In Review and In Pictures: Lancaster Comics Day 2017

Lancaster Comics Day guest Michael Barrett and artist David Sque. Photo: David Chandler
Lancaster Comics Day guest Michael Barrett and artist David Sque. Photo: David Chandler

Lancaster Comics Day started in 2015 and has been running every year since. A small, friendly event, it has built up a good reputation in the comics community and is providing an appealing alternative to some of the larger, less personal comic cons held in many of the bigger cities.

The list of guests this year was the best so far. The event’s major coup was in persuading comics legend David Sque (best known for drawing legendary football character Roy of the Rovers and Scorer in The Mirror) to fly over from Spain.

Richard Piers Rayner. Photo: David Chandler
Richard Piers Rayner. Photo: David Chandler
Comic artist, writer and publisher Tim Perkins. Photo: John Freeman
Comic artist, writer and publisher Tim Perkins. Photo: John Freeman

(Sadly, Barrie Tomlinson – former Editor and Group Editor of many classic titles such as Tiger and Eagle, and author of Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff and the upcoming Comic Hero – was unable to make the event due to illness, but I can report he’s on the mend and all of us at downthetubes send him our best wishes).

Tom Ward. Photo: John Freeman
Tom Ward. Photo: John Freeman
Local authors JS Collyer and AS Chambers. Photo: John Freeman
Local authors JS Collyer and AS Chambers. Photo: John Freeman

The year’s event had a packed schedule of panels – perhaps a little bit too packed! John Freeman chaired all the panels – he did a great job and must have been pretty worn out by the end of it! It didn’t show though and he was as fresh at the end of the day as he was at the beginning.

John Freeman, Nick Brokenshire, Tim Perkins and Glenn Fleming on stage for the Lancaster Comics Day 2017 Jack Kirby panel. Photo: Mark Hetherington
John Freeman, Nick Brokenshire, Tim Perkins and Glenn Fleming on stage for the Lancaster Comics Day 2017 Jack Kirby panel. Photo: Mark Hetherington

The first panel of the day was a tribute to American comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have been 100 years old this year and his centenary will be celebrated in style more fully in August across the globe. He was the co-creator of Marvel legends such as the Avengers, Thor and the Fantastic Four and had a bold, dramatic style which has gone on to influence many an artist. I must admit to being less knowledgeable of his work than I should be as my main interest is in British comics, but this panel with artist Nick Brokenshire and Tim Perkins got me up to speed, the pair’s insights complemented by the recollections of Glenn Fleming (former editor of the much-missed Crikey! fanzine) who had actually met and interviewed Kirby and whose crowdfunded documentary, Jack Kirby: A Personal Journey, is released soon (find out more here).

You can view the slide presentation created for the panel here on the Lancaster Comics Day Facebook page

• The Lakes Comic Art Festival Podcast recorded this panel. Watch it now

• Here’s a trailer for Glen’s Jack Kirby documentary

Next up was the Football Crazy! panel with Michael Barrett, author and publisher of Preston North End: Rise of the Invincibles, artist Richard Piers Rayner (who was artist in residence at Middlesbrough FC for 16 years) and artist David Sque, whose credits not only include “Roy of the Rovers” for Tiger but strips such as “Martin’s Marvellous Mini” and more. All three talked with enthusiasm about creating football-related strips and looked back with fondness to the days when British titles such as Tiger would sell hundreds and thousands of copies. Whilst Barrie Tomlinson was unable to make it, as noted above, his presence was felt as David recalled the many publicity-generating opportunities that Barrie managed to create for his comics including getting the likes of Morecambe and Wise and the Duke of Edinburgh to contribute to Tiger!

You can view the slide presentation created for the panel here on the Lancaster Comics Day Facebook page

• The Lakes Comic Art Festival Podcast recorded this panel. Watch it now

Tim Perkins, Austin Chambers, Tom Ward and Michael Barret talk self publishing at Lancaster Comics Day. Photo: Mark Hetherington
Tim Perkins, Austin Chambers, Tom Ward and Michael Barret talk self publishing at Lancaster Comics Day. Photo: Mark Hetherington

The highly informative Creating Comics self-publishing panel with Tim Perkins, author A.S. Chambers (creator of Sam Spallucci), Tom Ward (creator of Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman) and Michael Barrett was full of good tips for the budding comics creator. It gave a really upbeat overview of the self-publishing process.

It’s good to see so many creators taking control of their own projects and freeing themselves from the restrictions of the mainstream publishing industry. With crowd-funding and other similar avenues, there a lot to be positive about and I suspect many writers and artists will continue to “do it for themselves” and avoid the downsides and pitfalls of the mainstream industry altogether.

• The Lakes Comic Art Festival Podcast recorded this panel. Watch it now

Rounding off the day was the Doctor Who panel in which Richard Piers Rayner reminisced about his career including working on the classic Seventh Doctor comic strip Evening’s Empire for Marvel UK. Richard’s big revelation of the day was that he received the telephone call asking him if he wanted to work for DC comics when he was sitting on the toilet! It was a mental image which stayed with us as we happily headed off at the end of the event!

You can view the slide presentation created for the panel here on the Lancaster Comics Day Facebook page

As well as the panels there was of course the usual mix of dealers’ tables, kids events with Marc Jackson and Jack Knight, a face painter and a preview of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. As always, the whole thing had a friendly atmosphere which I think you’d struggle to find at some larger events.

Ace artist Marc Jackson is taught how to draw properly by Lancaster's budding comic creators! Photo: John Freeman
Ace artist Marc Jackson is taught how to draw properly by Lancaster’s budding comic creators! Photo: John Freeman
Author Sam Goodings. Photo: David Chandler
Author Sam Goodings. Photo: David Chandler
The Mindstain comics team. Photo: David Chandler
The Mindstain comics team. Photo: David Chandler
Comic creator Alan Henderson. Photo: David Chandler
Comic creator Alan Henderson. Photo: David Chandler
The Lancaster Manga Club were also at the event. Photo: David Chandler
The Lancaster Manga Club were also at the event. Photo: David Chandler

One minor criticism is that some of the panels ran end to end with little gap between them, meaning that attendance at some panels suffered as attendees headed off for a break. I’m thrilled that the Lancaster Comics Day team tried to cram in so much this year, but maybe they would be wise next time to leave a quarter of an hour’s gap or so between each panel. Or perhaps drop down to three panels instead of four.

Finally, special thanks to the real heroes of Lancaster Comics Day – the tea and cakes ladies! They deliver the goods every year. In fact the whole Friends of Lancaster Library team and the stewards do a cracking job every time.

See you next year?

• For the latest information on Lancaster Comics Day visit www.lancastercomicsday.uk | Find Lancaster Comics Day on Facebook | Follow Lancaster Comics Day on Twitter @LancasterComics

There are more pictures from Lancaster Comics day on the event’s Facebook page

Ian Wheeler

Ian Wheeler

Former Co-ordinator of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. Publisher and Editor of comics-related fanzines. Contributor to books on Doctor Who from Virgin and Miwk Publishing. Contributor to cult TV fanzines and periodicals.

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