Manga galore, and more, hit Medway this Friday as part of new Festival

Medway River Lit, a new literary festival for Medway, Kent, hosts a number of largely free comic-related events this Friday, 9th June, with guests including Sayra Begum and Fumio Obata.

Friday’s events explore the marriage of words and images in comics and graphic novels, the presence of comic characters augmented by tie-in My Manga Medway exhibition throughout June at Rochester Library.

Medway River Lit is produced by Wordsmithery, commissioned by Medway Council, most events spanning the first two weeks in June. But there are more events later in a busy month, too, including a “Bookends” event on Saturday 17th June at Chatham Library with an appearance by author and comic writer Ben Aaronovitch, creator of the fantasy thriller series Rivers of London and a writer for Doctor Who.

Here’s the full line-up of events on Friday 9th June, all taking place at the Guildhall Museum in Rochester.

Do note that as an historic building, some areas of the Guildhall Museum have limited access, please check their Accessibility Statement for full details. The High Street is pedestrianised, so the nearest bus stop is Rochester rail station.

Check out the full Festival line up at

• Manga and Anime Workshop with Nadia Perrotta 12 noon – 1.00pm, The Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY |Refreshments will be available. Free, no booking required

Nadia Perrotta

Join artist Nadia Perrotta, the leader of the ‘My Manga Medway‘ project which will be on display throughout the festival, in a workshop learning to create your own manga and anime-style characters.

Nadia is a multimedia storyteller who created ‘House of Stars’, a platform and safe hub for young people and creatives to work together, express themselves freely and connect supporting each other through art and music.

• Superhero Workshop with Nick Ashton 1.30 – 2.30pm The Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY | Refreshments will be available. Free, no booking required.

Learn how to create and draw your own superheroes with comic artist Nick Ashton, in this workshop suitable for all ages.

Nick Ashton is a professional designer, illustrator and animator with 15 years of experience within the entertainment industry. He has worked with hundreds of international films, including The Hobbit films, the Harry Potter franchise and several Dreamworks animated titles.

He is part of the Kent Illustration Network, (KIN), whose Medway River Lit exhibition ‘Monsters of the Deep’ will be displayed at Chatham Library, throughout the festival.

• Author Talk: Wallis Eates 3.00 – 4.00pm The Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY | Refreshments will be available. Free, no booking required

Wallis Eates

Wallis will talk about her own journey of making autobiographical comics.

Wallis Eates graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2001. She is an autobiographical comic creator who works collaboratively with community groups. She has produced comics with prisoners, adults with dementia, amateur boxers and brain injury survivors. She also runs workshops and is a committee member of LDComics, leading in the ‘Safe Space for Hard Stories’ initiative – an online reflective practice group for autobiographical comic makers.

• Author Talk: Sayra Begum 4.00 – 5.00pm The Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY | Refreshments will be available. Free, no booking required

Sayra Begum
Sayra Begum

Sayra Begum is an illustrator based in Nottingham who also teaches at Falmouth and De Montfort University. She released her debut graphic novel, Mongrel in 2020 (supported by ACE, published by Knockabout).

Mongrel is “a magical story and a stunning debut” about a young Muslim woman growing up in modern Britain.

Begum has contributed to the ’10 Years to Save the World’ comic anthology and taken part in the Comics Cultural Exchange Residency in Prague. In her upcoming residency with New Art Exchange, Begum will be exploring secular and religious Pilgrimages in the form of gallery comics. She is interested in theology, our relationship to the environment, to each other and the reality that exists beyond our perception.

• Author Talk: Fumio Obata 5.00 – 6.00pmThe Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY | Refreshments will be available. Free, no booking required

Fumio Obata
Fumio Obata

Graphic novelist Fumio Obata completes Friday’s graphic novel and comics speaker lineup at The Guildhall, Rochester.

Fumio was born in Tokyo and grew up with the manga and anime cultures of the 1970s and 1980s. Always fond of drawing, at school his exercise books were always full of cartoon sketches. In 1991, he moved to the UK and has been living on British soil since then.

He studied BA Illustration at Glasgow School of Art and obtained a Master’s degree in Communication Design from Royal College of Art in London.

Fumio’s 2014 graphic novel Just So Happens was described by The Guardian as a “delicate, intimate graphic novel explores the dead weight of parental expectation and the conflict of belonging”.

• How to Write for Comics Workshop with Sayra Begum 6.00 – 8.00pm The Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY | Refreshments will be available. Free but booking required via EventBrite

Art from Mongrel by Sayra Begum

This workshop with Sayra Begum on How to Write for Comics will go over scripting basics, comic conventions, and then thumbnailing. There will be a small activity where attendees will write a four-panel comic and then create the thumbnails.

Check out the full Festival line up at

Saturday 17th June

Ben Aaronovitch

• Author Talk: Ben Aaronovitch 2.30 – 4.00pm Saturday 17th June, Chatham Library, Dock Rd, Chatham ME4 4TX | Refreshments will be available. Free, book with Medway Libraries in person, phone 01634 337799, or via your SPYDUS account. Chatham Library is fully accessible | Nearest bus stop: Chatham bus station

Fantasy author Ben Aaronovitch returns to Chatham Library to talk about writing the Rivers of London urban fantasy series.

The series centres on the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police; who, following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural.
Peter Grant is the first English apprentice wizard in over seventy years.

The popular book series now includes a role playing game, novella and graphic novels.

Check out the full Festival line up at

Exhibition: My Manga Medway

Rochester Library, Community Hub Rochester, Eastgate, Rochester ME1 1EW
Open during usual library opening hours
Throughout June 2023. In association with Nucleus Arts, Cafenetics and House of Stars

Step into the vibrant world of “My Manga Medway,” a captivating comics exhibition showcasing young creators’ incredible talent and imagination.

As one of a number of engagement projects leading up to the festival organisers Wordsmithery invited Medway’s young people aged 12-26 to learn to tell their Medway stories in a manga style.

Hosted by House of Stars in collaboration with Medway River Lit, this fortnightly workshop became a creative haven for budding artists and storytellers aged 12-26.

Prepare to be immersed in a unique fusion of Japanese manga and the rich tapestry of Medway as these talented individuals came together to craft captivating tales that celebrate their local community.

From exhilarating adventures to heartfelt narratives, “My Manga Medway” reveals the power of collaboration and the boundless possibilities that arise when imagination takes flight. Embark on a journey that intertwines cultures, storytelling, and the extraordinary talents of Medway’s rising stars.

Medway-based literary organisation Wordsmithery was commissioned by Medway Council to create an ambitious new ten-day literary festival for Medway in June 2023. Celebrating the history and future of literature, poetry, spoken word in its many forms in Medway and beyond for 2023, Medway River Lit is showcasing over 70 writers and performers in genres from spoken word and poetry, to crime, drama, playwriting, biography, fiction, storytelling, psychogeography, fantasy literature, and more.

Check out the full Festival line up at

Categories: Comic Art, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions

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