The comics year always feels like it's getting into gear once Thought Bubble begin making announcements. And last week the Leeds-based comics festival delivered a triple whammy: unveiling this year's artwork/logo by Emmeline Pidgen, opening table registration, and rolling out the first wave of guests due to attend. There's also been a slight change in date: where typically the festival has taken place over the mid week of November culminating in a 2-day comic con at the weekend, this year it will in the first week of November- from the 1st to the 6th, with the convention running on the weekend of the 5th/6th. The venue remains the same: the Royal Armouries Museum, with the con inhabiting 3 designated spaces: New Dock Hall, Armouries Hall, and the TB 'Teepee', a frankly amazing hard-shell, heated and carpeted marquee-like contraption which is basically a building in itself.
The first 11 guests to be announced are Mike Mignola, Lisa Hanawalt, Faith Erin Hicks, Mahmud Asrar, Calire Wendling, Kim Jung Gi, Lee Bermejo, Babs Tarr, Ryan North, Tess Fowler, and Stephanie Hans. The thing I -and no doubt many people- like best about Thought Bubble is not only that it's comics-focused (no sci-fi TV guests, or toy stalls- to state a preference, not a judgement), but that it strives to encompass the range and breadth of the medium- something which is evident from even that initial line-up. That then results in appealing to a variety of audiences, which is a big part of what makes Thought Bubble so highly regarded. I'm particularly excited for Mike Mignola, Lisa Hanawalt, Clare Wendling and Kim Jung Gi: all excellent and very different artists.
For those wishing to exhibit at the festival, registration opened on Friday 4th March and will close on Friday 18th March at 8pm (GMT). You can find and submit an application here. Due to growth/demand, Thought Bubble switched to a fully curated approach in 2014. This means instead of a 'first come, first served' policy, each application is considered by the festival team and exhibitors are selected from within that pool. Once tables have been allocated, a reserve list of unsuccessful applicants is kept, in the event of table cancellations, etc.