First published on One&Other, available here – http://www.oneandother.com/articles/calling-all-comic-fans/

For all you die hard comic fans out there this is well worth getting the train to Leeds for.

This year’s Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival brings (once again) the Leeds Comic Convention; hosting huge names in the industry such as Paul Cornell (Action Comics, Batman and Robin), Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth) and Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory). Taking place over two days for the first time, the 19th and 20th of November will see a flock of geeks, cosplayers and comic book fans to the Savilles Hall and Royal Armouries Hall in Leeds.

The main event in Savilles Hall consists of an entire room full of stalls, workshops and famous comic book artists and writers. Hours can be spent here simply rifling through box upon box of individual comics – a great way to discover a new character, artist or storyline, for next to nothing. Queues for the artists and writers are normally long – last year, John Romita Junior (Kick-Ass, The Amazing Spiderman) had a queue through the length of the hall all day, and with Batman geeks such as myself, Tim Sale is sure to be kept busy at this year’s convention.

Hundreds of independent comics will be represented at the stall, a great time to wander around and see what takes your fancy. This year we see the return of the Fetishman comic stall (it’s not porn, it’s a comic!), and  I’m personally excited to see that the folks from Romantically Apocalyptic, an intricately digitally edited post-apocalyptic comedy, will have their own stall. Wander around, chat to the creators – many are more than happy to sign a piece of artwork for you.

The Royal Armouries Hall hosts throughout the day a series of panel discussions about the world of comic books, including a talk about Alan Moore’s work, a discussion on women’s place in comic books, and the future of comic books in an ever-increasingly digital world. Also featured are storytelling workshops, and guides on how to make your lettering stand out, as well as so much more to help budding comic book creators. Bring down a portfolio of your work and get some critical feedback. If you want a shot at getting into comic book artistry, consider entering the 2000 AD portfolio competition – go to the Thought Bubble website to find the sample panel, create your version of the piece and bring it along to be entered.

If you manage to get your mitts on the first five hundred of the tickets, and you’ll get free entry into the after-party, taking place in the Alea Casino. DJs are all from the business, including Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, Uncanny X-Men), Becky Cloonan (Demo, Bram Stoker’s Dracula), and Antony Johnston (Dead Space, Wasteland). Unfortunately I missed the party last year, but at the Travelling Man 20th Anniversary party this year I witnessed the DJing skills of Antony Johnston, and I’m very much looking forward to his return – it is shaping up to be one hell of an evening.

Tickets are £10 for a day or £18 for the weekend and in my opinion that’s fantastic value to meet some of the real heroes of the comic industry, discover new comics, forge friendships and see some incredible costumes! If cosplaying is your thing, you get £7 entry, and can enter the annual cosplay competition, which is worth checking out even if you’re not in costume. I’ll be there keeping an eye out for original and inventive costumes. Tickets can be purchased from Travelling Man stores, or at the festival on the day. Pick up the Thought Bubble 2011 Anthology, out in October, to bring along to the festival and have it signed by many of the contributors. The most important thing is to make the most out of your weekend, and have a lot of fun – see you there!


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