The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival and Soaring Penguin Press has announced the launch of Breakthrough: Our Time, the graphic novel anthology culmination of an 18-month initiative. Instigated by LICAF in October 2018 and supported by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust Fellowship, the mentoring program was facilitated by Tim Pilcher and Julie and Carole Tait.
Breakthrough: Our Time showcases some of the newest and most exciting talents emerging in British comics today, a collection of diverse and disparate comic creators revealing the myriad of voices and experiences across contemporary Britain. The included strips deal with prejudices around disabilities; offer fantastical takes on climate change activism; explore mental health issues in a multicultural society; and romance in a post-Brexit world.
Each story not only provides a unique perspective, but is illustrated with distinctive and accomplished artwork, giving a fascinating insight to four very different points of view. Heart-breaking, enraging, illuminating, amusing, and impassioned, Breakthrough: Our Time thoroughly entertains while challenging perceived beliefs.
The first story, Assumptions, by up-and-coming poet Hannah Hodgson (and illustrated by Michael Lightfoot) deals with her issues with the general population’s ignorance around disability, in sometimes shocking ways.
This is followed up with Worri & Vort by Abbigayle Birchman, a fantasy allegory of the Extinction Rebellion movement, drawn in an animation style.
Danny Christie’s deeply personal Black Window explores racism in Britain over the past 40 years, touching on themes recently discussed in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films.
Finally, Looking for Love in Brexit Britain is part-subversion of classic Romance comics tropes and part-political and social satire, “But ultimately, it’s a heartfelt plea that we respect diversity of thought and freedom of speech,” explained creator Michael Lightfoot.
“Having never worked professionally with an editor before, and in some cases, never even produced comics, I was incredibly impressed with the tenacity and dedication of Hannah, Abbi, Danny and Michael and, perhaps even more importantly, the quality of their work. These are comic creators with futures ahead of them.” said Editor/Co-Publisher Tim Pilcher.
Soaring Penguin Press Co-Publisher, John Anderson, concurred, “Breakthrough: Our Time continues and reinforces our mandate to publish voices that should be heard, and stories that should be read. We’re delighted to introduce these four powerful storytellers to the world, and look forward to seeing what they do next.”
“It was a privilege to work with four talented creators and Soaring Penguin Press, and to see such an impressive and thought-provoking outcome,” said Julie Tait, LICAF’s Artistic Director.
Breakthrough: Our Time features a cover by John McCrea (Hitman, The Boys: Herogasm), and a foreword by Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, The Originals), who also guest-mentored the creators.
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is the only one of its kind in the UK, centred on events and comics projects brought to you from one of the country’s most beautiful areas – the English Lake District, in the market town of Kendal. Modelled on European-style festivals, such as Angoulême in France, the annual Festival usually takes over the whole town for a weekend of comic art every October (going virtual last year only, with LICAF LIVE).
The Festival’s aim is to celebrate the whole spectrum of comic art, inspiring existing comic art fans and creators and, it hopes, generating new audiences and creators too. It invests in creators through a commissioning programme and has an emphasis on developing international collaborations.
Soaring Penguin Press is an Eisner and Ignatz Award-nominated publisher of comics and graphic novels. It has published renowned creators from across the world (including Britain, Canada, France, Sweden, Ukraine and Israel) for nearly 25 years. Titles include Breaks 1 and 2 by Emma Vieceli and Malin Ryden, Notes by Boulet, The Bad Bad Place by David Hine and Mark Stafford, the forthcoming The Glass Wall by William Robertson and Yulia Lapko, and the critically acclaimed anthology, Meanwhile…
• Breakthrough: Our Time is available to purchase online direct from Soaring Penguin Press here – and at all good comic and bookshops
Breakthrough: Our Time
Creators: Hannah Hodgson, Abbigayle Bircham, Danny Christie, Michael Lightfoot
Format: 136pp, Full colour hardback
RRP: £18.99 /$49.95
• More about the Breakthrough Initiative at: comicartfestival.com/project/breakthrough
• Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2021: 15th – 17th October 2021: www.comicartfestival.com