If it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas, which is to say, if you’re heading to this year’s Thought Bubble comics convention in Leeds – we’re right there with you!

We’ll be at Table 80 in the Originals Marquee on Cookridge Street all day on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd September.

The SILENCE! boys will also be teaming up with Al to Astonish for a live podcast spectacular at 11am on the Sunday morning.

SILENCE! to Astonish will take place at the Carriageworks Theatre, with special guests John McCrea, Matthew Rosenberg, Babs Tarr and Sam Humphries - expect jokes, games, insight, and a certain amount of hungover chaos.

We’ll also be flogging our wares to try to balance out the cost of booze and transport. So who’s bringing what this year?

DAN WHITE / THE BEAST MUST DIE 

Thought Bubble 2018 will see the debut of the first issue of Dan’s new horror anthology Sticky Ribs.

There’s always been a strong horror influence on Dan’s work, so I’m really looking forward to reading this and letting it seep through my fingers and into my bloodstream.

Living treat that he is, Dan will also be selling Cindy and Biscuit prints and the new fun-size edition of Cindy and Biscuit – Sundays.

FRASER GEESIN / GARY LACTUS

Fresh from drawing a wonderful comic about how cleaning is better than art, Fraser continues his bid for domestic domination with the Ikea themed anthology KOMISK.

Featuring Geesin’s work alongside contributions from Paul Jon Milne, Kathryn Briggs, Gareth A Hopkins, Tom Mortimer and some prick called David Allison, KOMISK will make you question the motives of that nice stool you use as a table.

DAVID ALLISON / ILLOGICAL VOLUME

I’ll be giving away copies of my Looking Glass Hearts comics, which are all about hauntings and the resilience of home.

You can read these comics for free on this website, but if you want a poorly stapled version you know where to find me. I’m not charging for this work because I’d rather you donated some money to Living Rent, Scotland’s Tenants Union, or a similar organisation closer to home.

Paul Jon Milne / Thrills

We’re pure buzzing to have the last copy of Paul’s Tussle Hunks card game for sale on our table this weekend.

Brutish and sensual, Tussle Hunks is the best thing you can buy at the con this weekend… UNLESS YOU’RE A PUNK!

Paul has just completed the sixth and final issue of Guts Power, so we’ll have that for sale alongside the rest of its grubby brethren.

As I said after a previous Thought Bubble adventure:

I’m stuck on Milne’s style, on the use of that old fashioned alt-comix grossness not as a mode for outrageous straight white guy funtimes, but as a way to genuinely queer the Sex-Men experience.

With its tentative dance floor adventures, “Pepto-bawbag particles” and alluringly grotesque cast, Guts Power manages the rare trick of making one man’s whims, stray thoughts and fancies seem like a genuine delight, probably because the combination feels fresh and true; would that the same could be said of all such ventures.

We’ll also have copies of issue one of Grave Horticulture up for grabs this weekend.

A gnarled delight, Grave Horticulture takes ’90s superhorror as the starting point for an honest-to-fuck aesthetic – get in now before Netflix adapt the expanded universe!

Ad, Andre Whickey, Bobsy, Maid of Nails and Mister Attack will also be in full effect this weekend – they won’t be trying to sell you anything, but their presence will make the con at least 500% better!

See you there/then?

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…

Living legend David Wynne has commissioned me to write 500 words on this topic. Last night in the pub he teased me with the idea that I was going to be tasked to write 500 words on Frank Miller: Feminist Icon.

Having worked out my pitch for that one in the shower this morning (it’s actually really easy to read his work as an extended deconstruction of chauvinist tropes… so long as you just DON’T LOOK AT THE WOMEN IN HIS COMICS and only pay attention to the men – not an approach that’s conducive to feminist values, hence why this reading of Frank Miller is unlikely to catch on anytime soon) I now find myself face with a far more daunting task.

Five hundred words on “Hard Men with Big Truncheons: The Sexual Politics of Mega-City One”. I mean seriously: what can you say about this subject? What can’t you say?

Casting about for a place to start that wasn’t the bathroom, I asked Douglas Wolk…

Yes, it’s another THOUGHT BUBBLE SPECIAL POST!

This is the first of two essays commissioned by James “patron of the arts” Baker, who has asked for five hundred words each from me and Bobsy. James wants me to talk about what Daleks mean to me.

It’s a difficult one, actually, because I grew up in the 1980s, when the Daleks were mostly being used for their recognisability, but being written by a writer, Eric Saward, who would much rather have been writing Cybermen stories. So while the standard iconography of the Daleks tends towards a combination of fascism and Frank Hampson space adventure, for me, the Daleks are all about body horror. The formative Dalek story for me was Remembrance of the Daleks, and so I think of humans being turned into Daleks, of Davros reduced just to a head, of dead bodies being processed for food.

So taking everything together, the Daleks for me, more than anything else, represent the dissociation from the body.

We Are Robin #4

November 14th, 2015

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Yes, it’s ANOTHER THOUGHT BUBBLE LIVEBLOG!

This one is a three-hander, commissioned by Ruan S, who wants me, Illogical Volume, and Bobsy to write six hundred words on We Are Robin #4.

This is a DC Entertainment comic-style product, written by Lee Bermejo and with art by James Harvey, Diana Egea and Alex Jaffe, and it is almost precisely as “good” as you would expect from a DC Entertainment comic-style product. There are many young people dressed as Robin, who are angsty about angst-making things — one of the young people has apparently died.

There’s narration told in Tweets, because in DC Entertainment comics-style products, Twitter is used by the young persons, rather than middle-aged angry people in the media.

There are inspirational speeches about Batman, and symbols, and legacies, and how important symbol legacies are important and symbolic. There are scenes set in a high school, and there are teenagers who use “Facespace” and perform minor crimes to attract superheroes so they can take selfies.

It is, in short, precisely the kind of desperate attempt to appear cool that one would expect from the talented people at DC Entertainment. I’m a thirty-seven-year-old fat bloke with a beard, and even I know that this isn’t how the kids talk and act.

Over to Illogical Volume

Kids today, with their anti-social medias and their secret identities, doing the troll dance under a bridge as big as the whole world… they sicken me.

Imagine writing something under a fake name… Ridiculous!

Dungeon Fun

November 14th, 2015

This is a THOUGHT BUBBLE SPECIAL POST, by the tag-team team of Andre Whickey and Illogical Volume. Our task: “Write five hundred words about Dungeon Fun and make it as product-placementy as possible.”

Never let it be said that the Mindless don’t rise to a task…

Dungeon Fun is a collection of the award-winning all-ages comic, based around a parody of dungeon-crawling fantasy adventure, with the same kind of sarcastic meta-humour as, say, Order of the Stick or Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but with a gentler feel than either of those, more suitable to its all-ages audience. Neil Slorance’s highly-stylised art perfectly expresses the whimsical children’s adventure story, in which Fun Mudlifter, a little girl raised by trolls, has a sword fall from the sky and becomes an adventurer.

With her ghost companion Sir Barnabus Games, Fun goes on an epic quest, encountering such characters as Gullibelinda the Gullible.

And now I’m tagging Illogical Volume

Always a mistake, that!

Thought Bubble Liveblogging

November 14th, 2015

We’re in Leeds, we have jumble, and we’re ready to liveblog. If you’re at Thought Bubble and want Bobsy, Illogical Volume, or myself to do a blog post for you, we’re charging a penny a word. Short posts will be added as updates to this post, larger ones will get their own.

We’re currently sat in New Dock (definitely not Savile’s) Hall, and waiting for your custom. We have cakes.

The Beast Must Die is flogging his British Comics Award nominated Cindy and Biscuit:

When he’s not shaming us all with his good looks and professionalism, Dan will be selling the collected edition of the first four issues  (We Love Trouble!) alongside the latest issue, The Bad Girl.

Kind of cosmic sciatica Gary Lactus is elling his comics, including two volume of The Cleaner, his excellent autobiographical comic:

Don’t be fooled by the fact that he’s produced the comic under his (ridiculous) stage name Fraser Geesin, it’s 100% Lactus!

Gary’s completed the second volume of The Cleaner for Thought Bubble, and it’s essential reading for anyone who like stories about people doing things.

And I have a selection of my books-without-pictures for sale, for those of you who come to a comics convention but don’t want to buy any more comics. £5 or best offer.

Liveblog update one:
This is fifty-two words (to be comicy) for “Mystery Beardman” on the subject of “Elemental Micah: Just Exhale” by Michael Georgiou.
This is a black-and-white comic about a gay young man with the powers of a god. I am told it is very very good, and very very gay.

Liveblog update two, paid for by a mysterious benefactor:

Table 65a though bubble marquee – graphic violence and black and white female led sports drama – Freaktown 

Not so much a blog post as an advert but one that was overpaid for to the cost of 5p so we’re not going to complain!

Liveblog update the final:

And finally, commissioned by the Mindless Ones’ own The Beast Must Die himself, we have two hundred words by Andre Whickey and Illogical Volume on Image United #1.

“Mayhem! Destruction! There’s no limit to the pain and misery I can cause!”

This is the ultimate comic, sequential art reaching its peak of potential. What could be better than Rob Liefeld layouts? How about Rob Liefeld layouts with Whilce Portacio finishing them? How about Liefeld, Larsen, Portacio, McFarlane, Silvestri, and Valentino?
Comics’ greatest creators, comics’ greatest characters, all in colour for three dollars ninety-nine. The greatest story in history.

HI KIDS! ILLOGICAL VOLUME HERE, BEAT-BEAMING MY THOUGHTS STRAIGHT ONTO ANDREW’s COMPUTER DIRECT! LIKE AN OLD-SCHOOL IMAGE COMIC, MY BRAIN IS REALLY FUCKING LOUD SO FORGIVE THE ALL-CAPS!

WHAT AM I DOING?? I’M JUST LIVING THAT LIFE, LYING ON THE GROUND, TOUCHING MY TITS UP, PUNCHING MY OWN FACE OF THEN WATCHING IT SOAR THRU THE SKY! YOU THINK I’M DOWN BUT THEN BAM!, I’M FISTING A SHARK, GETTING PEGGED BY THE SPIRIT OF STANLEE! THIS COMIC HAS THE REAL ANIMAL MAGIC, Y’KNOW? WHEN PAPPA’S GOT A FINN PAPPA’S GOTTA GET HIS FINN ON! I’VE SPENT MY WHOLE FUCKING LIFE TRYING TO BE CLEVER BUT NOW I’VE FINALLY FUCKING REALISED IT: ALL I REALLY WANTED WAS A WITCHBLADE!