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!


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:

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

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