A Visit to Thought Bubble 2021 – and why it’s better than comic-con 1983!

Article by Aidan Parr

A few years ago I started selling some of my old comics at events and markets. That eventually evolved into Chaotic Comics & Crafts, where I sell some old back-issues, a lot of graphic novels, art from friends, and some books that I've written and self-published. I’m usually to be found doing this somewhere around Nottingham, Loughborough, or Derby, but sometimes further afield too.

I’ve enjoyed comics in all their variety since I was a kid, but I haven’t actually been to a comic convention since 1983. There are probably good reasons for that!

In those days it was very much targeted at white males in their teens to mid-twenties: very earnest comics fans who got together to talk comics, meet writers and artists, and follow them around all day. Back then Marvel, DC, and 2000AD dominated.

What I probably didn’t enjoy so much was all the seriousness and a feeling that it was some sort of fraternity that only the few could join. There were a few good-quality fanzines, usually photocopied and typed... yes, on a typewriter! Indie comics? None that I noticed.

Oh, and I got glared at by Alan Moore. I think I might have been fanboy staring… so that was that.

Thanks to the fabulous Steve Ray (of this very website), I got a chance to go to Thought Bubble 2021 in Harrogate for the first day. What a revelation! Three large halls were full of comics written for every genre you could think of and for every group within society you could imagine too. The quality of the comics was high, with fantastic production values, and all created by people like you and me, who love comics and want to tell a story of their own.

Even better, people were friendly and would happily chat about what they're doing and why they're doing it. It’s a creative passion that's admirable in all its forms: westerns, history, LGBTQI+, fantasy, sci-fi, kitchen sink dramas, a farmer’s life, swashbuckling tales, outrageous humor, and even comics suitable for kids that encourage them to read. 

There were also some superhero comics...

I was surprised to be able to talk to big names and some less known (for now?) with equal ease and I had a good laugh with everyone. There’s certainly lots more I missed and I really wish I could've been there for both days.

It was all very inspiring and even quite overwhelming at times – thanks go to the organizers of ‘Bub’s Lounge’ for creating a haven where I could grab ten minutes of quiet before diving back into the action.

I’ll happily go back to Thought Bubble next year, and I certainly won’t leave it until 2059!

Images Courtesy of all the amazing creators, Hanglands and Thought Bubble

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