Lakes International Comic Art Festival kicks off in style

Carlos Ezquerra, Duncan Fegredo, Doug Braithwaite and Jose Munoz on satge for the Lakes Festival's opening 'Big Draw' event last night. Pete Docherty in charge (sort of...)
Carlos Ezquerra, Duncan Fegredo, Doug Braithwaite and Jose Munoz on stage for the Lakes Festival’s opening ‘Big Draw’ event. Pete Docherty in charge (sort of…)

The weather is mixed but far from the howling storms some nay sayers feared when the Lakes International Comic Art Festival came up in conversations earlier in the year.

And even despite some rain, the greeting to Kendal could not be warmer from most locals so far, from those wardening Bryan Talbot’s amazing retrospective exhibition, spotted almost as soon as I got off the train, to the genial landlady who showed me to my room, despite being interrupted from the more important task of making rainbow cake with her granddaughter.

Bryan Talbot's retrospective, from his early years to the present, is at the Wildman Studios in Wildman Street, Kendal.
Bryan Talbot’s retrospective, from his early years to the present, is at the Wildman Studios in Wildman Street, Kendal.

The Batman flag is flying high above the Clock Tower, shops aplenty sporting comics in their windows, Festival banners strung across the high street… I’m sure some attending are taken aback by the way Kendal has already embraced this inaugural event.

There are plenty of amazing comics goodies about to go on sale tomorrow, a day of book signings in Waterstones and Tim Perkins, Dave Windett and Kev F. Sutherland will be entertaining the youngest of comic fans with drawing sessions in the town’s shopping centre.

The Festival kicked off with a packed and entertaining “Big Draw” event at the Brewery Arts Centre, with Doug Braithwaite, Duncan Fegredo, Carlos Ezquerra and Jose Munoz in action on stage, talking about drawing comics and creating some terrific images at the same time.

(I’ll confess I wasn’t sure about the ‘backing music’ and someone should really have switched their phone off before they went on stage as even on silent it caused feedback, but these are minor niggles).

Not having been to many comics events in the past couple of years, it’s been great to catch up with folk in the flesh such as Garen Ewing, Jeremy Briggs, Bambos Georgiou, Dave Taylor, Russell Willis and many others already.

Organiser Julie Tait – already thinking about next year’s Festival, never mind this one! – said on stage this evening that what she and her team planned as a small test event this year has become something of a monster. I have a feeling it’s going to be the soft cuddly kind and not a beast… despite some Lakeland rain!

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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