Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019 - Challenging Conventions Montage

Challenging Conventions: Lakes International Comic Art Festival set to tackle society taboos next month

This year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal next month will feature comic artwork and writers who are tackling some of the biggest issues and taboos facing society.

Offering a wide ranging programme, events will include appearances by artists using the comic art form to explore – the devastating impacts of climate change, censorship, freedom of speech, political satire, grief and mental illness, sexuality, air pollution and the role of comics to push the boundaries of creative expression.

Barking - Cover by Lucy Sullivan (Final Cover) The launch of Barking by artist Lucy Sullivan a new graphic novel co-commissioned by the Festival and publisher Unbound, is attracting plenty of deserved attention. A tale of grief, madness and the ghosts that haunt us all, you can read our interview with Lucy here.

The cover of Rain by Mary and Bryan Talbot, which will get its launch at this year's Festival, published by Jonathan Cape. Set against the backdrop of disastrous floods in the North of England, Rain dramatically chronicles the developing relationship between two young women, one of whom is a committed environmental campaigner. Their wild Brontë moorland is being criminally mismanaged, crops are being systematically poisoned and birds and animals are being slaughtered
The cover of Rain by Mary and Bryan Talbot, which will get its launch at this year’s Festival, published by Jonathan Cape. Set against the backdrop of disastrous floods in the North of England, Rain dramatically chronicles the developing relationship between two young women, one of whom is a committed environmental campaigner. Their wild Brontë moorland is being criminally mismanaged, crops are being systematically poisoned and birds and animals are being slaughtered

Award-winning comic creators Bryan and Mary Talbot’s latest graphic novel, RAIN, published by Jonathan Cape, also launches at the weekend -long event, a graphic novel following the everyday experiences or ordinary people experiencing the impact of climate change, flooding and pollution. It’s a book likely to have particular resonance for local residents, many affected by the floods that hit the town in 2015 . You can read our interview with Bryan and Mary here.

(The book’s launch at the Festival comes ahead of another event to mark its publication on Saturday 19th October in Hebden Bridge, another British town adversely affected by flooding, its streets used as visual reference in the new graphic novel).

Sensible Footwear - a Girl's GuidePlanned panel debate on censorship, freedom of speech and comics in the 21st century includes an appearance by Kate Charlesworth. Her most recent work, recently released, A Girl’s Guide to Sensible Footwear, published by Myriad Editions, a brilliant personal graphic memoir charting the arc of LGBT history (emphasis on the ‘L’) in the UK from 1950 to the present. (Joe Gordon’s review is here).

Art from Camping by Tom of Finland
Art from Camping by Tom of Finland

Working in partnership with the Tom of Finland Foundation and Cross Lane Projects, the Festival’s Let’s Go Camping with Tom of Finland exhibition ­­­will celebrate the work and influence of Tom of Finland, and his role in encouraging and empowering gay men to celebrate their sexuality.

There’s a great preview here of the Tom of Finland Centenary exhibition on Artlyst.com.

Darren Cullen - NUKEElsewhere, the Festival also hosts Darren Cullen‘s “”ARTIST”” exhibition and an associated event. Darren has used comics to push beyond boundaries and challenge the status quo, his work covering subjects including climate change, the Iraq War, UK policing and the Daily Mail.

“This year we bring together some incredible artists, writers and creators who are using comics to confront some of the most challenging issues of our time”, notes Festival Director Julie Tait. “Comics have a long history of documenting, commenting upon and challenging the status quo, and comic art often pushes at the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. This is a role that we feel should be celebrated and admired.”

Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017. Comics Clock Tower. Photo: Harry Atkinson
Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2017. Comics Clock Tower. Photo: Harry Atkinson

The family-friendly Festival, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, takes over the scenic town of Kendal, on the edge of the Lake District, for a weekend of wonderful events, activities and workshops for all ages every October. Supported by Choose CumbriaCumbria County CouncilSouth Lakeland District CouncilKendal BID and Kendal Town Council, it includes live drawing from some of the biggest international comic artists, talks, presentations and comic masterclasses, a comics marketplace – with big names and independent publishers and comics signings with artists, writers and creators.

Walking Dead artist and Festival patron Charlie Adlard at the 2018 annual event
Walking Dead artist and Festival patron Charlie Adlard at the 2018 annual event

For younger comic art fans, there is the Family Zone, packed with activities for budding young artists. Throughout the town, there will be comic art exhibitions and international comic book launches and a comic art trail. In addition, the Brewery Arts Centre features comic-themed events throughout the weekend and evening entertainment.

“The world of comic art is a diverse and spectacular place, bursting with creations that transport us to other dimensions and stories that explore the world and our place within it,” enthuses Julie, who has co-ordinated the Festival since its inception back in 2013, supported by patrons who include comic creators such as Charlie Adlard, Sean Phillips, Bryan and Mary Talbot and Zoom Rockman. “It’s all set to our most diverse and exciting festival line-up to date!”

• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns to Kendal at various venues across the town 11th – 13th October 2019 | Buy Tickets | View the full Festival programme online or grab the Festival Guide as a free PDF download

• Tickets for the 2019 Festival are on Sale Now at www.comicartfestival.com/buy-tickets

• Web: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Podcast

• Want to receive news about the Lakes International Comic Art Festival? Then sign up for their newsletter now

There’s a great preview here of the Tom of Finland Centenary exhibition on Artlyst.com.

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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