Graphic novels are the latest thing, what with Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina longlisted for this year’s Man Booker (it didn’t make the shortlist, but hey ho), and there’s plenty at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival to whet your whistle if words and pictures are your bag.
Featuring talent from around the globe (think Stanley Chow to Steven Appleby and Seth to David Silverman) and aimed at both fans and creators of exceptional art and storytelling, the scale of this comic art get-together is like nothing else in the UK, and promises to be even bigger and better in 2018, welcoming 70-plus leading comic artists, writers and makers. With the Brewery Arts Centre as its main hub (plus the Comics Clock Tower, full of independent publishers and retailers), the family-friendly festival will be pretty much taking over the Cumbrian market town of Kendal for the whole weekend, including, brand new for 2018, the Friday Sessions, with talks and debates, and an Out Of Hours line-up.
With a debate pitching Marvel against DC and a quick-fire live-draw Viz quiz, plus an exhibition exploring female representation in comics and a presentation on BAME characters, there’s a mix of tongue-in-cheek and serious to pick from. Talks include Satoshi Kitamura discussing and performing the traditional Japanese art of Kamishibai storytelling with Manga historian and Comica Festival co-director Paul Gravett, and Guy Delisle (supported by Institut Français) chatting to LICAF Chair Peter Kessler about his bizarre experiences and his work – a mix of hauntingly powerful travelogues chronicling his travels in Burma, China, Israel and North Korea, combined with cartoons about the demands of fatherhood.
Two of the world’s leading fiction writers with a shared love of comics, John Wagner (2000AD, Judge Dredd, A History of Violence) and Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus novels), will meet on stage for the first time to discuss what draws them to the genres of crime and realism, and will be telling Alex Fitch from Resonance FM about the current state of the crime genre.
Saturday sees the official UK launch of an ambitious comic anthology, Traces of the Great War, co-commissioned by LICAF, Amiens Comics Festival, 14-18 NOW and the Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre Mondiale. The anthology consists of new short comics that explore the continued relevance and resonance of the First World War, and this event will feature more than a dozen writers and artists who have contributed to the project. Collaborations include Walking Dead artist and Comics Laureate Charlie Adlard and 2000AD’s Robbie Morrison, Mary and Bryan ‘Alice in Sunderland’ Talbot, the aforementioned Ian Rankin and comic book artist Sean Phillips, and Dave McKean (who famously illustrates books for Neil Gaiman and others) and Simon Armitage (with colours by Peter Doherty).
For more about comics and collaboration, check out Sunday’s panel on that very subject, when four artists – David Hine and Mark Stafford (The Man Who Laughs, The Bad Bad Place and Lip Hook) and David Gaffney and Dan Berry (The Three Rooms In Valerie’s Head, out now on Top Shelf, with a follow-up in progress) – will share tips on effective cross-artform working for those new to the process. Ever wondered what it’s like as a comic book artist to draw stories using someone else’s words, or as a writer to see your stories magically morph into comic books? Now’s your chance.