While still ever-so-slightly shellshocked from what has to have been my busiest Thought Bubble yet, I feel I should tell the tale the way I remember it. To help you imagine things in glorious technicolour, here's a picture of me behind my stall with my face turned away from the camera and towards a picture of Stalin that I'm drawing. Posed, you think? Contrived, perhaps? Well buddy, this is 100% candid camera, and a lovely chap called Paul Burrow will testify to that, since he's the generous stranger who snapped it without my knowing and e-mailed it to me later!
Here's a list of mistakes I've learned valuable lessons from this year:
- Turn Up Earlier - no, packing the night before and getting up at 5:30am is not enough. Especially when your flashy new cardboard display stand has never been taken out of its box and you have no idea how to assemble it. On-lookers were treated to the sight of a cussing yeti flailing his arms around in a barbaric display of primitive oragami as the contours of the defiant card mocked him with their malicious smiles.
- Assemble ALL Your Comics - Another wise idea of mine was to take the loose pages of my MAIN TITLE with me, as well as my long-armed stapler with probably THREE staples in it, instead of finding the time to assemble them before the show. This resulted in a panic attack in the middle of the day which found me back at Leeds station desperately groping the shelves of WHSmiths and Paperchase to find more staples.
- Take Down That Stupid Sign - I'm not Jack Kirby, and I cannot produce good drawings in five nanoseconds. So what possesed me to put up a sign saying I would draw anything you want for £2 (with the 'anything' in italics and everything) baffles even me. Don't get me wrong, it was cool drawing cosplayers as zombies, couples as pigs, celebrity portraits and Stalin's bushy lip, but MAN was I tired by the end of the day. I've only today actually finished all the requests I got, which I'll be mailing out to the people I made empty promises to on the day. Maybe up the price or lower the options? How about:
"I will draw a rodent of your choice for £50"
See how many takers I get on that one. Hmm.
- Embrace Capitalism - It's taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that some people don't have the time to listen to me whinge, even if I spend all of my waking life trying to turn that whinging into half-way decent comics. So why not exploit the fact that most people aren't as horribly self-loathing as me and create an alternative product to my comics in the form of punchy big prints for twice the money?! I should have brought more of these, I did not anticipate them to sell as well as they did! And despite my backwards way of expressing it, I'm really grateful to everyone who picked up one and validated the existence of the illustrator within.
- Remember Mrs. Gren - Basic human functions still apply, even at Thought Bubble. I should have gone to bed earlier the night before, I should have had time to eat some lunch and use the toilet on the day. Chewits and Chuppachups only cut it for so long.
- I met loads of great and talented people, some for the first time, including:
Jess Bradley - ex Travelling Man chum, now internet-based comics chum with stacks of awesome art and comics (and trainers!) for you to oogle at on her website. She and her boyfriend even offered me a guided tour of Bristol should I ever drop my anchor in those lands. And I expecting GUIDING, guys!
Magda Boreysza - the mind responsible for one of my very favourite small press titles Toasty Cats, as well as a slew of other weird and wonderful art and animations, no less!
Paul Rainey - a machine of comics production, the creator of There's No Time Like The Present and all round splendid chap. Didn't speak to him nearly as much as I'd have liked this year but it was good to frantically cram a conversation in with him, none the less.
Steve Tillotson & Gareth Brookes - of Banal Pig fame, of course. Whose latest offerings met the extremely high bar they've set for themselves at previous cons and through their immense back catalogue of gems. If you haven't already, buy the Banal Pig Showcase.
Selina Lock - I didn't get much of a chance to speak to Selina or Jay of Caption fame, but will hopefully be introduced to them properly by Paper Jam member and comics veteran Terry Wiley when we all discuss plans to make the best con ever here in Newcastle.
Kristyna Baczynski - who I didn't realise I was actually meeting until it was pointed out to me in the pub after the show by close comics associates Gary Bainbridge and Andy Waugh. Nor did I realise that it was the very same Kristyna the year before as I egotistically talked up my comics to her all the while being amazed by the wonderful things on her blog.
Marc Ellerby - As he pointed out, we only see each other once a year, so it probably wasn't in-line of me to get all up in his face on a bitter, jealous rant about his insane level of success. Not least of which is being featured in the awesome CBGB anthology that the likes of Jamie Hernandez were involved with - god, I hate you, Marc.
- Paper Jam World Domination - The Comics Collective I started in Newcastle some four years ago has grown immensely during that time, and its members have unleashed unbelievable talents on the comics world. We had FIVE stalls all in a row this year, one for the Collective itself, another for me, one for Andy and Gary, another with Terry (and honourary PJCC member Selina) and a third with Paul Thompson, Daniel Clifford and Martin Newman. All of whom had amazing new things to offer which you can read about on their respective blogs.
- I Made Some Money - and was able to treat my girlfriend to some nice things on her birthday to make up for the present drought that struck the Land of Giving this year. Thanks, November, month of poverty! But non-sarcastically, thanks to everyone who stopped by my stall this year, even the cheeky little kids who justed wanted some of my free chewits! I really appreciate everyone's support and I'll look forward to seeing you all again next year!