A look inside Ireland's diverse comic conventions featuring LGBTQ+ creators

David Ferguson describes some local, diverse comic conventions that showcase the work of the queer community.

A blue, purple, and pink drawing of a person on the cover of the Thought Bubble comic conventions map.
Image: Twitter @ThoughtBubbleUK

There was a time when I would go to a lot more comic conventions. Nowadays, I am a bit more selective about where I go. My main criteria, which should go without saying but maybe not, is that the convention should be about comics. I also like there to be some local creators on the guest list and for the guest list to show some diversity. There are a couple of events in Ireland that cover that.

Enniskillen Comic Fest, usually taking place in June, has a focus on British comics such as Battle and 2000AD, but organiser, Paul Trimble, always tries to get some local artists and writers on the guest list. Happily, some of them work on 2000AD (a side note: organisers can try to be more diverse, but plans have a habit of falling through, so I am happy when the intent is there).

The other event is Dublin Comic Arts Festival (DCAF) which is a quarterly small press event. It also has some talks on the creative process. Having been running for years now, it has built a reputation of inclusivity which means it gets a diverse bunch of creators applying for tables. It’s free in so you can spend all your money. The next one is on December 10 and 11 at Richmond Barracks so it might be good for some stocking stuffers.

However, the most diverse of the comic conventions that I have ever been to has to be the Thought Bubble in Harrogate. As with DCAF, it has built a reputation with creators, from small press up to big names in Thought Bubble’s case. That means you get an amazingly diverse list of names. This year’s event had around 130 tables across multiple rooms with so much stuff that the event provides attendees with a map of names listed.

An interesting note on that, the event also produces a ‘Rainbow Road Map’ which highlights all the LGBTQ+ creators that are at the event. From the map, “Rainbow Road welcomes LGBTQ+ creators who represent gender, sexuality and romantic minorities i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex, asexual and all the other stuff which comes under the queer rainbow.”

People who follow my GCN stuff will recognise names like Zoe Thorogood (The Impending Blindness Of Billie Scott), Joe Glass (The Pride) and Ed Bentley (Dark Boy + Adler). I finally got to meet people in person like Chris Fildes (Fanny Galactic) and, someone who I have been online friends with for over 10 years and finally got to work with recently, Anna Fitzpatrick (Alien Heat).

That reminds me of another great aspect of comic conventions, and one of the main reasons I went. There is plenty of time to chat and talk comics with all the people you may only interact with online. Creators get to share their work, get feedback, and perhaps get future work out of it. I also loved seeing the diversity of the attendees and the con seems to attract a younger crowd. I saw people dressed in clothes with rainbows, dyed hair, with some in cosplay.

It made me and my friends wonder what the ‘civilians’ at the convention hotel thought of all these strange comic people coming in for the Mid Con Party. A fun weekend. Just don’t ask me about the journey home.

Make sure to follow David on Twitter for more pop culture news.

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