Stephen L. Holland Continues as Comics Laureate until October 2023

Current Comics Laureate, comics advocate, freelance artist, comic retailer and tutor Stephen L. Holland is to continue in post until October 2023, his tenure partially interrupted by the Pandemic – but despite that, has proven an unstoppable force when it comes to promoting comics and comics creation since taking up the post in October 2020.

Comics Laureate Stephen L. Holland gives his talk, “The Secret History, Medium & Mechanics of Comics”, in the Jetty Museum's Boat House.
Comics Laureate Stephen L. Holland gives his talk, “The Secret History, Medium & Mechanics of Comics”, in the Jetty Museum’s Boat House during the 2022 Lakes International Comic Art Festival

To date, Stephen has delivered 16 talks or workshops to students, librarians, and teachers, given three presentations at various Lakes International Comic Art Festivals and created two short films to encourage 16- to 21-year-olds to visit and make full use of public libraries. His events have been enthusiastically received, and his dedication and hard work quite extraordinary.

In his unpaid role as Comics Laureate, Stephen has also been featured as a guest editor on the LoveReading4Kids website, written a column for the Cartoon Museum’s newsletter, and has been invited to speak at the prestigious Eagle House Children’s Literature Festival in September 2023.

Working with LICAF and the Little LICAF team, Stephen has also reviewed a huge range of graphic novels, assembling an invaluable “Recommended Reading List” for a various age groups, all available to read on the Festival’s web site.

“One of my primary goals as Comics Laureate is to introduce as many new people as possible from the broadest of backgrounds to the most diverse range of quality graphic novels currently available in Britain,” says Stephen of the list.

“To reach new people accessibility is all, so this isn’t a guide to the cleverest comics ever created (although they are all exceptionally clever); it’s a selection of the very finest and most beguiling which have proved to be perfect introductions to those curious about comics during my 25+ years as curator of Page 45, so often kick-starting a lifetime’s newfound adoration and exploration of our beloved medium.”

“Stephen has been amazing,” enthuses Festival Director Julie Tait of his work. “His energy and passion is remarkable and so welcome, and we are absolutely delighted he’ll be continuing in the Comics Laureate role until October 2023.

“The Comics Laureate has been and continues to be a vital role for the comics art form,” she again notes. “It isn’t just a title; it’s part and parcel of our wider objectives as a Festival, to reach out to new audiences and raise the profile and the understanding of the importance of comics for education, inspiration, and literacy.

“If anyone has taken our mantra ‘Comics can change the world’ and really run with it, it’s Stephen. He will be a very tough act to follow!”

Stephen L. Holland – Comics Laureate

Stephen L. Holland – owner of the independent comics shop Page 45, and a fervent comics advocate, freelance artist, tutor and more, is the Comics Laureate for 2021 – 2023, his appointment announced during LICAF LIVE, the free virtual replacement for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in October 2020.

When young, Stephen, who took over the Laureate role from graphic novelist Hannah Berry, was a very reluctant reader – to which his mum successfully applied the then-inspired solution of comics. The proof of the pudding: he now has a degree in English Literature and History of Art, which is certainly pretty handy when preaching and teaching comics.

A young Stephen L. Holland reading comics with his Mum!
A young Stephen L. Holland reading comics with his Mum!

Reflecting his determination to reach new, diverse audiences and encourage young people to create comics, Stephen has made numerous appearances in schools, to plenty of deserved acclaim.

“I wanted to get straight into schools and start spreading the word in order to generate a renewed love of reading for pleasure,” he reiterated recently, “and empower young minds with the knowledge that they can create for themselves.

“Wherever I roam – in schools and elsewhere – I want to surprise, as we explore together what the comics medium actually is, where it has appeared, what it can do and how it can do it, while emphasising the limitless breadth of subject matter that comics can cover.

“This is the most massive honour of my lifetime – one entirely unexpected – and I’m so very, very charged up about it,” he said of taking on the role of Comics Laureate. “If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be worried, but I’ve been given this golden opportunity to replicate everything I’ve done for 30 years at Page 45 in Nottingham nationwide! To show everyone in this country who’ll look and listen the true diversity of this medium we all love, and promote its most individualistic voices!

“Because here’s the thing: comics is a visual medium. You can’t tell the public that they must start reading comics! You have to show them this medium’s full, diverse and fascinating glories – which they won’t be expecting – and so tantalise them into exploring graphic novels for themselves!”

What Does the Comics Laureate Do?

Comics Laureate Stephen L. Holland reading "The New Neighbours"

The Comics Laureate, a role initiated by LICAF, is an ambassadorial and educational role for the comic genre and aims to raise awareness of the impact comics can have in terms of increasing literacy and creativity. The appointment is made biennially to a distinguished comics creator, writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the genre.

Working closely with the Lakes International Comics Art Festival, the Comics Laureate champions the role of comics in improving literacy through a programme of educational visits, workshop events, guest appearances and conferences. A key focus of their role is working to increase the acceptance of comics as a creative art form in schools, libraries and throughout the education system.

• Find out more about the role of the Comics Laureate here: comicartfestival.com/uk-comics-laureate

• Check out the Comics Laureate Recommended Reading Section on the Festival web site: comicartfestival.com/comics-laureate-recommended-reading-list

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns to Bowness-on-Windermere 29th September to 1st October 2023 – is online at: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

• Want to receive news about the Lakes International Comic Art Festival? Then sign up for their newsletter now

• Check out their LITTLE LICAF Facebook Page here and the dedicated LITTLE LICAF Instagram here

Lakes Arts Festivals, who run LICAF, is also planning to run comic art activity in many other cities and towns throughout the UK, including Kendal, along with an extensive international programme.

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



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

Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: