Published on November 27th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Comics Of Delights – Thought Bubble Special
So, Thought Bubble happened. You may have noticed. It’s one of my favourite times of year and easily my favourite Comic Convention because it’s all about ‘comics’ and people enjoying ‘comics’. It’s a chance for creators of all levels to get together and show off what they do. There is a lot of familiar faces reminding you of their past work and trying to explain their new stuff to you. Then there are the ‘big names’, the special guests who are invited along and are responsible for most of the queuing that goes on.
The focus on comics means that the convention doesn’t have quite the same draw as an MCM event but this works in it’s favour: it keeps crowds to a minimum and allows everyone a chance to meet everyone they want to meet. Although, I must admit, attendance does seem to be increasing year on year.
This years biggest attraction appeared to be the Mondo Crew, a selection of very talented artists, and the other draw was of course Scott Snyder, creator of Wytches, American Vampire and writer of another fairly popular comic, it’s on the tip of my tongue…
Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Snyder but then again I didn’t go to the convention with the intention of meeting him. Yes, I took a few Swamp Thing and Iron Man Noir issues just in case but it wasn’t one of my goals. At the top of my list was Andrew Wildman (yet again) followed by Antony Johnston who’s sci-fi cop buddy title Fuse printed by Image is an amazing blend of police procedural and social analogy, set on an industrial space station. It has everything. Antony Johnston was a pleasure to talk to and had a collection of his work with him so I happily walked away with Wasteland volume 1 which I am looking forward to reading. He was also giving away free copies of Umbral to those who hadn’t read it. I have but it was a generous gesture.
Spending ten minutes talking to the writers and artists is the best part of a convention like Thought Bubble. Whether it’s discussing Patreon with Gary Erskine or Doctor Who likes and dislikes with Al Ewing, there is a high level of engagement that makes you fell like part of the community. One of the things that made my partner smile this year was being recognised by people she talked to last year. It’s an inclusive and welcoming community, one that make you glad to be a member.
I have already talked elsewhere about some of the comics I bought over the weekend but every year I take a pile with me to see if I can get a signature or two. I tend to take comics that have covers I love or have some other personal importance to me. Signed first issues are all so well and good but as I have the intention of framing some of the comics I’ve had signed I need to be able to engage with the comic in some way other then the number 1 in the top corner.
This year I managed to get a copy of The Massive signed by Gary Erskine who worked on a few issues and for anyone who knows me The Massive was my favourite comic last year and is still in the running for that honour this year. I also finally managed to get Gillen and McKelvie to sign issue 9 of Young Avengers which has a wonderfull mostly white cover.
But my favourite this year for a number of reasons is a German Spider-Man comic signed by Mark Buckingham. For those who don’t know Buckingham, he has worked on a huge range of comics, adapting his style of art to match the style of the narrative and the writers. He’s worked with some of the best in the business and with titles like Hellblazer, Fables and The Sandman under his belt, he’s an artist worth looking out for. But with all this amazing work on offer why would I get him to sign a random Spider-Man comic? Well, I give to you:
Peter Parker: Spider-Man #25 (reprinted stories published by Panini Comics in 2003. In German)
The comic includes two stories, the first from Peter Parker: Spider-Man (vol 2) #38 and the second Spider-Man: Sweet Charity #1. Unfortunately I don’t speak German very well, read it even less, so I can’t follow the second story very well. I have been meaning to get a copy of the original for comparison but have yet to get around to it. So you might be wondering why the first story is any different, is it a famous story that I know inside and out? No, but it has no text except the title ‘Mummenschanz Und Mausefallen’. It is written by Paul Jenkins and illustrated (and now signed) by Mark Buckingham and tells the tale of a crime wave by a team of Mime Artists whose exploits get out of hand so Spider-Man has to step in.
The wordless gimmick was part of ‘Nuff Said’ month for Marvel in February 2002 where a whole bunch of comics across their range were released with pictures only, no words. As with all of these gimmicks some comics succeed while others failed and fan reaction was split across the board. However, the beauty of ‘Masquerade And Mousetrap’ (English translation) is that the villains, the gang of mimes, had already featured in the comic previously so the story was already there waiting for the right opportunity to rear it’s white face painted head. The comedy that Jenkins injects into his script fuels the story and acts as a backbone for the crazy antics that Buckingham draws. The nature of the narrative lends itself to the silent treatment, as if the Mimes have somehow infected those around them so that they can’t speak, only act in over blown and expressive gestures.
The reason why this is one of my favourite Spider-Man comics is because, despite the language it is printed in, I can still read and enjoy it. There is a solid, entertaining story that is not affected by language. Even the more complex visual language that make up societies and different cultures are absent from this comic as if the creators intended it to printed around the world. There is nothing particular that roots the story to a specific place. The villains are obvious and recognisable the world over, the streets are nondescript and so are the products on show: the food in Peter’s fridge, the tools of the Mimes trade. The characters are as over the top as the story and as instantly recognisable for what they are and what they represent. The bumbling Monks acting as a comedic comparison to the gang of thieving Mimes but there isn’t that much difference between them.
Overall ‘Mummenschanz Und Mausefallen’ is a fun story that can be read and understood by pretty much anybody and in my book that is the best kind of comic to introduce someone to the comic book world because it can appear daunting. I’ve been reading all of my life and I’m still learning about aspects of comics that I’d never thought of before so for the newbies coming on board it must seem like a completely different language. But don’t worry because Mark Buckingham drew exactly what you need, a recognisable superhero transcending the need for speech by laying everything out for you in the simplest, yet most entertaining way possible.
And for that reason, my signed copy of this comic will eventually end up in a frame on the wall (but only after I have a second copy I can continue to read and share).