The Birmingham Comics Festival is determined to put the word fun back into British comic shows and is excited that it has just announced that cartoonist Laura Howell has agreed to become involved, not least with the main event that will take place at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Saturday 18th April 2015.
Laura’s work has been delighting readers of all ages in recent years, but it’s the kids of today who mainly get to enjoy her cartooning on a regular basis. She is the first female artist to produce a regular strip in The Beano during its long and jolly lifetime and her work also appears regularly in Britain’s bestselling boys’ magazine, TOXIC.
From contributions to The Dandy, series for The DFC and inserts in The Guardian newspaper, on to publication within Blank Slate Books’ acclaimed Nelson anthology and America’s major satirical periodical Mad Magazine and the recently-released Uncle Grandpa venture from BOOM! Studios (in collaboration with the Cartoon Network) each are in their own way a testament to her versatility and talent.
The recipient of an International Manga and Anime Festival award for The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan in 2006, Laura’s able and inspired cartooning is matched by sharp, smart writing that is never patronising and knows when not to get in the way of a good slapstick joke.
“Laura Howell’s a great talent and a charming individual that visitors to the show will enjoy meeting and talking to,” said a representative of The Birmingham Comics Festival. “We will be looking forward to her involvement just as much anyone.”
Laura will be signing and sketching as well as offering her own unique line in comics for sale at the show, alongside becoming involved in other events to be announced.
After studying English literature at university, Laura Howell went on to work as an editor of children’s books, as well as writing non-fiction for them. However, the world of cartooning was a charismatic one and she successfully applied to take part in a Birmingham-based scheme called StripSearch that sought to prepare amateur artists for a career in comics, and thereafter became active within the Midlands Comics Collective. To the world at large, her talent appeared to be in full bloom right from the start, and continued to gather momentum.
In 2006 Laura received the award for Best Comic Strip at that year’s International Manga and Anime Festival in Paris for The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan and from there on a full time career in cartooning beckoned. Great Britain’s longest established publisher of children’s comic, DC Thomson was to make her welcome, drawing for The Dandy and becoming the first regular female cartoonist in the history of The Beano illustrating the likes of “Johnny Bean”, “Les Pretend” and “Tricky Dicky”. She would also go on to produce work for their traditional winter annuals where she would get the chance to bring back classic characters of yesteryear, some of whom had appeared in other DC Thomson weeklies.
Amusingly, she would also begin contributing to Britain’s bestselling boys’ magazine, TOXIC, published fortnightly by Egmont, notably drawing “Robin Hoodie”; then when David Fickling Books entered the comics arena she would be called upon to draw two different series for The DFC, with her work also featured in The Guardian newspaper’s comic supplement. More diverse strips have appeared in VIZ and MAD Magazine, with work published also by Harvard University, Ilex Press, Accent UK and others.
Aside from her regular cartooning work, Laura contributed to the critically-revered anthology book Nelson published by Blank Slate, was involved with the launch of the digital all-ages Moosekid Comics in the summer of 2014, and has begun contributing to Uncle Grandpa, based on the Cartoon Network series, being published by BOOM! Studios in the USA.
As well as her mainstream contributions to some of the leading humour comics available today, Laura also finds time to create more personalised work that she either publishes herself or finds a home for in independent titles. She is still actively involved with the Midlands Comics Collective, and called open by educational authorities to discuss how comics are a valid form of literature and may be a career choice.
Notable projects in recent times include the Primary Futures initiative for Wolverhampton and assisting Birmingham’s new Central Library with regards to how they may begin to approach the subject of promoting graphic novels in the years to come.
• Laura Howell will be appearing at The Birmingham Comics Festival on Saturday 18th April 2015, for more information visit: www.thecomicfestival.com
• For more information on Laura Howell visit: www.laurahowell.co.uk
One of many guest posts for downthetubes.