Leeds Thought Bubble comics festival

Hurrah! I finally met Gillian Rogerson, writer of our book You Can’t Eat a Princess!

And here’s Gillian at Thought Bubble, with a fab editor from Scholastic named Ellie Parkin (whom I first met at the Edinburgh Book Festival, when she took Stuart and me for tea with illustrator Alex T. Smith). This was both Gillian and Ellie’s first visit to a comics festival, and I think they were well impressed with all the costumes and mad energy.

Ellie Parkin and Gillian Rogerson

Gillian picked me up from Leeds rail station and took me home, where we spent the evening making little felt aliens! Gillian had already sewn up the bodies, and we had a great time adding faces.

We sold a lot of them at the festival, but I made sure I brought a couple home.

Here’s our fab DFC reviewer for the Forbidden Planet International blog, Molly Bruton. She’s sort of our DFC mascot, but this was the first time I got to meet her. Yay!

Molly Bruton with one of our aliens

And I also got to meet comics creator Rick Eades… and look what he brought me! (I think I startled Gillian with my fan-girl moment.)

Rick Eades with a tiny sousaphone-carrying Vern!

Rick also made a miniature Queen Mum for the co-writer/co-illustrator of a picture book I’m working on, David O’Connell. Dave’s take on the Queen Mum is so fabulous.

David O’Connell’s Queen Mum, sculpted by Rick Eades

Children’s book writer meets her first cosplayer:

Gillian, Ellie and I worked an activity area of four tables, where anyone could sit down, design an alien, make a space comics, decorate a space ship or basically muck about drawing. We had a great mix of ages jump in and make things, which was good fun.

Poster drawn by Sarah and coloured by Gillian

I was dead chuffed to get an amazing Vern and Lettuce go to Leicester comic adventure from the wonderful Selina Lock, which I’ll post very soon with the launch of Vern and Lettuce online magazine, The Pickle. (Please do jump in if you’d like to contribute something!)

Selina Lock with her Vern and Lettuce strip for The Pickle

We were bustling so much to keep the Space Station tables going that I only had about ten minutes to rush madly about saying hello to people, which meant I sorely missed seeing (and stealing flat cap off) DFC colleague Neill Cameron, who was also hustling across the room to sign copies of his amazing robot comic, Mo-Bot High. But the good bit was seeing Neill’s dedication artwork drift round to our side of the room.

Signed copy of Neill Cameron’s Mo-Bot High

At several festivals, artist Gary Erskine has pestered me to borrow my pink princess wig, so I let him have it this time. Little did I know, it made the rounds of almost every head in the building (photos to follow, I’m sure… ah, yes, on Facebook), ending up as Gary’s sporan. I think I might get a new wig.

Mhairi Stewart, Gary Erskine with dodgy sporan, Ed Hillyer

I always take pictures of Oliver Lambden‘s Curtis and Terrorist comics with their one-off, hand-drawn covers, but the displays just get better and better. I often show Ollie’s comics to kids when I do workshops and they get really fired up about them.

Oliver Lambden with Curtis and Terrorist

And speaking of lovely displays, Philippa Rice of My Cardboard Life comics did herself proud once again. But this time, she included a miniature copy of my Vern and Letttuce comic! How fab is that!

Philippa Rice with My Cardboard Life… and Vern and Lettuce on the far right!

I made a few discoveries this weekend and, while I didn’t have time to browse their work in detail, I’m bookmarking them here to find out more. These included table mates Octavia Raitt and Kristyna Baczynski, with their lovely display.

Kristyna Baczynski and Octavia Raitt

I didn’t even have my wallet with me, and I really wanted this envelope by Octavia.

A few more faces from the day, including another find, Canadian creator Kayla Marie Hilliyer, with Galavant, a travel comic about her three months travelling around the UK.

Backpack man, Nigel Dobbyn, a space comic creator, Kayla Marie Hilliyer, Steve Tanner & baby Sasha

I got a copy of We are Word + Pictures with – guess what – Dave O’Connell’s Queen Mum comic in it!

Matthew Sheret with We are Words + Pictures

John Miers at his table, with hand-printed bags

I tried to snap a photo of Blank Slate‘s fab editor Kenny Penman, but he was so excessively camera shy that the best I could manage was a photo of him covered up by Rob Davis and Warwick Johnson Cadwell.

Rob David and Warwick Johnson Cadwell (who are also exceedingly fab).

Lovely popcorn-style display by Lizz Lunney

Lovely sketchbook by Irish creator Dale O’Flaherty, who looked after me most diligently on a visit to Dublin last year.

The Leeds Cosplay Group

I had to leave so many conversations unfinished, and I consoled myself by saying, ‘… but you’re coming to the party later, right?’ And I fully intended to go, but Gillian went home to check on her kids, and Ellie and I had a bite to eat, and suddenly, I was so tired I could barely stand up. The official party took place in a nearby casino, so Ellie and I popped in for an hour or so, and ran around the roof a bit with Selina, Jay Eales, Terry Wiley and Matt Brooker (D’Israeli), trying to find somewhere we didn’t have to shout at each other. But then my legs buckled, and I realised it might be the last chance I got to see Gillian for awhile, so I headed back to her place for a cup of tea and a much-needed sit-down. Huge apologies if I missed talking to you!

I’m not too keen on casinos, but Ellie and I had fun admiring the chandeliers

Thank you SO much to my Thought Bubble contact Lisa Wood and to all the amazing people who made this festival happen! I’d heard great things about how friendly and well-run it’s been in the past, and it was amazing, even exceeded expectations. And busy! Man, that place was PACKED. We sold lots of books and met so many fabulous people. A huge thank you, Thought Bubble Team!

Back home with Gillian and her daughter Eve

I spent the whole trip back to London feverishly finishing my book club read for the afternoon’s meeting, but I had some great Fleece Station company on the way up to Leeds. I’ve never seen someone work as hard on a train as Lauren; she was almost going cross-eyed with concentration.

Lauren O’Farrell and Gary Northfield

I needed to come back to London for book club and to say hello to Stuart (last week, he actually said, Oh, do you live here? …yikes!) but I’ll be heading right back up north on Tuesday morning for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award ceremony. Fingers crossed for Morris the Mankiest Monster! And thank you to The Book Zone for the fab review you just posted!

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