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Comic art takes over the Lake District!

Sean Phillips Exhibition PosterSome of the best-known comic artists in the UK will be displaying work in showcase exhibitions at this year’s inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October.

As well as a huge selection of events, workshops, a special family zone and a Comics Clock Tower marketplace, the festival will also include a range of special free exhibitions.

“Some of the leading names in the comic art world will be putting on special free exhibitions at the festival that everyone will be able to enjoy,” enthuses Julie Tait, festival director.

“These exhibitions include work from the careers of highly established award-winning artists, as well as some fantastic emerging talent. They should provide an excellent way for people new to comic art to get a taste for some of the highest standard art of the medium.

“In addition, we also have a wonderful exhibition of the winning entries to our young people’s competition. We have received some fabulous entries which show that there is plenty of promising young comic art talent in Cumbria and Lancashire.”

The Art of Sean Phillips provides a journey through the remarkable career of one of the UK’s most acclaimed comic artists and ties in with the launch at the festival of Sean’s new artbook of the same name from Dynamite Entertainment. The exhibition follows his career from working on girl’s comics, action titles such as 2000AD and Vertigo, through to his superhero work for Marvel, DC and Wildstorm, as well as his many creator-owned works with long-time collaborator Ed Brubaker, who is also a guest at the Festival.

“The Art of Sean Phillips is a crazed flickershow of jolting pulp imaginary,” says Joe Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box, Horns and NOS4R2, “and an astonishing document of his journey from a daydreaming kid to a four-color legend. It also, along the way, stands as further proof of the fierce vitality of modern comics.”

Sean Phillips is a founding patron of the festival and The Art of Sean Phillips will appear in the Sugar Store Gallery in the Brewery Arts Centre between October 6 and November 10.

A page from Grandville by Bryan Talbot
A page from Grandville by Bryan Talbot

Fellow festival founding patron Bryan Talbot will also be exhibiting his work with the Brainstorm!: The Art of Bryan Talbot exhibition at Wildman Studios, in Kendal’s Wildman Street, between 4th October 10th November.

Described as “a dazzling and tireless exponent of the comic art form” Bryan Talbot has been one of the driving forces in the comics industry since the late 1970s, when he created the Brainstorm Comix series for Alchemy Press. Since then he has produced work in almost every genre and pushed boundaries in many ways.

Most recently his highly-acclaimed steampunk detective series Grandville which follows the life of Detective Inspector Lebrock employs anthropomorphism and satire to startling effect.

This exhibition not only reveals the life, work of a great creator but also an energy and passion which have made him one of the most popular and influential comic art figures to this day. From covers to comics, illustrations from his psychedelic beginnings to rock stars and offbeat paraphernalia, Costa Award winner Bryan Talbot presents his outstanding body of work.

The shortlist for the prestigious The Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize will be announced and celebrated at the Brewery Arts Centre’s Intro Bar between 16th October and 10th November. The first prize is £1,000 and the publication of the 4-page story in The Observer New Review. The runner-up will receive £250 and their work will appear in The Guardian.

Popular local haunt Ruskins Café and Bar, in Stricklandgate, transforms itself into a Fnarr Bar for the weekend of 18-20th October paying homage to Britain’s third or fourth funniest magazine with the V for Viz exhibition. Rammed full of Viz gear, original artwork and offering an exclusive peek at some classic memorabilia this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to delve deep (ish) into the annals of one of the icons of British humour.

Hailed as one of comic art’s new leading lights, Stephen Collins will be showing his work with his exhibition The Gigantic Beard that was Evil at the Castle Dairy between 16th September and 10th November. Stephen Collins began cartooning for The Times in 2003, and has since won several awards, including the Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize 2010. He contributes regular comics to the Guardian Weekend and Prospect magazine. His first graphic novel, The Gigantic Beard that was Evil, was published in May 2013 to great acclaim. It is an off-beat fable worthy of Roald Dahl about life, death and the meaning of beards.

A J Poyiadgi is a comics creator and filmmaker. He likes the solitary nature of one and the collaborative needs of the other.

His comic, Teapot Therapy, was shortlisted for the Graphic Short Story Prize and was coloured with genuine English Breakfast tea. He produces a regular strip for Shots magazine, taking an irreverent look at life in the world of advertising and film. His latest project is Teabag Theories, a micro-comic-in-a-teabag that uses the humble brew to unravel the mysteries of science. He will be exhibiting at the Castle Dairy between 16th September and 10th November.

Hannah Berry is mostly a graphic novelist, but also a writer, illustrator, occasional lecturer and editorial gun-for-hire, as well as having been three-times tutor for the Arvon Foundation’s Graphic Novel Writing course and Booktrust’s seventh Online Writer-in-Residence. Her Berry, Britten and Brulightly exhibition, also at the Castle Dairy, between 16th September and 10th November, features artwork from her first graphic novel Britten and Brulightly, which was subsequently published by Jonathan Cape in 2008. It has been translated into Italian, Dutch, Serbian and French, with the French edition chosen as part of the official selection for the 2010 Angoulême International Comics Festival.

Also appearing at the Castle Dairy is Gareth Brookes and his Getting Yourself a Girlfriend is Easy exhibition. All you need, apprently, is papier mache, string, soft material, a balloon, some old fashioned bellows, and a good pair of scissors (at least, according to Brookes’ character Richard). Brookes will exhibit the life-size girlfriend of Richard’s dreams, and examples of the embroidery and lino-cuts from which he has created his artwork for The Black Project.

The Brewery Arts Centre will also host an exhibition of winning work submitted by local young people to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival’s Young People’s Comic Art Competition.

The exhibition displays the results of some incredible imaginations and talent from young people aged 5-18 studying in Lancashire and Cumbria, who have created original comic art for the festival’s inaugural year. Competition entries were judged by Hannah Berry, Sean Phillips, Bryan Talbot and Mary Talbot.

• For more information about the Lakes International Comic Art Festival visit

John Freeman View All

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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