National Football Museum’s “Playing for a Draw” exhibition set to celebrate football comics

Playing for a Draw National Football Museum 2018 Poster -art by Steve McGarry

Playing for a Draw is a new exhibition that will showcase the wonderful world of football comic art at the National Football Museum in Manchester this summer, curated by top comic artist Steve McGarry.

Offering a snapshot of over one hundred years of graphic soccer-related storytelling, it reveals some of the creativity of football comics and illustration from across the world.

The exhibition, which will also be on display at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, is free to attend, along with a wider programme of related events at the National Football Museum.

The exhibition has been curated by Steve McGarry, one of the world’s most prolific and widely-published football comic artists, in collaboration with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and the National Football Museum.

Based in California but born in Manchester, Steve is the most syndicated British cartoonist, a story artist on major Hollywood movies and a two-term President of the National Cartoonists Society. Over his four-decade career he has regularly graced the pages of soccer magazines Match, Match of the Day, Shoot! and created such daily strips as ‘World Soccer Diary’ in The Sun.

Playing for a Draw highlights the diversity of football art from illustration, comics and caricatures through to memorabilia and collectables. The exhibition includes artwork from the 19th century, through early classics such as “Roy of the Rovers” and on to the modern day artists shaping the future of football artwork.

Internationally, there is artwork from Japan, the United States, Europe and Scandinavia.

In addition to historical artwork, Playing for a Draw includes new work specifically created for the exhibition by Steve McGarry, including giant illustrations of Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and the women’s football star, Lieke Martens of Barcelona and Holland.

Playing for a Draw - Lionel Messi by Steve McGarry

Lionel Messi by Steve McGarry

Playing for a Draw Lieke Martens by Steve McGarry

Lieke Martens by Steve McGarry

“I’m excited about staging an exhibition that combines my two lifelong passions of football and art,” says Steve, “and it’s a bonus that it launches in my native Manchester!

“I think that there are legions of football fans out there who might not consider themselves ‘art lovers’ until they see again the football comics they grew up reading, the trading cards they collected as kids, the programmes they treasured and the images they regularly share on social media today!”

Steve McGarry will be in Manchester to oversee the launch of the exhibition, as well as hosting a series of family events within the museum. He will be joined by his son, award-winning cartoonist and MAD magazine regular Luke McGarry, whose football clients include the LA Galaxy, and by Graham Dury and Simon Thorpe of VIZ magazine, creators of the iconic Billy The Fish.”

“We’re delighted to be showcasing the wonderful world of football comic art,” added Julie Tait, Festival Director for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. “Manchester is the perfect city to bring this international collaboration together to highlight how the creative spirit of comic art has celebrated the beautiful game.”

”The National Football Museum is delighted to be a partner in this nostalgic journey through football comic art and illustration,” says Jon Sutton, Creatives Programme Officer at the National Football Museum.

“Comics have played a huge role for generations of young readers with many childhood memories of first discovering the game forged from flicking through Tiger or Roy of the Rovers.  We hope that this will evoke memories for our visitors and they will also discover how many of today’s illustrators have taken inspiration from comic art.”

Myself and fellow downthetubes team mates Colin Noble and Richard Sheaf have been involved in helping source images for this, and it’s been wonderful to see it take shape over recent months with help from many other people, too.

• Playing for a Draw opens 5th July and runs until 2nd September 2018 at the National Football Museum, Urbis, Manchester, M4 3BG. Free. From September the exhibition will go on tour as well as being part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (12th October 2018).

• More about the National Football Museum online at

• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns to Kendal in the Lake District in October 2018:

Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions

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