Thought Bubble 2011: Part #1

Thought Bubble 2011 is a two-day comic-book convention in Leeds, Yorkshire, ENGLAND. And England is either in the UK or in Britain, dependant on your political/religious affiliations. Comics Vanguard have been going for the past three years, although up to this point our main success had been giving Kieron Gillen a picture of him hugging a mermaid.

This year was going to be different! And after the Leeds transport system broke down and refused to give me a bus to the convention, none other than Madrox the Multiple Man stepped in to guide me to Savilles Hall. And that is a literal truth, as is the fact that we were ultimately joined by two steampunkers, an anime character, and a man with a horse’s head and ukulele in our walk to the centre. So without further ado, let’s reveal what the various writers and artists present this year had to say.

Our first contact was with Gail Simone, off of Wonder Woman, Secret Six, Batgirl and Firestorm. I caught her just as she arrived, and my assertion that Comics Vanguard were Team Supergirl was countered by her realisation that she liked my T-Shirt. This led into a discussion about American comedian Paul F. Tompkins, which naturally segued into talking about which was the most cruel murder sequence in Secret Six. Conclusion? The dad who gets pushed off a bridge.

Peter Milligan, current writer for Justice League Dark, Red Lanterns and Hellblazer offered some details of the upcoming Hellblazer annual, which will feature painted interiors by artist Simon Bisley. The story was inspired by Milligan’s early fascination with a local London landmark called ‘Suicide Bridge’, so called because it became known as a hotspot for jumpers. The annual will see Constantine return to Liverpool to see some old friends, only to be drawn into a cold case. One of his childhood friends went missing when Constantine was only young, and was never found. After meeting this friend’s dying mother, John promises to solve the case as her dying wish.

Milligan also spoke warmly about Mikel Janin, his artist on Justice League Dark. Janin has already turned in artwork for at least the first five issues of the series, and seems eager to deny any fill-in artists the chance to draw Zatanna and Xanadu. Milligan and Janin recently met for the first time in Lille, last week, and they took the opportunity to plan out their future arcs together. And speaking of collaborations, Milligan discussed his work with Mike Allred on X-Force/X-Statix. Milligan’s favourite character amongst the team? Edie Sawyer, also known as U-Go-Girl. When talking about her with then-editor Axel Alonso (who has since gone on to become EIC, as you likely already know), the two finally realised what it was about her that they liked so much – they both wanted to f*** her.

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are almost unique amongst the comic-book community in that they are both aware of the existence of Comics Vanguard. Now, you’d think that’d mean they’d be careful when speaking to me, aware that every piece of news they let slip would then be read by literally tens of people. But no! Kieron was candid and open – some people would read his words as sarcastic and joking, but I’ve decided they were candid and open – about Uncanny X-Men’s future. After nodding and telling us that, yes, Jean would be returning in 2012 and taking over all the X-Men, Gillen went on to reveal that Cyclops will be crippled by the Marvel architects as a result of the ‘it’s coming’ storyline, leaving him a wheelchair-bound mentor. I asked if he’d be keeping his hair, and Gillen confirmed that this would be the case – but Psylocke would indeed suffer from nervous shock, and develop alopecia. She’ll be wearing a wig for all of her 2012 appearances.

It’s tradition to hand Gillen some artwork as part of TB, so this year we followed up on the mermaid picture with the aftermath. While 2010 saw Gillen happy to write Laurie, aka Transonic, as part of his Generation Hope team, this year’s Thought Bubble came after Gillen left the title to focus full-time on Uncanny X-Men. So Comics Vanguard are pleased to reveal this year’s “Thought Bubble Gillen Gift”:

This led into discussion about the Magneto/Rogue relationship, which has been met with mixed-feelings by fans. Gillen, aware of these concerns, told me that he had decided to end the Magneto/Rogue relationship in favour of a Magneto/anyone with a pulse relationship – that’s right! Starting in Uncanny X-Men #6, Magneto is going to recklessly f*** his way through the X-Men. Gillen believed this was the best way to relieve the tension Magneto has been feeling with the rest of his team recently. When asked if there would be a scene of Magneto getting busy while Gambit watched through a window and wondered where his libido had done, Gillen definitely thought about the possibility. On that topic, and perhaps the only part of the discussion which people might read as “not lies Gillen was telling you”, he mentioned that his favourite upcoming scene in Uncanny X-Men was a team-up between Hope and Namor. On a final note, Gillen seemed receptive to our suggestion that Beast’s devolution should continue, turning him into a talking caterpillar who sits on Wolverine’s shoulder and talks about science.

Jamie McKelvie is also very busy at the moment, as he’s in the process of drawing the “X-Men: Season One” graphic novel. A retelling of the original X-Men stories, McKelvie revealed that the novel would contain roughly five comics’ worth of material, clocking up to over 100 pages of work. The story will be roughly episodic, kicking off with an X-Men vs Magneto storyline before heading on to battles against the Blob and Krakoa. He agreed that the graphic novel should be renamed “Series One” in Britain.

Nick Spencer spoke for a little while about his recent Cloak and Dagger miniseries, praising Emma Rios’ art. If there’s one message he wants to get out, it’s that people should “yell” at Marvel editor Steve Wacker about the need for more Cloak/Dagger stories. That is absolutely what Nick Spencer demanded fans do for the characters. On a related note, you can contact Wacker at

David Aja was busy sketching all day, including an expansive two-page Daredevil cover. But when two young boys walked over and asked him how much sketches would cost them, he smiled and told them “for you? Free”. He mentioned that he is preparing to work on a new project, presumably for Marvel, but was reluctant to mention which title it would be for. The only hint he gave was that there would be “lots of characters” to design and draw.

Antony Johnston has spent the past month growing an impressive moustache as part of Movember. But, also, getting his creator-owned series ‘Wasteland’ back on a regular shipping schedule. Although never officially on hiatus, he noted that there had been some delays over the past few months. With an issue shipping both last month and this month, Johnston told us that a new artist would be taking over the series in January, and already had several issues drawn. Johnston recently spent a week sitting down and plotting out the endgame for the title, which he’s confirmed will end at issue #60. With the series now heading past the midway point, fans should be aware that he has explicitly decided to make sure the ending is better than, say, Lost, which he wasn’t too pleased with. Here at Comics Vanguard we rather enjoyed the final episode of Lost, but are aware that it was a divisive episode. What did you guys think? Johnston also talked about Season/Series One of Daredevil, which he will be writing with Wellington Alves on art. On top of giving us a new, in-canon version of Daredevil’s origin story, he will also be sprinkling in new plot beats and characters not present in the original, to give us a more contemporary version of the story.

Roger Langridge spoke a little about the future of Snarked, the series he is both writing and drawing for Kaboom! On top of the prelude #0 issue which came out a few months ago, the series is ultimately slated to run for #12 issues at present, with the final issue concluding the story of the Princess. However, that may not spell the end of the series particularly, as Langridge has some interest in continuing with some of the characters – such as the Walrus and Carpenter – and sending them off into new adventures. He also hinted at future plans working with IDW on one of their licensed products… and then drew some amazing sketches of various muppet characters. Those two thoughts are probably not connected, you guys.

Emma Vieceli is incredibly busy at the moment, working on The Avatar Chronicles for Oni Press as well as more books in the Vampire Academy series. All of this will lead up to a second Dragon Heir title as some point in future. She’ll be publishing that one herself, so keep an eye out for it when it launches – we’ll keep you up to date on it. But hey, we know what you want to see. You want to see the sketch of Darkstar that she drew! Well here you are!

Andy Diggle’s initial plans for ‘Six Guns’, his current project for Marvel, had seen six gunslingers team up in the Wild West to take on trouble. But when he realised he could grab the Two-Gun Kid, he scrapped the sixth guy and moved Marvel’s classic cowboy into the mix instead. He mentioned that he is planning several different projects at the moment, pitching some creator-owned series and miniseries alongside freelance work for Marvel and possibly DC in future.

Jeff Lemire gave us perhaps our best scoop of the con, discussing in some detail his plans for Animal Man and Frankenstein. Whilst the latter will be crossing over with OMAC for issue #5 of both series, you don’t need to buy both issues to get the full story. Rather, each issue will tell the same story but from the differing perspectives of their respective protagonists. On the subject of Animal Man, Lemire revealed that after a full year of uninterrupted stories, the series will move into a crossover with Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing which will last for six months. Starting with issue #13, the crossover will last five issues of both titles, before – we think – an epilogue issue will close the storyline, provisionally titled ‘DEADWORLD’. So readers can expect at least eleven issues of Swamp Thing and Animal Man working together.

And finally, Simon Spurrier told us about his five-issue miniseries ‘X-Club’, coming out soon at Marvel. He revealed that something is going to happen to Kavita Rao over the course of the mini, as well as his favourite member of the team – Dr Nemesis, who may or may not be a surrogate for Warren Ellis. Spurrier also revealed the original title for the mini, which was ultimately decided against – “WE DO SCIENCE” – and that Marvel came very close to downsizing the miniseries halfway through the writing stage. Luckily, the intervention of heroic editor Daniel Ketchum blocked the plans to cut the mini by an issue, leaving Spurrier free to have fun with science for five issues.

Blimey. And that’s even without all the small-press creators I got to meet and chat with today. Here’s an idea – we’ll tell you all about them tomorrow!


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