Lakes Comic Art Festival announces “Great War in Comics” exhibition

A cracking "Charley's War" cover for Battle by Joe Colquhoun. Art © Egmont

A cracking “Charley’s War” cover for Battle by Joe Colquhoun. Art © Egmont

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has announced that the prestigious Abbot Hall gallery in Kendal is to host a tie-in exhibition, entitled “The Great War in Comics” – featuring art from the classic war strip Charley’s War drawn by Joe Colquhoun, alongside art by Charlie Adlard and Ivan Petrus.

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival are bringing together for the first time the work of three internationally- acclaimed artists who have shed new light on this conflict through the medium of comic art. This September the art of Joe Colquhoun, Charlie Adlard and Ivan Petrus will provide an alternative perspective on the reality of war.

Charley’s War has been described as ‘the greatest comic strip ever created’ and from 1979 until 1987 formed a unique collaboration between pioneering writer Pat Mills and acclaimed war artist Joe Colquhoun. The comic strip rarely flinched from providing a frank portrayal of the horrors of war, with Colquhoun willing to subvert traditional techniques of comics’ illustration by opting for heavy inks, messy backgrounds and stark facial expressions to depict an exceptionally dark atmosphere.

A page from White Death by Robbie Morrison, drawn by Charlie Adlard

A page from White Death, written by Robbie Morrison, drawn by Charlie Adlard

Set in the Alpine trench war of 1914-1918, White Death is a powerful story of conflict at a simultaneously personal and national level. Charlie Adlard is best-known as the artist on the record-breaking series The Walking Dead. Yet this early collaboration with writer Robbie Morrison is arguably one of his finest works. Using just charcoal and chalk on gray paper, his drawings convey the fear, horror and desolation of war.

The cover of "Ghosts of Passchendale" by Ivan Petrus

The cover of Ghosts of Passchendale“by Ivan Petrus

Ghosts of Passchendaele, launched in 2014, is the third book of a graphic novel trilogy by Ivan Petrus featuring Belgian, British and French soldiers and their true stories from the First World War. Painted in bold, dark,  muddy colours, his art powerfully invokes the iconic post-war Passchendaele landscape.

“Comic art provides the opportunity to understand a situation from a variety of perspectives as you are able to view the scene whilst reading the minds of the characters depicted,” enthuses Beth Hughes, Lakeland Arts Curator. “The comic artists in this exhibition offer a view of war which is informative, challenging and will capture the imagination and emotions of the viewer.

“I am thrilled that we are able to work in partnership with the enormously successful Comic Art Festival to bring such a unique and exciting art form to Abbot Hall Art Gallery.’

“The Lakes International Comic Art Festival aims to establish comic art as a medium in its own right and to reveal the unique way it tells and communicates a story through a combination of ‘fine’ art and text,” adds Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. “This exhibition showcases the work of some of its pioneers, both past and present, taking the poignant and often harrowing personal stories of the Great War and where better to do this than in one of the UK’s foremost independent galleries. It is a real honour to be working with Abbot Hall Art Gallery as a partner and we hope to build on this as the festival develops in the future.”

The Abbot Hall has an outstanding permanent collection and one of the most innovative exhibition programmes outside London. The Gallery is managed by Lakeland Arts, an independent museum and gallery trust. Web:

• The Great War in Comics exhibition will run from 28th September – 6 December 2014

• Lakes International Comic Art Festival Web Site:

Categories: Classic British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, Exhibitions, Featured News

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