Here comes the Lakes International Comic Art Festival again!

Kendal’s 6th annual festival of comic art is almost upon us. It promises to be bigger and more varied than ever – just check out the range of what’s on! There’s still time to book tickets if you haven’t already.

For my part, the events listed below are what I’m focused on right now: the one’s I’m preparing for. I’ve already posted about Traces of the Great War and its UK launch of during the Kendal festival weekend (plus its French launch in Albert the weekend before). Bryan and I will also be giving an exclusive advance preview of our next graphic novel, Rain:

Friday 12th
11.30 Reimagining history …writers and comic creators (Panel 1, Friday Sessions)
Panellists: Mary Talbot, Orijit Sen, Joe Kelly and Charlie Adlard. Chair: Nataša Lacković
Saturday 13th
12.30 Bryan & Mary Talbot – Preview (hosted by John Freeman)
Council Chamber, Comics Clock Tower
4pm Traces of the Great War – The Official UK Launch (hosted by Nataša Lacković & Pascal Meriaux)
Brewery Arts Centre Theatre

Rain is our fourth book-length collaboration and the second with Arts Council support. It’s a complete departure from our previous books together, being neither biographical nor historically distant. Instead it deals with the here and now of the environmental degradation that threatens us all. It’s scheduled for publication by Jonathan Cape in October 2019.

Launching Traces of the Great War

Coming up in October: British and French editions of this ambitious international anthology commemorating the end of the first world war. Our contribution is a four-pager entitled ‘Make Germany Pay!’ For it I returned to two sources for Sally Heathcote Suffragette, the memoirs of two leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union: Emmeline and Fred Pethick-Lawrence. Fred and Em were pacifists throughout the Great War. After it, Em campaigned tirelessly against the punitive conditions of the Armistice and the continued hunger blockade of Germany leading up to it.

We’ll be involved in launch events for both editions. The first is in France at the 7th Salon du Livre d’Albert et du Pays du Coquelicot (the land of the red poppy, ie Picardy). That takes place on 6-7th October. The second is at the 6th Lakes International Comic Art Festival which runs from 12-14th October. There are events and exhibitions of artwork at both festivals.

These are the launch events we’re involved in (that we know about so far!):

Saturday 6th October
3pm Quelles sources aujourd’hui pour parler de la Grande Guerre? (What sources today to talk about the Great War?)
with Mary Talbot, Kris, Jean David Morvan & Joe Kelly

Friday 12th
11.30 Reimagining history …writers and comic creators (Panel 1, Friday Sessions)
Panellists: Mary Talbot, Orijit Sen, Joe Kelly and Charlie Adlard. Chair: Nataša Lacković

Saturday 13th
4pm Traces of the Great War – The Official UK Launch (hosted by Nataša Lacković & Pascal Meriaux)

The anthology is a collaboration between the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, and the Amiens BD festival On a Marché sur la Bulle. It’s commissioned by 14-18 NOW and La Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre Mondiale.

An eye for an eye and the world only ends up blind.
Mahatma Ghandi

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.

Barcelona Comics Fair 2017

A fortnight ago we were in Barcelona for the 35th International Comics Fair. This annual event seems to get bigger each year, expanding into more and more of the massive Fira complex by the Plaza de España. Here’s a write-up (if you can’t read the Spanish, you can always look at some of the photos). One of our fellow creators at the fair was Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, 3 Story), pictured below on the right:
Here’s Bryan with Laureano of Asterberri, after a Grandville signing:
And here we are, busy signing at La Cúpola’s booth:
There’s a paperback edition just out of La niña de sus ojos, the Spanish version of Dotter of her Father’s Eyes. As you can see, it has a beautiful new cover using a different selection of interior artwork from the initial hardback.

Another guest creator present whom Bryan was delighted to meet was Juan Dîaz Canales (Blacksad).

And it was a great pleasure to catch up with José Muñoz (Alack Sinner). I first got to know José in 2013, when he was a guest at the inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. Bryan’s known him for much longer.

The cavernous exhibition hall housed exhibitions of Will Eisner’s work and of Lucky Luke, along with the work of Milton Caniff and numerous others. Photos taken before the crowds poured in:
Kim Jung Gi was in there attracting the crowds with live drawing twice daily.
We had a little time free for some sightseeing, taking in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the grandiose museum of art close to the Fira. We also went to look at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, now under construction again.
And we were very glad we weren’t with this tour:
Laureano laid on a big dinner at the Bodega Monumental. We spent our last evening in Barcelona in the delightful company of Sharlene Kindt, Matt, Laureano and, to Bryan’s right, David Rubin (Ether). Behind David are two other Spanish artists whose names I don’t know. Cheers, Laureano!
Finally, here’s a parting gift that Bryan’s sketched for the ever-obliging staff in the hotel restaurant. The lobster sketch was inspired by a Grandville page that you can check out on his website here.

Francospheres of Resistance and Revolution – podcasts

On Monday (3rd April 2017) Bryan and I had the pleasure of participating in this academic conference at the University of London’s Institute of Modern Languages Research. The conference as a whole explored articulations of resistance and revolution in a range of French contexts. We shared a plenary session in the afternoon with Paul Mason, which addressed the life of women in the aftermath of the Paris Commune of 1871and their deportation to New Caledonia. Through the specific case study of Louise Michel, the plenary explored how such revolutionary moments emancipate and politicise women even though the endgame is one of failure.

Paul outlined his new play, Divine Chaos of Starry Things, about Louise Michel’s time in the French penal colony in New Caledonia, finishing with a sample read-though with two of the principal actors. The play opens on 30th April at White Bear Theatre in London and runs until 9th May. We followed, in conversation with Charles Forsdick about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. Both talks are available as podcasts at the Backdoor Broadcasting Company here.

We shared a broadcast with Paul last year, on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking, which is still available to listen here.

Forthcoming events in March and April

We have two events in the Northeast of England coming up in March.

Bryan will be doing his lavishly illustrated talk on Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition again, this time in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. It’s on Saturday 11th March at 2pm and it’s is well worth attending, if you haven’t already (or even if you have!) The event is part of the Fabricating History exhibition programme, about all things steampunk. Tickets for the talk are just £2 – available here.

Later in the month I’ll be in Sunderland’s Museum & Winter Gardens doing a presentation on Revolutionary Women: Imagining Louise Michel, along with Dr Laura O’Brien, a historian at Northumbria University. It’s on Friday 24th March at 5pm. The event is jointly hosted by Sunderland University, City Library Sunderland and Waterstones Sunderland. It’s free, but ticketed via eventbrite.

Then, in early April, Bryan and I are both in the line-up for a conference on Francospheres of Resistance and Revolution at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London. We will be ‘in conversation’ with Prof Charles Forsdick (Liverpool) about The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. ‘Exploring articulations of resistance and revolution across different spaces and times’, the conference as a whole ‘seeks papers which enquire in new and innovative ways about radical politics, activism and resistance expressed in French’.

Finally, at the end of the month, we’re off to Northeast France for Colères du Présent, a book festival in Arras, promoting the French edition of Red Virgin: Louise Michel La Vierge Rouge. Details to follow.

Avilés Comics Festival

aviles-posterRecently back from the Jornadas Internationales de Cómic in Avilés, a small, friendly Spanish festival in Asturias that’s now in its 21st year. With the hotel and everything else located in the peaceful old town centre, we had a very tranquil and picturesque place to wander about in for a few days, as you can see from the photos below. Especially once the rain stopped and we were finally blessed with some sunshine. We missed the flooding. I was glad about that.
aviles-street-1
aviles-streetNot as wet as our last visit to the north coast of Spain, though.
aviles-street-2
aviles-church
aviles-town-hall
Our main event was an on-stage interview with Germán Menéndez, with the help, as always, of Diego García’s prodigious translation skills. The first hour covered the wide range of Bryan’s work over the years. Then I joined in for a second hour, when discussion moved on to our recent graphic-novel collaborations.
interview-part-1
interview-part-2
‘El matrimonio Talbot’ did interviews with various journalists too. Here’s a link to one write-up (in Spanish).
signing
I also appeared on a panel on ‘Conquering Spaces: Women in the Comics World’ with Chloé Cruchaudet and Sonia Pulido, chaired by Rebeca Fernández Alonso.
wmcomics-panel
The long, late lunches and late, late dinners were spent getting to know some of the other guests and, of course, the organisers. Here we are with fellow guests (left to right) Rodney Ramos (USA), Mario Alberti (Italy) and George Perez (USA).
rodney-mario-george-bryan-mary
And here with organisers Jorge Ivan Argiz (left) and Germán (right), with Diego (centre):
bryan-jorge-mary-diego-german
And with Jorge again and Rocío Arroca. We were in an old cidrería. In the tile picture in the background, you can just about make out the traditional arms-length cider pouring going on:
rocio-jorge-bryan-mary
Unfortunately the Spanish edition of The Red Virgin, La Virgen Roja, wasn’t out until the following week. The 4th reprint of Sally Heathcote Sufragista was delayed too, so that the book stalls only had a handful of copies. Lots of the Spanish Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, though: La niña de sus ojos. A range of Spanish editions of Bryan’s work too.books

Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy in Kendal Museum

BryanOn Tuesday we went to the launch of an exhibition at the museum in Kendal, Cumbria. Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of her birth. Rather than focusing on her illustrated children’s books, which are known worldwide, it highlights her lesser-known scientific legacy and her influence on artists today.

Mycologist
Bryan has loaned the museum original artwork from The Tale of One Bad Rat, inspired by Potter’s books. Seven contemporary local artists are also featured.

Bryan’s pages are displayed next to Beatrix Potter’s work. He’s delighted to be in such good company!
artwork
The exhibition also displays some of Potter’s personal collection of paintings by artists she admired, including Randolph Caldicott, on loan from Kendal Town Council.
Mary
Afterwards we caught up on developments for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival over dinner with Julie Tate, festival organiser, and fellow patron, Sean Phillips. Tickets on sale soon!

Looking back at Red Virgin launch week

M, RV, BCreating a graphic novel is a slow process, and most of the time a solitary one. The creation of The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia began, for me, back in 2013, as I embarked on a long trail of research into the life and work of the extraordinary Louise Michel, involving French history and more. I reflect on the origins of the project in a Director’s Commentary here and a short piece for Carabas here. Carabas has also posted a 6-page preview here.

With the publication of Red Virgin last week, we’ve been busy with promotional activities down in London. But most importantly, we were there for the launch party. The work completed, it Bryan, Marywas time to meet up with friends and celebrate!  And it really was a delightful evening in Bloomsbury, generously hosted by the Cartoon Museum and Jonathan Cape, with the Great British Graphic Novel exhibition serving as the perfect backdrop. Lee Harris was there, Bryan’s first publisher back in the 1970s. Dan Franklin, our current publisher, was also present, as was museum director-curator Anita O’Brien. All three spoke warmly about the book; glasses were raised; wine and good cheer were shared by all. A huge thank you to everyone there, for helping us to celebrate this latest collaborative endeavour.

I’m delighted to say that Red Virgin’s reception has been hugely positive. It’s had three glowing reviews so far, which are posted on the Red Virgin page here.

Anita O'Brien speaking

Anita O’Brien speaking

Lee Harris speaking

Lee Harris speaking

Corinne Pearlman and Yomi Ayemi

Corinne Pearlman and Yomi Ayemi

Cape PR people Aidan and Cat - our friendly wine service for the evening!

Cape PR people Aidan and Cat – our friendly wine service for the evening!

David Hine and Mark Stafford

David Hine and Mark Stafford

Dan Franklin speaking

Dan Franklin speaking

crowd

Donald Rooum with Bryan

Donald Rooum with Bryan

SJ Harris and Zika Tamburic

SJ Harris and Zika Tamburic

Mel Gibson

with Mel Gibson

Pizza Express 4

Earlier in the day Bryan and I had visited Broadcasting House to pre-record an interview with Samira Ahmed, Front Row presenter for BBC Radio 4. The day after, we had another trip to Broadcasting House, this time to pre-record an interview with Matthew Sweet, presenter of Radio 3’s Free Thinking. Both were broacast on 10th May. We were back in the Cartoon Museum that evening, when we did an illustrated talk about the new book. We also called in at Orbital Comics in Soho, to record a podcast with Karl and Chris. In the third evening of our London visit, we were over at the House of Illustration in King’s Cross for a panel on writing radical lives with Kate Evans and Alex Butterworth. Back home in Sunderland, we went straight to Waterstone’s bookshop for a lively evening in conversation with a local group of readers. An eventful week!
HoI panel CCHoI signingHoI signing 4

A very silly selfie with that Hannah Berry

A silly selfie with that Hannah Berry

Woodrow Phoenix, Rian Hughes, Hannah Berry's partner Xav, Megan Donnelly

Woodrow Phoenix, Rian Hughes, Hannah Berry’s partner Xav, Megan Donnelly