That I'm writing my final thoughts on Thought Bubble during something of a low mental ebb seems quite fitting. Again and again during the day I was faced by people who basically repeated the same mantra: there is no simple way at doing this, you all have to keep on and on until you get somewhere. Initially it won't be a big shift but that shift will become something else. Logic tells me that this then means that everyone has struggled and everyone has had to battle on with their creations. So this means that i am now, during a self indulgent pity fest about how my meager offerings will never take on, only doing what the other people who have "arrived" in some way have also gone through. They may have not had depression or some of the crap going on in my brain of late, but they've still battled on.
I need to remember that. I need to remember that mostly I'm writing these blog entries to crystalise these things. To remember that I can bloody *do* this and that there is no magic bullet.
One of the best things for me about Thought Bubble is that it's a very inclusive festival. By this I mean that isn't just a narrow mainstream comics based event. There are plenty of people - and cosplayers! - who are there to see that and there's no shame about that at all. I wish I'd had something for Pete Milligan to sign for example, and my local comic shop - 2Tone - are always inspirational to me in finding new stuff in the Marvel/ DC etc worlds. But the comics' world has moved on from that - in fact when I was a kid I was probably closer to where comics are now than I realised. I moved away from comics because it seemed limiting - but now my love for Punch cartoonists and people like Ionicus, Fougasse, Ronald Searle etc is entirely chiming in with what Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly put out (although I do wish they'd do more British stuff - a Ken Reid book, can you IMAGINE?). And my abiding love of children's book artists... all of this is entirely there in comics now. And there at Thought Bubble.
So if you wanted to meet Pete Milligan or D'Israeli or Gail Simone you could. If like me, you're a bit more excited at the prospect of meeting someone like Bryan Talbot (would liked to have met him, but queue was too long) or Roger Langridge (who my god, wild wolves would not have dragged me away from: I got him to sign a volume of "Knuckles the Malevolent Nun" and was as impressed by the art as I was the fact he was a peer of Chris Knox - imagine that! CHRIS KNOX!) you can do that to. Then there are the children's book people as well.
It's a fact that the long winded route to me arriving at "The Common Swings" finally coming out was stumbling across Sarah McIntyre's "Vern and Lettuce" in the Guardian's mini versions of the DFC. Here was such wit, skill and joy that I suddenly felt energised at the idea of drawing again. None of my stuff is anything near the league of McIntyre's (and as far as bloggers go, she's pretty much best practice for what can be achieved) but her books always make me want to try. It's probably quite interesting that the closest to being star struck was when I got "You Can't Eat a Princess!" signed by her (and her co-writer Gillian Rogerson). I rambled on about the pride of a blog comment from last year from her when I praised "Vern and Lettuce" and made a bit of a fool of myself, but still... it was a handy reminder of what can be done in the comics' field. She's something of a polymath and the joy in her mini-comics is entirely there in her kids' books. It's entirely one of the reasons I threw myself into childrens' books with such passion last year and kind of have veered off into those worlds with the Hadrons and the eventually upcoming Bunny McSniff.
And that enthusiasm was matched by her fellow DFC writers the Etherington brothers. I picked up "Baggage" to get signed by them because an idle stop off at their stall had revealed the two of them to be the sweetest, nicest, most encouraging people I could have dreamt of meeting. Now I've read "Baggage" I can entirely say that my five year old self is all the poorer for never having had this book. Much as I think Sarah McIntyre is slightly closer to my own tastes, the detail and anarchy and comedy in every single page of that book would have exploded my tiny brain. I've always erred towards the more is more school of drawing since my childhood love of a good Leo Baxendale double spread or a bit of Tom Patterson nonsense and I think this book sort of guides me into seeing the best way into matching enthusiasm into result. It's an incredible, incredible book - so much fun! - and Lorenzo was particularly lovely, explaining how easy it is to pick up things like Photoshop from Youtube. See? Another person who has "arrived" reminding me how much of the journey to finishing something is down to absolute persistence.
In the main hall of Thought Bubble, the small press people were smattered about. It was good to see how the panelists stuff was being sold, and yes a lot of what I was doing was seeing how other people sold their wares. It was good to see Philippa Rice's diorama after it was spoken in hushed tones of admiration by almost everyone on a panel during the day, for example. But the best of all of them? Timothy Winchester.
Almost every panelist, when asked who they thought did conventions better than anyone said "Timothy Winchester". Now I knew his comics reasonably well - I follow his blog - and liked them, but not in the way I love, say, Banal Pig's comics. But where the Banal Pig stall seemed somewhat... subdued, Timothy Winchester was, as everyone heralded him, one of the most whirling of all dervishes you could ever imagine. All panelists said "watch him - he never stops. He engages you in conversation, he gives you flyers even if you don't buy comics. He's friendly and warm and interested in people and it's completely contagious". And my god were they right. Almost entirely the most single handedly exciting figure I saw in the whole day, I still am not the biggest fan of his comics but as a comics' creator? He made me feel at ease and welcome on his stall and I'd even promised to do something for his Angela Lansbury week (which I've entirely failed to do - hence one of the reasons I've been at a low ebb) because he seemed so enthusiastic and warm. And sort of, kind of, wise...
Because his advice? Simply: "keep at it. Do it regularly. Get a scanner. Post it. Get yourself known. Get yourself out there. It's scary but we've all done it."
Which is probably in one sentence far more succint and pithy than the whole of these three days of rambling could ever be.
So yeah, in essence - Thought Bubble. Loved it. I'll be there next year. All I can try and do is be there in some sort of creative capacity. I better bloody be, or this sort of low ebb will be an even bigger stick to beat myself with... but that's another story for another day.
I'm done now. Goodnight all.