Prior to Thought Bubble, Bleeding Cool brought you the news that the Festival would have a new "Unofficial Pre-Party" with music and an open-mic event, and we're pleased to bring you a follow-up of how it went and where things may be headed next year.
"We wanted to deliver an experience you couldn't get over a quiet pint down the pub," says Owen Michael Johnson, (writer/artist, Raygun Roads & Reel Love). "Myself and John Person were working on Beast Wagon and discussed wanting to do an event in Leeds. Thought Bubble, being the most forward-thinking of UK comics festivals, felt like the perfect place to do such a thing. The number of practitioners in UK comics has swelled. Unless we work to expand our audience simultaneously our efforts are wasted. Fascinating surprises happen when comics breed with live art, and photography, and music. This approach will only enlighten and expand the potential of all mediums. This evening was so much fun."
John Pearson, artist and member of Assembly House Studios says, "The art scene in Leeds is rising in profile at such a rate that it feels on the cusp of something incredible happening, and events like The Gatecrass Stage not only build on that but share what creatives in Leeds do to a much wider audience. Thought Bubble as well has grown in recent years massively, along with the audience it attracts, so starting up an event that draws in a slightly different crowd and explores different paths from what they do is a natural progression, and something I hope other people pick up on in coming years and we have other fringe events getting developed by other people."
The venue was provided by East St. Arts, a contemporary arts organization in Leeds that aims to develop artists through events, professional development, and the provision of creative spaces. Duncan Street is one of the many empty retail spaces in the city that gets re-purposed for exhibitions and events through the work East St. Arts does, according to Johnson.
"Different Studio Holders from Assembly House Studios have used the space for a wide range of creative events, so it fits perfectly with what we wanted to do for the pre-Thought Bubble Party. Previously art collective Precious have held open-mic nights there featuring music and performance, so it made sense to build on what we knew would be successful and show people from outside the city just how great the arts in Leeds is", he adds.
Johnson says, "There is a palpable excitement in the air for a different kind of convention experience. We aimed to deliver something close. Something more spontaneous in nature. DIY, focused solely on creating something, anything. Quickly and without hesitation. My gratitude to John Pearson and the entire East Street Arts team for pulling this together so quickly. It was energizing to see these disparate worlds meet. Leeds artists, comic book professionals, mad drunkards, local musicians, passers-by and the band Vince Paradise & The Kittelbach Pirates (who formed in April for the CULT exhibition held at Orbital Comics)."
Pearson says, "Aside from myself organizing the night alongside Lester Drake, we had Assembly House illustrators Bobbi Abby and Mike Winnard drawing on the night, members of Precious working the bar, all of which are Studio Holders at Assembly House".
As for next year?
"It's going to be bigger, better, and dirtier. One of the best things from the night was seeing established creators drawing side by side with Leeds Artists and members of the public, we had local acts playing live on the stage with acts from out of town. Everyone was welcome and everyone joined in. There's no divide between anyone, the people working the bar were the same people drawing and playing. Next year expect more artists, more bands, more cheap drinks, more collaboration and more scuzzy times. It's very different to the rest of the Thought Bubble schedule and what they set out to do, but something that in my opinion is essential for branching out even further to get more people involved in the incredible work the Thought Bubble team do", Johnson says.
Some related links:
You can read Raygun Roads for free at:
East Street Arts: