Thought Bubble Comicon 2019, Harrogate – Review
Thought Bubble Comicon, Harrogate 2019
by Victoria Holdsworth
The streets of Harrogate were teaming with geeks galore – including myself – for the Yorkshire comic art festival, Thought Bubble.
Previously held in Leeds, this year it triumphantly shifted to Harrogate Convention Centre in order to better deal with the masses attending.
Unlike many cons, this one really focuses on the comics and their creators, on every single level imaginable. The weekend saw a line-up of over 500 leading comic creators, international artists, illustrators, storytellers and guests from all over the world. In addition to well over 400 exhibiting professionals, the convention offered some exclusive panels, workshops, personal portfolio reviews and talks with the con’s 90+ international guests and culminated in a remarkable cosplay parade to finish off the festivities.
“Cult comic icons”
From the minute that you walk in, your senses are on complete overload, and it’s hard not to go giddy with all the thrilling things going on around you.
One of the best panels this weekend was ‘The Importance Of Being Tank Girl’, which was hosted by Glyn Dillon and his Tank Girl co-creator, Alan Martin. They shared their life lessons from a seaside town where two artists collectively helped create one of the most popular cult comic icons of a generation.
Organisation was top notch, and even though the place was absolutely heaving, everything flowed really well, thanks to all the helpful staff, making for a stress-free and enjoyable atmosphere.
There were four separate areas to the con, however only three were available on the Saturday, with the originals hall being the busiest, filled with some unique and breath-taking artistry across many mediums.
Some artists who particularly stood out, and were extremely passionate about their work were Scottish illustrator Paul Tonner, creator of the highly acclaimed NOM : The Demon Eater and Death & The Bear, inspired by traditional fables. He also illustrates some horror icons, which are stunningly beautiful. It was inspirational to talk to the man, and buy some original artwork from him.
Ken McFarlane was another favourite, with his amazing ninja character called, Fu, alongside the very talented, Cathy Brett, whose artistic abilities know no bounds. She was an absolute delight to chat to and gave me some great advice about my own work. Her unique comics and artwork created quite a buzz around the hall.
Great also to see the legendary comics artist Mick McMahon of 2000AD fame – his new project Joe and his Killer Robot Dad looks incredible – and I’ll be hanging on to my limited edition art concept book for all I’m worth.
Whilst the comicon is mainly geared up to an older clientele, there were some stands which were aimed at a younger demographic, such as Timothy Winchester and his work, ‘Littlest Friends’, which was not only adorable but very wholesome and relevant. There were also some cracking kid zones, where little ones could try some animation with Doctor Simpo, superhero badge making with Phoenix Comics, and even make your own headwear and cuffs, just like Wonder Woman.
This year saw too many special guests to mention, with the likes of, Brian Azzarello, the screenwriter for Batman: Gotham Knight and Batman: The Killing Joke and Guillermo Ortego, an inker who has worked for American publishers like Marvel, DC and Valiant, where he’s been lucky to work on titles like Astonishing X-Men, Batman Eternal and Punisher: Soviet.
The list seemed endless and as often is the case with these types of event the only frustration is simply not having enough time to do or see everything.
I’m already working on a plan of action for next year to make sure I take in as much as possible – I can’t wait.
images: Andrew Benge