An Eclectic Pro And Indie Comic: Early-Bird Review Of The Thought Bubble Anthology 2017

by Oliver MacNamee

Offering a smorgasbord of very different and eclectic strips form both professional creators and previous Thought Bubble competition winners, this year’s Thought Bubble Anthology–once again produced by Image Comics and with all profits going to Barnado’s (a children’s charity here in the UK)–is a packed read with the stories included being no more than a few pages at the most.

The strips that stood out for me were many, and I did have to check every now and again to see which were done by the professionals and which by the indie creators. Indeed, I have to say that one professional strip was rather lazy in its writing, depicting a ‘typical’ afternoon in Birmingham, UK, and offering up the laziest of stereotypes of football fans (‘soccer’ as you incorrectly call it in the Colonies) immediately fighting in the streets, and thereby not so different to its namesake city on America. But, this is a minor quibble and I’m probably far too sensitive to being Birmingham-based myself. It just wasn’t a good strip story wise, I’m afraid.

But, this is a multi-creator collection, and as I’ve juts said (or typed), there’s a great many good strips including any number of human situations and emotions. Brandon Graham, Simon Roy and Ariana Maher’s strip, Songs, reminded me in both the art and the style and composition of Moebius. Jody Houser’s collection of seemingly quaint cupcake cartoons, Cupcake Pow! impresses, while Matthew Broadhurst’s winning entry, Welcome To Britain, offers in in just one page the troubles, trials and tribulations of being a hardworking immigrant in the caustic, self-centred post-Brexit Britain of today.

As for the kids’ entries: imagine picking up an Image comic and finding your strip there, running shoulders with the likes of Al Ewing and Jen Bartel who has created this year’s main promo art for the festival and the comic. These kids are in good company amongst such great comic strips.

The Thought Bubble Anthology #6 is out Wednesday, September 20th, or from the Thought Bubble festival and con (23rd September – 24th September), which I’ll be at next weekend!