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The Wednesday Waffle: Issue Twenty Two - What a con!


Aaaaaaaand relax.

It's been a week since Thought Bubble - unquestionably the best UK Comic Con - announced that they were coming to Harrogate.

We haven't actually calmed down yet - and if this week's Waffle is a little late it's because we've been busy hatching some plots and forming some plans for things we're going to do when the con finally starts. Forward planning doesn't come naturally to us, but we're going to make sure we've got all our ducks in a row for this one, and that everything runs incredibly smoothly.

Of course, if you've never been to Thought Bubble you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. I mean, there have been comic conventions in Harrogate before, right?

Well, yes, but not like this.

Thought Bubble isn't a local event, it's a world event. We'll have international guests - people who write and draw for Marvel, DC, Image and other major international publishers, alongside major British creators and people who are making comics at their dining tables. The whole of comics, every aspect of this many faceted opal of a medium will be there.

The Thought Bubble experience is so relentlessly poitive and optimistic. If you spend any time on social media it's easy to imagine that fandom is all about what people hate (check out any Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who Facebook page if you need examples.)

Thought Bubble shows us the other side of fandom. Three thousand or so people united by a love of stories told in words and pictures. Whether they're there because they love writing comics, drawing comics, reading comics or some combination of all three, it's all smiles, all the time.

As a show it's also meticulously organised, with friendliness built in. From the red shirted volounteer helpers, who will point you in the direction of the thing you're looking for, find you a chair if you're having a bit of a turn, marshall the queue you're standing in or pass on thier vital local knowledge, to the yellow jacketed security staff who will check your bags with a smiling courteous efficiency - everybody is always happy to be there.*

And of course, there are the cosplayers. Oh my goodness, the cosplayers. You just have to look at them and marvel at the sheer inventiveness, wit and skill that goes into their costumes.

Some are absolutely page accurate representations of particular characters superheroes, aliens, villains, brought to life by people with a real talent with a needle - because most of the costumes you'll see are largely hand made. Over the last few years I've seen countless Judges, Stormtroopers, Batmen, Flashes, Supermen, Captain Marvels, Spidermen and so on.

Then there are the costumes with a twist - like last year's gender swapped Scooby-Gang, steampunk Batman or (not from Thought Bubble, but it's still my favourite ever cosplay) the brilliant Edgar Allen-Poe Dameron, there's a level of wit and wordplay augmenting the aforementioned sewing skills.** Honestly, it's on another level entirely.

But if your stitching skills aren't the best? Never fear - cosplay is for everybody. One of the best cosplays I ever saw was at Thought Bubble in 2016 - Batman and a gender swapped Harley Quinn. Two tall, lanky lads, one wearing very short sparkly shorts, a cropped "Daddy's Little monster" t shirt and, lacking the hair to make pigtails, red and blue eye makeup. He looked pretty cool, but it was his mate cosplaying Batman who was the real triumph.

I don't know whether he was deliberately going lo-fi, or whether he'd only decided to go for the costume thing ten minutes before leaving the house, but it was a minimalist masterpiece. Black Jeans, t shirt and trainers (pretty much my every day wear, to be honest) formed the basis of the costume. To make himself Batman he'd added the cheapest possible Batman mask imaginable - seriously, if he paid more than 99p for it he was robbed - an oval of yellow card with a bat symbol drawn on it on sharpie that he'd literally taped to his chest, and a black suit bag with the bottom cut off dreaped over his shoulders as a cape.


And that really is the thing about Thought Bubble - there's a place for everyone. All you need to do to fit in is love comics. The idea that all of that brilliance is coming right to where we live? I can't remember when I was last this excited...

So, what are we planning at Destination Venus?

Obviously it's a long way away, but we have started working on some things - and we're thinking big. Obviously we've applied for a table at the event (getting one isn't a foregone conclusion - the event is meticulously curated - but they've let us in for the last four years, so I reckon we're OK) but we've got plans for things at the shop too.

Genuinely can't say anything about our big event as things are obviously still in the early stages and we don't want to jump the gun. But I can say that the shop will be open late on the Friday and Saturday nights, and will also be open all day Sunday. During that time our intention is to have some creators in to do signings, and hopefully some cool comics workshops, but again, things are a little bit embryonic at the moment because people don't quite know where they'll be in nine months time.

Also, this is your chance to get involved. Have you got an idea for something we can do? If there are any budding writers and artists out there (and I know there are) I'd like to get a Destination Venus comic ready for the Con weekend - a comic made by people from Harrogate, with the proceeds going to worthy local causes (our house charity is the Yorkshire Air Ambulance on the grounds that they are literally heroes who swoop down out of the sky to rescue people, but we're open to other suggestions...)

This could be an amazing thing for our mad little town, if we can get enough people behind it.

Obviously you'll be hearing more of this over the next few months. Thought Bubble is an amazing opportunity for culture in this town - let's make the most of it.

*Although it's fair to say that the Security staff, who are rarely geeks, are often a bit bemused...

**And not just sewing skills. There are people making armour out of yoga mats, and even hammering metal into shape. Honestly, the levels of skill and dedication on display are epic.

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