Look at all this amazing queer stuff!

Queer comics (and the whole super-set of LGBTQ goodness) are a perennial topic for us, not least because I won't shut up about them, and we've done an annual round-up episode on the podcast for the last couple of years:

So I was on the lookout for queer content at Thought Bubble this year, and delightfully, just so many of the books at the show seemed to be somewhere in the LGBTQ ballpark.



Tab Kimpton (of Discord Comics) put together a "Thought Bubble Rainbow Road" this year, highlighting LGBTQ comics, creators and merch. Chatting to him (more of that on the podcast), he put the proportion somewhere a nose over eleven percent.

I didn't scratch the surface of that, but here's a quick round-up of what I found.

I've pulled out three things I thought were cool and that I'd not heard about before the festival. So this isn't so much a best-of as a big ol' serendipitous grab bag, but I reckon that highlights the ambient quality. 

Laid - Cicy Reay

laidanthemThis was literally the last thing I bought at the show. Three quid on impulse, and my way out the door. Damn, I lucked out. 

"We lived pretty close to each other" begins the body of the story, terrace and park spliced across tall panels "except his street was much nicer than mine". It could almost be a Beautiful Thing rerun, all hesitant teens and loaded friendship. Except we've just seen six pages of avuncular (and really professionally fastidious) sex work. Oh, and a nasty car accident. 

Connection but distance is the thing here. That's called out pretty strongly in the client relationships, and mirrored in the way the panel focus zooms in on details at points, pulling away to backgrounds at others. But it's the nameless protagonist's relationship with Sam - more than a client, perhaps, but held at a distance still - that makes up the body of the emotional heft.

I'm not his boyfriend. I'm there for - well, for business. But I cared about him.

They fuck, they talk, they laugh at the shipping forecast. They have a just-missed moment of emotional connection that deftly ducks the temptation for cheap happy endings. 

It's 24 pages of A5, and crazy-dense with little personal moments. All blue-on-white like a linocut printer lost a fight with an ancient gestetner machine. It's a style that works wonderfully with the tight panel grid layout, mostly 3x4 with occasional breakout pages. 

It's sex work in close-packed terraced houses, and so much less grim (or patronizing) than that could sound. 

If I had to nitpick, well, does anyone actually use KY Jelly any more?

Meh. ID Glide probably lacks the brand recognition, and in any case this gives us one of my favourite pages:

Laid - 3 panels

It's all about the angles and simple geometrics. Lube logo mirroring landscape and rumpled bedsheet. The textures all echo the body hair of the previous page. It's a blend of posed mundanity, and pushing the reader into the protagonist's gaze. A gaze that's here fixating on detail, ambiguously just before or just after the conclusion of a sex scene that's both plausibly tender and completely transactional. 

Like I say, it's dense. And it's delightful. 

It's from Black Lodge Press, and was new for November - so not yet available on their site when I wrote this. Hopefully it will be. If you enjoyed The Lengths (and you should) then you might trace some associations through to Laid - it's a neat little human thing that just happens to involve fucking for cash.

Get Your Man - Kami D (via Dragonhoard)

As a differnt end of at least some spectrum, Get Your Man is a goofy universe-hopping sex comedy that doesn't dodge the squishy bits. It embraces the squishy bits. Heck, it's a clear 40% squishy bits.

This made photographing some highlights tricky, even with my cavalier attitude to "NSFW" content. Even the cute little doggie get's a full-page butt shot:


What? Yes, of course I bought it when I saw the line "You're a corgi werewolf, Charles!" But(t?) also because the folks at Dragonhoard (the publisher/distributer) were utterly lovely. We talk to them on the upcoming podcast, so I won't dwell on that here, but just lovely.

 It's a story about versions of Charles and Francis, usually a couple, across various manga-inflected universes and genres. So it breezes through sci-fi, vampires, contemporary romance, and of course coffee-shop chibi antics. It is relentlessly tongue in cheek, in both ways you might care to read that.

getyourmanpolicetapeThe stories vary between vignettes and gag strips in places, and a couple of longer pieces in the middle. There's a robo-mountie finding love (and elaborate upgrades) after being decommissioned, and a sweet, colourful/cartoony piece about versions of the same characters first getting together in the near present day. There's awkwardness in a coffee shop - it's cute. Then there's fucking, because that's the deal here.

It's reasonably body diverse, mind, and feels often emotionally real as opposed to a purely sleazy gaze. There's a levity and joyousness that carries through the whole thing, even into the downstairs funtime interludes. It helps that the stories often end with a big dumb joke. 

I'm a sucker for a non sound effect

Look, what it comes down to is, would you like to read a comic featuring a robotic mountie who ejeculates maple syrup?

Ok, great. You can buy it here.

The Foldings - Faye Simms

In the pre T'Bubz roundup, I called The Foldings "charming as balls", and I stand by that. It's just come off the back of a successful kickstarter, and the print edition includes a bonus prose story foregrounding some of the other characters.

Just look at this adorable shtick:


 I'm loving that huge cascading vertical panel. It's got a couple of those, and it uses them well. As you'd hope for a comic set in a flying city full of magic, really.

One of the (few, come at me) things I like about the Harry Potter books is the gleeful little bits of imaginative engineering. The weird sweets and critters and plants, and little disorienting details. The Foldings opens on that, with a market stall selling fabric that eats dust, and warming top hats with built-in chimneys. I'm a sucker for that stuff, as is Jasper, the character who's introduced all kid-in-a-sweet-shop, handling it all.

foldingsfallJasper's immune to magic, which gives us the body of the plot driver, and no end of a headache top his partner Micah, who is - obviously - a Mighty Wizard. It's a short story, really, a little thing of twenty pages or so. Jasper falls off a building, Micah catches him. There's adorable smooching and a pun.

In the course of this, though, it does a lot. It's got that feel of the city being a character, introduced in a few great panels looking out over it. Buildings are stacked onto each other like you showed the Ewoks the Winchester Mystery House and then asked them to build an aerial Venice. 

Kids jump of buildings for kicks, knowing the air will catch them, magic has an amped-up Kirby Krackle, and the light plays over all of it. It's got this slightly cel shaded feel in places, with thick line work, and great use of colour for the light.

Oh, and it is Just. So. Sweet.

There's a bit more online, and the print edition is chock full of concept art. I'm really hoping we get further volumes of The Foldings in future. 

...and more

Damn, I've missed so much here, including the fantastic looking Queer: A Graphic History from Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele.

TB haulI also picked up:

We'll probably cover these and a few more on the podcast.

So yeah, look at all this great queer stuff! 



Thought Bubble 2016 - our hot picks and odd excitements

Here at Consequential dot net, Thought Bubble is our absolute favourite festival occurring between Halloween and the Beaujolais Nouveau.

Seriously though, it's  probably the best comics event in the UK, and it's a great time to:

  1. discover some amazing new comics.
  2. dance like several hundred people are watching, but are all just too lovely and welcoming to even form an opinion about that thing you're doing with your hands.

We love the ol' T'Bubz, and here's a selection of things we're looking out for, including some old favourites and interesting debuts.

The Nameless City - Faith Erin Hicks & Jordie Bellaire

  • Our annual shout-out to Improper BooksMulp 03, cover
    We love these folks. You know we love these folks. This year, they're back with more Mulp (Think: Indiana Jones in a mouse-based future after the demise of man), and a preview of the new volume of Porcelain, their gothic fairytale about haunted china automata, and the hideous consequences of misusing haunted china automata. Find them, buy their books. 
  • Transrealities - Abigail Brady & Steven Horry 
    transrealitiesAbigail and Steve were showing around some previews of Transrealities at last year's show, and this year they're launching. They describe it as "Gender, time-travel, punching nightmares in the face", and we like the sound of that.
    Last we saw, it's universe-hopping superhero action with a lot of emotional heft, and the art is lovely. 
  • Laudanum - Horrere Comics
    Macabre Victoriana? Where do we sign? A short family tale about demonic possession, in fidgety-creepy black and white inks, from the Horrere anthology stable. It's a festival one-shot, and a steal at two quid.
  • Limbo & Dark Souls - Caspar Wijngaard & Dan Watters
    limbo1Another little fan-wobble from us. We talked about Limbo pretty much all year. It's the eighties-pop-noir-neon-voodoo-swamp comic the world deserves. Myth and memory, light and colour, lizard on a stick.
    They're also working on Dark Souls for Titan, and are just lovely chaps.
  • Baggywrinkles - Lucy Bellwood
    Great at boats. Baggywrinkles does maritime history with just the most affectionate and approachable style. History of scurvy, knots and sailors' tattoos, Admiral Capybara Nelson, nautical terms that sound dirty but probably aren't - all informed by sailing modern tall ships, and lashings of enthusiasm. 
  • Where is Momentum - Richard Amos
    Last year we enjoyed Richard's short piece How We Grow Old, a set of vignettes on ageing.
    This year he has a brief graphic novel about anxiety. It's an interesting combination of quite sparse and oddly warm in style, and as people who are - by and large - anxious all the time we'll probably be grabbing a copy.
  • Cowboys and Insects - David Hine & Shaky Kane
    cowboysandinsectsSo what if, right, all-American 1950s suburbia were full of giant atomic monster bugs, and you set a Daniel Clowes story in it. Kind of.
    Really, you want more than the creeping horror of the uncanny in the 'burbs, with giant insects? What's wrong with you?
    Also, check out the funky-lurid style.
  • The Return of the Honey Buzzard - Aimée de Jongh 
    honeybuzzardA dejected bookshop owner, guilt and memory, taut sketchwork. Recently launched, this is de Jongh's debut graphic novel, with what looks like a superficial air of breezy cartoonishness that breaks into something more acute as it navigates past trauma. Super promising. 
  • The Changes - Tom Eglington
    Eglington's an illustrator with a solid 2000AD pedigree, and a flourish for the sickly/intricate biological. The Changes is a new piece about technology gone awry that looks like it'll give him plenty of space to exercise that. Preview images look like a fun blend of black and white linework with slimy organic curves, with splashes of invasive colour.
  • The Nameless City - Faith Erin Hicks & Jordie Bellaire
    namelesscitystreetDamn this looks good. Floating World with a splash of watercolour Tintin, and a premise from China Mieville. Only less wretched than the "It's X meets Y" pattern makes everything sound.
    Two kids negotiate a serially-invaded city, sprawling, mashing up cultures, given a new name by each occupying force. Did I mention it's beautiful, too?
  • For the Love of God, Marie! - Jade Sarson
    sarson-ftlogm_9Nascent sexuality from the 60s to the 90s, with an innocence and lightness of touch that have this already on many people's lists for pick of 2016. A slight manga influence, with a great colour palette.
  • The Foldings - Faye Simms
    Historically, we've... not been kind to steampunk, let's say. But this looks derpy-delightful. A sort of morning cartoon vibe in a city of implausible aeronautics. And the one guy whose immunity to magic makes him unable to fly. Charming as balls.
  • The Potato Hater - Pete Hindle
    Apparently it's a humorous history of potatoes. No, we have no idea either, but let's be honest - that sounds pretty great. And his zine about expensive jumpers was cool.  

There's a also going to be a ton of great guests (we'll try and stop Dave licking Mike Mignola), and this would run crazy-long if we picked out everyone we liked who's exhibiting.

But you can find a pretty thorough list of book debuts on the Thought Bubble site.

We'll be podcasting from the con, and if you see us tottering about and looking confused, do say hi!

Thought Bubble 2015 - what we're excited about

Thought Bubble! It's Brit-nerd new year! Or something! 9781473326965_MULP_02_CoverLook, it's a big old mess of just all the comics and the comics people, and the fun and the dancing, and probably too much beer, and the podcasting, and the new things, and the cosplay and the shiny, and yeah. It's pretty great.

It's also a cracking time to stumble on new stuff. But we try to go prepared. We're like the boy scouts of spending far too much money on comics, with a throbbing hangover.

Last year, we had a few bits of advice on how to get the best out of comics shows, and this year we've picked out some things we might just consider buying.

So here's a few titles and publishers you should check out at T'Bubz


Improper books are back

9781473320277_BoneChina_CoverOf course they are. We love those folks. Porcelain is the proverbial's peripherals - a crisp, slightly gothic tale of an orphan girl taken in by the Porcelain Maker, a crafter of pristine, eerie automata. Naturally, there are twists and intrigues, as the nature of the porcelain becomes more clear.

They also now publish Mulp, a noir-inflected archaeological rodent mystery.

Together, Mulp and Porcelain were some of our favourite books at the festival last year, and this year Improper are back with the second volume of each. No more intro - just go and buy them, ok?

Shiny new things

We also had a quick flip through the frankly mammoth list of books making their debut at TBF15, and picked ten or so titles that look just totes wizard.

  • FossilsOfBeautifulSoulsKingpin Books Portuguese publisher Kingpin was one of our interviews last year, and we loved their anthology Crumbs - their first book in English. This year they've got 4 new English translations, and they look super promising. These include: The Fossils of Beautiful Souls: a twisted 15th century historical; The Waltz: a coastal village folk horror; and Solomon, a splash of urban mysticism with a wonderful sense of light and dark.
  • I Love This Part The childhood friendship of two young girls, told across imagined landscapes and snaps of pop culture. It has this amazing economy of line, and restrained expressions of painted colour. Wow.
  • Diner Devotional A twelve page fold-out of linocut sketches of American diners. No, really. What? We like design, and chiaroscuro fifties consumer kitsch is fucking catnip.
  • Drugs and Wires Cyberpunk, but not shit. Drugs and Wires is all misery and things and people that don't quite work. Now you can pick it up on a special legacy-tech portable data store: gunked-up tree bits.
  • frogmanFrogman Trilogy He's a frog. He's a superhero. He's an absolute idiot. It's three stories about a foul-mouthed frog, making just the worst job of being a hero.
  • Golden Cannibal Girl Douglas noble does these itchy, allusive webcomics, intense vignettes, and Strip For Me, a series of shorts. This is the latest.
  • How We Grow Old It's hard to tell if Richard Amos' set of short stories on ageing will be sweet or crushingly sad, but the style is quiet and gorgeous. We'll be surprised if he has to carry many of these home.
  • Bao and Pom There's a girl and a maybe-anthropomorphic red panda? It's possibly cute? Look, we're new to charming, but this might be it.
  • KlaxonKlaxon A trio of deadbeats face off against their evil landlord, and it looks great. Not strictly new, but recent and interesting. Nice use of colour, too.
  • Shadow Constabulary A nutter with a cricket bat tries to fix Britain by beating the crap out of suburbia. This could be horribly on the nose, or feel like Chubz via Marshal Law, or be just the best loud daft thing. Maybe all three.
  • The Adventures of Dragon Mouse Something sweet to finish - a mouse who dreams of being a dragon, and tries to solve this problem using ingenuity and household craft materials. It looks just a bit lovely.

Now, the Thought Bubble website isn't exactly the most usable information experience you can have on that thar interwub, so we've like as not missed some fine publications.

But what? What have we missed? WHAT EXCITES YOU?

Thought Bubble 2014 - Roger's comics haul

This weekend, as has probably be annoyingly obvious from our Twitter account, we went to Thought Bubble. It was aces. If you spent the weekend hiding under a rock, or just muted the hashtag because you didn't want to hear about my hangover, Thought Bubble is a fantastic comics con in Leeds. It's been growing like crazy, and is now a brain-buggeringly vast opportunity to discover new comics, talk to comics creators, and make a right old tit of yourself on a dancefloor.

Roger's Thought Bubble swag

Here's a quick run-down on what we bought, what we liked, what we missed, and possibly some other things as well.

I bought a lot less this time than last year, and looking at my bank balance I wasn't sure how; until I clocked that I'd likely drunk the difference. Taking that indictment as a segue: the on-site bar this year was a splendid addition. Having some sit-down breakout space with beer and great coffee made it much easier to crash for a bit. And let's face it, that's pretty essential at a hectic con, even without the Thought Bubble Sunday Hangover.

Ilkley Brewery supplied the beer at the con and party bars, and this was a damn fine call. If you see their stuff, check out the Mary Jane (big hoppy zing), and the Westwood Stout (white chocolate funtime).

There were also some comics. Probably.


Specifically, there were far too many cool looking things for me to get around, but here's what I picked up:

  • Atomic Sheep - Sally Jane Thompson Canadian high school coming of age tales - art clubs, homesickness, discomfort, and great line work.
  • Horizon: The Falling - Andrew Wildman Robots! Anxiety! Escape fantasies! Great pencils! A young girl falls into what might be a dream world, maybe, if her dreams were funky robotic.
  • Orbital, vols 1-3 - Sylvain Runberg & Serge Pellé More great Sci fi from Cinebook. Diplomacy, drama, and a hugely realised universe.
  • Mulp - Matt Gibbs & Sara Dunkerton Indiana Jones with mice, and a gorgeous colour palette. But after all the humans are dead. Yeah - just buy it.
  • Aama, vol 2 - Frederik Peeters Volume two. I loved volume one, and this is the next one.
  • Porcelain: Bone China (sampler) - Benjamin Read (writer) & Chris Wildgoose (artist) The teaser for the follow up to Porcelain, a kind of twisted fairytale fantasy of bone china automata and bleak secrets. Look out for our interview with the creators on the next podcast.
  • The Wicked and the Divine, vol 1 - Kieron Gillen (writer) & Jamie McKelvie (artist) Every ninety years, Tumblr is incarnated as... #WicDiv #Inevitable

Then there's a bunch of stuff I didn't quite get around to buying, but wish I had. So this is basically the big old list of apologies for not doing a capitalism at funky creators:

Thought Bubble "Best thing I've read all year" panel


Part of the reason I didn't pick so much stuff up this year was not - in fact - the bar. I didn't make it there until the Sunday. No, Saturday was in the main swallowed by a really good panels line-up. The regular "Best thing I've read all year" session was what it always is - a neat piece of quick-fire curation to kick off the show.

The two Images panels (writers and artists) had interesting stuff on process. In particular, a blend of artists who've worked primarily with one, or with multiple authors. This let them talk about collaboration styles, and different approaches to interpreting scripts. It was a lot less of an Image leg-frotting love-in than last year, and so bubbled along with more sincerity and fluency.

Thought Bubble diversity panelThe session on diversity at the end of the day will have made for a pretty decent introduction to the topic. Amusingly (if sadly) they kicked off by apologising for a relative lack of diversity - they were a couple of folks down  due to travel and/or personal issues. It's hard to criticise that, and actually I've not that often seen a diversity discussion that is at once so superficially culturally homogenous and so aware of the privileges and issues that brings.

I say "introduction" because it did feel like we started quite basic, and the discussion took a while to warm up. For a minute there I was worried we were in for an hour of bourgeois hand-wringing. But it perked up hard towards the end. In particular, there was some strong stuff on physical access, and what events like this and other comics cons can do to be more inclusive. Discussion touched on representation and conservatism vs risk taking in the retail chain, too, and that could easily have occupied a full session.

I wanted to cheer a bit when Howard Hardiman emphasised the point that it falls on all of us to educate ourselves about diversity, and not just shrug, muttering that we've done our bit, and offload the work onto marginalized groups themselves.


The mid-con party is one of the TB highlights. I've heard it referred to quite often as Nerd Prom. Fair. But Clarrie nails it:

It's a big, fun, inclusive thing, and this year it was a big, fun inclusive thing with actual drinkable beer. (And no cloakroom, and toilets that would make the architects of the Guantanamo interrogation regime raise an eyebrow, muttering "Hang on a minute, mate". But that one's on Leeds town hall)

It turns out that if you have Paprika playing as the visual background to a dance set, no music on earth is so compelling that everyone won't just stop and gape in horror at the rapey butterfly scene.

Good times. Weird Times.

At this point, the Safe Space Disco is basically my favourite club night. Good work, Thought Bubble. Good fucking work.

If you want to hear a bit more, check out our hasty mid-con podcast.

There's a neat short write up here, from Liz, who we were mooching around with.

We also did a few interviews with creators and publishers, so look out for that on the site soon.

Dave, there, having a lovely time.

Three reasons we're going to Thought Bubble

Thought Bubble ticketMy tickets for Thought Bubble arrived today. It's five months away, but I'm already childishly excited. Heck, I booked tickets as soon as I saw they'd been released. Why?

The short answer: because it kicks enough arse to win a mid-to-heavyweight, quantitatively-measured arse kicking contest. Really: a lot of arse is getting kicked here. Non-trivial amounts.


To be just a little less fatuous, it kicks arse in three very particular ways:

The atmosphere

Thought Bubble is exactly how we like a comics con to feel, and we pretty much said that on the TCAF podcast. It's open and friendly, and feels like an inclusive space. Ok, so I'm a 31 year old middle class white male, so most places are going to. But I'm also a socially awkward neurotic nerd poof, and it's still pretty comfortable.

There's a mix of people. Next to the (frequently great) cosplayers, you've got folks who're just starting to get into comics. It doesn't feel like the sticky-carpeted inner sanctum of the bad comic store archetype. You don't need to authorise yourself; it's just kind of welcoming and friendly. This also means it's incredibly low stress. You mill around, you buy some stuff - there's an insane amount of exhibition space - you meet creators and fans, you go to some of the panels.

The panels

ConSequential started at Thought Bubble 2012. It actually started as the content marketing for a comics event that Thought Bubble got us inspired to run. We've parked that for a bit, and in part because Thought Bubble is kind of scratching the itch.

The quality of discussion (and of the brilliant nonsense that derails it) is pretty damn high. In particular, the (we hope regular) "Best Thing I've Read All Year" panels, the Young Avengers retrospective last year, some of the critical discussions, and the general quality of the line-up are a massive draw. It's fun, it's lively, and it's incisive.

The Safe Space Disco

Ok, so, it's actually called the Mid-Con Party, and it might be the main reason I love Thought Bubble.

Without the party night, Thought Bubble would still be a really good example of a standard comics show. But there's just something about dancing like an idiot, in a converted shopping centre, while your favourite comics creators DJ, playing some of your favourite records, that feels surreal in all the good ways. That atmosphere becomes quite something when you fill Thought Bubble with booze and blast it with Blondie. It still feels welcoming and fun. In fact, it's probably my favourite club night.

We're going to Thought Bubble, and we think you should too. Last year, we did a quick podcast while we were there, and got a bit breathless about the cool shit we'd found. It's a bloody delightful way to discover comics.

Leeds is pretty cool, too. Go to Friends of Ham

Bonus fourth reason: Thought Bubble often coincides with the Beaujolais Nouveau. We're fairly sure this is a coincidence, but we're not letting comics with a natural wine pairing go to waste. Drink up.

Shameless plug: we might be blundering about with a microphone, trying to do short interviews for the podcast. Do say hi.