Hellboy art in the window of Wetherspoons, Kendal, in 2014.

Lakes Festival Brings Comic Art to the High Street

Artist Kemi Sobue’s work for the 2014 Windows on Comic Art Trail in Kendal's Westmorland Shopping Centre. Photo: Sandra Wood
Artist Kemi Sobue’s work for the 2014 Windows on Comic Art Trail in Kendal’s Westmorland Shopping Centre. Photo: Sandra Wood

Kendal’s high street will again be taken over by comics in October in the run up the third Lakes International Comic Art Festival, complemented by exhibitions of art by Andy Poyiadgi and Mike Medaglia.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is the only event of its kind in UK, celebrating all kinds of comic forms, from Britain’s The Beano and The Phoenix to Japan’s globally-acclaimed manga and Canada’s unique comic creators, whose work echoes that country’s frontier-challenging spirit.

Along with a main programme featuring more than 50 different events, including films, the Festival will also host a free, children friendly Family Zone, free Comics Clock Tower signings and events, free exhibitions, a crazy “Festival Fringe” pop-up, courtesy of VIZ comic and publisher Knockabout… and much more!

Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014 Windows Trail - Gentrys
An inventive window display for the local barbers, Gentry.
Signature Gallery window art. Photo: Sandra Wood
Signature Gallery window art. Photo: Sandra Wood

The Windows on Comic Art Trail is a unique art trail that is very much part of the Festival’s aim to involve the local community in its comics celebration, displayed in business windows across the town. It provides a fabulous opportunity for the town to get behind the festival and for a wide range of artists to get involved. It also provides visitors with a brilliant way to explore the town. Last year 6000 viewers saw the windows trail and 400 voted in the Peoples Vote.

All the artists involved, whether from local community groups or schools right through to professional artists, take their own approach to their individual windows. They are encouraged to reflect both their own work and the business that’s hosting them.

A local sports shop was just one of many retailers who gave their shop window a comics theme for the weekend.
A local sports shop was just one of many retailers who gave their shop window a comics theme in 2013.

This year, the trail will be complemented by exhibitions in two businesses in the town centre:

  • Williams’ Wools, the Kendal Wool Shop, who are working with Kendal’s first yarn bombing crew, Woollies of Mass Decoration
  • Local artist Jamie Barnes will reflect Kendal’s architecture in the window of Arnold Greenwood Estate Agent. Jamie is a skilled artist who takes inspiration from houses, townscapes and has created a range of work about the Fellside area of Kendal.
  • Kendal 1st Cub and Scout Group will create a window in festival sponsors Specsavers. They will work with festival favourites and creators of the Lakes Gang, Felt Mistress and Jonathan Edwards to create their window including our Lakes Gang character, Gubbs
  • Gareth A Hopkins, winner of ‘Best Artist’ last year is teaming up with Iridium in the New Shambles.

There’s a (gentle) competitive element too where the Windows Trail organisers ask members of the public to vote for a favourite window in The People’s Vote. Additional categories that will be judged and awarded prizes are the Best Artist Window and Best School or Group Window.

Maps and voting slips will be available at participating shops and at the Brewery Arts Centre and the Comics Clock Tower.

This year, the trail has been by creating exhibitions in two businesses in the town centre:

  • Brew Brothers will have an exhibition by Andy Poyiadgi whose comic Teapot Theory was shortlisted for the Observer/Jonathan Cape/ Comica Graphic Short Story Prize and was coloured with genuine English Breakfast tea.
  • White Stuff will have an exhibition by Mike Medaglia, a comic artist, illustrator and Zen Buddhist whose book One Year Wiser will be launched at the festival by SelfMadeHero. All the artwork in this exhibition will be for sale and the proceeds go to the charity that White Stuff regularly supports, the Bendrigg Trust.

The Windows Trail is made possible with support from the Kendal Business Improvement District, North Country Leisure, Russel Armer Homes, Costa Coffee and Iridium, Kendal.

Darwyn Cooke
Darwyn Cooke is one of the top guests at this year’s upcoming Lakes Festival. Tickets are on sale now. Photo courtesy the artist

A huge line up of both British and globe-spanning international comics talent is being lined up for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival, including award-winning Canadian artist Darwyn CookeSimpsons Comics artist Bill MorrisonBouletWinshlussBenoit Peeters and Antoine Cossé and Japanese Shojo manga artist Akiko Hatsu.

British guests include Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, 24 Hour Marathon organiser and artist Dan Berry; graphic novelist Joe Decie, who is working on a longform project thanks to funding from the Lakes Festival; Oliver East, author of titles such as Trains Are Mint, who is working on another project with the Festival following the success of The Homesick Truant’s Cumbrian Yarn; internationally-acclaimed cartoonist Hunt Emerson, creator of Calculus Cat;  author David Gaffney, who has recently been working with Dan Berry on a new graphic novel, The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head; award winning comics writer Kieron Gillen; and UK-based stitcher and prolific tea drinker Felt Mistress AKA Louise Evanswho has created a range of one-off bespoke creatures with her partner, illustrator Jonathan Edwards, including Poblin, the Festival’s mascot; and the internationally-acclaimed illustrator and graphic novelist Dave McKean.

• Make sure that you walk the whole Window on Comic Art Trail! It will start at Kendal Leisure Centre, where you can park, leave the car and walk in to town. The trail is 3.2km (two miles) long… which is 4000 steps, meaning and you could burn up to 500 calories making your way around the trail. There. You see/ Comic art isn’t just good on the eye – it’s good for your health!

Check out Sandra Wood’s gallery of the Windows on Comic Art Trail on flickr

• Tickets for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival are on sale now from the Brewery Arts Festival – Book Now

• Check out a digital version of the 2015 Lakes  International Comic Art Festival Programme here

• For the latest news on the 2015 Lakes International Comic Art Festival visit: www.comicartfestival.com | Sign up for the Festival’s newsletter here for the latest news

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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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