Comics - True Believers Comic Festival 2018

The Defective Inspector braved the call of the real world (well, as real as it gets for him) and went to True Believers Comic Festival on 3rd February...

Time flew by recently as it seems like only yesterday I was attending last year’s True Believers Comic Festival (TBCF) and I felt almost blind sided but in a strangely pleasant way, like a ninja presenting me with pie. But for the 3rd year in a row I was able, willing and welcomed into the Cheltenham Race Course venue and began to do what I do best, chat endlessly to stall owners until they feel socially uncomfortable. HUZZAH!

If you’re behind the times let me explain what TBCF is, it’s a one-day comic festival dedicated to the lesser known where there is little limit to your creativity. The buzz around the building this year kept echoing the same phrase “I come here for the artists”. When you wander around the stalls the ratio of small press/aspiring artists against merchandise and general stalls is very clear. Not to say the place is without a good ol’ fashion comic vendor or logo filled brand stall it’s just much more focused on the talent behind the comics. THAT is what makes TBCF special.

Artists are well balanced with the avid cosplayer as it seems TBCF wants to cater to every indie out there. Much like last year there were slots set aside for panels, cosplay workshops and the ever-anticipated cosplay catwalk and, while I decided not to dress up this year, it was great to see so many people embracing the comic con life. Even if you are a neophyte to the cos-life you can gain an enormous sense of well being by learning from others. The veterans seem to run the workshops and they bestow knowledge on things like physical sewing and strutting your stuff. This strange passing down of the craft is oddly satisfying and very inclusive as there is no posturing, just posing.

I only had the time to attend one panel, Discover Something New 2018, in keeping with my theme of speaking with people outside of my normal bubble. It was headed up by two groups, Querstret and Wine & Zine. They discussed their humble beginning and ascent into fame which was great to see the process of going from ThoughtBubble to ambitious projects filled with good nature, good art and the occasional bit of charity work (god I love Doggo). I could gush on but I am trying to focus on the festival and not particular artists (that’s an article for another day).

What I failed to check out, ironically, was the gaming stages up in the rafters, so I can’t comment much on them, but the idea that there is a section for a sneaky cheeky card game or roll of the dice is enough for me to feel content. There are also the events I missed… Now I am not a cosplayer so I didn’t feel removed from not attending those particular panels/workshops, but I’d love to try my hand at making comics one day with my laughable art skills. There was a “Making a Zine” workshop and “Superhero Life Drawing” where I could have embarrassed myself but I never got to attend. I didn’t skip these on purpose, I really didn’t, but TBCF has a way of siphoning time unexpectedly without realising it.

So the question remains like last year, what does the future hold for TBCF? Well it’ll be their 5th comic con but there will be a change in venue albeit still in Cheltenham. Seems a schedule clash has shuffled TBCF and the likely new spot will be a bit snug, so the number of stalls may drop. This is a double-edged sword as I have NEVER been able to speak to everyone but I do worry where the cut off line will be. I don’t think for a second there has been anyone I’ve spoken to in my 3 years of attending that didn’t deserve praise, even if it’s not to my taste. I suppose it’s why I love going! The rumour mill says they’ll return to the racecourse in 2020 so 2019 maybe an interesting event to attend!

As always TBCF delivered in it’s goal of being all inclusive, cosplay friendly and all about the artists. The organisers have really found a way of balancing every aspect of a good solid comic con and that’s why I keep going. I know that no matter the venue this growing tradition will continue to endure and successfully siphon away my time like a hungry, but very welcoming, beast.

Follow the Defective Inspector on Twitter @DefectInspec
and True Believers Comic Festival at @OKTrueBelievers and find out more about their next event, TBCF Summer Variant at

Image - TBCF
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