Artist Dave McKean announced as inaugural winner of the International Award for Excellence in Comic Art

Arkham Asylum artist Dave McKean was announced as the inaugural winner of the Sergio Aragonés International Award for Excellence in Comic Art at the weekend.

The announcement was made at the opening ceremony of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival which runs from 13–15th October in Kendal, Cumbria.

Sergio Aragonés, one of the most famous and influential living cartoonists, made a rare UK appearance to announce the winner and present the award to Dave McKean.


The new award has been established by The National Cartoonists Society, in partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. This honour will be presented annually to an exceptional comic artist, animator, or cartoonist.

Dave McKean. Photo: Joel Meadows/Tripwire

Dave McKean is a comic artist, illustrator, writer, film maker and composer. He has illustrated numerous graphic novels, magazines and album covers as well as illustrating short stories and children’s books. He has collaborated with creatives and writers from all walks of life including biologist Richard Dawkins, chef Heston Blumenthal and musician John Cale.

Six of McKean’s images appeared in the Royal Mail’s Mythical Creatures Collection.

Dave McKean’s work has won numerous awards including the World Fantasy Award, the V&A Museum Illustrated Book Award and the Harvey Award for best Graphic Novel. He has worked alongside writer Neil Gaiman on graphic novels including the critically acclaimed The Sandman series, as well as illustrating the celebrated Batman graphic novel Arkham Asylum – one of the biggest selling graphic novels of all time.


In 2016, he produced the award-winning graphic novel and touring performance Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, as part of the World War One centenary commissions, a project co-commissioned by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, On a Marche sur la Bulle and 14-18 NOW, World War One Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Dave McKean said: “There’s a lot of ‘good’ out there, but ‘excellence’ is what we aim for every day and usually fail to achieve. To receive this award in the medium that is my first and deepest love, at the best comics festival in the UK, is hugely encouraging.”

Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes Festival said: “Dave McKean is an inspirational talent and I’m delighted that he is the inaugural winner of the International Award for Excellence in Comic Art. His work continues to surprise, delight and intrigue. Dave continues to push the boundaries of the comic art medium producing work that is compelling and powerful.”

Sergio Aragonés said: “It is an honour to be announcing the first winner of the International Award for Excellence in Comic Art. Dave McKean is a worthy winner, a rare talent and an inspiration to comic artists across the world.”

Celebrating comic art from across the world, the Festival annually takes over the town of Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District and runs a number of comics outreach projects in partnership with other organisations, exploring the rich diversity of comics and comic creators throughout the year.

The 2017 Festival, which took place 13th – 15th October, brought the biggest names in comic art to Cumbria with over 70 special guests from across the comic world. Alongside many British creators, artists, creators and writers came from Japan, the US, Canada, Australia, Finland and other parts of Europe.

• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will be back in Kendal 12th – 14th October 2018 | Web: www.comicartfestival.com

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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