NCSFest Artists Alley ready to get down on Main Street, Huntington Beach next May!

NCSFest 2019 - art by Luke McGarry

Art by Luke McGarry

Coming to Huntington Beach, California in May 2019, the first-ever NCSFest is now shaping up to be the biggest free comic arts festival in North America, with a guest list that already includes Sergio Aragonés, Pénélope Bagieu, Ed BrubakerDaniel Clowes, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Patrick McDonnell, Sean Phillips, Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes and MAD magazine’s Tom Richmond.

Organised by the National Cartoonists Society, the inaugural NCSFest will be a celebration of comics and cartoon art from all over the world. Based on the comic art festivals that are hugely popular in Europe, the Festival will be held over the weekend of 17th – 19th May 2019.

Hundreds of the world’s most celebrated creators are expected to attend the three-day event, participating in seminars, exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions and signing sessions, the vast majority of which will be free to the public.

NCSFest 2019 - First Guests

Some of the guests for NCSFest 2019

Now announced guests include Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucharacha), Jerry Van Amerongen (Ballard Street), Sergio Aragonés (Groo, MAD magazine), Pénélope Bagieu (Brazen), Ed Brubaker (Criminal, The Fade Out), Daniel Clowes (Eightball, Ghost World), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets), Rick Kirkman, Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott (Baby Blues and Zits), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Luke McGarry (Sad Chewie, MAD magazine), Bill Morrison (Yellow Submarine, MAD magazine), Sean Phillips (Criminal, The Fade Out), Tom Richmond (MAD magazine), David Silverman (The Simpsons), Dana Claire Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn), Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes, Simon Thorp and Graham Dury (VIZ), and many more to come.

Downtown Huntington Beach, a California city southeast of Los Angeles  known for surf beaches, will be the setting, with all events staged beachside, on the iconic pier, at the city’s Arts Center and library and in local hotels and businesses, all within easy walking distance.

There are plans to involve local schools and it’s anticipated that there will be many, many thousands of people congregating at the beach to celebrate all things comics and cartoon related.

The NCSFest’s Artists Alleywhich is still accepting applications (PDF link) – will have its own unique twist, taking artists outdoors onto Main Street, Huntington Beach for the weekend.

Just steps from the iconic pier, Main Street will be closed to traffic as the city celebrates all things comics for the first time. NCSFest will provide each successful artist with a secure 10×10′ Gazebo, table, chairs and power… all artists need to do is bring is their talent and art.

Artists Alley and the Marketplace will be open all day Saturday and Sunday and we anticipate that many, many thousands of people will visit.

“It’s a great way to promote your work and products, meet and greet the public and sell your wares!,” enthuses NCSFest Director Steve McGarry.

Participating artists will have access to a nearby hospitality suite and will be invited to the NCSFest Farewell Party on Sunday night.

NCSFest 2019 Postcard

Formed in 1947, the National Cartoonists Society is regarded as the most prestigious organisation of professional cartoonists in the world, with such legends as Peanuts creator Charles M Schulz, Walt Disney, Rube Goldberg and Milton Caniff among its alumni. Today’s membership numbers more than 400 eminent cartoonists. The NCS will stage its annual Reuben Awards – the comics and cartoons equivalent of the Oscars – during the NCSFest.

To create NCSFest, the Society has partnered with the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, a much-admired annual festival held in the town of Kendal, in the UK’s Lake District. Julie Tait, Director of LICAF, is Assistant Director of NCSFest.

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry

“This is probably the most ambitious comic arts festival ever staged in North America,” said NCSFest Director Steve McGarry, who also serves as President of the National Cartoonists Society Foundation, the charitable and educational arm of the NCS. “We’ve long admired the great comic arts festivals of Europe and we wanted to adopt that model for an American audience.

“We were hugely impressed with the work that Julie Tait has done, in a very short time, in establishing The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival as the UK’s premier festival, so we are delighted that Julie and her team have agreed to lend their expertise.”

Julie Tait notes that the bonds between The Lakes and NCS are already pretty strong, with many NCS luminaries having appeared at the British festival, including MAD magazine legend Sergio Aragones and For Better Or For Worse creator Lynn Johnston. “Bringing together the best of European-style festivals with the phenomenal force of the NCS is dynamite,” she says. “It’s a world first in this respect and we are honoured and excited to be part of this new collaboration.”

To further cement bonds between United States and European creators, NCSFest is staged in association with France’s Lyon BD Festival, whose director Mathieu Diez is part of the NCSFest advisory team.

“I am extremely excited to be part of this new project aimed at bringing Europe’s fashion of comic art festivals in the United States,” says Diez. “I look forward to building a strong French comics presence and wide and innovative programming around the interaction of both cultures of comics.”

NCS President, artist Bill Morrison

NCS President, artist Bill Morrison

“Comic book conventions have become commonplace in every big city in America, but this is something different,” says NCS President Bill Morrison, the editor of MAD magazine.

“NCSFest will offer cartoonists and fans a rare opportunity to share in a weekend celebration of comic and cartoon art together in a way that few in this country have experienced.”

NCSFest 2019 Postcard. Art: Luke McGarry

• NCSFest Artists Alley fees are $200 per table for non-National Cartoonists Society members and $100 for NCS members for the entire weekend – apply online at | PDF Application here | | Email for more details

• Reservations must be made by Thursday 31st January 2019 – NCS will confirm table allocations in February 2019

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