Friday 3 November 2017

Comic Festival Round-Up: Thought Bubble & LICAF '17

Comic festival season 2017 is finally winding up for me now, and I have to say it's been my busiest year ever! It's been brilliant to spend time getting to know so many new comic-industry faces, and an honour to have been invited as a guest to so many of the festivals this year. Everyone's been so incredibly welcoming!

In September I popped over to Leeds for Thought Bubble Comic Festival. Thought Bubble is always a special one, it was my very first comics convention a few years back, I created the festival artwork last year, and it's always brimming with such friendly creators and enthusiastic attendees! 

This year the convention moved from The Royal Armouries into the city centre, with the convention spread over four venues centred around the town hall and millenium square.  The new location definitely gave the festival a different feel: it was by far the busiest convention I've ever had, but there were a few sleepy-looking people complaining about the security queues and distances between tents (a little extra walking never hurt, right?).

I managed to pick up a few choice prints and comics from the festival (all weirdly colour-themed, see above!), plus a gorgeous mermaid pin given to me by the insanely-talented Jen Bartell (this year's festival image creator!). I always end up wishing Thought Bubble was a three-day festival so I could grab a little bit of extra time away from my table to pop around and speak to everyone!

With the help of Andrew, we grabbed some footage and for the very first time you can see a little video summary of my weekend above, or on Youtube right here!

In October I travelled up to the Lake District for The Lakes Comic Art Festival in Kendal. It was good to see so many people acknowledge the earlier Twitter dispute, and build on conversations on how to create a more supportive and diverse comics industry - we definitely have a long way to go, but it's good to see something positive sprouting out of such a horrible situation.

At the end of September, I was invited to take part in the festival's window art trail - where businesses in Kendal are matched up with artists and community groups to create unique window displays as part of a trail around the town. The theme this year was 'superheroes', and as I was matched with the wonderful Staff of Life bakery, I created a life goddess! Drawn in Posca pens, the goddess grows and nurtures the ingredients used by the bakery: wheat, damsons, elderflower - a force for good, nature,!

A post shared by Emmeline Pidgen (@emmelinedraws) on

I love illustrating on windows, it's such a different experience than being constrained to my usual small pages of paper - it's expansive and freeing! It was great to integrate with the products in the bakery, and to create something beautiful to draw customers in!

This was the first time I'd been to LICAF, and it was a pleasure to be so warmly welcomed to appear in the Page 45 room with the Page 45 comic shop team, and other incredible creators like Felt Mistress, Johnathan Edwards and Emma Viecelli. What a bunch of heroes!

One of my very favourite parts of the festival was running children's workshops in the cartoon-a-room. I ran two (iiiiiiincredibly busy) kids' workshops giving an introduction to comic creation to through shape! It was great to be able to represent female comic-creators to a new generation, and it was really fantastic to see so many young people coming away from the workshops with comics they'd made in the session, saying they were going to go home to create more!

This year LICAF was partnered with the Toronto Comic Art Festival, and I managed to slip away from my table to pop into a talk by Jillian Tamaki - an incredible Canadian illustrator and comic creator, who's inspired me for years! Another huge highlight was the 'Finnish Village', which was home to, honestly, one of the best exhibitions I've ever been to: Felt Mistress (Louise Evans) &; Jonathan Edwards' 'Archipelagogo'. It's a gorgeous combination of felt character sculptures, paired with Johnathan's beautiful paintings incorporating the characters! The colours were bold, the characters were stunning, and it was such a treat reading through the backstories of each set of characters and how they lived on the islands. If you ever get a chance, definitely try to catch one of their exhibitions, it's well worth seeing in person!

So I'm finally winding down, my stock is packed up and ready for my etsy store, and I've made a ton of new friends. Thanks so much to everyone who's been so hugely supportive these past few months! I'm working on an exciting comics commission right now, as well as some of my own author/illustrated narratives - so by the time convention season is around again I'll have even more to show you!

If you missed out on the opportunity to grab a signed print, comic or book at any of the festivals this year, you can find (almost) everything over in my Etsy shop right now!

Until next year!