5th Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017

Everyone’s experience of a festival is different. Ours started two weeks beforehand, as we travelled over to Kendal to install Bryan’s contribution to the Windows Trail at the St John’s Hospice shop. It’s in a prominent position on the main street, between the main venues, and it’s been attracting a good deal of attention. It’ll be there for the rest of this month.

The evening before the Festival opened, we were present at the welcoming dinner in Kendal College’s Box Theatre for our prestigious international guests. Immediately before the dinner there was an informal reception in the adjacent Wildman gallery. This gave us the opportunity to look around Archipelagogo, the multi-media exhibition celebrating the centenary of the late great Tove Jansson, best known as the creator of the Moomins. The exhibition was commissioned by the Festival and runs until 4th November.

Here’s Stan Sakai (of Usagi Yojimbo fame) listening to the Mayor of Kendal’s welcome address.

On Friday we had the honour of going to lunch with the legendary Sergio Aragonés and Stan, his friend and collaborator. We took them to the Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, followed by a little sightseeing (in the mist). They’d travelled from the arid chaparral of southern California to the Lake District.

Sergio Aragonés, Mary Talbot, Stan Sakai

Sergio examing moss. “Everything’s so green!”

“So much water!”

Sergio Aragonés, Bryan Talbot, Stan Sakai

Among the announcements at the opening ceremony was the inaugural winner of the Sergio Aragonés International Award for Excellence in Comic Art: Dave McKean. The award has been established by the National Cartoonists Society of America in partnership with the Festival. Yet another international partnership. I’m a little in awe of the Festival organisers’ energy in reaching out to other festivals and organisations so warmly and productively. (Hint: there’s more to come…) You can read Tripwire Magazine’s coverage of the award event here. Another announcement was the establishment of a Cartoonists Society UK Chapter.

On Saturday morning I was in the Council Chambers again. This year I was there to host Sandra and John Metaphrog’s presentation of their beautiful new book, a graphic novel adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers

In the afternoon Bryan was in public conversation with Peter Kessler about Grandville: the Final Chapter. followed by a solid four hours of signing and sketching. It was a pre-launch event specially for the Festival, for which Page 45 had secured some advance copies of Grandville Force Majeure. The official publication is on 15th November, with a launch event and exhibition at Orbital Comics.

Bryan Talbot sketching on a book plate

You can read here about other new publications launched at the Festival. These included a Spirit Centenary Newspaper, celebrating the life and work of Will Eisner. The newspaper is now available from Page 45 here (with a review too!). There’s an Eisner exhibition in the Sugar Store Gallery in the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal. It’s open until 5th November.

There was also a Spirit of the Lakes competition, with winners announced on Saturday evening.

Our Sunday treat was listening to Benoit Peeters’ fascinating presentation of Rodolphe Töpffer’s life and work. The talk was chaired by John McShane, who has translated and edited Töpffer’s book, How to Create Graphic Novels (originally published in 1845). It’s available and reviewed here.

Benoit Peeters

I bought some hand-made notebooks from these nice people in the Comics Clock Tower!

Corey Brotherson at the Clockwork Watch stand. They virtually sold the lot!

Matt Gibbs at the Improper Books stand. Porcelain III now available!

There are some other personal experiences of the Festival in online write-ups already, by guests Metaphrog and Tom Richmond. In the Page 45 weekly reviews, Stephen Holland has included a detailed (and positively orgasmic!) account of the Festival. Finally, here’s some online coverage from the BBC.

Georgian Room photos by Stephen Holland.

4th Lakes International Comic Art Festival

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24-hour comic in progess. “Shh. They’re concentrating”

comicartcoeliferatlasBryan was one of the artists lined up to work on this year’s 24 Hour Comic Marathon project, set to begin at 3pm on Thursday 13th. So our festival experience started early. This year a single story had been written by Alex Paknadel and Dan Watters and 12 artists had each been assigned two pages to illustrate. The resulting Coelifer Atlas was printed and launched the same weekend, proceeds going to the charity OCD Action. You can find details and availability both from Lakes International Comic Art Festival Books and from Page 45.

On Thursday evening we were present for the finnish-exhibitionwelcoming dinner for invited festival guests. It began with an informal reception in Kendal College’s newly reopened Wildman Gallery. The gallery is currently exhibiting Silence/Hiljaisuus, an exhibition of original graphic novel art by Hanneriina Moisseinen from Finland.

The exhibition opened on 12th October and runs until 12th November. It’s well worth a look if you’re in Kendal. There are details of this and the other festival exhibitions here. One I was really sorry to miss while I was in Kendal was the exhibition of Five Bridges: Stories of the Flood, put together by Mike Medaglia, LIsa Woynarkski and Farokh Soltani. It features five different stories of people who endured the severe flooding in Kendal in December 2015, when the River Kent breached its banks, inundating the town and closing its five bridges. The exhibition is in the Kendal Museum and runs until 19th November.
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badratOn Friday we had the pleasure of taking Bryan Lee O’Malley and his partner Mary to lunch. It was their first time in the UK and we were keen to introduce them to some of our beautiful countryside. So, with that and a little comics tourism in mind, we drove over to the Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank – a location in Bryan’s classic Tale of One Bad Rat.

The first ticketed event was Asterix vs Tintin: Clash of the Toon Titans on Friday evening. Team Tintin and the Asterixers engaged in entertainingly spirited (verging on downright scurrilous) debate, with that Hannah Berry ably presiding over the proceedings. Then the audience voted. And Asterix won. By one vote. One. I demand a recount!

The event was supported by Lancaster University and their new Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, Benoit Peeters, was leading the pro-Tintin team. It was great to hear about the university’s commitment to the festival from Professor Simon Guy, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster University, especially as I’m an alumna of the University myself. (For those who are interested in this sort of thing, I did the first ever PhD on Critical Discourse Analysis, the practical element of which focused on the now defunct girls’ comic/magazine, Jackie.)
asterix-vs-tintinasterix-vs-tintin-2The same evening, Dave Gibbons handed over the position of Comics Laureate to his successor, Charlie Adlard. This is the second biennial appointment of a distinguished comics creator in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the medium. The new UK Comics Laureate will take over in February 2017.

I’m delighted and deeply honoured to be appointed as the Comics Laureate. The power of comics to encourage learning and develop literacy shouldn’t be underestimated. Comics can connect with people who may never pick up a normal book and really help encourage a love of reading. I see this as a great opportunity to bring the wonder of comics to a wider audience.

Charlie Adlard

laureate-speechOn Saturday evening we were invited by the wonderful Corinne Pearlman of Myriad Editions to join them in the Warehouse Café to celebrate the 2012 and 2014 winners and successes of their First Graphic Novel Competition. Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier editor-in-chief and one of the 2014 judges, enthuses here about the competition and the superb opportunity it offers. With enthusiastic help from past entrants, winners and judges, he expains why the competition is so important to the whole comics community and to the health of publishing itself. At the same event Julie Tait, our awesome festival organiser, announced the winners of the Beatrix Potter Reimagined Competition. The standard was amazing.potter-winner

There was so much going on at the festival, that I managed to attend a fraction of what I would have liked to see. For instance, I missed Dave McKean’s Black Dog event again, as it clashed with my own slot on Red Virgin on the Sunday. Back in May I missed the Black Dog launch in Kendal, as it coincided with Wonderlands in Sunderland.

We got widespread media coverage, including BBC Arts. Here are reports on this year’s festival from the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, with announcements for 2017, from Page 45 and Comics Work Book. I didn’t take any photos in the Comics Clock Tower this year, but I did browse the tables a couple of times and bought a card or two from one Eleanor Hollindrake. Nice cards, Eleanor!

Charlie Adlard,Joe Kelly, Ken Nimura, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Luke McGarry, Emma Vieceli, Lynette Adlard, Steve McGarry

Left to right: Charlie Adlard,Joe Kelly, Ken Nimura, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Luke McGarry, Emma Vieceli, Lynette Adlard, Steve McGarry

Gilbert Shelton, Kate Charlesworth, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Yomi Ayemi

Gilbert Shelton, Kate Charlesworth, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Yomi Ayemi

Last chat with Gilbert in the hotel

Last chat with Gilbert in the hotel

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October 2015

Clocktower2Last year we did six festivals altogether in October so, when the month rolled around again, just doing two seemed quite laid back by comparison. The 3rd Lakes International Comic Art Festival was a resounding success, with a record 13,900 visitors over the weekend and overwhelmingly positive feedback. Down the Tubes has a range of coverage, including John Freeman’s initial report, Jeremy Briggs on Creators at LICAF2015, Norman Boyd’s First Impressions: A Beginner’s Guide and the Announcement of 2015 Windows Art Winners. I’ve also come across a three-part account by one Leonard Sultana, who seems to have tried his utmost to get to everything: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. See also Jean Rogers’ reflections.

Next year’s festival organisation is already underway and dates have been announced as 14th-16th October 2016. There’s a fundraising auction which will take place live and online from Orbital Comics in London on 24th November 2015. The auction features work donated by Charlie Adlard, Steve Bell, Ian Churchill, Darwyn Cooke, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Jamie Hewlett, Stuart Immonen, Sean Phillips, Posy Simmonds, Jeff Smith and Bryan Talbot.

For me, as for the international guests, this year’s festival began with the official welcome event on Thursday evening. This year it took place in the basement of Kendal Museum, where Sean Phillips’ PhonoGraphics exhibition was on display. We were treated to a dinner created by catering students at Kendal College and festival wine and beer were served.
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Look, Sean drank it all! Notice the wine labels, designed by Sean and Bryan.

Mason'sArmsOn Friday morning, while the 24-hour comic people were adding finishing touches to their work, we took off for lunch in a picturesque Cumbrian setting with Canadian guests, Darwyn and Marsha Cooke. The pub behind us is the Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank, which appears in Bryan’s Tale of One Bad Rat (as the Herdwick Arms). Thanks to Marsha for the photo.

For me the festival proper began with Steve Bell’s talk. To a packed audience, Steve charted the development of If, his political cartoon strip in the Guardian. He finished with the current predicament of Jez-Bi-Wan Corbyn, who had just been put in a sticky situation by Darth Mandelson.
Steve Bell If
RV postcardNext in my schedule was my own talk the following morning, to a good audience in the formal setting of Council Chamber. I finally got to announce my latest collaboration with Bryan, our forthcoming graphic novel, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia, out next May. This book deals with the astounding, larger-than-life feminist revolutionary, Louise Michel, her part in the Paris Commune of 1871 and more. And it looks stunning. Thanks to Mel Gibson for her excellent hosting of the event, as ever.

My afternoon appearance for a round of darts with Knockabout in the Elephant Yard emporium, now I freely admit that was a little less successful. I was just beginning to get the hang of throwing those darts by the end, though…

red_shoes_metaphrog_papercutz_cover-628x670In the afternoon I was back in the Council Chamber, but this time it was for John and Sandra of Metaphrog’s  introduction of their new book, The Red Shoes and other tales. This collection includes a beautiful but dark retelling of Hans Andersen’s Red Shoes.

KarrieFransmanbyMichiMathiasOn Sunday morning I was in the Council Chamber yet again, where this time I had the Death_of_the_Artist_front_coverpleasure of hosting Karrie Fransman’s talk. Karrie was taking us through her work, with particular attention to her latest graphic novel, The Death of the Artist, as well as talking more generally about comics and experimentation. Sketch of Karrie with her busy hands, tweeted later by @MichiMathias!

arkwright-integral-coverAlso on Sunday, I went to hear Bryan in conversation about his Adventures of Luther Arkwright and influences with Peter Kessler. Yes yes, I’ve heard it all before, but this time it was with clips, which made it all rather interesting! Then later we both enjoyed listening to Benoit Peeters talking through his surreal bande-dessinée work with Paul Gravett.
BenoitPeeters&PaulGravett
Bryan&YomiThere was the social side too, of course. So many lovely people. We had the pleasure of getting to know Yomi Ayeni of Clockwork Watch, for instance, who’d ventured up to Kendal from London.

Just before the Comics Clocktower closed (and transformed back into Kendal Town Hall) Bryan went around snapping photos. Here’s a few.

Me with Stephen Holland of Page 45

Me with Stephen Holland of Page 45

Roger Langridge and Antony Johnston

Roger Langridge and Antony Johnston

Ben Read, Sara Dunkerton and Matt Gibbs

Ben Read, Sara Dunkerton and Matt Gibbs

Terry Wiley

Terry Wiley

Yomi at the Clockwork Watch table

Yomi at the Clockwork Watch table

Sydney Jordan

Sydney Jordan

Gary Erskine

Gary Erskine

 

October update: a month of festivals

“This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!” How I love hearing that!

We’ve been on the move with Sally Heathcote again, starting with Charleston in CharlestonEast Sussex in late September. And, yes, we seem to be making converts as we go. At book signings following our literary festival talks, some people are sure to say: “This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!”

Our Charleston Small Wonder Festival appearance was in an old barn fitted out as a performance space, in the grounds of the Bloomsbury Group’s farmhouse and garden. The house became home to the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1916.

Palace GreenKate joined us for a Durham Book Festival event, which was in the Palace Green library close by the castle and cathedral. In the morning I’d been in the equally imposing Durham Town Hall, conducting an interview with Laura Bates on her Everyday Sexism project and book.

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ManorHouseAfter that Bryan and I zoomed off to Ilkley for another literary festival. Continuing the architectural theme, Bryan did his graphic-novel masterclass in a lovely old stone place adjacent to the Manor House, a fine Tudor building. Later in the day, we both took to the stage to talk about Sally Heathcote, 

IlkleyPlayHouseSuffragette – and make some more converts – in the Ilkley Playhouse. Someone in the audience (one Jane Aitchison) tweeted enthusiastically about a scene in the book that’s set close by, on Woodhouse Moor. There are some great reviews on the Pickled Egg blog/online magazine. Just look what Jess Haigh and JY Saville have to say about the event.

More new graphic novel readers!

A few days later, we were off to the Cumbrian market town of Kendal for the 2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Julie Tait and her team excelled themselves.  As one reviewer remarked, “this year everything seemed to be ‘more'”. Here’s a sample of reviews: Jeremy Briggs, James Bacon, Lew Stringer, Stephen Holland (Warning: endearing effusiveness in a very long post!) Infectious enthusiasm all round. And badgers.

KnittedLB

 

Bryan and I each hosted an event. I facilitated Audrey Niffenegger’s presentation of artwork in the Brewery Arts Centre Warehouse Café. Bryan did a career interview with Dez Skinn in Screen 1. Kate and I joined Bryan in his own career interview, where I do believe there was a badger in the audience!

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Brewery Arts Centre

Brewery Arts Centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, yes, more picturesque stone buildings were involved.

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

It was a lovely weekend – for us it included a chance to catch up with Jeff and Vijaya Smith, who we hadn’t seen in years. While they were visiting the Lake District, it was a pleasure to take them to some locations from The Tale of One Bad Rat, such as this one: Cartmel Fell Church.

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insideCartmelFell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Town Halls have been a bit of a theme recently. A few days after the Lakes we were in Cheshire with Kate for another literary festival. The imposing red sandstone Chester Town Hall was the venue for our event. It was chaired by Mark Lawson, who Bryan and I ‘met’ on Radio 4’s Front Row when Dotter was shortlisted for a Costa Award.

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The three of us rounded off the month with a trip to Dundee for the Scottish Book Trust Comics Lab and Dundee Literature Festival, both of which took place at the university. While we were there, Bryan and I saw Woodrow Phoenix’s presentation of his big book, She Lives, which we’d missed in Kendal.WoodrowBigBook

DundeeComicsLab Woodrow'sSheLives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop: Jonathan Cape’s Comic Creations evening, part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas on 14th November. Bryan and I will be appearing with Isabel Greenberg, Fumio Obata, Nick Hayes and Steve Bell. Maybe see you there?

 

Sally in Scotland, Talbots in Lakeland

Here’s the video of the Sally Heathcote Suffragette event at the Edinburgh Book Festival last month. Thanks to Jane Barry for her expert filming and editing.

Badgers for half a mile!On returning from a week’s holiday, for me the Edinburgh film was an opportunity to revisit a very pleasant occasion. Bryan and I have been enjoying a battery-recharging week in and around Keswick, the first proper holiday we’ve had for a couple of years.

We didn’t see any badgers, though. Shame.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg 2

Castlehead

Looking down on Keswick from Latrigg

Looking down on Keswick from Latrigg

Another hazy day

Another hazy day

Another bad hair day!

Another bad hair day!

Grandy Nook

Grandy Nook. A grand place to stay

Brainstorm! The Art of Bryan Talbot

exhibition1ExhibitionPosterThe Brainstorm! exhibition at the Wildman Gallery in Kendal is open until 10th November 2013. It’s one of the best curated exhibitions I’ve seen. Go along if you can. Meanwhile, here’s a photographic tour of the exhibition.

If you can make it to the gallery, you will also be able to have a sneak preview of a Bryan Talbot documentary by Digital Story Engine. The exclusive video presentation, which includes an introduction by legendary science-fiction author Michael Moorcock, offers fans their first glimpse of the extensive celebration of Bryan’s work to be released in 2014!

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Curated by Sharon Tait. Photographs by Paul Atherton, Dianne Barry and Kate Charlesworth.

Reviews:
Helen Perkins at Cumbria Live.
Viv Walker at Kendal College.

The first Lakes Comic Art Festival ran “like a well oiled machine”. Reviews

“One day all comic book shows will be like this”.
Comics Clock TowerHere are some post-festival articles welling with enthusiasm for the weekend, though Dan Smith, writing for Huffington Post, laments the lack of a female “underground legend”. He evidently wasn’t in the packed library audience for the talk by Trina Robbins.

North-West Evening Mail

Garry Gray at Bleeding Cool

Dan Smith at Huffington Post

Jeremy Briggs at downthetubes.net

Jean-Paul Malone at The Slow Bullet (Added on 27th October)

Laura Sneddon at The Beat (Added on 29th October)

Will Trina write about it in her blog when she’s back home in San Francisco? I hope so!

And the next festival is in preparation! The splendid Julie Tait and her heroic team have already started organising, with the dates set for 17th – 19th October 2014.

Brewery Arts CentreKendal batman
Photographs courtesy of Kate Charlesworth and Dianne Barry.

A weekend at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival

Lakes fest 1What an amazing weekend it was over in Kendal! Not even the rain could dampen our spirits. What were the high points for me? It’s hard to say. It was wonderful to catch up with Trina Robbins and Steve Leialoha. It was a great pleasure to spend time with Joe Sacco and Amalie. Great getting to know José Muñoz and Fiorella, who we even got to take home with us afterwards! There were so many stimulating talks and presentations – I just wish I could have attended more of them, but there were so many lovely people to talk to as well.

Lakes fest 2I particularly enjoyed doing the Sally Heathcote, Suffragette presentation with Bryan and Kate. The audience in the library did too, I think! It’s the first time we’ve talked about Sally Lakes fest 3publicly, as a creative team.

Overall, just hanging out with so many comics creators and enthusiasts for a weekend was a delight. Thanks to the people of Kendal! Hurrah for the organisers of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and all its sponsors!

DSC00108Here’s some pre-festival coverage in The Guardian. Laura Sneddon gives women writers and artists more-than-equal billing, which is, to say the least, unusual! The BBC news website for England also gave the festival some great coverage on the day it began.

Photographs by courtesy of Kate Charlesworth and Dianne Barry.

Dan Franklin and Posy Simmonds seemed to enjoy the desserts

Dan Franklin and Posy Simmonds seemed to enjoy the desserts

Kate Charlesworth finally met Dan Franklin, our publisher for Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

Kate Charlesworth finally met Dan Franklin, our publisher for Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

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