A new comic and zine fair, Cardiff Comics Carnival, will be taking place for the first time on Sunday 24th March 2019, a free, day-long celebration of small press comics, zines and illustrations, featuring some of the best talent from South Wales and beyond.
Organised by Cardiff-based artists, Cardiff Comics Carnival is a grassroots effort to further develop a vibrant comics scene in the area and to showcase the variety and quality of work being produced in the region today.
It isn’t the first comics event to take place in Cardiff, of course – there’s also the long-running and very popular Cardiff Independent Comic Expo, for example, for one – but the team behind Cardiff Comics Carnival clearly have plans to offer a different kind of event, with free admission at its heart this year.
10 Feet Tall, which is a five-minute walk from Cardiff Central train station, is allocating its top two floors for the event.
With a space right in the middle of Cardiff’s city centre, Cardiff Comics Carnival hopes to serve as a platform for both established and upcoming creators to reach a new audience, as well as being a chance for the public to engage with the comics medium and discover a wealth of new and exciting artists.
“Since starting out, I’ve always hoped someone would set up a comics and illustration show here, like the kinds you find in places like Bristol, Leeds, London and Brighton. Cardiff has a vibrant arts scene and a there’s definitely an audience here for stuff like this, and so when the opportunity came to run a show ourselves, me and the guys jumped at the chance.
“We want CCC to bring together a wide range of artists and to really be indicative of the depth of work available in the UK,” he continues, “and Wales specifically.
“Although there’ll be some superhero and genre stuff at the show, we wanted to curate a group of artists that can really give an insight into what the medium can do.
“Though comics are the focus, we’re also keen to show off other illustrated and published work, so artists working in zines, prints and clothing will also be represented. Hopefully there’ll be something for everyone.
“Ideally, this will be the start of fostering a more robust comics scene in Cardiff,” he hopes. “At the very least, it’ll be a great day of celebrating comics and illustration in a three-storey bar. It’s win-win!
“The idea to run a small press comics fair in Cardiff has been in my head for several years,” adds co-founder and cartoonist and composer Ioan Morris, whose self-published comics include Best Imitation of Myself and Death Mask, and who’s worked on the music for several Doctor Who audio productions for Big Finish.
“When Josh and I have exhibited at various fairs and conventions across the UK, talk on the long car journeys back invariably turns to having something similar closer to home. Andrew and 10 Feet Tall must’ve read our minds, because they were the ones to approach us – there was no longer an excuse!
“We’re especially pleased that Cardiff Comics Carnival will be free to enter,” he notes. “There are so many talented cartoonists, zine makers and illustrators in the area producing beautiful work and we’re keen that as many people as possible get to see it.
“Comics and zines are unlimited in their scope – from the autobiographical to the fantastical and everything in between – so there’s bound to be something to appeal to all attending.
“If you’ve never been to an event like this before, all the better,” Ioan stresses. “In fact, I envy you! The world of small press has never been healthier, so you’ve chosen the ideal time to jump in.”
“Cardiff has needed a celebration of the small and independent presses for a very long time,” feels co-founder, promoter, DJ and musician Andrew Rhys Lewis.
“After seeing what is possible in other cities across the UK, I wondered why Cardiff couldn’t have that? I recently moved in to promoting and realised I had a venue to put one on myself, and spoke to Josh and Ioan immediately. I’ve always admired their work and coupled with them being good friends I knew it would be perfect.
“Thankfully, they had been thinking of putting on an event like this for some time, our coming together was serendipitous.
“We want to provide a fun space for creators and fans of comics, zines and illustrations to come together,” Andrew stresses. “Importantly, we would like to give a platform to new and local creators to showcase their work whereas they might not have had that chance with the more mainstream and commercial conventions.
“With the upstairs of 10 Feet Tall known as The Big Top, we thought the name Cardiff Comics Carnival was not only befitting of the décor but of our desire to celebrate all the amazing creators that we have all around us.
“We hope that Cardiff Comics Carnival will become a vital and continuing part of the scene in Wales.”
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.