Summer 2013 saw the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the largest literary festival in the world, take a major step into the field of comics and graphic novels by running Stripped, a mini-festival within the main festival consisting of 45 different events, from talks to workshops to performances, as well as a comics fair. The Festival’s Annual Review 2013 is now out and gives an official view on Stripped describing it as “our innovative and highly successful project on comics and graphic novels.”
It describes Stripped as “a new mini-festival about comics and graphic novels, showcased the work of comic creators from established names to exciting new talent. Supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, we produced 45 events for adults and children, a mini-comic fair featuring the best of Scottish independent comics and an on-site exhibition.”
Various British and international comics creators are singled out in the report: “All-day workshops on Creating Graphic Novels and Creating Comics offered budding writers and illustrators the chance to learn from award-winning comics creators Jon McNaught and Gary Northfield. Two of the UK’s most exciting new graphic novelists, Glyn Dillon and Jon McNaught, were winning international prizes all year and their event was one of the 45 which formed our Stripped mini-festival. Afterwards, fans waited patiently, long into the night as, rather than signing their books, each painstakingly painted a personal picture. Comics geniuses Joe Sacco and Chris Ware were great fans of each other’s work but had never appeared on stage together before. Their presence created a huge buzz.”
The report points out that Stripped attracted people to BookFest who would not normally have attended: “With its own marketing campaign, including a special discount for the under 26s, Stripped enabled us to attract new attenders and introduce the genre to others unfamiliar with its scope. 20% of Stripped audiences were new to the Book Festival and of those who had been before, 56% had never attended an event on graphic novels.” It goes on to say “Book sales generated by our Stripped strand of events, focusing on graphic novels and comics, also produced substantial sales”, an important point from a charity that relies on ticket and book sales for much of its income.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of Stripped was the festival running a two-day mini comic fair which the report says, “saw small independent Scottish publishers promote their comics; they reported that over the weekend of the fair, interest in their work had been significantly better than when attending more established comic fairs.”
In his Director’s Report for 2013, BookFest director Nick Barley sums up Stripped. “The Book Festival’s high-spirited celebration of new voices and new directions culminated in Stripped, an ambitious programme of graphic novelists and comics producers from all over the world. These events, as well as a mini Comic Fair featuring independent producers from Scotland, were made possible by support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund. There was absolutely no doubt that the strand successfully attracted new audiences to the Book Festival, as comics fans flocked to the Gardens in their thousands, giving the event a delightful buzz.”
The Edinburgh International Book Festival website is here and the programme of events for the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival will be released on Wednesday 11 June 2014.
The Stripped blog is here.
As the Stripped blog has no search facility, downthetubes has created a listing of links to all the blog event reviews, text and video interviews, as well as the audio and video recordings of full talks for each of the comics creators who appeared at Stripped in 2013.