There’s plenty at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival to whet your whistle if words and pictures are your bag.
It’s the only one of its kind in the UK, and 2019 marks the seventh year for comic art get-together LICAF, or the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Taking place over a weekend, and pretty much taking over the entire Cumbrian market town of Kendal, the family-friendly festival is aimed at both fans and creators of comic art and graphic novels, and features artists and writing talent from around the globe.
With the Brewery Arts Centre (BAC – see our guide to Literary Places in Cumbria) as its main hub for masterclasses and after-hours fun plus the now-legendary Comics Clock Tower, full of independent makers, publishers and retailers, LICAF activities range from live draws and feature films on the BAC big screens, to exhibitions and the annual comic art trail.
Kick-ass superheroes, future worlds, fantastical creatures, zombies, crime fighters, politics, satire, documentary, comedy, manga… the world of comic art is a diverse and spectacular place, bursting with exceptional storytelling and creations that transport us to other dimensions and explore the world and our place within it.
Issues-led graphic novels find their niche this year, as Lucy Sullivan launches Barking, out on Unbound with support from LICAF, and exploring mental health, and husband-and-wife team Bryan and Mary Talbot chat to Aileen McEvoy for the official launch of their new collaborative graphic novel, Rain. Inspired by the Hebden Bridge floods of 2015 – brought back to the forefront of our minds with the recent Whaley Bridge dam collapse – Rain investigates environmental degradation, pollution, climate change and even moorland mismanagement.
The world of comic art is a diverse and spectacular place, bursting with exceptional storytelling and creations that transport us to other dimensions and explore the world and our place within it
Charlie Adlard, best known as the comic artist behind The Walking Dead series, was the UK’s Comics Laureate 2017–2019, in March handing over to Hannah Berry (pictured), award-winning author and creator of the critically acclaimed graphic novels Adamtine and Livestock. Hannah will be discussing her journey to Comics Laureate in a special session on Friday afternoon as part of the day-long strand ‘Comics Up Close: New Perspectives in Comic Art’; Charlie, meanwhile, will be presenting his new book of life drawings, created with and published by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Charles Brownstein will interview Charlie and discuss his remarkable career in a talk entitled ‘Moving On – Life With Charlie Adlard’ in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery; be sure to check out the impressive permanent collection while you’re there.
In ‘30 Years In Comics’, another veteran, Garth Ennis, will be talking to his friend and colleague, Tim Pilcher, about his career to date, offering a unique insight into the life and work of this extraordinary writer, one of comics’ most revered creators, both with audiences and peers.
International flavour comes courtesy of Belgium, with three special events focusing on Belgian comics. ‘From Hergé to Brecht Evens’ hears from world-renowned expert on comics and Professor of Graphic Fiction and Comic Art at Lancaster University (a partnership with LICAF and Wallonie Bruxelles Internationale) Benoît Peeters. Paul Gravett, meanwhile, hosts Belgian Is Best Part 1, with Judith Vanistendael, Pascal Lemaître, Loïc Gaume and Serge Baeken visualising the Belgian way of thinking through comic art, while Belgian Is Best Part 2 features more of Belgium’s leading creators – Marine Schneider, Valentine Laffitte, Joris Vermassen, Ben Gijsemans and Ephameron – as they share their work and discuss the current scene in Belgium with Alex Fitch from Resonance FM. In partnership with Lancaster University, WBI, Flanders House and Flanders Literature and Fanfare UK, apparently, ‘Belgian comic books are like Belgian culture distilled to ink and paper’. Don’t forget the mayo…