The Lakes International Comic Art Festival proved a massive success once again this weekend, with a lot of happy memories of meeting so many talented energised comics creators – including some of the brilliant Phoenix comic crew at breakfast each morning at the splendid Sun Dial Guest House! (Big and very good news coming about the Phoenix later this week!)
Jeremy Briggs will be posting his review and photo report separately, but here’s some of my impressions of a busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend, marred only by a server blackout that took out downthetubes for almost 48 hours.
We’re delighted to report that not only did the event go smoothly, with coverage on Border TV and by other local press, but visitor numbers were again up on last year, with organisers telling us they anticipate footfall increase of around 5,000 people on normal weekend.
Organisers have confirmed visitor numbers of 5,500 plus visited the popular Comics Clock Tower alone which not only provided a venue for several panels (including a hugely entertaining conversation with myself, comics writer Si Spencer and artist DIX about their new “quantum horror” graphic novel, Klaxon, out now from SelfMadeHero), but was also crammed with comic creators, publishers and retailers.
Page 45 provided space to launch this year’s brilliant 24 Hour Comics, a daunting project that was the result of a marathon of comic creation that began on Thursday, featuring the work of John Allison, Jonathan Edwards, Jade Sarson, Richard Short and Emma Vieceli, masterminded once again by Dan Berry.
Copies of the finished comics are available from the artists direct, many of whom will be at Thought Bubble in November.
OOOOOOOOOOO *excited face* pic.twitter.com/z2hr1yUtbL
— Dan Berry (@thingsbydan) October 17, 2015
Visitor numbers to the Canada Comics Lodge – aka the Shakespeare Centre, home to a host of talented Canadian creators including Darwyn Cooke, Frank Santoro, Seth and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen thanks to Festival partners the Toronto Comic Art Festival – were also good, and Knockabout Comics Tony Bennett , who co-ordinated activities at the Magnificent Emporium, home to the VIZ model railway built by Kendal College students, was happy with numbers there – and takings. Even a rogue Dalek trundling through on Sunday didn’t distract comic fans from enjoying proceedings.
The Festival was crammed with all sorts of activities of all ages. Comic creators in the Westmorland Shopping Centre entertained enthused children (of all ages!) with all sorts of activities, including drawing them as zombies (Funny Monsters creator Joe Matthews) and giving them a chance to win a Muckburger (Zoom Rockman). Lancaster-based Paul Harrison-Davies and Preston-hailing Graham Pearce were among the artists getting kids drawing in the Centre through the weekend, as were Neil Cameron and Evil Emperor Penguin creator Laura Anderson at the other end of the High Street in the packed Brewery Arts Centre, busy with their Phoenix comic-themed workshops.
The Brewery of course was also the place for many events and film screenings including the Steve Bell launch event and the popular Big Comics Draw on Sunday afternoon. Just one of several exhibitions organised for the Festival is also still on display, featuring the stunning art of Japanese artist Akiko Hatsu, who made her first ever international appearance at the event, and who will be in London on Tuesday to talk comics at the British Museum with Paul Gravett. The exhibition will also tour the UK in 2016.
If you hadn’t already guessed it, the Festival weekend was crammed with so many events and happening large and small, from groups of comic creators gathering in pubs to talk comics in general to social events (thank you, the Walk Inn Dead aka Ruskins and Cosmic Rays) to large panels, impromptu weirdness (thank you, Drunken Bakers creator Barney Farmer, shame Lee Healey didn’t make it, and VIZ!). Apart from worrying when downthetubes would be back up, I had a terrific time and I do hope those of you who were there did too.
Plans for next year’s event are already in discussion and of course artwork created during the weekend will be auctioned as part of their big fund raising event at Orbital Comics in London in November – check this news item for details.
• Shojo Manga: The World of Japanese Girls’ Comics continues at the Sugar Store Gallery and Intro Bar, Brewery Arts Centre until 1st November. This exhibition will then be on tour, at The Atkinson, Southport (7th January – 14th February 2016) and The House of Illustration, London, 15th March – 12th June 2016
• Phono+Graphic: 60 Vinyl Record Covers by 60 Comic Book Artists Kendal Museum, Kendal, Cumbria, runs until Tuesday 20th October 2015. Curated by the locally-based, internationally-renowned comics artist Sean Phillips, who is also one of the Festival patrons.