Tips for a fun, STRESS-FREE and SUCCESSFUL Comic Con

You’ve got your congratulations email from your favourite comic book convention and your payment is in... Now what?!

The lead up to a convention can be just as important as the event itself; it’s a great chance to get organised and promote yourself. Start off by letting everrryyyonnne you know you'll be there; get on your favourite social media channel and let your followers know. Sharing what you'll be selling is a great start, have you got anything new? Shout about it… multiple times. You could even find some fellow exhibitors to make friends with online, and maybe even make plan to meet up at our legendary mid-con party!

Table Planning

There are lots and lots of "Do's and Don't"s on a table set up... but the most important thing is do whatever works for you. Just follow the two main rules, 1) Make the most of your space and 2) Don’t intrude or obscure your neighbours space. There are some things you might want to consider to help you with rule 1, firstly having your own or your business name somewhere clear and obvious; pop-up banners are great for this. Having your social media handles somewhere on show is a great idea too. People might love you and your work but be all out of spending money for the day, make it easy for them to find you online later. Build dat fanbase!

A table-cloth that goes to the floor of the front of your table is a great way to hide extra stock and all the messy bits you don’t want people to see!
— @okaychloegreen

Practice Set-Up
Practise your set-up is invaluable. Measure out how much space you'll have on the day and play around with it. Think about how you are going to price your stock clearly. Step back and consider if passing customers will be able to see all your amazing work. Make sure your display is sturdy and safe!

Have fun with your space. Look for inspiration online, it doesn’t have to be all lights and bunting, make your display reflect you and your work.

When you're happy take some photos on your phone to use as a reference on the day. It definitely relieves stress and saves time having your table planned out in advance. It’s also a great way to get a base-stock level to take with you; if someone buys x, y and z is my table going to suddenly look empty? It’s a good idea to have plenty of spares with you if that’s the case!

Weeks before the Comic Con…

Stock and Prices
This is the time to think about the stock you’ll be bringing. Do you have a good selection? You might want to consider having a range of price points; little pieces like badges or sticker packs are great to have alongside graphic novels, prints or original pieces that will have a higher price. This part is individual to your work so do what makes sense for you, but giving customers a choice is always a good thing.

Taking payments
Remember, cash! Organise getting your change float in advance, some banks will need you to put an order days before, so don’t leave it too late. Plan to have somewhere portable to store your money (a little lockable safe or a fancy bumbag works perfectly). You could also look into getting a card reader; they're super handy and mean no messing around with coins or maths. A portable phone charger is pretty handy if you have a card reader or not. You might not have access to a plug and it'd suck if your phone ran out half way through the con!

Make a check list
Write out a “To Bring” list; include all the things you’ll use or need on the convention weekend so you can get them ordered in advance if you need to. Other than your stock and display, you might want to bring poster tubes, covers for your comics/prints or carrier-bags. Add a drink and snack down on that list too; there will probably be catering near by but a convention can be busy, you might not want to leave your table for too long. Having something in your bag is a great idea. Think about comfy shoes, a cushion, something warm (just in case) and all those useful bits everyone over looks; blu-tac, pins, tape! You never know when you’ll need them.

It’s the Comic Con Weekend!

Setting Up
Pack those bags, use your handy check list and get there with plenty of time to find your table and get set-up (remember those reference photos you took earlier? Smart!). Before the doors open is a great time to make friends with your neighbours. Not just because they're probably super great creators who you have a lot in common with, it will come in handy when you need a toilet break... or when they do. Or maybe they’ll have biscuits…

Take a bunch of photos of your stall on the day, and get someone to take a photo of you with your stall too (maybe the wonderful neighbour you just befriended?). They work great for promoting other conventions or events you're attending, and are lovely reminders to have for yourself too. Post them on social media and show where your table is to help people find you.

Engage with people. Not for the sale but for the community. We probably like similar things. If we don’t we can learn from each other.
— @RECKLESS_IMBER

Selling and Networking
When the doors open, smile, say hi, let your work do the talking! Be friendly, be ready to answer questions, offer help and just make general conversation. Thought Bubble visitors are pretty great people so don’t be nervous!

Remember that not everyone is going to buy from you, that can sometimes be tough but do not take it personally. They might not be buying today, but how about giving people a sticker, or a badge, or your business card. Let them know where they can find you online. And listen to what people say, getting insight from people physically seeing your work is super valuable.

“Maintain your sense of humour and occasion when sales aren’t so good. Not everyone will break even but everyone can have a good weekend.”
— @olivereast

Your Well-being
Remember to take breaks where you can. A weekend long convention can be extremely tiring, especially on your feet, so be kind to yourself. It can be hard staying positive and chatting to people a l l w e e k e n d; staying comfortable and hydrated can really help keep you going, so make sure to take those breaks when you need it and drink loads of water. Ask your neighbours to watch your stand or flag over one of our lovely volunteers who can man your space whilst you have a stretch or break. They’re here to help, so make sure of them.

Finally, and most importantly…

Have fun! Meet new friends, buy some stuff, swap some stuff and just have a great time. Every convention is different, and every convention is a learning curve so ride with it and just have the best time you can!

Thought Bubble Founder, Lisa Wood, honoured with Humanitarian Award

Yorkshire Comic Art Festival Founder, Lisa Wood, is honoured to be recognised with Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.

We at Thought Bubble are delighted to share that the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award has been presented to our founder and director, Lisa Wood (aka artist Tula Lotay) for the outreach, charity and community work.

Comic-Con International’s Humanitarian Award is presented in the name of famed animator Bob Clampett, designer of popular cartoon characters Porky Pig and Tweety Bird, and director of 84 Warner Brothers classic cartoons. After his death in 1984, the humanitarian award was created to honour those people in comics and the popular arts who have worked to help others.

The recipients are chosen by the San Diego Comic-Con committee and the awards will be presented by Bob’s daughter, Ruth Clampett, during the Eisner Awards ceremony on Friday 19th July 2019 at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, San Diego, California. Lisa is thrilled to be among notable past recipients such as Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller.

Lisa founded Thought Bubble Festival in 2007 with an aim to celebrate comics and comic creators, and to encourage the next generation of artists and writers. Its her dedication which has enabled Thought Bubble to grow an extensive and varied outreach programme, which has been up and running since the festival began in 2007. Some of the projects and activities include:

  • The Rainbow Age - An LGBTQ* book group at Leeds Library with a huge and ever-increasing collection of books donated by Leeds-founded comic book store, Travelling Man.

  • Bub’s Lounge - In 2014 Thought Bubble partnered with Specialist Autism Services to make the convention a welcoming, safe space for all. This includes Bub’s Lounge: a quiet space for people needing time away from the busy exhibition halls.

  • Young People's Comic Awards - An award that recognises the year’s best new comics and books for young readers.

  • Thought Bubble Anthology (distributed internationally by Image Comics) - An annual collection of comic art with all profits donated to Barnardo’s Children’s Charity..

  • Free Workshops - Given at schools and libraries across Yorkshire focusing on comics as a way to improve children's reading and writing skills, and a way to understand themselves, explore feelings and build self-confidence.

  • Book Crossing - Thought Bubble donates thousands of comics are donated to Yorkshire libraries by Diamond Comics for children to take home for free.

  • Projects with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Bradford and Leeds to help ‘find voices’ and tell stories, enabling participants to share their experiences.

  • Education Programme - In 2019 Thought Bubble will be holding workshops and panel talks during the convention weekend that focus on increasing confidence in participants art and give tools to those looking to forge a career as an illustrator or in other avenues within the comic book world, with talks from experts in the field to encourage the next generation of creators.

  • Free Convention Tickets - Free convention tickets are gifted to disadvantaged groups and schools to give them the chance to experience the festival; encourage their creativity and have a fun weekend.

  • Charity Convention Space - The festival offers free convention space to charities and non-profit organisations to help promote their work. This includes mental health organisations, positive sexuality groups and disability support.

Lisa said, “It’s such an honour to be awarded the Bob Clampett Award by Comic-Con International. Although given in my name, this award is really for everyone who works tirelessly to make Thought Bubble what it is; a lot of whom are volunteers, who work so hard for the love of the medium of comics. I feel I’m accepting this award on behalf of them. For Clark, Martha, Bis, Amy, Steve, Pete, Nabil, Mikey, Chloe and Billie, and the hundreds of volunteers, exhibitors and guests who’ve supported us over the years and helped make the show what it is. We are so excited to continue our outreach programme and make it bigger and better than ever.”

Thought Bubble is the largest festival of its kind in the UK - a week-long celebration of comic art in all its forms, from independent artists to superheroes and everything in between. From humble beginnings, Thought Bubble now attracts thousands of visitors and guests from around the world. This year sees an exciting move from Leeds to Harrogate Convention Centre - a huge space that will allow the festival to grow bigger than ever before, in the heart of a historic spa town.

Thought Bubble Comic Convention 2019 will be held at Harrogate Convention Centre on November 9-10, with festival events taking place across Yorkshire from November 4-10.

Thought Bubble Charity Art Auction 2018

Last year at Thought Bubble Comic Convention 2018, we ran our regular Sketching Spotlight panel. Host Peter Doherty invited some incredible comic artists on stage where they discussed their approach to art creation whilst live-sketching. 2018’s guests were Afua Richardson, Brain Stelfreeze, Jim Mahfood, Leila del Duca, Leslie Hung, Steve Yeowell and Victoria Ying.

Once again we’re auctioning off the amazing creations from these artists and will be donating all the proceeds to The Barnardo’s Charity. We’d like to say a huge thank-you to these wonderful artists for taking the time to do this with us.

You can see a preview of all the artwork below as well as a link to the individual items’ listing pages.

The auction will take place on eBay and will run for 10 days from 10:40 (BST) on Monday 28 May, with bidding/delivery open to fans worldwide. We’d appreciate it if as many as you could spread the word so we can raise as much as possible for Barnardo’s, and find some new homes for the artwork!

100% of proceeds from each auction (excluding P&P) will be donated to the Barnardo’s charity. Information on all artwork is available on individual item listing pages linked below, which will be live from 10:40 (BST) – Monday 28 May. Worldwide shipping is available, with full P&P details available on individual items’ listing pages.

Artwork by Afua Richardson (A4) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Afua Richardson (A4) - See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Brian Stelfreeze (A4) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Brian Stelfreeze (A4) - See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Jim Mahfood (A3) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Jim Mahfood (A3) - See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Leila del Luca (A4) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Leila del Luca (A4) - See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Leslie Hung (A4) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Leslie Hung (A4) - See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Steve Yeowell (A4) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Steve Yeowell (A4) - See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Victoria Ying (A4) -  See eBay Listing Here

Artwork by Victoria Ying (A4) - See eBay Listing Here

The Thought Bubble Convention is coming to Harrogate!

From humble beginnings in the basement of Leeds Town Hall, Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival marks its 13th year with a bigger expansion than ever and an exciting change of scenery for the Thought Bubble convention!

Thought Bubble has been in Leeds for over 12 years and has grown from our very first year in the basement of Leeds Town Hall, to many happy years in the Royal Armouries, to finally taking over the city centre with our giant festival village marquees.

After months of planning we are delighted with our convention’s new home at the Harrogate Convention Centre! A venue that is bigger, brighter and tailor made to accommodate a convention like Thought Bubble. We are very excited about the new opportunities that this incredible space provides.

Despite the amazing years we've had 2018 was a difficult year at Thought Bubble. We unfortunately had issues with Leeds City Council which took months for us to resolve and made it incredibly difficult to deliver the festival last year.

The move to the city centre and the issues around our working relationship with the council has highlighted the fact that there is no space big enough in Leeds to host our convention. We've spent the last few months trying to find solutions to make the festival work and doing everything in our power to find an alternative space in Leeds. We've looked at the possibility of moving back to the Royal Armouries but we still have the issue of space and having to build a marquee which has been less than ideal with the cold weather in November and the high winds we experienced last year in September. Unfortunately it has become impossible to continue our convention event in Leeds. We’ve got so many exciting plans for Thought Bubble’s future and finding somewhere with room for them to become reality has been at the top of our list. We’ve also listened very carefully to your feedback over the past 12 years - the things that would make coming to Thought Bubble easier for you - and we’re confident that we’ve found somewhere that ticks all the boxes.

Founder and Festival Director Lisa Wood says that she and her team have searched for a venue that will do the festival justice and have found an amazing new home:


“We’re delighted to be moving to Harrogate Convention Centre. The scale of the venue, with an amazing bar area, means we can host our much loved Saturday night party under the same roof. A beautiful Edwardian hall will also give us plenty of options for panel areas and on stage presentations. The convention centre is super accessible and we’re  excited to use the convention centre to build on our reputation of presenting activity that is inclusive for all.”


Paula Lorimer, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “Welcoming Thought Bubble to Harrogate is really exciting for us. During its time in Leeds the show has evolved into one of the most vibrant events of its kind in the north, if not the whole UK. We’re really looking forward to working with the organisers, artists and visitors  to build on that foundation. I’d say to fans of the event to come and experience our town and our venue and let’s take Thought Bubble to the next level.”

 

Here are just some of the reasons why we think you’ll love our fantastic new convention space:

The convention centre

Harrogate convention centre is purpose built, and is not weather dependent like the marquees so we can focus on making the experience amazing for all visitors and attendees and exhibitors.

The convention centre is more accessible than any space we have had before which should make attending the convention much easier for any members of our audience with a disability. We will use the benefits of the convention centre to build on our reputation of presenting activity that is inclusive for all.

Access to the convention centre is only a few minutes’ walk from the train station and there’s a large car park directly under the conference centre for people travelling by car.


Fantastic travel connections

Travelling to Harrogate is simple.

It is located only a few minutes off the A1and the car journey from Leeds is just over 30 minutes.

You can get the train from major UK cities, with connections from Leeds (34 minutes) and York (33 minutes). There will be 7 trains a day running direct from London to Harrogate connecting the town to the South East by September 2019. We’ve arranged a fantastic 25% discount for everyone travelling from London to Harrogate through LNER. If you are travelling internationally the nearest airport (Leeds Bradford) is only 20 minutes away. The #36 Leeds-Harrogate bus leaves every 10 minutes & contains a library which we’ll be filling with graphic novels so anyone using this service can read comic books for free all the way to the convention!


Accommodation

If you’d like to stay over in Harrogate there are lots of different options for accommodation at a range of different price points so staying over will be much more affordable for people travelling from outside the area. We’re working with a local hotel provider so that exhibitors and ticket holders can get a special rate at our main festival hotel. This will be announced in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye on our social media! For the first time ever all the hotels are within walking distance of the convention centre, so no matter what your budget is you can still be right at the heart of the convention action.


We’re doing some new exciting things, but generally it’ll be the same Thought Bubble you've always loved

This is a big and exciting change for the Thought Bubble Convention, but the Festival itself is staying rooted in Leeds and Bradford, although over the next few years you’ll see a much bigger expansion of Thought Bubble into the whole of Yorkshire. Thought Bubble Festival has always been dedicated to our community work and outreach programmes using the wonderful medium of comics and we have big plans to expand this work. We will still be working with the organisations we care dearly for like Leeds Autism Services, Leeds Art University and our Asylum Seekers and Refugees workshops, among others.


Whilst the move of the convention to Harrogate is a big change for Thought Bubble we’re committed to keeping it the same friendly, inclusive and amazing convention that it’s been for the last twelve years. We’re in a new home, it’s going to feel just the same… but better! We know change can be scary and it’s ok if you’re nervous about whether the Thought Bubble con might feel different as it moves to a new location. But you know us, and you know that everything we do is done with love and a deep desire to make something wonderful that uplifts, encourages and celebrates comics. We’re so confident that this is going to be amazing.

So, we’d love it if you would join us again this year as we make this next step in our adventure. Here are the important dates you need to know:

FESTIVAL: 4th - 10th November (Yep, we’re back in November and we love it!)

CONVENTION: 9th - 10th November


Thought Bubble, the Yorkshire Comic Art Festival will be held on 9th and 10th November 2019 at Harrogate Convention centre. For tickets and info see: www.thoughtbubblefestival.com


Ask for Mercy comes home to Thought Bubble

Artwork by Abigail Harding

Artwork by Abigail Harding

Words by Amy Bellwood

Thought Bubble Festival has a long history of nurturing talent and encouraging collaboration between the creators who attend our comic book convention. Whether it’s launching new careers, supporting new artists, making connections, or simply helping people make like-minded friends, Thought Bubble plays a big part in the comic book world to ensure that the industry continues to thrive.

This year Thought Bubble and our amazing title sponsor comiXology are honouring this proud history by renaming our marquee outside Leeds Town Hall the Ask for Mercy Marquee, in celebration of an incredible comic created by two artists who met at Thought Bubble.

Comic book legend Richard Starkings and rising star Abigail Jill Harding met at Thought Bubble in 2015, after Abigail was included in the Thought Bubble 2015 Festival Anthology, published by Image Comics and compiled by Richard’s company, Comicraft. While looking through the proofs of the comic, Abigail’s art caught Richard’s eye; ‘it was so confident and creative,’ he remembers. They met in person at a pre-convention signing at Travelling Man York where Abigail showed Richard the same comic and was surprised that he had already seen it. ‘He asked me if I was taking a portfolio to the convention that weekend and I said yes. I remember him saying “good, I want to see it”... I took [my] portfolio to his table at the convention and the next thing I know he asked “would you like to illustrate an issue [of Richard's ongoing series Elephantmen] for me?”’ Richard remembers too; ‘When I saw her again at Thought Bubble I had already started thinking about a story for her.’

That one story evolved into a creative partnership that this year released Ask for Mercy; a stunningly dark tale set in World War 2. The comic combines Richard’s rich, experienced storytelling with Abigail’s vibrant illustrations to create an incredible action-packed fantasy horror.

Richard has been working in comic books 'for as long as I can remember' and is perhaps best known for his series Elephantmen, having also worked on huge titles like The Real Ghostbusters, Transformers and Dr. Who before moving to America to focus on graphic design and lettering. Following that, Richard went on to establish his own studio, Comicraft; the comic book industry’s leading lettering and design company.

Abigail is an exciting rising star in the comic book world, with 2018 being her  first year as a professional comic artist and illustrator. She was delighted to collaborate with Richard, after being a long time fan of his creator-owned series Elephantmen. She recalls ‘I read Elephantmen and the world Richard created was what I could best call ‘realised’ and so compelling. The characters are incredibly relatable even in the most outlandish of settings. The layers and depth are what I really love about Richard's work.’

Richard is equally enthusiastic about working with Abigail, saying ‘she is a natural, her work has a vibrancy and energy that tells you right away that she loves drawing and she loves comics. I know how hard she works on every page and that whatever I present to her will come back to me loaded with more story possibilities and more character than I have the right to expect!’

Thought Bubble is a hotbed of creative activity and we're so proud to have a history of encouraging new collaborations, uplifting amazing talent and promoting home grown creators. This is one of the many reasons why comiXology has been involved in the show for the past few years, as they continue to use their high status in the comics world to promote new talent and groundbreaking titles. With comiXology Originals already in development, they were on the lookout at Thought Bubble 2017 for amazing work and talented creators to add to their publishing roster. They saw the first editions of Ask for Mercy at Thought Bubble 2017 and knew straight away that it was worth getting behind. Jumping forward to this year, Ask for Mercy became one of the headline titles released at the grand launch of comiXology Originals earlier this summer.



Thanks to these connections made through Thought Bubble, and the support they received from comiXology, the duo are going from strength to strength and are are continuing work on Ask for Mercy, featuring Abigail’s new demonic creation Alizarine. Find out more and visit Richard and Abigail at Thought Bubble 2018 in their namesake Ask for Mercy Marquee outside Leeds Town Hall this September!

Ask for Mercy is available for download now from comiXology originals. Check out this and all their other original comics at comixology.co.uk

every exhibitor at Thought Bubble has an amazing story behind their work. Come hear them and check out thousands of amazing comics at the Thought Bubble comic con, 22-23 September in Leeds City Centre. Tickets on sale now


After Thought Podcast

Thought Bubble 2018 is only a month away!

If, like us, you can't wait for this year's festival, then we've got a wonderful present for your ears to tide you over until September. 

After Thought, created and hosted by friend of the festival Jude Hodgson Hann, is the podcast all about Thought Bubble. Compiling interviews with guests and exhibitors from 2017's Thought Bubble comic con, take a guided tour of Thought Bubble and the amazing creators who attend.

The music for the show was created by Scruffnuk Dust

Logo design by Leigh Wortley

For more from Jude & the Harmonic Engine visit their Twitter and Facebook

 

Episode 1

Featuring interviews with Roddy McCance, Antony Johnston, Jo Latham and Katie Skelly

Episode 2

Featuring interviews with Ricardo Bessa, Duncan Fegredo & John Allison

Episode 3

Featuring interviews with Charlie Adlard, Dan Berry & Marc Ellerby

Episode 4 - Young Animals special 

Featuring interviews with Jody Houser, Jon RiveraNick Derington

Episode 5

Featuring interviews with Dilraj Mann, C. Spike Trotman & Lando

Episode 6

Featuring interviews with Justin Brookhart, John Wagner & Brian K. Vaughan