my birthday, I went to Thought Bubble.
Thought Bubble is the Yorkshire festival celebrating the comic arts. Writers, pencillers and colourists from established comic companies, together with up and comers and those trying to make their name are there to ply their trade, there are panels on several subjects, cosplay competitions and signings. I have never done comic-cons, one of the reasons is that the ones local to me don’t have anything to offer me, being not a gamer or cosplayer and so have often decided not to bother. Thought Bubble however, is a proper comic con. The other problem is my anxiety. Crowds, strangers and other worries (both real and imagined) have kept me from doing this, but I went for it, with the help and support of the MIGHTY Rosie.
At first, it was supposed to be the three of us going, but as the time grew closer, we realised several issues might make this difficult for all three of us to go. Then I became anxious about going on my own. Then I started planning the trip (a task most often taken on by the MIGHTY Rosie) and the more control over things I took, the better I felt about it and was only really anxious about it on Friday. But I went, getting the train from my home of Liverpool to Harrogate, the new home of Thought Bubble, after several years in Leeds. As expected there were many cosplayers (many of which were characters I didn’t recognise) and even more queues.
So you got past your anxiety and went, well done, but did you enjoy it? I arrogantly assume you ask. Yes I did and that comes in three waves.
1st: These are my people. Everybody there was either working in or into comics and judging by the many stalls and panels, quite a few fell into both categories. There were families, couples, friends and like me people on their own milling about buying and talking comics. There wasn’t movies related stuff, but people who enjoy the art-form that has been a constant in my life for too many years. It was relaxing to be in my element a bit.
2nd: The comics themselves. I bought many trades, a few comics an excellent teeshirt and a poster of Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham for my son SuperSam. There wasn’t loads of stuff there, but I did spend into 3 figures.
3rd: This is the big one, the people. As well as meeting two of my favourite UK podcasters Steven Lacey who co-hosts the excellent Fantasticast. I also met Al Kennedy co-host of House to Astonish one of the first podcasts I got into and is still excellent. He was part of the panel SILENCE to Astonish with Gary Lactus and the Beast Must Die, which remains one of my favourite memories of that weekend. I also met several writers and artists. I met Zenith artist Steve Yewoll, Terry Dodson, Mahmud Asrar and Declan Shelvay. I also have conversations with Sean Phillips who lent me £1 and signed my copy of Sleeper Vol 1. I also got a copy of Watchmen signed by Dave Gibbons, who I got to thank for drawing a series that stands up as a work of art 35 years after it was written and 25 years after I first read it, he referred to it as a gift that keeps on giving.
In terms of writers, I got stuff signed by Al Ewing and Si Spurrier, who was at the SILENCE panel and we talked about his writing of the character Legion and the TV series it inspired and I also picked up his creator-owned series Angelic, which was a fantastic read about a flying monkey who struggles against the fundamentalist restrictions of her tribe before teaming up with a manatee in a flying chair. If I haven’t sold you on that series, I don’t know what to tell you. I was also lucky enough to meet the team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the people behind the good run of Young Avengers and the team behind The Wicked and the Devine, the 3rd and 4th trade of which I bought to be signed as well. Both of them were lovely people who had plenty of time for the huge queue that formed to meet them.
I got to meet creators, podcasters and took pictures of some epic cosplayers.
Even on the when in and out
There were negative things, I didn’t like being so far away from the people I love. I recognise that this wasn’t for them and it’s always nice to have experiences for yourself that are nothing to do with everyone else, but I was grateful to get home on Sunday evening, ready for my birthday the next day. I may do Thought Bubble again next year, depending on who they get, but my best time away are still shared with Super Sam and the MIGHTY Rosie.