Are you celebrating comic book Christmas in Leeds today?  Are you struggling to fight off the sense of despair that comes with another winter, suddenly sure in the knowledge that your attempts to break the wheel of time itself have been unsuccessful – again! – and that while it might feel like you’re living in a bubble where nothing ever changes, that’s an illusion that can’t survive winters yet to come?

Are you at the Thought Bubble comics convention, trying to find something that will make the change of seasons seem bearable?

If so, why not come see the Mindless Ones at tables 13 and 14, New Dock Hall?

We might not be able to solve your problems, but I can guarantee that we’ll haunt your dreams.

We’ll also be blogging for money throughout the weekend – for a penny a word, one of us will write about any topic of your choosing. If you’re looking to be really cruel you should wait until Sunday morning when we will be at our most vulnerable and ask us to write a 25,00o word justification of the life of Mark Millar.

The Beast Must Die / Dan White is here, selling Cindy and Biscuit  - The Bad Girl part 2:

If you like comics that are packed full of adventure and strangeness and gross humour comics, you’ll like Cindy and Biscuit!

Gary Lactus / Fraser Geesin is here flogging his autobiographical comic The Cleaner:

If Fraser wasn’t a pall I’d have made a fool of myself online by banging on about The Cleaner at every possible opportunity.  As it is, I’m mostly going to stick to burbling lovingly at him in the pub, telling him about how the attention he pays to the overlap between everyday chores and outsized thoughts makes for one of the most hilarious and profound comics going.

My main man Mister Attack / Scott McAllister is selling copies of his student sit-com comic Wake Up Screaming, and Points on a Graph, the story of a man who is separated from his body and still has to go to work on Monday:

Scott’s one of the funniest guys I know, and his comics are a testament to his digressive wit and wicked imagination.

Andrew Hickey / Andre Whickey will be here selling his books about Doctor Who, Seven Soldiers, The Beach Boys, and the concept of entropy for £3 a pop – not a bad price to have a load of new connections in your head.  Andrew will also probably be writing 10,000 words a minute and shaming the rest of us with his ever-productive brain. The bastard.

I might have come away from the Thought Bubble comics convention with a terrible hangover and an overwhelming desire to have a proper rummage through the back issue bins, but I can’t say that I came back short of good zines, great comics and better memories.

Here are five of the most exciting books I picked up last weekend…

1. Jonathan Chandler – Another Blue World (Breakdown Press, 2015)

At last Saturday’s SILENCE! x Breakdown Press interview panel, Jonathan Chandler was discussed as an artist who had staked out territory similar to that which Brian Chippendale had occupied but who had got there before it became a trendy holiday destination for art house cartoonists.

I’m not familiar enough with the man’s work to debate these claims, but reading Another Blue World what struck me was how important Chandler’s elusive sense of space is to communicating this particular set of hostile environments:

It’s not so much that Chandler is limiting what the reader can see to a few tufts of grass or a short stretch of water around his characters that makes his work stand out, more that he seemingly feels no pressure to fill up blank space on the page.

In a Brian Chippendale comic we might find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by the amount of detail, struggling to distinguish signal from noise whether we’re faced with the tiny cramped panels of Maggots or the wider canvases of If’n Oof or Ninja. In Prison Pit we are confronted blocky horror after blocky horror, but we know that this grim escalation will follow proceed through the sort of absurd escalations that are Johnny Ryan’s speciality.

Reading Chandler’s work, meanwhile, we are confronted with an eerie silence. All around us, we find unreadable white space, all of it primed with danger. Forms approach, assaults are perpetrated, sex is weaponised, but we can never be sure whether things are going to get worse or just sort of hang there:

I might crave for something beyond this harsh replication of animalistic imperatives, but there’s no denying that Another Blue World makes them painfully vivid.

Speaking of moving beyond, here’s Lando, back with another bleak, arid and yet undeniably stylish science fiction story!

Comics made of gangster

November 15th, 2015

For the true sweetheart James Baker, who commissioned this post for the princely sum of five English at Thought Bubble 2015.

Consider comics as the villain, the vampire. Justify your fandom, old man, given the charge sheet: comics – even without the usual allowances for cultural items produced under the malign spell century 21 supercapital death and hell machine – are an unusually fetid example of the commodity form. Through comics, shitty social conditions are endlessly reinscribed upon the global bodynerd. Thanks to comics, the fresh ideas of 80 years ago lie rotting in the multiplexes to kill our children still. Thanks to comics, trees die, carbon sinks are emptied, and the condensed solar energy of yestereaon is re-released to make a furnace of our home.

With comics thus being definitely the most awful of things, how do you justify your continuing interest? Is it just a parasite hunched on your shoulders, whispering retrograde fantasies in your ear? Is it a bundle of bad automatisms rolled up in your muscles and making you walk onward into the same fug of wrong as ever before?

And what about this pretty cottage in the heart of Leeds? Here at Thought Bubble 2015 (day two, sore heads and bitty memories unable to sully the warm glow of an evening well spent), right in the beating heart of ethical comics, the planetary crisis is still quite visible. It might even hold the key to something else, for a blog or so at least.

Let’s remember the comics industry as we’re left with it was built by gangsters…