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.

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