SILENCE! To Astonish 2023

November 25th, 2023

Here’s the recording of SILENCE! To Astonish from Thought Bubble 2023. Gary Lactus, The Beast Must Die and Al Kennedy put Al Ewing, Rachel Stott, Lucy Sullivan and Not Caspar Wijngaard to the test. 

If you’re in Harrogate for Thought Bubble this weekend, why not stop by to say hello to Mindless Men at tables 27b-28, Comixology Originals Hall?

THIS IS A TEST!  Those who are in attendance but who do not want to stop by our table must submit their answer as to why in the form of an essay.  2000 words on the button.  Those who fail will be subject to sanctions so foul they would make Darkseid wince.

This goes double for SILENCE! to Astonish Live, which will be held from 15:30-16:15 at ROOM 2 on Saturday 13th November, and will feature special guests Al Ewing, Becky Cloonan, Hannah Berry and Rachel Stott alongside your usual hosts Al Kennedy, Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die.

Anyway, if you want to stop by our table, here’s who’ll be lurking there and what they’ll have in store for you…

DAN WHITE AKA THE BEAST MUST DIE

You read it here first, but from tomorrow onward you can carry it around with you like an unusually lush grudge.  We’re talking words, we’re talking pictures, we’re talking a series of gag comics that might curdle the very milk in your eye – that’s right people, we’re talking about the new hardcover collection of Terminus.

As discussed on SILENCE!: Inside the Wanker’s Studio, Dan’s reworked some of these old strips to tighten up early episodes, which have been bound in a beautiful package by the legendary Comic Printing UK.

Dan’s also returned to comics’ favourite double act with Cindy and Biscuit: Year One, a newspaper format comic detailing the early days of our heroes in a series of neat, Bill Watterson-inflected adventures.

Here’s what Broken Fontier’s Andy Oliver, who you still worship as a god despite prior warnings, had to say about it:

With previous Cindy and Biscuit editions all available digitally, Cindy and Biscuit: Year One is a perfect print edition entry point into their world and is entirely accessible for new readers. This time White has adopted a Sunday Comics broadsheet format to take us back to an earlier point in Cindy’s life when she was not much older than a toddler and her relationship with Biscuit was just beginning. As such, these six stories are mostly far more light-hearted in approach, stripped of much of the ever lurking melancholy to be found in her (chronologically) later misadventures and paced more to build up to punchline endings (small excerpts of strips only here!). For those more versed the Cindy and Biscuit universe, though, the foundations for what is to come are very much in evidence in a one-shot that both parodies and celebrates the whole “Year One” comics publishing stunt.

One day the whole world will want to hold this comic.  You can do so tomorrow – what a treat!

FRASER GEESIN AKA GARY LACTUS 

In his top secret alter-ego of Big Massive Genius Fraser Geesin, Gary Lactus has created Purple Hate Balloon in collaboration with Laurie Rowan.

Since I am still obliged to crawl to Andy Oliver as the whole town of Bedford Falls was obliged to crawl to Potter, I will once again quote from his Broken Frontier review:

Purple Hate Balloon is the story of Roger and his pet Susan, the first of a breed of new genetically engineered floating animals known as Labralloons who feed on anger. Given this, Roger has had a valve fitted to his head to let off the excess pressure of being in a state of perpetual rage to satiate Susan’s hunger. Susan’s soothing flatulence on digesting anger though is manifested in the comforting aromas of fabric conditioners, freshly baked bread, and satsumas at Christmas, providing a sense of catharsis for those around her…

You can certainly look for social commentary in Geesin and Rowan’s story, or even project some on it if you want. I’m sure there are parallels and analogies to be drawn. Or you could just absorb it at face value as a self-contained tale with a darkly comedic appeal that is both sublime and delicious in its delivery. This is also some of Geesin’s very best cartooning to date with often cramped panels and slightly distorted characters adding to that skewed sense of a world like ours that has gone off-kilter.

Fraser’s art has been getting better and better over the past few years, and this looks to continue that trend in a suitably ludicrous style.

Best to find out about the fuss and ruckus before it finds out about you!

ANDREW HICKEY AKA ANDRE WHICKEY 

Fresh from his appearance on BBC’s Top Gear, Andrew will be in town to podcast live into the faces of friends and enemies alike.

Know him.  Love him.  Fear him.  Support him on Patreon.

DAVID ALLISON AKA ILLOGICAL VOLUME

In an effort to avoid becoming so bland that he stopped registering on the average taste bud during lockdown, Illogical Volume (stop writing about yourself in the third person! – ed)  has kept himself busy making comics and zines.  The following three projects will be making their Thought Bubble debut this weekend…

Not Because of the People 

Four stories about abandoned places and the people who live there.  Walk around a series of landscapes that may or may not seem familiar, maybe even real.  You are not alone.

Previews available here, here, here and here.

Future Crimes #1

If the plague era has taught us anything, it’s that the power of raw delusion should not be underestimated. Future Crimes #1 proves that anything can be a holiday from yourself. Building a new bookshelf can be an erotic adventure.  Being grilled by your boss can be a gateway to conspiracy.  Actually going on holiday can be a dull day staring at yourself in the bathroom mirror.  Believe.

Bad Poetry

Like good poetry, bad poetry knows no boundaries. Unlike good poetry, bad poetry doesn’t really have any sense of what it’s doing.

One for the true aesthetes in the audience, we’re sure.

DAN COX AND JOHN RIORDAN AKA THE HITSVILLE BOYS

Fresh from their adventures through heaven and hell, Dan and John are back in the building to flog Hitsville UK, the cult musical-pop-art-soap-opera comic book collected in 240 pages of psychedelic colour.

Follow a carnival of angel-voiced grotesques, monster-hunters, imaginary robots, hip-hop agitators, faded 80s starlets, 60s throwbacks, drug-addled producers and demonic accountants as they try to hit the big time.

“Like comics and music? Then get Hitsville UK” – Stuart Maconie, BBC 6 Music

John will also have copies of his gorgeous illustrated guide to Music’s Cult Artists on sale if you really feel like treating yourself this weekend.

 

Thanks for stopping by our table and beholding the wonder that is our faces.  If you’d like to look deeper into those faces in a stress-free environment, you can find out more about our exhibitors and their wares by clicking on the links below (Exhibitors 1-7 are shown from left to right above).

  • Exhibitor 1 – David Allison, who documents life before, during and after demolition in his LGH comics and contributes to Cut-Out Witch and KOMISK when he’s feeling less demolished himself
  • Exhibitor 2 – Fraser Geesin, big funny genius behind The Journey to the Surface of the Earth, wonderful autobiographical comic The Cleaner and gag strip The Amusing Brothers
  • Exhibitor 3 – Dan White, writer and artist of beloved kids comic Cindy and Biscuit and lush horror anthology Sticky Ribs
  • Exhibitor 4 – Paul Jon Milne, man of muscle mystery and creator of gnarly wonders like super-horror comic Grave Horticulture and scrambled sci-fi masterpiece Hard Ships
  • Exhibitor 5 – Gareth A. Hopkins, the man with the abstract face, whose comics will bewilder your eye even as they burrow their way into your soul
  • Exhibitor 6 – Hitsville UK, a tale of imaginary pop music and real dreams by John Riordan and Dan Cox
  • Exhibitor 7 – Andrew Hickey, author of books on Grant Morrison, The Beatles, Doctor Who and The Strange World of Gurney Slade and creator of A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs

EXHIBITOR 1 – DAVID ALLISON

November 9th, 2020

Creator of the ultra-lucrative PHOTOCOPIED PICTURES OF BUILDINGS extended universe, David Allison aka Illogical Volume is a man of few words these days.  He charges £50 for a disinterested sigh and refuses to write even a paragraph unless you agree to follow him around the house praising him for how well he’s doing at life. 

He particularly likes it when you compliment him on his skill with the toaster, as we found out while procuring the following comments…

I’m David Allison and I’m a multidisciplinary fuck-up from Glasgow.   When I’m not writing about comics for this website or talking about them in random public spaces, I can usually be found working in and studying the housing sector.  Sometimes I find the time to make comics too!

For the last few years I’ve been working on my LGH comics, which are my attempt to document abandoned places and the people that live there.  You can still access those spaces, no matter what they say.  You just need to know the right entry points…

If you want to check out the LGH comics, portal #3 (Unfit) and portal #5 (Under the Water) should give you a sense of their style and what they’re about.

You can buy the complete set here for £3, and hey – who am I to stop you?  Those who’ve had physical copies of the first three issues pressed into their hands may note that this collection includes a new issue, Raptor, that brings this sequence to a close.

Praise for Looking Glass Heights:

Classic British indie small press pamphlet, and a sharp burst of mood and ideas. It’s very much comics as poem – it’s the sort of work that Douglas Noble has been known to do” – Kieron Gillen

A spooky zine… Liked this a lot. The writing is really strong and the art suggests just enough to make you uneasy – Sarah Horrocks

***

For the goth-curious, there’s also Cut-Out Witch, my collaboration with Edinburgh based artist and ghost merchant Lynne Henderson.

Cut-Out Witch is twenty five pages worth of lost souls and lo-fi monster magic – Lynne provided the pictures, which as a manifestation of her own inner world are the real reason you’ll want to read this.

The original print run has sold out, but Cut-Out Witch is now available in PDF format for the princely sum of £1!

Praise for Cut-Out Witch:

“Cut-Out Witch is really good… Lovely creepy stuff” – Twitter’s own James Baker

“You do seem to be able to dash such things off quite easily, I kind of wish I could do that…” – A Trout in the Milk

***

Finally, I contributed two strips to the sensational IKEA-themed anthology KOMISK.  Featuring work by Fraser GeesinGareth A. HopkinsTom MortimerPaul Jon Milne and David Allison (that’s me – hi mum!), KOMISK exists at the point where mild domestic ambition blurs into existential terror and where novel shelving solutions seem to mock you in your dreams.

Like all good existential terror, KOMISK is available to buy in both digital and physical formats.

One of my KOMISK strips was a solo mission, the other was a collaboration with the phenomenal Kathryn Briggs, without whom Thought Bubble just isn’t the same.

Praise for my contributions to KOMISK:

“David Allison and Kathryn Briggs, meanwhile, conflate IKEA and a near vision of Hell in ‘Jörmungandr’, neatly merging Norse mythology and furniture retail in a twisting spatio-temporal paradox…  Allison’s own ‘Spegelvärden’ is a deliciously straight-faced parody.”Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

EXHIBITOR 2 – FRASER GEESIN

November 9th, 2020

The big headline here is that JOURNEY TO THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH #2 is now done and you can buy it.  It’s £4.50 for the physical version and £2.00 for digital.  Let’s have a look at it shall we?


Sure looks good doesn’t it?  Yes.  Yes it does.  You are impressed.  Let’s not forget that issue one of Journey To The Surface Of The Earth is still available too.

 

Twenty pages pf A4 full colour and B&W goodness,  the first issue of Journey To The Surface Of The Earth was described as “a fittingly witty celebration of the mundane” by Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver, who asked us all to celebrate “the unique mindscape of this seriously underappreciated mainstay of the UK self-publishing scene”. 

DARE YOU DENY HIM?

We’re not sure if Fraser knows how much his autobiographical comic The Cleaner has impacted how we think about life, art and what we’re actually doing when me make our lives into art, but we’re sure like you to find out for yourselves!

Click on the images below if you want a closer look at some of Fraser’s work, some of which is serious and all of which is intensely funny:

Fraser’s comics can be bought in digital and physical form via his website, and you can chat away to him on twitter here

EXHIBITOR 3 – DAN WHITE

November 9th, 2020

If you were brave enough to come to the haunted spa town commonly known as Harrogate for last year’s Thought Bubble, you might have heard tell that Dan White was out there flogging  the second instalment of his new horror anthology, Sticky Ribs.  You might have struggled to substantiate this rumour – who could be sure of anything in that eerie mist? – but if you’re anything like us, it’s the sort of idea that would have stayed with you.  What is Sticky Ribs?  Is it safe to read?  Can it travel across the threshold of your grandmother’s house without being consumed by fire? Ever fond of a tall tale, Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver decided to elaborate on the rumour of this harrowed comic in his usual comprehensive manner: 

This is prime White material with the juxtaposition of innocent, childlike diary entries and horrifying reality perfectly counterpointing each other and, through their contrast, making events all the more chilling. It’s Maurice Sendak by way of Cormac McCarthy, with wide-eyed innocence going hand in hand visually with a surrounding inescapable devastation.

This year, in the absence of the face-to-face contact and unquantifiable murk of a physical comics convention, we finally feel that the truth can be told to the shuddering masses.  Sticky Ribs is real… and you can buy it at Dan’s website! Don’t believe us?  Here’s the cover to the second issue:

Dan’s legendary kids comic Cindy and Biscuit can also be purchased at his website, with volume one now being available in tasty digital edition! 

If you want to encounter the digital edition of Dan you can do so here, but think carefully about initiating this encounter if you value your immortal soul. 

EXHIBITOR 4 – PAUL JON MILNE

November 9th, 2020

Unlike some of the punks we’re hosting at this table, Paul Jon Milne is the real deal: an artist whose dedication to his work is so extreme that it has transformed his whole body into living, grunting work of art.  It’s muscle on muscle all the way down with Milne, who is now so ruggedly handsome that to look upon him would leave your eyes feeling bruised. 

Because we respect the sanctity of your own personal vision, we’re not going to include a picture of the main man himself in this post, but if you want to get as sense of the gnarled beauty we’re sparing you from, here’s a picture from 2019’s seminal sci-fi blasterpiece Hard Ships:

 

As someone who believes in the beauty of ACTION! in ACTION! rather than the turgid boredom of inaction in action, Paul has condensed his blurb to a series of useful links and illuminating quotes that you can read just below this eminently clickable gallery of his artwork!  

MILNE WEBSITES:

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PJMillustration

www.comixology.co.uk/Paul-Jon-Milne/comics-creator/190012

[email protected]

www.artstation.com/pauljonmilne

QUOTES ABOUT MILNE COMICS:

“(Grave Horticulture’s) a mesmerising vision of punk agrarianism that feels like the next logical step UK comics should take…
Wreckage, in the most empowering sense.”

-Sarah Horrocks (the Comic Journal)

“You know that one artist who drewcats until he went mad? Like that but with bulging muscles”

– Dan McDaid (Firefly, Doom Patrol)

“There are no comics that make me laugh more (onpurpose) than Paul Jon Milne comics, and that’s a fact!”

– Claire Napier (Women Write About Comics, Dash Dearborne)

“Milne’s work has what I can only describe as a niche irreverence”

– Andy Oliver (Broken Frontier)

We have lied to you, dear Thought Bubble patron. You clicked on this link expecting more pictures of a man with an abstract face.  A beautiful man, no doubt, but a man who has concepts for cheekbones and a half-remembered memory where the hair should be.  Instead, we present to you… this lovely, normal looking art bloke:

 

Enough of our waffle though.  Let’s hear from the man himself… 

I’m Gareth A Hopkins and I’m an artist and comic creator based in Essex. I’m most well known for my Abstract Comics work, most notably my autobiographical graphic novel ‘Petrichor’ and my ongoing project ‘The Intercorstal’.

As well as my published and self-published solo work, I’ve had comics featured in the award-winning anthology ‘Jazz Creepers’, ‘Sliced Quarterly’, ‘Komisk’ and the record breaking ‘Tales From The Quarantine’.

My current project ‘Explosive Sweet Freezer Razors’ is a collection of short stories, told as abstract comics, and cover themes such as ageing, family dynamics, the paranormal and the magical aspects of empty car parks.

I’m perpetually tired, listen to music that my wife and children hate, and don’t watch a lot of television.

(Click on the above images to see them in all of their glory!)

My website is at www.grthink.com, my Twitter and Instagram accounts are @grthink and my online store is grthink.bigcartel.com

EXHIBITOR 6 – HITSVILLE UK

November 9th, 2020

What is there to say about the Hitsville boys, Dan Cox and John Riordan?  They’ve been interviewed by Smash Hits and by this very website, and they’ve handled both situations with aplomb.  A stylish pair, they can usually be caught at Thought Bubble looking a little something like this…

Ah, real humans! We don’t know about you but we’ve grown to miss them in this plague year. Here’s how they’d like to represent themselves to the listening public…

Hitsville UK

The cult musical-pop-art-soap-opera comic book collected in 240 pages of psychedelic colour.

Follow a carnival of angel-voiced grotesques, monster-hunters, imaginary robots, hip-hop agitators, faded 80s starlets, 60s throwbacks, drug-addled producers and demonic accountants as they try to hit the big time.

“Like comics and music? Then get Hitsville UK” – Stuart Maconie, BBC 6 Music

“A colourful cast of wildly imaginative, mind-bendingly bizarre and always utterly compelling characters. One of my absolute highlights, an essential piece of UK small press comics” – Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

“A bloody great accumulation of inspired madness, musical insanity and general chaos… a pure, unadulterated hit of a comic” – Richard Bruton, Forbidden Planet International

“Cox is a gifted satirist… Riordan’s art is superb throughout. It’s full of energy, with vibrant colour and extremely creative use of panels to enhance the storytelling. Matched with the writing, the subject matter and the witty, incisive political content, Hitsville UK is exactly the kind of comic we need right now” – Pete Redrup, The Quietus

Hitsville UK

By John Riordan and Dan Cox

Paperback, 240 pages, full-colour

£20

USEFUL LINKS!

Hitsville UK is available to buy at John’s Shop, but of course pop crazed youngsters of all ages can tune into comic’s frequency at the official website.

Of course, if you feel like screaming at the Hitsville boys like the eager audience you are, modern space-invasion technologies are available that will allow you to…

…or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious…

GALLERY OF MODERN ARTS!