Thought Bubble 2023

Thought Bubble weekend is always a blast, but isn’t without its flaws. These are, generally, not the fault of the convention. Unless they control the weather. In which case, boo hiss. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This year, Thought Bubble was an opportunity to launch Fractured Realms.

With a wee little graphic mocked up before the con, we were good to go. Gary picked up some books on Thursday night. My suitcase was all packed up and underweight. And then… illness. Not mine, nor Gary’s, but his partner. This left Gary behind in Dublin, my suitcase a little heavier, and our plans a little bit scuppered.

Still, the show had to go on. So off I went to Harrogate, picked up at the airport by Gareth, and onwards to set up our table.

It was the first time we got to see Fractured Realms in print, too! Gareth recorded a video for the LB socials. My internet was good enough to post it on Twitter. It even has a wee preview inside the book!

The next day, Thought Bubble began for the public.

We were tabling beside Colin Craker, who was kind enough to take a photo of us for socials. I tend to forget at most cons because time gets away from me and we always arrive at different times – it’s the big benefit of an international con, I suppose, when we’re staying together for the weekend.

The closeup shows a couple of additions to the table. Namely, a Barbenheimer zine and a printed copy of my Jabberwocky story!

While things were fairly slow sales wise, we had a good time at the convention. I picked up some books for Gary, and some books for myself, and I adopted a new son.

That night was the Mid-Con Party, where we mingled with a lot of different creators (including Martin Simmonds, which was surreal for me – he illustrates one of my favourite books!) and where a few of the Irish creators I’d published got to talk properly for the first time. It’s weird to be able to say that, but I’m proud of having been able to introduce so many people to each others’ work.

We survived without incident and were able to attend Sunday with only a minor increase in the amount of tea and coffee we needed to get through a day at a convention. The Sunday at Thought Bubble is often a good chance to pick up the books from people who you’d been talking to the night before. For me, it was an opportunity to learn the full name of someone I’d been talking to… and it turns out I’ve been following his work for a while. (Hi Mike Garley!)

After a few “this is my last purchase of the weekend’s from me, and a speedy takedown after 5pm, Thought Bubble 2023 was over. I’ll miss it.


Yorkshire was not done with me.

Storm Debi took her toll on flights, and at 6pm on Monday I found out I was stuck. Long-term readers will know that something like this happened last year, too. Thankfully, things were less broken in the UK this time around, and between a rebooking with Aer Lingus and some swift action from Swissport, I was in a taxi to Manchester.

I had a too-fancy hotel room with a bed that was much too big. And I arrived with time enough to get dinner – and vouchers for the dinner! Things were finally looking up.

Then I slept in past my alarm. By almost two hours.

Through some swearing and running and cursing the universe, I made my way to the airport (a short walk from the hotel) and dashed through every part of the building I could. I was, of course, stopped at security, which didn’t help. Apparently an Irishman going through an English airport with two boxes of small metal objects is suspicious and warrants a bag search. (My pins… they were too densely packed to be scanned. Whoops.)

Eventually, I got on the plane, and all the drama ended. This time for real. They didn’t lose my bag this year, and I got home in time to teach my Galway class via Zoom. (I had planned to actually be in Galway, but that would have required my flight out of Leeds Bradford the night before to have gone ahead.)

I wouldn’t recommend that most dreadful of traditions, but it hasn’t hurt my love of Thought Bubble or my wishes to go back.

All of the fuss aside, the weekend is always a special one for me. It’s a chance to meet new readers, and to catch up with people who I only get to see at UK shows. Which I don’t get to go to as much as I’d like. And I always come back from the convention hyped to make comics. Even if some of them might require a lot of energy and effort.

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