The remarkably warm and dry weekend of 16-18 October 2015 saw the third Lakes International Comic Art Festival take place in the Lake District town of Kendal. LICAF, or more simply Lakes, has grown in stature and visitor numbers over the course of these three years as the comics community realise that the European comic festival model of taking over the town works in Kendal while more and more businesses in Kendal realise that having a comics related window display that weekend will get people to at least stop and look at them.
Yet the triumvirate of LICAF’s core venues remain the same: the Brewery Arts Centre (below) has the largest talks as well as screenings, workshops, signings, exhibitions and some sales; the Westmorland Shopping Centre has the Family Zone with talks, workshops, signings, sketching (both by the professionals and the children), and sales tables for the more child friendly products: and of course there is Kendal Town Hall, as ever redesignated as the Comics Clock Tower for the weekend, flying a Batman flag with talks, signings and the majority of the sales tables.
In addition the Elephant Yard had the Magnificent Pop-Up Emporium of Viz, Knockabout Books and Soaring Penguin Press, Ruskins Bar became the ‘Walk Inn Dead’ with signings and music, the Shakespeare Centre was invaded by Canada to become the Canadian Comics Lodge with talks, signings and sales tables, Kendal Library ran talks and workshops, while Kendal Museum put on the Phono+Graphic exhibition. That said perhaps the most unusual venue for any of the weekend’s events was Simpson’s artist Bill Morrison’s signing in a local pizzeria.
With The Simpson’s Bill Morrison attending perhaps Adam Smith was getting a little carried away with the series catch-phrase of “Eat my shorts!” Adam’s humour anthology Khaki Shorts, and which has been described as a “funderground” comic, ran for a remarkable 28 issues and has now been compiled into a ‘best of’ edition entitled The Khollected Khaki Shorts: The Khream of Issues 1-28!
There are more details of Adam’s work on the Khaki Shorts Comic Facebook page.
There are more details of The Khollected Khaki Shorts on the Braw Books website.
For Edinburgh’s Aimee Lockwood LICAF 2015 was her first time selling her titles at a major comics event. With small press comics North Coast Plagues, The Woods and Food Chain, plus prints and original artwork, Aimee certainly seemed to be doing a roaring trade.
Artist Conor Boyle and writer Lizzie Boyle are Disconnected Press and have produced a selection of anthology titles including three volumes of their Disconnected anthology, the political satire anthology Cross, two issues of their own Sentient Zombie Space Pigs (with two more on the way), while Conor has provided the artwork for the 3D historical graphic novel On Dangerous Ground: Bannockburn 1314. They launched their latest title, Secret Gardens, at Lakes.
There are more details of Conor’s work on his blog.
There are more details of Lizzie’s work on her website.
There are more details of all Disconnected Press titles on the Disconnected Press website.
Artist Dix and writer Si Spencer were there launching Klaxon, their new horror graphic novel from SelfMadeHero, at Lakes and were interviewed about the book and their careers in the Council Chamber by our own John Freeman on the Saturday lunchtime. In case you were wondering, Liquorice Allsorts do feature in the book.
There are more details of Klaxon on the SelfMadeHero website.
Another publisher there was Cinebook with their large sales table fronted as ever by Aldous Russell. With the latest book in their Orbital sci-fi series, Resistance, available as well as the first book in their new historical series The Marquis Of Anaon included in their familiar multi-buy deals, it looked like a lot of new readers were being introduced to the company’s line of translated Franco-Belgian bandes dessinees.
There are more details of all Cinebook’s titles at their website.
While not technically a ‘creator’, Doctor Mel Gibson is an academic researcher on the subject of comics and her latest university monograph, Remembered Reading, is subtitled ‘Memory, Comics and Post-War Constructions Of British Girlhood’. For Lakes Dr Mel talked about Bunty and the other post war girls comics in what was a fascinating overview of a little researched part of British comics.
There are more details of Doctor Mel Gibson’s work on her website.
There are more details of Remembered Reading on the Leuven University Press website.
Artist and writer Emma Vieceli is one of the patrons of LICAF and this year became one of the participants in the event’s 24 hour comic marathon. Emma’s 24 hour comic was entitled The Fabulous Adventures Of A Gallant Gentleman created, partially at least, to the soundtrack of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ – although in the wee small hours of the Friday morning Starship’s ‘Nothings Gonna Stop Us Now’ was probably more appropriate.
There are more details of Emma’s current work, including her two current TV based comics Jem And The Holograms and Doctor Who, on her website and Tumblr, while her creator owned series, Breaks, with Swedish writer Malin Ryden is available via Patreon.
Artist Gary Erskine has been to each of the previous LICAFs promoting his work on everything from Dan Dare to Doctor Who along with the rather more down-to-earth sport of roller-derby with his Roller Grrrls concept. New for Lakes this year was his latest sketchbook which brought together a lot of the film related images he has recently created from the Aliens one behind him to the various Star Wars ones that he was continuing with over the weekend.
Gill Hatcher is editor of Glasgow based Team Girl Comic as well as being a writer and artist in her own right with titles often covering nature and conservation themes. She sold out of both her two mini titles, the illustrated story Bunny Behind The Moon and the non-fiction comic The Seagull Appreciation Society.
There are more details of Gill’s work at her website.
There are more details about Team Girl Comic, both the title and the collective, at the Team Girl Comic website.
The Improper Books crew was at Lakes in force with artists Chris Wildgoose and Sara Dunkerton (standing left and centre), and writers Matt Gibbs (standing right) and Ben Read (sitting). The latest publication from Improper being launched at LICAF was Briar, Ben and Chris’ take on the Sleeping Beauty tale, while Matt and Sara were celebrating the fact that their MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun comic had just officially become part of the Improper family.
Artist and writer Joe Decie was commissioned by LICAF to paint a comics mural in the covered section of the Smokehouse Yard alley that Ruskin’s Bar (otherwise known as the Walk Inn Dead for the weekend) was accessed through. This turned out to be this impressive grey painted strip of Joe trying to find his way home from a bar late at night and, after making a wrong turn, getting Lost In Kendal. If you thought that making a complete comic in 24 hours was a challenge, imagine sitting on the top of a wobbly ladder for two days while people stop to ask you questions and take photos.
There are more details of Joe Decie’s work on his website.
My youth was spent reading war comics and one of my favourite characters was RAF pilot Johnny Red who flew for the WWII Soviet Air Force in Battle comic, so it was great to hear that Titan were bringing him back under the penmanship of Garth Ennis. Their chosen artist for the series is Keith Burns who was at Lakes with a selection of his artwork and prints. While the first issue Titan’s Johnny Red has yet to be published, Keith had brought some of his black and white artwork for the series with him so that we could get a sneak preview and, as expected from a member of the Guild Of Aviation Artists, his aircraft are both detailed and accurate as they wheel about over the skies of Stalingrad.
Artist and writer Laura Howell, in-between gigs on The Beano, had time to let her imagination run wide by turning comic opera creators Gilbert and Sullivan into tongue-in-cheek chibi manga style crime-fighters. Soaring Penguin Press has taken those original small press comics and compiled them along with some new material into the delightfully funny Bizarre Adventures Of Gilbert And Sullivan.
There are more details of Laura Howell’s work on her website.
There are more details of The Bizarre Adventures Of Gilbert And Sullivan at the Soaring Penguin Press website.
Metaphrog, writer John Chalmers and artist Sandra Marrs, were using Lakes to launch their new hardback book from Papercutz in the USA, The Red Shoes And Other Tales. John and Sandra did a talk with Doctor Mel Gibson in the Council Chamber about their careers as well as the new book, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the same name. Later on they did several workshops about comics creation in the Westmoreland Shopping Centre for a more family orientated audience.
The downthetubes review of The Red Shoes And Other Tales is here.
Also in the Westmoreland Shopping Centre was Alan Henderson and his Penned Guin series of newspaper style humour strips. Alan posts these deceptively simple three panel strips to his Tumbler before compiling them in books of which he currently has four – Melting Pot, Out And About, Cold Feet, and Flying Lessons.
There are more details of Alan Henderson’s work on his Penned Guin Tumbler.
Artist and writer (and force of nature) Sarah McIntyre has been a mainstay at British comics events for quite a while now despite, by her own admission, not having done a lot of comic strips as she is more of a book illustrator. Here, with her Pugs Of The Frozen North co-creator Philip Reeve, Sarah shows us the appropriate attire for participating in a dog sleigh race to the North Pole.
There are more details of Philip Reeve’s work at his website.
There are more details of Pugs Of The Frozen North at the Oxford University Press website.
Artist and writer Sydney Jordan began his career in Scotland in 1948 but his big break came when his science fiction aviation strip Jeff Hawke was accepted into the Daily Express in 1955. The strip would continue in the daily newspaper for nineteen years when Sydney moved onto the more futuristic Earthspace and Lance McLaine strips which, confusingly, were reprinted in some papers as Jeff Hawke. While Titan published two compilations of Jeff Hawke, the Jeff Hawke Club has been reprinting the strip for the for almost ten years with each story having a new introduction by Sydney especially written for the club’s journal Jeff Hawke’s Cosmos.
At 87 years young (and not looking it) Sydney was quite probably the most experienced creator in Kendal over the weekend yet that did not stop him from sketching for a few lucky people.
There are more details of Sydney Jordan’s career on the Jeff Hawke Club website.
We will finish on a slightly different note. There is very little cosplay at Lakes (perhaps because of all the walking back and forth along the town’s main street between all the venues) but of those there this handsome young fellow was definitely the littlest cosplayer of them all.
The downthetubes ‘first-timer’ review of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015 by blogger Norman Boyd is here.
The are more details of LICAF on its website and the dates for next year’s LICAF have already been announced as 14-16 October 2016.
With thanks to all the creators (and dog) for allowing their photos to be taken.