Thought Bubble - the return

Comic conventions are like buses, none for some time and then two come along at once. Our publisher on Seven Shades, Deadstar Publishing, was busy at Cardiff Film and Comic Con so Dave Clifford and I took to the road and headed North to Leeds for Thought Bubble. This was my fourth time at the show, but my first appearance since 2014 and it was Dave’s first chance to experience what has become the largest comic event in the UK. Despite the Friday traffic conspiring to make our drive six hours long, a mix of metal albums and jaffa cakes kept us in good spirits.

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As usual with Thought Bubble, the social side is just as important as the convention itself and it was great to spend a couple of evenings with some very good friends, fellow creators Chris Hurst, Chris Lewis, Glenn Moane (all CE alumni), Magnus Aspli and Dan Hill who I was meeting for the first time.

We were sharing a table with Huw “Lem” Davies and his Moon of Chance, who ably managed to put up with Dave and I for two whole days! Our table was in the Comixology Originals Marquee, which had a steady flow of people throughout both days. We launched Issue 3 and 4 of Seven Shades at the show, bringing the first arc of the story to a close. Over the course of the weekend, Dave and I chatted through plot points and made notes that have made us believe we will end up with Seven Shades in Seven Trades eventually! Books sold across both day, as did Dave’s original art.

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I wasn’t able to leave our table that often, but I did find time to head to another of the marquees to catch up briefly with Mike Collins and Marc Laming and to finally meet Paul Allor in the flesh, but there were lots of people I didn’t manage to find time to see in the end. We also recorded a quick interview with another old friend, Jimmy Aquino for his podcast Comic News Insider.

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Thought Bubble moved to a variety of city centre locations last year and when I heard that news I wasn’t sure at first about it leaving the Royal Armouries, but once we settled in I soon became accustomed to the new locations. Having the show right in the heart of the city made me realise quite how mainstream comic conventions have become, locals didn’t bat an eyelid at the cosplayers roaming the streets and there were a large number of families in attendance, especially on Sunday. My other major takeaway was that compared to conventions of yesteryear, that seemed to be predominantly men of a certain age, this was a truly diverse show on both sides of the table. That’s very good news for the future of the medium.

It was a tiring but inspiring weekend, which we didn’t want to come to an end. After another long drive home, this time helped by Queen’s back catalogue we were soon back down to earth.

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Spending the weekend on ICE

I headed to Birmingham last weekend for ICE, alongside my Seven Shades artist/co-creator David Clifford and our publisher Kev Davies, from Deadstar Publishing. Dave and I were at the Deadstar table, helping with sales and signing copies of the first two issues of our supernatural western series. Like many one day conventions, the event was family friendly, inclusive and well run, as you’d expect from an event run by Shane Chebsey.

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I also managed to meet up with Steve Aryan, my co-writer on a number of current projects, as we were both attending the Comics Uncovered keynote speech from Senior DC editor Jim Chadwick. It was an enlightening, realistic and inspirational talk and it was good to chat to Jim about our writing backgrounds during the Q&A session at the end of his session.

Although there wasn’t quite as much footfall as at some other recent similar sized conventions, the people who had attended were really engaged. We sold come copies of the book and had some interesting conversations about comics, art and creating. It was good to be back at a convention again, as ever half the fun is meeting up with other creators who you only get to see in this environment.

There’s no rest for the wicked, as Dave and I are representing Deadstar again this weekend, at Thought Bubble in Leeds. Our third convention of the year sees the launch of Issue 3 and 4 of Seven Shades, following a successful Issue 1 and 2 launch in Cardiff earlier in the year.

Seven Shades shaping up

It's March already and this is my first blog post of 2018, which shows just how busy I've been. As the first quarter of the year edges closer to its finish, I thought I'd share what I've been up to, starting with comic book series Seven Shades

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Seven Shades is a supernatural western series created by Dave Clifford (Dexter's Half Dozen), with a little help from yours truly. Dave came to me with enough ideas for a few hundred issues, and every time we meet he suggests more crazy characters and warped plot points.  So in many ways my role on this project is that of creative ranch-hand, herding his ideas like cattle.

This process usually takes place, rather fittingly, in a local hostelry.  Then, once we've broken the story together I get to writing, Marvel style, describing the page but not breaking down the panels. This means Dave can really go to town when he approaches each page, perfect for a fully painted book, before I do a dialogue and captions pass. 

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Working on Seven Shades has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone and it isn't the type of book I'd have ever come up with on my own. Issue 1 and 2 are both complete and Dave is about halfway through painting Issue 3. We plan to have released the first four issues and initial arc by the end of this year. Watch this space for more about that very soon. 

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