Jack and Mat were both excited about bringing Team Alien to Thought Bubble. It was to be only their second convention with the book and their first outside of London. They had heard great things about the event from other creators. As a pair of Northern expatriates, they were particularly excited about debuting Issue Two of Alien in the Outfield in Leeds. On a cold November morning, they packed up a reasonably priced hire car and headed north on the next stage of their extra-terrestrial sports comic adventure. This is their story.
Mat: We were better prepared this time. We had new badges, stickers and freebies to share. We had a homemade standee to help make our table more three dimensional. We even had business cards with my name spelled correctly. We almost felt professional!
Jack: Our journey north was fairly trying but a rest stop at a thematically appropriate venue and some intensive stream-of-consciousness banter along the way eased the pain. Our first night in Leeds was marked by a surfeit of Greggs and spilled blood (thankfully not our own) and a deficit in northern metalheads. Spilled blood was to be found at the unofficial opening party, where artists daubed the walls with cartoon art, bands literally kicked audience members out of the building and Tesco stubbies were flogged for a mere shiny British pound. It was a slightly weird way to begin the weekend.
Mat: We were operating on London-transport-time so we headed out from our hotel an hour early. Approximately ten minutes later we arrived at the Royal Armories venue. The proximity to the city centre meant the convention felt much more like a city-wide event and appeared to encourage a more diverse crowd of comics casuals and curious passers-by. Thought Bubble seemed bigger than the London convention centre show – but was somehow more intimate at the same time. This is probably as it was spread over three smaller adjacent venues rather than one super-sized convention centre. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other: it was certainly more challenging to navigate the tables of Thought Bubble but this made it feel like there was always more to explore and I think may have encouraged the casual visitor to spend a longer time browsing.
Jack: Whilst the LSCC do have at least a little rhyme or reason to their table layouts (it’s arranged alphabetically), TB seemed to be fairly random with which creators were sat where. We suspect it was in order of table purchases. As such, our all-ages sci-fi sports comedy book was sat next to Rosie Sherwood, whose wares mixed quite stunningly beautiful photography and sparse long-form poetry into a comic based medium that wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘proper’ art gallery. On our other side was David Lloyd, the artist behind little-know book V for Vendetta and opposite were meat-hooks, nudity and tentacles specialists Hellbound Media. There’s nothing if not variety at Thought Bubble. I couldn’t help but think that a little more thematic grouping would have made things a little easier for both tablers (some lingo I picked up at the con there) and punters alike. Like many, I was fairly overwhelmed by the sheer size and scale of what was on offer, so a little bit order to the chaos would’ve been nice.
Mat: We were made to feel very welcome by creators we had met earlier in the year at LSCC. We were especially happy to bump into Anastasia Catris and Al Davison – two friendly former alphabetical table neighbours. We were heartbroken to miss our chance to spend a moment with our mutual hero Timothy Winchester. A shout out should also be shouted out to our other favourite all-ages comic book, Dungeon Fun. We try very hard to meet and learn from the experiences of other more established colleagues and almost everyone we spoke to was friendly and supportive – or at least heroic in their patience with our incessant rambling about aliens and baseball. First and foremost, we’re fans and enthusiasts and keen to support other independent creators. I think the fact that we felt equally supported and included in a relatively small community of artists is reassuring that this enthusiasm is at the heart of this community.
Jack: As no one except for a couple of hugely appreciated friends and family members had come to the con to especially to see Team Alien, we kind of had our work cut out to grab people’s attention. Generally speaking, if you holler, ‘do you like aliens?’ at passers-by who either a) even vaguely glance at the table for more than a millisecond or b) are young and impressionable children, chances are they’ll stop and give you the time of day. Even those that weren’t interested in buying the book were by and large quite happy just to chat about their con experience, how they couldn’t afford to buy half of the things they wanted or the merits of the new, hipster Batgirl. Our hollering generally seemed to pay off and whilst we sold a reasonable amount of books, I think our willingness to engage got our name out into the collective hive-mind.
Mat: As usual, the con-goers were a highlight. Thanks to Alice and Stuart (above, left) who coincidentally brought an actual real-life baseball bat and were happy to pose as pretend real-life alien sports adventure fans. We also bumped into our actual real-life mate Aman (above, right), who really was representing with a sick Batman-bat-man tee. He also brought his niece, who was cosplaying an adorable Ms. Marvel (above, above). We completed our trio of bat-people at the end of the day when headline guest and head DC Bat-wrangler Scott Synder stopped by for a moment to chat. We didn’t get a picture because we were a little star struck but he was kind enough to sign a bunch of Bat-books for us. All these people are awesome.
Mat: The Saturday night anime-dance-party in Leeds Town Hall was a great addition to the programme and an opportunity for weary table-stranded creators to socialise. Unfortunately, it was also a great opportunity for Mat to drink too much, dance very awkwardly, incur the wrath of She-Hulk and spend half an hour queuing for a pizza he couldn’t eat anyway. At least I wasn’t the only one who overindulged – on Sunday morning Charlie Adlard wasn’t the only artist representing the Walking Dead.
Jack: On Saturday night I drunk more beer than is strictly sensible.
Jack also made a short film for Nerdly to show Thought Bubble from a tabler’s perspective. You can watch our Thought Bubble adventure here: