They are often overlooked in the world of highbrow literature , but comic book artists and writers will finally get to enjoy their moment in the sun when the UK’s largest comic book festival opens in Leeds today.
Around 13,000 visitors are expected to attend the first weekend of Thought Bubble and the event will see appearances from some of the biggest names in graphic novels.
Highlights include Charlie Adlard, illustrator of the zombie comic series The Walking Dead and Antony Johnston, whose graphic novel Atomic Blonde has just been adapted for the big screen, starring Charlize Theron.
Martha Julian, festival manager, said: “Most comic book conventions focus on the big screen adaptations. We give a nod to them too, but this really is a showcase for the artists and writers. I was a volunteer at the very first festival back in 2007, which attracted about 500 visitors.
“Each year we have got bigger, but we have still retained the same ethos of that very first event which was about giving those who love comic books the chance to meet and talk to those who create them.” Such is the festival’s popularity that this year it has had to move from the Royal Armouries and will now take over 17 venues in the city centre, including the Town Hall and the Carriageworks theatre.
Running over the course of a week, Thought Bubble will also see the opening of a special exhibition of art inspired by the 2000AD comic, which celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Curator Matt Ferguson said: “We will have assembled 40 original posters created by 40 different 2000AD artists. It is Britain’s longest running comic with good reason - and not just because it’s central character Judge Dredd is so iconic.
“Like all the best comics it has storytelling at its heart and even if you pick up one of the very first editions it hasn’t really dated.”
Thought Bubble was founded by Leeds based comic book artist Lisa Wood who wanted to bring the people she admired to her home city.
She said: “It is amazing to see how far we have come in our first decade. We are now a major fixture in the comic calendar and whether you are an aficionado or a complete newcomer there is something to enjoy.”