COMICA’s 20th anniversary lineup unveiled

Comica - London Comics Festival (2023 Banner)

The full lineup of comic creators for Comica, The London Comics Festival, at The Century Club taking place in March has been announced, and includes appearances by Lucie Arnoux, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Armando Iannucci, Dave McKean, Martin Rowson, Posy Simmonds, Lucy Sullivan and more.

Marking the 20th Anniversary of London’s long-running Comica Festival, and in association with VIP Brands Ltd and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, The Century Club, Soho has invited some of today’s key creatives to reveal their influences, ideas, techniques and latest projects.

These conversations are accompanied by a special month-long exhibition of original cartoons by fearsome cartoonist Martin Rowson including “Naked Attraction”, paintings of various prime ministers.

Comica was co-created in 2003 by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning for the ICA / Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. It continues as part of the annual Observer/Faber/Comica Graphic Short Prize, founded in 2007, and as the regular Comica Social Club in London.

Comica, The London Comics Festival, at The Century Club is a VIP Brands Ltd concept and initiative, presented in association with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

The Century Club, with its stunning roof terrace situated in the heart of the West End, is London’s premier members club for the arts and culture. It regularly runs arts events for members. Find out more at

Here are the events, with links to book tickets through The Century Club web site…

Art by Posy Simmonds

Posy Simmonds MBE in conversation with Lizzy Stewart | 7.00pm Thursday, 2nd March 2022 (Doors open at 6.30pm) | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

Posy Simmonds MBE is one of our most loved newspaper cartoonists and creator of many popular children’s books and graphic novels. One of Britain’s first female cartoonists, she came to prominence when she created the Weber family in The Guardian in the late 1970s. She went on to write and illustrate further satires on the English middle classes, Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drew, both of which were adapted as feature films.

Lizzy Stewart’s debut, Alison, has been described as an exquisitely crafted coming of age story charting the progress of a woman embroiled in the glamour of the 1970s London art scene.

Join Posy in conversation with Lizzy, where they will discuss Posy’s life as an artist, writer and observer of the world, revealing aspects about her childhood, friendships and artists that most inspired her work. At the end of the evening, Posy will be presented with The International Award for Excellence in Comic Art for 2022.

Alex by Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor

Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor: On the Money – The Life and Times of Cartoon Investment Banker Alex Masterly | 7.00pm Tuesday 7th March 2023 | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

ALEX is the longest-running current daily British cartoon strip still produced by the original authors. It began life in 1987 as a satire on the short-lived social phenomenon of Yuppies (remember them?) in Robert Maxwell’s London Daily News. The newspaper itself proved to be equally short-lived, but the character of Alex Masterley, an egotistical, snobbish and materialistic banker struck a chord with the public. The cartoon transferred to The Independent, where it remained for five years, before Alex defected shamelessly to The Daily Telegraph, where he appears to this day. Over the years the strip has developed into a satire on the corporate world and middle-class professional lifestyles and has ridden out more boom and bust cycles than Alex cares to remember.

In this illustrated talk Alex’s creators, Charles Peattie (artist and writer) and Russell Taylor (writer and luncher), will give the low-down on Britain’s favourite investment banker (well, it’s not like there’s much competition from any of the real-life ones).

Charles Peattie was born in 1958 in Manchester. He studied Fine Art at St Martin’s. He worked as a portrait painter for a while, painting rich people and their dogs, before creating the legendary “Dick” comic strip in Melody Maker. He also produces “Celeb” in Private Eye and has written for TV for Lenny Henry and Harry Enfield.

Russell Taylor was born in York in 1960. He read Russian at Oxford and after failing to be recruited into the intelligence services of either Cold War power he drifted into journalism. He has also written books on Russia and marathon running. He moonlights as a composer of TV and film music, largely for very depressing documentaries.

Charles and Russell, who were awarded MBEs for services to newspapers in 2002, met in 1986 at a Christmas party of an advertising magazine they were both working for and Alex was born. As well as syndicating in newspapers around the world, Alex has also been spun out into a 2007 West End play, starring Robert Bathurst, which toured the world in 2008 and a Classic FM drive-time show in 2010.

Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland, Watchmen by Dave Gibbons

Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland: Designing Dystopia – An Evening with the Artists behind Judge Dredd and Watchmen | 7.00pm Tuesday 14th March 2023 | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

Graphic novel artists Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland talk to comic book writer and critic Tim Pilcher.

Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland have a fifty year friendship having met at a comic convention in 1972. Both artists joined the fledgling science fiction title 2000AD in 1977. Brian was one of the artists who drew “Judge Dredd”, creating several of its key characters, while Dave went on to collaborate with Alan Moore on Watchmen, one of the best-selling graphic novels of all time. Between them, they have worked on franchises such as Dan Dare, Superman, Batman, Doctor Who and Star Wars.

In conversation with the comic historian Tim Pilcher, Dave and Brian will take you on a journey of their lives as artists, writers and observers of the world. Each will explore their childhood, friendships, careers and the comics that most inspired their own works. Expect a creative cocktail of the many influences that shaped their trajectories into becoming two of the most outstanding comic artists of their time.

The event will also serve as a launch for their autobiographies: Gibbons’ Confabulation with Pilcher (published by Dark Horse) and Bolland’s It’s About Time (published by Book Palace). Signed copies will be available for purchase.

Armando Iannucci, Michael Lake, Tim Searle and Patrick Walters: They Shoot Comics, Don’t They?

Armando Iannucci, Michael Lake, Tim Searle and Patrick Walters: They Shoot Comics, Don’t They? | 7.00pm Tuesday 22nd March 2023 | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

The artist Salvador Dali believed that “comics will be the culture of the year 3794”. In fact, this tongue in cheek prediction appears to have come true rather quicker than the great surrealist predicted, especially in the world of cinema. Four of the top ten highest grossing films of all time started their lives as comics showing that graphic novels have crossed the borders of fringe pop culture into the domain of Hollywood’s leading genre.

An exceptional panel of key media professionals and film and TV creatives including producers including producers Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin), Michael Lake (Violent Cases), Tim Searle (Dennis & Gnasher) and Patrick Walters (Heartstopper) discuss their experience in adapting comics to screen. After the talk, chaired by Ivanka Hahnenberger, there will be an opportunity to meet the panel informally for a drink.

Ivanka Hahnenberger has worked as a producer for the past 27 years. She is the Founder and General Manager of VIP Brands Ltd a rights and consulting company focusing on expanding graphic novel horizons. 

Armando Iannucci is a writer and producer, known for The Death of Stalin (2017), Veep (2012) and The Thick of It (2005). He is presently working on an HBO project The Franchise which takes a wry look at superhero movie-making.

Michael Lake at Lakesville Productions is producing the adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s Violent Cases, to star Ben Kingsley.

Tim Searle is a director, producer, executive producer and graphic artist. He has worked in animation for over 25 years and is best known for his work on Mr Bean, Danger Mouse, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed, Have I Got News for You and more.

Patrick Walters is Executive Producer across a slate of See Saw films television projects including Heartstopper for Netflix, directed by Euros Lyn and starring Kit Connor and Joe Locke, The Essex Serpent for Apple TV+ directed by Clio Barnard, starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston and the upcoming Sweetpea for Sky Atlantic.

Art by Lucy Sullivan (“Barking”) and Lucie Arnoux (“Enola Holmes”)

Lucy Sullivan and Lucie Arnoux: Turning Your Life into Comics | 7.00pm Thursday 23rd March 2023 | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

Autobiography has become a central genre in contemporary comics with notable exponents being Robert Crumb (Fritz the Cat), Art Spiegelman (Maus), and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis). But what does it really take to transform your personal, sometimes private experiences into pictures and words for all to see and read?

Lucie Arnoux and Lucy Sullivan are two of the most distinctive voices from the current generation of comics memoirists. In this illustrated talk they will share their paths and processes in an enlightening and inspiring conversation.

Lucie Arnoux is a French comic artist and writer. Her autobiographical graphic novel, Je Ne Sais Quoi, was published in 2022 by Jonathan Cape. She is also the author of the Enola Holmes comic series. She has travelled the world with her sketchbook, but is happiest in her adoptive home town of London, where she has lived for the last 10 years.

Lucy Sullivan is best known for her critically acclaimed debut Barking, a stark black and white graphic novel about grief, madness and the ghosts that haunt us. She creates short comics for Collusive Press and has collaborated on a variety of comics including Ind-Xed, Razorblades, Skrawl, Yoshin and Metallic Dynamite.

Dave McKean and Iain Sinclair: But Is It Art? AI and the Visual Media | 7.00pm Tuesday 28th March 2023 | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

Countercultural writer Iain Sinclair and multi-media artist David McKean of Sandman fame consider the future of creativity and art amidst the rise of Artificial Intelligence. Developing platforms such as Midjourney and DALL-E that enable the creation of art through a series of text prompts have caused consternation and outrage from many in the artistic community, while others are exploring their capabilities. Find out more about these disruptive technologies.

Ever wanted to know how Hieronymus Bosch would have depicted Strictly Come Dancing? Or to see Batman as a guest in the Last Supper?

AI can now generate exquisite renditions of almost anything you wish for in a matter of seconds. It can produce realistic selfies of non-existent people (as if the world really needed any more selfies..) and Cosmopolitan recently trumpeted the world’s first AI-generated magazine cover. All of which has caused the human creative industries to ponder their future.

Illustrator Dave McKean was one such person. After reading about the implication of generative AI he decided he could either retire or respond. He chose the latter option and produced a 96-page book of short graphic stories exploring and conversing with AI.

For this special event, McKean is joined with his collaborator and friend, the multi award writer and countercultural poet Iain Sinclair for a conversation exploring the question, “when AI can make art – what does it mean for creativity?”

Probably best known for his groundbreaking illustrations of covers for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, Dave McKean also applied his abundant talent to book design, comic book illustration, album cover art, advertising photography, and composing jazz. His award winning comics include Arkham Asylum, Signal to Noise and Mr. Punch with Neil Gaiman. He has collaboratord with John Cale, The Rolling Stones, Milcho Manchevski, Stephen King, Lars Von Trier and many others.

Iain Sinclair is the author of numerous works of fiction, poetry non-fiction, including Lud Heat; White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings; Downriver; Radon Daughters; Lights Out for the Territory; Rodinsky’s Room, with Rachel Lichtenstein; Landor’s Tower; London Orbital; Dining On Stones; Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire and Ghost Milk; American Smoke and London Overground. Downriver won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Award. He lives in Hackney, East London.

Custard Pie Truss by Martin Rowson

Giving Offence: A Talk and Live Draw with Cartoonist Martin Rowson | 7.00pm Tuesday 30th March 2023 | The Century Club, 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6LQ – Book Tickets (£12) here direct from The Century Club | COMICA on Facebook

To finish up our Comica month, join cartoonist Martin Rowson as he takes us on a rumbunctious, rollicking ride through his 40 years of ankle-biting, satirical-savaging attempts to hold the great and good to account.

During an action-packed – and possibly very messy – evening, he will be depicting (with commentary) the nine prime ministers who have been in office during his career – using ketchup, mustard, mayo, peanut butter, toilet duck and various other household condiments.

The evening will include a private view of Martin’s ‘Naked Attraction’ paintings of various prime ministers, which will be exhibited alongside his ‘Gluttony’ series in the Century’s cocktail lounge during March.

Martin Rowson is a multi-award winning artist whose work has appeared in The Guardian, New Statesman, Daily Mirror, The Times, Morning Star and, indeed, almost everywhere you can think of apart from The Sun and Private Eye. He is known for being rude about nearly every significant politician of our times and The Daily Mail describes his work as “disgusting, deranged… sick and offensive”. He is the author of several books, the Vice President of The Zoological Society of London and in 2001 he was appointed Cartoonist Laureate for London by Mayor Ken Livingstone, in return for one pint of London Pride bitter per annum (still six years in arrears).

The Century Club, with its stunning roof terrace situated in the heart of the West End, is London’s premier members club for the arts and culture. It regularly runs arts events for members. Find out more at | Full events guide

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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. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek 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.

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