In Review: Diving deep into DCAF 2023, the Dublin Comics Art Festival

James Bacon headed to the latest Dublin Comics Art Festival, held last weekend…

The Dublin Comics Art Festival, held this year over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 7th and 8th of October, has been connecting comics and comic fans for years and I got the opportunity to go to their new venue, Richmond Barracks, which is now repurposed as a community cultural centre and library.

I depart Octocon, the National SF convention taking place at the Gibson Hotel and jump onto a Luas (tram), which terminates outside the hotel door and get off at Golden Bridge and its a very short walk to this excellent venue.

This gathering is in a lovely open and airy hall, filled with excitement and art, it’s a welcoming space and it’s busy. 

Comic creator Debbie Jenkinson

I meet Debbie Jenkinson, one of my favourite Irish comic creatives, who has just released Midlands but is also part of the collective working so hard to help comic artists.

Midlands is incredibly well drawn, filled with promise, Debbie’s previous work, Ghosting, was one of those incredible comics that brilliantly captures everyday things, while beautiful winding in a mystery, suspense and a lot of humanity into a fantastically drawn story, making me smile, laugh, hope and hold my breath. I am challenged whether to write this report or dive straight into the comic, as I journey away later on another Luas. You can buy her work online here.

Oceanux had a beautiful display of art as one walked in, great swords and flowers stickers which are amazing. Her style is attractive and distinct. It’s a good start to my visit, reflecting the great thing about DCAF: the variety and selection of creators here is strong. It’s a thoughtfully curated space, and indeed there are too many creatives to take in during one day, and demand is such that I decide I will try and get back on Sunday to see the artists and storytellers who will swop out with those there today.

Céilí Braidwood and Ken Mahon

Ken Mahon had a new collection of his Worldender stories available. There are ten of these stories of which there are nine in this solid collection, with the next story, Theme of Laura, also on hand. Worldender is a complex story about an immortal called Gilbert Marlow, and the stories are told over a long period of time. I’m excited as I identify historical times that interest me; the stories are not chronological but can be read individually.

Céilí Braidwood was offering a bright and cheerful juxtaposition to Ken’s work at the same table their engaging a bright outlook matched their fabulous offering.

Emelian was working the Small Trans Library, which is free to loan library and it’s operated through good faith, Instagram, email and a city centre drop off at TENI. The organisers also commission zines. I was, of course, brought over by the comics on display and noted some future purchases. Really though, it’s just altogether a lovely organisation who offer genuine and tangible support in many ways.

Helena Melin (Vehementa on Instagram) had a selection of poetry zines, prints and stickers, but my eye was immediately caught by Generic Diary Comics #1. Helena, who is originally from Sweden but has lived here for ten years did not need to do any sell on this item, as it promptly went into the bag.

Helena Melin (Vehementa on Instagram)

Thunder Medusa was displaying a lovely selection of items, comics, zines, and a lovely looking colouring book. The colours and style really stood out, vibrant and warm, but I spotted a lovely little comic zine entitled Days when I feel overwhelmed, and it’s a delightful item, thoughtful and insightful.

Marta Iwanowska

Freaks Next Door was another comic I found, strong in its presentation and execution, and I was drawn to Marta Iwanowska‘s debut comic work by its cover. It’s really clean and simply told.

There are literally thousands of products on sale, and the variety is indicative of the diverse interests amongst those who really enjoy art and Marta’s debut was amongst many other lovely items I discovered, but this comic shouted at me, that’s my thing, and I wasn’t alone. As I perused it, someone else bought items that were for them, sharing the appreciation for Marta’s work.

In many respects I found DCAF as rewarding as Thought Bubble when it comes to small press, entry level publications, zines and art. It’s a good show, with a wide and desirable selection of vendors. I also liked how relaxed everyone was. It was friendly but there is no hard sell. An occasional “feel free to browse” or “happy to answer questions” and I have to bite my tongue and not ask “why haven’t Marvel hired you for covers” because actually, the creative art of writing and drawing ones own unique story, for me as a reader, is hugely rewarding. I’ll take this, thanks.

Gone are the days when a stunning cover hid poor interior art. The artists here understand the importance of delivery on that initial attraction, but also deliver on story and I’m smiling, laughing or reflecting on their brilliancy in short order.

With over 50 tables each day, it’s a great destination for finding well told, cutting edge comics that are brilliantly drawn.

I depart, pockets empty and bag laden and head off. It’s a short 30 minute journey to Octocon on the Luas, and, as I mentioned earlier, the comics call to me, and I fail to start writing the report….

Check out DCAF 2023 online at

Founded by Matthew Melis & The Comics Lab of the Stray Lines comic collective, DCAF is organised by a committee of local comic creators and illustrators. Now in its fifth year, the next DCAF event is in December

Our Irish fan in Ireland James Bacon was also went to Octocon, and you can read his full report here on

DCAF September 2023 – Exhibitor Checklist

Saturday 7th October

Little Deer Comics
Thunder Medusa
Katherine Foyle
Nadia Cardoso
Hugh Madden
Helena Melin
Tim Fish
Elisabeth Neveux
Mundo Moo
Eimhin McNamara
Laura O’Donnell
Galactic Coffee
Mark Winters
Ellen Kency
Jasmine Anderson
Aoife O’Dowd
Marta Iwanowska
Amie Gerardi
Kevin Smith
Lucy Jenkins
Suz Williams
Seán O’Reilly
Sarah Bevan
Ken Mahon
Céilí Braidwood
Small Trans Library
Hello Marylore
TUS Midlands Animation
Karen Harte
Fiona Boniwell
• ArtysRuthless
• tinkyolk
Honey Bun
Dearbhla Kelly
• gg8473
• Doljayarxhive
• Kevin Philpott
• Sleepy Corvid
• NCAD Craft Market Society

Sunday 8th October

Little Deer Comics
Stray Lines
Punchup Illustration
• Luke Doyle
• Alex Fortune
Spatra Art
• happylittleimp
• Hugh Madden
• Lauren de Salvo
• Lisa Bradley
• Sarah Cunningham
• Dark Transmissions
• Elisa Beli Borrelli
• Bitzi Bee
• InkCoveredHands
• sweetbunnicreations
• beanie’s zineys
• Sophie Carroll Hunt
• Lauren Lee
• Azahara Frankenstein
• Brendan Atkins
Tara Lynch
• KatiesNiceThings
• NoSubstance
• DedByDawn
• Fat Pup Illustration
• Chloe Feldman Emison
• Seán O’Reilly
• Iced Bubble Tae
• Lemons & Lemonade
• Cardigan Coot
• Rotten Rouge
• Small Trans Library
• oceanux
Hello Marylore
• Romy Cry
Noah Coates
• Melonpie
• Rayne Booth
• Lisa McHugo Illustrations
• Little Dragon Arthouse 
• Kate Escolin
• Dearbhla Kelly
• LugiCrafts
• Christian Spurling
• Bronagh Lee
• Davidoni
• Designs by Alex
• Jane’s World

Categories: Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Features, Reviews

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