Leeds’ Comic Art Festival

For fans of comic books and graphic novels, Leeds is the place to be in the first week of November, for the Thought Bubble Festival

Here in England, we have no great tradition of comic reading – it has long being seen as something for children and the only titles coming readily to mind being The Dandy and The Beano or possibly Rupert the Bear, a stalwart of the Daily Express for many years – but we are finally catching up with both the US and Europe, think DC and Marvel comics or Asterix, Tintin and the Smurfs, in appreciating storytelling in a graphic form, for all ages. A quick look in most book shops will demonstrate just how popular graphic novels have become, from none at all or just a shelf five years ago to large sections now, housing everything from TV series and movie spin-offs – think The Walking Dead or Doctor Who – to stand alone novels and non-fiction – The Complete Maus, about the Holocaust or Persepolis, about growing up in Iran.

The Thought Bubble Festival, centred around the Leeds Dock area is the UK’s largest event of its kind, an annual celebration of sequential art in all its forms. In this eleventh year it will include everything from superhero comics to independent and small-press artists and writers. Running from the 1 – 6 November, there will be free art and writing based workshops for young people and adults, a two day academic conference, talks and master classes led by industry professionals, and a programme of sequential art related film screenings.

The final two days also sees the staging of Comic Con, a two day convention including “an incredible line-up of leading artists and writers, and over 300 tables showcasing the best sequential art has to offer, with creator appearances, publisher presence, and retailers.” Comic-cons have their roots in the US, where the opportunity to dress up as your favourite character is taken very seriously – as anyone who has ever watched the Big Bang Theory will know – with fabulous costumes worn by attendees being an integral part of the fun, and it seems that Leeds will be following the tradition with a huge cos-play parade being a highlight of the weekend. There will also be plenty of opportunities to examine the work of many artists, both local and international and competitions to enter, complete with exciting prizes.

So, if you are interested in image based storytelling – or you really like dressing as Superman – head to thoughtbubblefestival.com for all the details, including exactly what’s on when and how to buy tickets.