Thought Bubble is one of the youngest, and best, comic festivals in the country. Running for a full week, it takes in workshops, talks and parties and culminates in a convention crammed with panels, events and one of the largest, most comprehensive trade halls I’ve ever seen.
I redshirted at Thought Bubble last year which, thankfully didn’t require me to walk around a rock, take some geological readings and then get horribly killed to emphasise the seriousness of the situation. Instead, I was crew, helping direct people, passing messages from staff to retailers and breaking down stalls at the end of the day. It was incredibly good fun and one of the things I enjoyed the most was talking to the indie comics creators there. As my fellow blogger, Stace will tell you, there are some incredible talents working in the UK and, in the run up to this year’s show (11-18 November), I thought I’d take a look at some of the fantastic books I picked up in 2011.
First up is Airship , a comics jam, created in alternating pages by Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell . Both are extremely experienced writers and artists and you that’s clear from the moment you open the book. The story of Johnson, an endlessly calm young man with a shaved head, and Annika, his clued-up girlfriend, it follows the pair of them as a mysterious airship appears over London. An airship that will change both their lives…
Sarah and David’s art styles merge beautifully and there’s some lovely back and forth that only makes this feel even more like a unified vision. Johnson’s first sight of the airship tracks him across three panels that form his apartment whilst Annika has it sneak up on her in her kitchen, across another three panels. Likewise, the moment when Johnson gets a little too close to the action is a single panel that has real scope and scale. This is a big airship, and it leads them both on a very big adventure.
What makes the book utterly charming though is its sense of humour. The endlessly calm Johnson reacts how we’d like to think we would whilst Annika’s quiet eccentricities give the book some of its best laughs, most notably the moment when she discovers exactly how good she looks with a moustache. This is a funny book, literally, and it made me smile more in one issue than a lot of “funny” comics ever manage to.
To tell you any more would be to spoil the surprise, which really is worth it, especially as the book’s now up on Sarah’s site for free . This is a wonderful, gentle, funny book which brims with characters and will make you want to fly airships over London. Just make sure you make you sing the Superman theme when you do it. It’s much more fun that way.