Edinburgh International Book Festival Starts Today

BookFest 2015 logo
The Edinburgh International Book Festival, the world’s largest literary festival,  opens its gates in the Scottish capital’s Charlotte Square Gardens today and runs until 31 August with an additional ‘schools only’ day on 1 September.

As in previous year’s BookFest has a selection of comics creators in its programme under the heading of “Stripped”. Named for the impressive festival-within-a-festival that was held in 2013, this year’s Stripped theme is “Capturing the world we live in through visual storytelling” and it involves talks, workshops and even a music event.

The following 15 Stripped events are taking place:

Comic Capers with the Etherington Brothers
Saturday 22 August 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £4.50
Age 8-11
We are delighted to welcome back the comic-making siblings Lorenzo and Robin Etherington. Join them for a journey into the wonderfully anarchic worlds of their books Long Gone Don and Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey. These fantastically realised comic books feature unusual settings and great characters. Come and hear more and get some top tips for creating comics of your own.

Picturing Peter Pan
Monday 24 August 5:15pm – 6:15pm
Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab
Tickets: £4.50
Families & 8+
Writers and comic-book artists Fin Cramb and Stephen White bring us the first ever graphic novel of Peter Pan. A tale familiar to anyone who has been enchanted by the boy who would never grow up, Fin and Stephen’s version uses stunning illustrations and draws on authentic locations from J M Barrie’s life. Come and hear more about the book and its inspiring central character.

Neill Cameron on Reading Manga
Friday 28 August 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Writers’ Retreat
Tickets: £15.00, £12.00
Reading Workshop
Comics writer and artist Neill Cameron looks at the world of manga. In Japan, people of all ages read manga and the medium includes works in a broad range of genres. Developed in the late 19th Century, manga has a complex history in Japanese art and often draws on themes of mythology and legend as plot devices. No previous knowledge of manga is necessary to enjoy this workshop. There will be an open discussion from the start.

Andrzej Klimowski & Danusia Schejbal: When Poland Made its Mark
Friday 28 August 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £7.00, £5.00
Sponsored by Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust
The 1970s was a dramatic period for Poland and two of their finest graphic artists detail the journey of a country. While their peers fled the Eastern Bloc to head West, Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal opted to stay at home with other creative types and so became first-hand witnesses to Solidarity and a Polish Pope. Behind The Curtain graphically tells their story.

Steve Bell: The Cartoonist’s Election Campaign
Friday 28 August 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Baillie Gifford Main Theatre
Tickets: £10.00, £8.00
From the squint-eyed mania of Tony Blair to the condom-clad head of a super-smooth David Cameron, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell’s caricatures are fearless and uncannily accurate. With cartoons including a bright pink Cameron cuddling Nicola Sturgeon in the guise of a new-born lamb, Bell doodled his way through the General Election campaign this summer, and he shares his hilarious, cruelly coruscating results today.

Phoenix Comic Workshop: Pirates of Pangaea with Neill Cameron
Friday 28 August 5:45pm – 6:45pm
Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab
Tickets: £4.50
Age 8-12
Join the Phoenix, Britain’s leading weekly comic, and professional comic writer Neill Cameron as he guides you through the world of The Pirates of Pangaea, a lost continent where dinosaurs still roam and pirates battle for troves of treasure. Get top drawing and storytelling tips from Neill and produce a comic strip of your own.

Rob Davis & Karrie Fransman: Unique Voices Telling Strange Stories
Friday 28 August 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £7.00, £5.00
Last November, Karrie Fransman delivered a TED Talk insisting that comics and graphic novels should be taken far more seriously than they are. Her latest book, Death of the Artist, certainly sounds weighty, the result of a collaborative process with four friends who went to a retreat and told each other stories. Rob Davis’ dark graphic novel, The Motherless Oven, surreally tells of teenagers caught adrift in a parallel universe.

Phoenix Comic Workshop: Corpse Talk with Adam Murphy – SOLD OUT
Saturday 29 August 11:45am – 12:45pm
Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab
Tickets: £4.50
Age 8-12
Join the Phoenix, Britain’s leading weekly comic, and professional comic writer Adam Murphy as he guides you through the decomposing world of Corpse Talk. This strip exhumes the lives of famous, historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Mozart and William Wallace for a bit of forensic examination. Get top drawing and storytelling tips from Adam and produce a comic strip of your own.

Joe Sumner & Evie Wyld: For the Love of Sharks
Saturday 29 August 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £7.00, £5.00
Evie Wyld is fast shooting to international fame as a novelist. Already the winner of Australia’s prestigious Miles Franklin Prize for All the Birds, Singing, her writing career takes a thrilling new turn in a graphic memoir, Everything Is Teeth, that she’s produced together with illustrator Joe Sumner. This could be the most gorgeously moving, beautifully beguiling book of the year.

Abraham Kawa & Alecos Papadatos: Having a Democratic Party
Saturday 29 August 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £7.00, £5.00
Following on from the surprise success of their Logicomix, Abraham Kawa and Alecos Papadatos have turned their graphic novelists’ attention to Democracy, a book which begins in 490 BC Athens. It’s a brilliant story of battles, gods and tyrannies, of old Egyptian slave women and the mysterious ‘father’ of democracy. The result is a vivid depiction of personal upheaval and political transition.

Ryan Gattis & Stik: The Power of the Picture
Saturday 29 August 8:45pm – 9:45pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £7.00, £5.00
Novelist Ryan Gattis is Creative Director at UGLAR, an LA-based street art collective. Stik is a street artist from London who has risen from the underground graffiti scene to international recognition for his compelling images of stick figures. Together they explore the power of visual storytelling and the role it plays in empowerment, protest and free speech for those who struggle to find a voice.

Phoenix Comic Workshop: Evil Emperor Penguin with Laura Ellen Anderson – SOLD OUT
Sunday 30 August 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab
Tickets: £4.50
Age 8-12
Join the Phoenix, Britain’s leading weekly comic, and professional comic writer Laura Ellen Anderson as she guides you through the world of Evil Emperor Penguin, a creature you expect to be loveable – but who knew evil could look this cute? Get top drawing and storytelling tips from Laura and produce a comic strip of your own.

Jean-Pierre Filiu & Martin Rowson: Taking a Strip Off Governments
Sunday 30 August 5:45pm – 6:45pm
Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre
Tickets: £10.00, £8.00
An event with illustrated works that poke fun while making serious points. Jean-Pierre Filiu has written the words for Best of Enemies, a penetrating look at the history of US and Middle East relations. Martin Rowson isn’t much of a fan of the previous administration in Britain and with a book subtitled A Cartoon Catalogue of Britain’s Worst Government in 200 Years, he’s pulling no punches with his sketches.

Darryl Cunningham & Katrine Marçal: Who Hijacked the Global Economy?
Monday 31 August 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £7.00, £5.00
Sponsored by Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust
Meet two writers who take hedge funds, credit default swaps and modern day finance-speak, and tear up the rule book. Darryl Cunningham’s Supercrash is one of the best graphic novels of the year, dealing with complex ideas with remarkable clarity. Katrine Marçal’s Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner looks at economics from a feminist perspective, skewering Smith’s notion of ‘economic man’.

Comic Consequences
Monday 31 August 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £4.50
Families & 8+
Favourite author Vivian French challenges comic creators to a lively game of consequences. You choose the starting point for each story and then the writers must take it in turns to move the story along. Come and watch some brilliant live drawing and see how comic makers Laura Ellen Anderson, Adam Murphy and Gary Northfield fare when you throw your craziest ideas at them.

There are more details and tickets for all the Stripped events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival website.

The nightly, free, drop-in ‘Jura Unbound’ segment of the BookFest also has a comics evening:

Stripped But Not Bound
Saturday 29 August 9:00pm – 11:00pm
The Spiegeltent
Publisher Nobrow have created a fresh little format for graphic novels in their 17×23 project – join graphic novelists William Exley, Andy Poyiadgi and Joe Sparrow as they lead an interactive Jura Unbound night. It’s like colouring-in books for adults, with added edge, and has the added bonus of music from Supermoon.

In addition to the official Stripped events, BookFest has a number of other comics related events with French illustrator Barroux, Phoenix writer/artist Gary Northfield, Viz writer/artist John Fardell, and the irrepressible writer/artist Sarah McInytyre all talking about their latest books:

John Fardell’s Monsters and Baddies
Monday 17 August 10:30am – 11:30am
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £4.50
Age 5-10
Welcome to the world of John Fardell, whose live drawing and passion for wacky inventions promise an unmissable event. Join in as he reads The Day Louis Got Eaten, help to create new monsters and baddies and take a behind-the-scenes peek at John’s scribbles and drafts. There’ll be loads of tips and inspiration for budding illustrators.

Chilly Up North with Sarah McIntyre & Philip Reeve
Saturday 22 August 12:15pm – 1:15pm
Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre
Tickets: £4.50
Age 5-8
Join writer and illustrator double-act Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre on a magical journey with their new book Pugs of the Frozen North. You’ll be joined by brave sled-racers, noodle-eating yetis and sixty-six pugs. Learn how to defeat a hungry Kraken, discover the secrets of the Fifty Different Kinds of Snow and draw-along with Sarah as you go.

Dinosaur Police with Sarah McIntyre – SOLD OUT
Sunday 23 August 3:15pm – 4:15pm
Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab
Tickets: £4.50
Age 4-7
Dinoville Police Station was having a perfectly quiet morning, until the phone rang… ‘Red alert!’ hollered Sergeant Stig O’Saurus. ‘There’s a rampaging T-Rex at the pizza factory!’ Get ready for this jam-packed event with the brilliant Sarah McIntryre as she presents her exciting new picture book Dinosaur Police. Expect car chases, loud sirens and a T-Rex on the loose who’s rather partial to pizza.

My Kingdom for a Zebra with Gary Northfield
Sunday 30 Aug 3:15pm – 4:15pm
Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab
Tickets: £4.50
Age 7-10
Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans! is the debut novel from Phoenix cartoonist Gary Northfield. Think you know about zebras? Well, meet Julius as he fights for survival in history’s deadliest theatre: The Colosseum. Come and cheer on this stripy hero in a bonkers Roman rollercoaster ride of an adventure.

On Les Aura! : Music and Drawing Performance
Sunday 30 August 8:30pm – 9:30pm
Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre
Tickets: £12.00, £10.00
Supported by Institut Français
‘August 3rd, 1914: Today weʼre off’ is the beginning of Barroux’s graphic novel On Les Aura! based on the diary of a First World War French soldier and translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone. The diary, rescued from a Parisian skip, is an incredibly rich, human and historical testimony. This event is a presentation of that story in a performance, with live drawing by writer and illustrator Barroux and with accompaniment by musician par excellence, Julien Joubert.

Details of how to books tickets for any of the above talks and workshops are on the Edinburgh International Book Festival website.

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Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.

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