Thought Bubble

BTB Awards: Best Convention

This was, in all honesty, about the toughest category that we’ve had to face in the process of putting these awards together. Before launching Moon earlier this year, Steve and I’s experience with comic cons could at best be described as “limited” and the past 12 months have been something of a culture shock. We’ve had some great experiences and some not-so-great ones (though it should be said that on the whole it has been almost entirely positive). The UK convention scene is incredibly varied and knowing how to go about ranking these events has proven to be something of a challenge. The two events that we’ve chosen to recognise are about as far apart as its possible to get but in their own ways I think they both demonstrate some of the best aspects of what conventions have to offer.

Winner – Thought Bubble

Thought Bubble is a week long sequential art festival which is held in Leeds every year. The comic con portion of the event runs for two days across two convention halls. Very much a fan run convention rather than a commercial venture, Thought Bubble focuses on the artistic aspects of comic books and tends to lean more towards Indy books and UK publishers. That isn’t to say that TB lacks big name creators, this year saw appearances from the likes of Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six), Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men) and Adam Hughes (Catwoman).

The odd thing about our love for Thought Bubble is that we very nearly didn’t go. Beyond The Bunker is London based and while that’s great most of the time (I can actually see the Excel Centre from my window) it means that trekking up to Leeds for a weekend is quite an expensive venture. They say that publishing Indy comics isn’t about the money and, while that’s true to an extent, it’s also true that you only get to print your next comic if you make a profit on the last one. Blowing a chunk of our summer’s profits on an adventure up north seemed like a risky play so close to the print bill for Moon #2.

In the end what convinced us to take the plunge was the astounding amount of goodwill towards the con that flowed from almost every creator we met. At every con we visited we bumped into people who raved about Thought Bubble at every opportunity and, having now attended it ourselves, I can see that they were exactly right to do so.

Me holding down the fort in between sprinting into town for more change

What makes Thought Bubble so good is the way it flawlessly balances scale with intimacy. At two days in length and two halls in size, Thought Bubble is just as big as its London counterparts and its guest list is easily as impressive (more so in many cases as the London cons tend to focus on film and tv guests). You could quite happily skip every other con and walk away from TB with a comprehensive convention experience. At the same time though, the event still feels like an intimate social experience where you share a pint with the creators, attend panels on niche subjects and discover a range of incredible Indy books. It is this combination of size and soul that make Thought Bubble such a joy to attend both as an exhibitor and a fan and it’s a worthy winner for this award.

Runner Up – Kapow!

At the other end of the scale lies our runner up, Kapow! The Mark Millar backed mega-con held its debut event this past April at the Business Design Centre and promised to bring the San Diego experience to the UK.

Kapow certainly lacks the intimacy of Thought Bubble. It is (by its own admission) entirely focused on big names and big companies with small creators offered almost nothing in the way of incentives to attend. But what it lacks in small town charm it makes up for in raw star power and polish. With the likes of John Romita Jr, Frank Quitely and Jonathan Ross in attendance as well as booths for several major publishers and studios, Kapow absolutely delivered on its promise to provide something new. While many cons this year had a great atmosphere, nothing could match the sheer excitement and electricity that permitted the air at Kapow.

Kapow 2011 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London

Sure, there were teething troubles – a somewhat unbalanced guest and badly managed queues succeeded in putting a few noses out of joint – but given how ambitious the project was, these are perhaps acceptable niggles for a first show.The thing that Kapow really shares with Thought Bubble is in how vocal its supporters are. While there seems to be no shortage of people who were happy to write off the con in absentia, I have yet to meet somebody who attended it and didn’t have a great time. Much like its surrogate father, Mark Millar’s convention isn’t subtle but it sure as hell kicks ass.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXLAFP1C1Co&w=560&h=315]

Check back tomorrow for another BTB award!

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Thought Bubble Video

You’ll probably remember us raving about how nice a time we had at Thought Bubble last month. Well film maker Anne Holiday also had a lovely time there and has made this excellent short film about the festival. It’s absolutely worth a look as it really captures the spirit of one of the UK’s best conventions.

You can even catch a (very) brief glimpse of me in the background as I desperately attempt to remain concious following the previous night’s party.

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Thought Bubble 2011 In Pictures

Well it’s now a week on from Thought Bubble 2011 and I figured it was high time we got our pics up online. In all honesty I was sceptical about TB when we booked it. I was pretty certain that the social side would be fun but the cost of trekking up to Leeds for 2 days had me worried about whether it would prove to be a very expensive holiday rather than a smart venture for the book. I’m happy to say that my fears were unfounded. Not only was the social aspect of the show everything we’d hoped for, but the good people of Leeds took Moon into their hearts with as much relish as their Southern cousins. The event itself was incredibly well organised and the general vibe was amazing too. We returned smiling, exhausted and very happy to have not only helped launch Tales of the Fallen but to have brought Moon to a whole new audience.

But enough of that, on to the pictures!

One of the real highlights of the show was getting to walk around Leeds itself. It's a genuinely lovely city.

The full set of collectable Moon badges that we debuted at the con. These are only available at live shows.

One of several sketches that Steve drew for our awesome fans.

Unseen Shadows: Tales of the Fallen rolls off the press.

 

Me holding down the fort while Steve wandered the freezing streets, handing out flyers. (Photo by Jon Lock)

Gloriously under-dressed at the Casino on Saturday night.

Myself, Martin Conaghan and Peter Rogers during the Unseen Shadows panel. (photo by Vicky Stonebridge)

Band of Butchers being discussed in the Unseen Shadows panel. (photo by Vicky Stonebridge)

Picked up some great books at the event but my favourite take away was this gift from Rob Carey: an original page from Band of Butchers. It's going on my wall.

The local Roller Derby team gets their skates behind Moon.

The girls were a huge help in drumming up interest in the book over the weekend. We repaid them by ruining this perfectly good photo with the addition of our idiot faces.

Thought Bubble has without a doubt become one of our favourite experiences of the year and it’s a con we’ll definitely return to. Lovely city, lovely people, lovely comic con.

Now onwards to 2012!

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Last Chance to Pre-Order Tales of the Fallen

Tomorrow morning Steve and I will be off to join several other members the Unseen Shadows team at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds. This means that you have just a day or so left to pre-order your copy of Tales of the Fallen.

 

Tales of the Fallen is a collection of 4 comics by some of the hottest creators in UK (and Irish and South African) comics. A tour de force of action adventure, it tells the stories of 4 characters from Barry Nugent’s hit novel/comic/audio-drama/web-series Unseen Shadows. It also features tonnes of bonus material, including an introduction by TV’s Jonathan Ross!

They are murderers, martyrs and mercenaries in the no-man’s-land between adventure and crusade – soldiers of fate and fierce honour, bound together in mystery, darkness and blood. Their enemies are shadows haunting the outermost borders of a darkening world, and as night approaches the shadows grow long.

They are the Fallen, and these are their stories.

The book will almost certainly sell out over the weekend (the level of interest already has been crazy) and so unless you want to wait for a second printing, you need to get over to the Unseen Shadows website and pre-order the copy right now! In return you will not only be one of the first to read the book but you will also get it for the special price of just £8.50 and you get a free digital version of the book thrown in too!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

If you’re going to Thought Bubble, be sure to check out the Unseen Shadows panel on Sunday for a behind the scenes look at how Tales of the Fallen came about and where it’s all going next.

See you at Thought Bubble!

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Fallen Heroes 2 Ready to Go!

Fallen Heroes 2 has been completed is currently going to print. The hope is that it will be resting alongside the larger Unseen Shadows graphic novel at Thoughtbubble but we cannot confirm that at this stage as the book is so close to the date in question. We have no doubt that Stu at Ukomics is doing everything he can to make sure visitors at Leeds get to have a look at the new edition.

Featuring Ben ‘The Hand’ Ashodi and Stephanie Connisbee from the previous issue (and the Tales of the Fallen Graphic novel) as well as introducing some pivotal characters and developments to the FH canon, it’s been put together by Barry Nugent (writer of the original novel and general demagogue), Martin Conaghan (writer and calm voice of reason), Steve Penfold (me, on pencils and inks), Gat Melvyn (colours, seamlessly professional) and Paul Mclaren (lettering and diligent communicator).

Tales of the Fallen: Wrath of God Preview

As many of you know, Steve and I have a couple of new books coming out in November. “Tales of the Fallen” is a set of four one-shot comics based on the Unseen Shadows series of books by Barry Nugent.  To celebrate the upcoming release of the comics, we’re going to be previewing one of them each week in October. If you want to be one of the only people in the world to pick up signed copies of Tales of the Fallen you’ll need to buy a ticket to theThought Bubble convention in Leeds so you can be there for the grand launch. Enjoy the previews:

Wrath of God

Cy Dethan (Writer), Steve Penfold (Artist) Gat Melvin (Colours), Nic Wilkinson (Lettering)

The Reverend: a holy weapon forged in tragedy and flame – a murderous martyr whose cold judgement strikes with the force of a vengeful God. Despair, for the Reverend walks among you. He is the right hand of vengeance. He is Wrath.

For more information check out Unseen Shadows on the WEB, on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER

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Jonathan Ross To Write Foreword for Tales of The Fallen!

If you’ve been following twitter or the Unseen Shadows website you’ll have seen this announced last night but for the benefit of our loyal Bunkerites I’m thrilled to announce that TV’s Jonathan Ross will be writing the foreword to our upcoming book Tales of the Fallen. Jonathan was approached by Unseen Shadows mastermind, Barry Nugent, a few weeks ago but his involvement in the project has been top secret (I only found out last night) right up until the official announcement.

To say we’re excited about this is to understate the fact somewhat. Having somebody of Jonathan’s profile (not to mention somebody who is something of an accomplished comics writer himself) on board is a huge boost to an already thunderous project. If I was excited about Tales of the Fallen hitting the stands before, now I’m practically doing backflips. Here’s a short cutting from the foreword:

If, like me, you like rip-roaring testosterone fuelled pulp fiction. With soldiers, and mysteries, and all round weird stuff in, then this is the book for you.”

If you want to read the rest then you can do so by pre-ordering Tales of the Fallen at the special price of just £8.50 and with a free digital version thrown in!

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Tales of the Fallen: Fragments of Fate Preview

As many of you know, Steve and I have a couple of new books coming out in November. “Tales of the Fallen” is a set of four one-shot comics based on the Unseen Shadows series of books by Barry Nugent.  To celebrate the upcoming release of the comics, we’re going to be previewing one of them each week in October. If you want to be one of the only people in the world to pick up signed copies of Tales of the Fallen you’ll need to buy a ticket to theThought Bubble convention in Leeds so you can be there for the grand launch. Enjoy the previews:

Fragments of Fate

Pete Rogers (Writer), Roy Huteson Stewart (Artist), Paul Mclaren (Lettering)

Mythical artifacts tied to an ancient legend.  A demonic cult obsessed with determining destiny. Professor Napoleon Stone’s latest research project is about to take him on a dark and perilous journey into the unknown.  Beaten, broken, terrorised and tortured.   It’s time to discover what’s worse, being haunted by your past?  Or being tormented by your future?

For more information check out Unseen Shadows on the WEB, on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER

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Tales of the Fallen: Operation Solomon Preview

As many of you know, Steve and I have a couple of new books coming out in November. “Tales of the Fallen” is a set of four one-shot comics based on the Unseen Shadows series of books by Barry Nugent.  To celebrate the upcoming release of the comics, we’re going to be previewing one of them each week in October. If you want to be one of the only people in the world to pick up signed copies of Tales of the Fallen you’ll need to buy a ticket to theThought Bubble convention in Leeds so you can be there for the grand launch. Enjoy the previews:

Operation Solomon

Richmond Clements (Writer), Conor Boyle (Art), Paul Mclaren (Lettering)

On a Tour of Duty in the Persian Gulf, Lieutenant Steph Connisbee is signed on as the pilot on a top secret mission- Operation: Solomon. During this assignment she will uncover secrets and danger and step into the world of Unseen Shadows before she even knows it…

For more information check out Unseen Shadows on the WEB, on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER

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Band of Butchers Line Art Completed!

Morning chaps,

I am pleased to say that I just woke up to yet another delivery of incredible art from Rob Carey. What makes this delivery different is that it is the final page of our upcoming Unseen Shadows comic: Band of Butchers! That means that the book is just a few days away from being totally finished and I could not be more excited. It now falls to Vicky Stonebridge to wrap up the last few pages of colouring and Paul McLaren to add the last few pages of lettering. All being well we’re expecting it to be in “Bullwhip” Barry Nugent’s (and yes, that is the first and only time I’m using that nickname, Barry) hands within the next week or so making it seem highly likely that we should hit our desired release date of November 19th (Thought Bubble 2011) with time to spare.

Not only has Rob created interior art that will blow you away, he’s also designed the cover for both this book and the main Tales of the Fallen anthology (within whose pages BoB will make its home).

I cannot stress how happy I am to have been a part of this project. The team we’ve assembled here are a truly exceptional group of people and the book that we’ve produced is going to blow your socks off.

Since I can’t show you the last bit of art from Rob (for obvious spoiler reasons), here’s the very first piece he did. A stunning concept sketch of the not-quite-hero of our tale, Clancy Wallencheck.

You can read a 4 page preview of Band of Butchers by going to the main UNSEEN SHADOWS SITE and you can buy tickets to Thought Bubble and be one of the first people to read it by CLICKING HERE.

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