English and Drama blog

On literature and theatre collections from the 16th century to the present day

22 October 2021

The British Library is at the 2021 Thought Bubble Comics Festival

by Ian Cooke, Head of Contemporary British Publications, Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator and Kenn Taylor, Lead Cultural Producer (North).

Thought Bubble is the Yorkshire comic art festival, with events in the week starting 8th November, and ending in a two day convention in Harrogate on 13- 14th November. The British Library will be participating in events and the convention itself, to talk about our comics collections, and comics in the 21st century.

Our events at Thought Bubble are part of the Library’s growing cultural programme in Leeds and West Yorkshire, reflecting that the Library has had one of its two sites at Boston Spa in West Yorkshire since the 1960s, which is home to around 70% of our collection.


Extracted image from The Legal Deposit and You Comic showing a crowded conference hall with stands showing comics from independent creators.

The Legal Deposit and You, written and drawn by Olivia Hicks


We’ll be taking part in the convention with our own British Library stall, and encouraging comics creators to deposit copies of their comics with the Library, so that they can be preserved and accessed as part of our legal deposit collection of UK publishing. Thought Bubble is a great opportunity for us to talk to independent comics creators from across the UK, and find out more about new comics. It is very important to us that these comics are included in our collections, as they reflect a diversity in experience and expression that we might not find out about otherwise.

If you are coming to Thought Bubble, you’ll be able to find us in the Bubbleboy Hall, tables 5-6. Our curators from Digital Scholarship, Contemporary British Publications (including our Web Comic Archive) and Arabic collections will be there, and you will also be able to find out more about the British Library in Yorkshire.

We are leading a panel discussion on contemporary UK comics, digital disruption and library collections of comics, which will be at 12.30 on Saturday 13th November, in Panel Room B. We are really pleased to have a great line up of speakers, including Comics Laureate Hannah Berry, Clockwork Watch creator  Yomi Ayeni, Sara Kenney (Creative Director at Wowbagger Productions), and Comichaus founder Pete Genepool, join us to talk about how new practices and new technologies can influence library collecting and ensuring inclusivity in our collections.   

Our Thought Bubble activities start on the afternoon of Thursday 11th November, at Leeds Central Library when digital curator Stella Wisdom and our Wikimedian in Residence Lucy Hinnie will lead a Comics Wikithon, where participants will learn how to create, update and improve Wikipedia articles and Wikidata items about UK comics and their creators. This is a free event, but please book in advance here and check out this post on our Digital Scholarship blog for more details.

We’re pleased and enthusiastic to take part in Thought Bubble because comics collections, and independent and self-publishing matter to the British Library. We can only build these collections with the support of creators and publishers. Festivals such as Thought Bubble are an important way of finding out about the incredible breadth of contemporary comics, and for talking to creators.

If you are coming to the convention please stop by our stand and listen to our panel, we’d love to see you there.