A look inside Thought Bubble, a comic convention showcasing LGBTQ+ creators

The convention offered a “Rainbow Road” map that highlighted all of the LGBTQ+ creators amongst the 450+ comic-creating exhibitors.

Three side-by-side comic images from the thought bubble convention

November is that time of year when a bunch of comic creators head to Harrogate, whether they are tabling or not, to go to the Thought Bubble Comic Convention.

I covered the event last year, but there’s always new stuff to see there, including, from what I saw this time around, a large amount of new LGBTQ+ content (or at least new to me). From stickers and pins to zines and comics, there was a lot of stuff to buy, and attendees were aided by a “Rainbow Road” map that highlighted the LGBTQ+ creators to be found amongst the 450+ comic-creating exhibitors.

I’m only going to cover a small portion of people and books, so apologies to anybody I may have missed.

One of my main goals this year was to meet comic creator Luke Healy, whom I have covered for GCN a few times. We had a lovely chat where he thanked me for supporting his work and happily signed all my books, each with a unique doodle related to them. I also picked up a physical copy of the first part of Dogs On Dates. I’m happy to hear that the plan is to collect the finished stories that continue to be posted on Instagram (and earlier on his Patreon).

I also had a lovely chat with Welsh creator Joe Glass, who I have mentioned before. I already had all of his books, including the excellent Young Men In Love, but I did pick up one of his pins. He had a few on sale, but I went for the Pride one. Sidenote: there were a LOT of LGBTQ+ pins to be had, and I had to limit myself on those and on books (more on that later).

On books, I finally picked up Sins Of The Black Flamingo. There has been a lot of buzz about this book online, but I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. Written by queer creator Andrew Wheeler and with art by Tavis Moore, it is a gorgeous and funny and sexy book that wears its queerness on its sleeves. It tells the story of Sebastian Harlow, a flamboyant thief who gets his kicks from stealing occult artefacts from the rich.

I’ve only read a couple of issues of the trade, which was released in February, but it has gotten my attention. One series that wasn’t even on my radar before was Ed Firth’s Horny & High. When I was purchasing the first two volumes, he asked how I had heard about the book and it was literally the covers catching my eye as I walked past his table. The series is about chemsex and cruising.

Firth’s art shows the appeal of both to gay men (he draws some sexy stuff), but he also captures some real human stories that are gritty and grounded. I’ve only gotten through volume one, but I look forward to reading the next one.

As any Irish visitor to Thought Bubble will tell you, you must balance your enthusiasm for picking up new stuff with what you can carry in your bags. I already had a bunch of books with me, the ones for Luke Healy to sign, so I had to let sense prevail. Also, my suitcase would not close if I had gotten much more.

I’d like to briefly mention a couple of books I hope to get in the future. Both were on sale at the local Leeds comic shop Traveling Man’s stall. They had a bunch of LGBTQ+ stuff, but two books stood out for me. The first one, Queer In Asia, created by Seven, caught my eye because of the art and the subject matter. I can’t find anything on the creator (someone help me out if you have any info), but I’m definitely going to pick it up.

The second is Junior High, because it was written by musical duo Tegan & Sara (art by Tillie Walden), who made my 2010 music list and have a permanent place on my music rotation. It’s autobiographical and, as the name suggests, is about their school years. Not promising but I may cover these books in the future.

Anyway, another year, another great Thought Bubble event. I hope this review inspires you to follow some creators and pick up some of their books.

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