The dates for next year’s annual Lakes International Comic Art Festival have been announced after its 2015 event proved a massive success once again at the weekend, attracting both comic creators and fans from around the globe – and some 14,000 visitors.
Visitor numbers for the Festival were again higher than previous years, with an anticipated footfall increase of around 5,000 people on a normal weekend around the Lakeland town, which opened its arms to comics creators and fans (and one Dalek) alike, with many local businesses turning their shop windows over to comic art with the Windows on Comic Art Trail, sponsoring events and some hosting ‘pop up’ exhibitions.
Not only did the event go smoothly, with coverage on Border TV, the BBC and by other local media, but the event’s success has prompted an early announcement of next year’s Festival dates: 14th – 16th October 2016.
Some 5,500 plus visited the popular Comics Clock Tower alone which not only provided a venue for several panels, but was also crammed with comic creators, publishers and retailers.
Page 45 (which broke its best ever weekend sales record at the Festival) provided space to launch this year’s brilliant 24 Hour Comics, a daunting project that was the result of a marathon of comic creation that began on Thursday, featuring the work of John Allison, Jonathan Edwards, Jade Sarson, Richard Short and Emma Vieceli, masterminded once again by Dan Berry. (Copies of the finished comics are available from the artists).
Visitor numbers for Canadian Comics Lodge – aka the Shakespeare Centre, home to a host of talented Canadian creators including Darwyn Cooke, Seth and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen thanks to Festival partners the Toronto Comic Art Festival – were also strong, and Knockabout Comics’ Tony Bennett , who co-ordinated activities at the Magnificent Pop-Up Emporium, home to the VIZ model railway built by Kendal College students, was delighted with numbers there – and takings. Even a rogue Dalek trundling through on Sunday didn’t distract comic fans from enjoying proceedings, which included signings organised by Soaring Penguin Press and a Bartkira exhibition.
One child summed up the mood of the weekend in the Westmorland Shopping Centre, running with comics under their arm past a number of comic creator stands shouting “I’m in heaven!”, while another at the Brewery Arts Centre countered her mother’s comment that the Festival was not just about buying books with the retort: “It is all about buying books, because reading is good!”
“We’d like to thank everyone who attended this year’s Festival,” commented Director Julie Tait. “We’re already lining up some great ideas and guests, British and international, for 2016 and irons are in the fire for more commissioned work, after the success of projects such as the Elephant Walk earlier this year and the 24 Hour Comics Marathon.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of the local community, local businesses and the global comics community who have supported our aim to deliver a truly unique Festival to Kendal. Thank you, all.”
“This year’s festival was better than ever,” enthuses Festival patron Bryan Talbot. “LICAF seems to go from strength to strength. It has so many facets covering so many areas of interest in the world of comics, there’s something for everyone. It’s a joyous celebration of the medium that takes over the town for a weekend.”
“It was wonderful,” added patron Mary Talbot. “The energy and enthusiasm was amazing, but with such a varied, packed programme how could it be otherwise? What was notable for me this year was how well established the festival now is in the comics calendar. Joyous farewell hugs all round with parting cries of ‘See you next year!’ Fantastic!”
“Over the years, many times I’ve seen creators and retailers wearily packing up at the end of a comic convention saying ‘Thank God that’s over for another year” Bryan notes. “At LICAF, they are always jumping up and down and saying “I wish it lasted longer!”
Festival Art Added to Grand Auction of Original Comic Art
• Top Guardian cartoonist and graphic novelist Posy Simmonds has joined the ranks of artists who have kindly donated art to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival Grand Auction of Original Comic Art, which already features works by the likes of Ian Churchill, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Jamie Hewlett, Sean Phillips, Bryan Talbot, the team from VIZ and more.
Artworks created during this year’s Festival will also be included in the auction, which will be run by Jonathan Ross, side by side with Kendal’s MP and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron – and will help to raise funds for future LICAF projects in 2016.
The auction will take place on 24th November at Orbital Comics in London, and the catalogue is live online right now, where you can also bid if you can’t make the actual event (places are very limited!)
Festival Exhibition Goes On Tour
• Shojo Manga: The World of Japanese Girls’ Comics, which includes work by Akiko Hatsu, continues at the Sugar Store Gallery and Intro Bar, Brewery Arts Centre until 1st November. This exhibition will then be on tour, at The Atkinson, Southport (7th January – 14th February 2016) and The House of Illustration, London, 15th March – 12th June 2016
• A massive line up of both British and globe-spanning international comics talent is being lined up for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival, taking place 14th – 16th October 2016. Visit the web site at www.comicartfestival.com