Thought Bubble 2017: ghost stories, ice skating, Jeremy Corbyn – we’ve got it all covered

Thought Bubble is upon us already – two months early! This weekend, 23rd and 24th September, we’ll be laying out our wares in the Millennium Square Marquee in Leeds Town Centre. You’ll find us at tables 221-223.

The festival that has for the last few years marked the finale of our autumn season has instead become its opening ceremony – and that means lots of hot-off-the-press books.

Leah Moore and John Reppion, whose Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Vol. 1, debuted at last year’s festival, are back this year to launch the second volume: four stories about watchful guardians, architectural puzzles and ill-advised academic exploration, including the classic “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”, are brought to life with artwork from Al Davison, Abigail Larson, George Kambadais and Meghan Hetrick. Moore and Reppion will be signing on SelfMadeHero’s stand (tables 221-223 in the Millennium Square Marquee) throughout the weekend.

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I.N.J. Culbard will be signing copies of the pulpy, pocket-sized reissues of The Hound of the BaskervillesA Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four and The Valley of Fear (adapted from Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories by Ian Edginton).

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Ahead of its official release in October, Mike Medaglia‘s One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness will be available for the first time at Thought Bubble. The latest book in his bestselling One Year Wiser series explores how mindfulness can be used to transform negative energy into feelings of love, compassion and positivity. Medaglia will be signing the book at table 47 in the Millennium Square Marquee.

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What’s more, we’ll be giving away signed prints with every copy of Tillie Walden‘s graphic memoir Spinning, also out this month. Walden’s autobiographical graphic novel captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know. Earlier this week she spoke to The Guardian about her life as a competitive ice skater, her work rituals and how her emotions affect her art.

Oh, (and then there’s) Jeremy Corbyn! The Corbyn Comic Book, officially released on Monday, will also be available for the first time at Thought Bubble. This revolutionary anthology features comics on the subject of the Labour leader from Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Stephen Collins; graphic novelists Kate Evans, Karrie Fransman and Hannah Berry; and many more established and up-and-coming creators from across the globe. Comrades, this one is not to be missed.

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A panel event, “SelfMadeHero: A Decade of Comics”, takes place on Sunday at 10:30 in the Carriageworks Studio Theatre (Fifth Floor). To mark our tenth anniversary, I.N.J. CulbardJohn Reppion, Ian Edginton and Leah Moore join SelfMadeHero’s Sam Humphrey to discuss the evolution of the company’s list, which has expanded from manga adaptations of Shakespeare to encompass everything from fiction to film criticism, sci-fi to biography. There could be no finer hangover cure.

Any questions? Tweet us @selfmadehero.

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Call for Submissions: The Corbyn Comic Book

Writers, artists, comrades: this autumn, SelfMadeHero will publish an anthology of comics about the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But first, we need some comics – and for this we need you.

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Here’s your summer challenge: make a comic on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn and submit it to SelfMadeHero by Wednesday 9th August 2017.

Successful entrants will have their comic published alongside work by Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Stephen Collins, and comics artists Karrie Fransman, Kate Evans and Steven Appleby, among others. They will also receive a share of royalties.

Here are the submissions guidelines:

  • The comic can be a minimum of one panel and a maximum of three pages long
  • It can be created in black-and-white or in colour
  • Page dimensions are 170mm x 240mm in size
  • Submissions are welcomed from published and unpublished creators of all nationalities
  • Submissions must be sent to (using the subject heading “The Corbyn Comic Book”) no later than Wednesday 9th August 2017.

The anthology will be produced as a handsome, staple-bound comic book and launched at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference in September 2017.

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SelfMadeHero Heads to the West Coast for The Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

On Saturday May 20 and Sunday May 21, we’ll be on Canada’s west coast for the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. Now organised in partnership with TCAF, which takes place (with these SelfMadeHero-related activities) the weekend before, the festival has a stellar guest list that includes Faith Erin Hicks, Chip Zdarsky and many more.


We’ll be laying out our wares – new releases, backlist favourites and limited-edition prints – at The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews, V6Z 2W3) from 10am-5pm on both days. So, if you’re in Vancouver, come say hi!

For more information about the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival, including the full exhibitor list, visit


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Aimée de Jongh, Chris W. Kim and Paolo Bacilieri join SelfMadeHero at TCAF

This weekend, we jet off to Canada for one of the highlights of our year: the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. With guests including Jillian Tamaki, Pénélope Bagieu and Dave McKean, this year’s show looks like it’ll be as good as ever. What’s more, there’ll be three very special SelfMadeHero creators in attendance: Paolo Bacilieri (FUN), Aimée de Jongh (The Return of the Honey Buzzard) and Chris W. Kim (Herman by Trade). They’ll be signing books on SelfMadeHero’s booth in the Toronto Reference Library throughout the weekend, as well as taking part in some intriguing, star-studded events.


Paolo Bacilieri kicks things off with two pre-festival events:

On Thursday 11 May, he’ll speak alongside Marcelino Truong and Martina Schradi at the Alliance Française (24 Spadina Road, Toronto). The panel, organised in partnership with EUNIC, kicks off at 19:30 and is free to attend. The discussion will be moderated by Lars von Toerne, a journalist for Der Tagesspiegel. Full details are available here.

On Friday 12 May, an exhibition of Bacilieri’s work opens around the corner, at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura (496 Huron Street, Toronto). The exhibition comprises 30 original illustrations from FUN, as well as 20 more from his previous graphic novels La Magnifica Desolazione and Sweet Salgari. This is not to be missed. Details here.

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On Saturday 13 May, Aimée de Jongh joins Emma Ríos, Christine Wong, David White and Akihide Yanagi for a discussion of what it takes to build a comics community (“Making a Scene”, 11:00-­12:00, The Pilot, 22 Cumberland Street).


And shortly after that, as part of the festival’s Canadian Reading Series, Chris W. Kim joins comics giant Seth and Pope Hats author Ethan Rilly as they read from their latest comics masterpieces (“Alt Canada”, 12:15-13:15, Hinton Learning Theatre, Toronto Reference Library).

And, finally, on Sunday 14 May, Paolo Bacilieri is back in action, talking alongside Box Brown, Pénélope Bagieu and Joe Ollmann on a panel focussing on the joys, pitfalls and frustrations of telling real-life stories (“Telling Other People’s Stories”, 13:30-14:30, Learning Centre, Toronto Reference Library).

What more could you want? Well, actually, there’s quite a lot more: check out the full TCAF programme here.

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Irmina by Barbara Yelin Scoops an Eisner Nomination

Nominees have been announced for this year’s Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, and it’s good news for Barbara Yelin. Her extraordinary wartime drama, Irmina, has been included in the “Best U.S. Edition of International Material” category.

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Set for the most part in the Berlin of Hitler’s Germany, Yelin’s award-winning graphic novel is a troubling drama based on the life of the author’s grandmother. Conjuring the oppressive atmosphere of Nazi Germany, Irmina explores the tension between integrity and social advancement, reflecting with compassion and intelligence on the complicity that results from the choice, conscious or otherwise, to look away.

Chosen as one of The Observer‘s Best Graphic Books of 2016Irmina has been praised by PopMatters and The Quietus, among many other outlets.

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The Eisner Award winners will be announced at the San Diego Comic Con, which takes place from 20-23 July 2017. You can see the full list of nominees here.

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New Release: Outburst by Pieter Coudyzer

Pieter Coudyzer is well known for his animation work, including the short films Tree and My Heart is not Here. Now, he’s turned his considerable talent to comics – and the results are astonishing. Outburst, released this month, is a disturbing, atmospheric and utterly absorbing debut graphic novel, part coming of age story, part contemporary fairy tale.

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Tom is the bespectacled class nerd: introspective, clumsy and myopic. When he leaves his lunchbox unguarded, Tom returns to find it inhabited by ants. When he gazes at the cute girl in class, she responds by sticking out her tongue. And when it is time to partner up on a canoeing trip, he is left to paddle on the river alone…

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At home, Tom finds solace in recordings of nature and the wild spaces of his imagination. But when he falls prey to a particularly cruel trick, this imaginative wilderness becomes rampant. It wants out. A moment of crisis marks the flashpoint of a slow-burning metamorphosis.

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Outburst is released on 18th May and can be pre-ordered from Amazon, WaterstonesFoyles and, with the help of Hive, local book shops across the land.

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Fabrizio Dori on Gauguin: The Other World

Italian artist Fabrizio Dori was reading comics at an early age, but like many readers for whom superheroes never really appealed, he lost interest as a teen. Dori, whose graphic biography Gauguin: The Other World is out now, rediscovered the medium in his thirties. It was only then, after studying at Milan’s Brera Academy of Art, that he felt the desire to start making them.


“It’s a strange medium,” he says. “It balances two things [fine art and literature] that are really quite different from one another – things that, in theory, shouldn’t work together. But in practice, they do, and they do well.”

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According to Dori, it’s an exciting time to be working in this hybrid form. “Comics is quite a young medium, and it’s going through a transitional phase similar, more or less, to that which transformed the visual arts in the 8th and 9th centuries. During that period, artists were freed from the constraints of their traditional role within society and forged (with some difficulty) a place for themselves in the modern world. Making comics today is challenging, but it’s a special moment, full of opportunities.”

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Dori’s biography, the latest book in our Art Masters series, follows the extraordinary life of a man who was by turns a globe-trotting sailor, a brilliant stockbroker and an outcast painter. But it was something else about Paul Gauguin’s life that made him appealing as a subject. “I’m attracted to stories with a mythical and archetypical dimension. This element of Gauguin’s life was the spark that brought the book to life. We’re talking about the story of a man who’s looking for a lost paradise; who finds it; and who, after a hubristic downfall, loses it again.”


Dori developed his ideas in writing before working on the architecture of the story. “I prepare an outline like a musical score; on this I arrange the individual scenes and define the style and the rhythm of the tale. This is a critical phase: if the foundations are not strong, the entire narrative will be unstable.

“The storyboard and script are worked on simultaneously. I imagine and realise the details of each scene at the storyboarding stage. Once that’s complete, I begin work on the final pages.”

The results of this process can be found in the beautiful Gauguin: The Other World, which is available now from all good book shops.

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New release: Josephine Baker by Catel and Bocquet

Dancer, civil rights activist, supporter of the Resistance and mother to the “Rainbow Tribe”: Josephine Baker packed a lot into her 68 years. Hers is a life that demands a monumental portrait, and French creative team Catel and Bocquet have kindly obliged: released this month, their latest graphic biography is 500 glorious pages of dancing and dissent.


Josephine Baker was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the era, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires.


After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally.

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She led by example, and over the course of the 1950s adopted twelve orphans of different ethnic backgrounds: a veritable Rainbow Tribe. And it was one of her adopted children, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker, who acted as the Historical Consultant on Catel and Bocquet’s biography, which contains 100 pages of supplementary material.

Josephine Baker by Catel and Bocquet is available now from all good book shops.

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Inspirations: Néjib on Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie

In Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie, French comics artist and graphic designer Néjib tells the story of the young musician’s formative years, living and working in a Victorian house in Beckenham, south-east London. Here, Néjib reveals his inspirations and influences, and why he decided to let Haddon Hall itself take the role of narrator.

In Haddon Hall, I wanted to capture the spirit of the time. It’s not purely a biographical work; rather, it’s a snapshot of David Bowie at the twilight of ’60s. I consider this to be the most pivotal period in his creative development. We know that it was between 1969 and 1970 that David Bowie became himself, and these years held a little magic of their own.


At first, I wanted to do it in black and white, and then little by little I was drawn towards Heinz Edelmann’s work (notably Yellow Submarine), as well as the work of other graphic artists from that time — Milton Glaser, for example.

I initially got stuck with my colour choices, and it was by looking at the work of these people that I saw the potential of a fairly limited palette. I tried using a dark blue line and saw that it could be interesting to work in that way. There was a lot of fumbling, but eventually I found a way to pay tribute to the musicians and graphic designers of the ’60s and ’70s.


When I was writing the first draft of the script, something didn’t add up. There was information I wanted to include but it came across too heavily on the page. At some point, I don’t know why, I thought it might be nice if the house became the narrator. The idea won me over right away; I think the story benefits from a loose sense of fantasy. I didn’t think too much about it, but it was a decision that unlocked the narration: when I wanted to say something, it was the house that said it. It also gave the story a narrative thread.

Néjib is a graphic designer and comics artist. He is the art director at Editions Casterman. Born in Tunisia, he now lives and works in Paris. His favourite David Bowie song is “Sound and Vision”.

Haddon Hall: When David Invented Bowie is available now from all good book shops.

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It’s Our 10th Birthday!

A decade ago today, SelfMadeHero published its first two books. A party at Bloomsbury’s Horse Hospital saw the launch of the first two titles in the Manga Shakespeare series: Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.


Since then, we’ve published over 100 graphic novels, and our list has grown to include graphic biographies, original fiction, gift books and a whole lot more. This expansion is a testament to the richness and diversity of today’s graphic novel landscape. A decade on, the graphic novel remans an increasingly vital and ubiquitous part of our culture, and at the heart of this rise is an amazing community of talented, tireless creators.

Our anniversary year will see a number of celebratory events and activities take place. But for now, we’d simply like to thank everyone who’s been involved in our story over the last ten years – especially our fabulous artists and writers. In no particular order:

Richard Appignanesi, Sonia Leong, Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown, ILYA, Patrick Warren, Nani Li, Robert Deas, Mustashrik, Chie Kutsuwada, Ryuta Osada, Faye Yong, Paul Duffield, Merlin Evans, Cally Law, Sylvain Coissard, Alexis Lemoine, Lisa Wrake, Andrew Collins, Martin Rowson, David Zane Mairowitz, Chantal Montellier, Jaromír 99, Ian Edginton, I.N.J. Culbard, Peter Sís, Leopold Maurer, Margaux Motin, Typex, Barbara Stok, Clément Oubrerie, Julie Birmant, Andrzej Klimowski, Danusia Schejbal, David Hine, Mark Stafford, Will Sweeney, John Matthews, Catherine Anyango, Alain Korkos, JAKe, Robert Sellers, Arne Bellstorf, Rob Davis, LAX, David B., Jean-Pierre Filiu, Edward Ross, André Diniz, Maurício Hora, Will Bingley, Anthony Hope-Smith, Catel Muller, José-Louis Bocquet, Reinhard Kleist, Paul Collicutt, Oscar Zarate, Glyn Dillon, Christophe Blain, Abel Lanzac (a.k.a. Antonin Baudry), Scott McCloud, Philippe Nicloux, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée, Jérémie Dres, Li Kunwu, Philippe Ôtié, Judith Vanistendael, Frederik Peeters, Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba, Patrick McEown, David Prudhomme, Dan Lockwood, Leah Moore, John Reppion, Leigh Gallagher, Matt Brooker, Shane Ivan Oakley, David Hartman, Alice Duke, Ben Templesmith, Jamie Delano, Simon Spurrier, Ben Dickson, Chris Lackey, Chad Fifer, Dwight L. MacPherson, Steve Pugh, Attila Futaki, Matt Timson, Mick McMahon, Adrian Salmon, Bryan Baugh, Warwick J Cadwell, Nicolas Fructus, Paul Peart-Smith, Aneke, Kit Buss, Fouad Mezher, Alisdair Wood, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Black Francis, Josh Frank, Steven Appleby, Nick Abadzis, David Camus, Jörg Tittel, John Aggs, Si Spencer, DIX, Slava Harasymowicz, Dan Whitehead, Peter Kuper, Barbara Yelin, Steffen Kverneland, Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau, Alexandre Franc, Deborah Levy, Mike Medaglia, Fionnuala Doran, Edmond Baudoin, Box Brown, Aimée de Jongh, Néjib, Fabrizio Dori, Paolo Bacilieri, Chris W. Kim, Pieter Coudyzer and anyone I may have missed.

Anyone who’d like to know what the last 10 years of graphic novels has comprised could do worse than to Google these names. Ditto if you’re wondering what the future’s likely to bring. (Spoiler: it’s looking good!)

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