Top US indie comic artist Frank Santoro brings his Comics Workbook project to the Lakes

Frank Santoro lectures on the geometry of comics at the University of Cumbria. Photo courtesy Nick Dodds

Frank Santoro lectures on the geometry of comics at the University of Cumbria last year. Photo courtesy Nick Dodds

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has announced that top indie comic creator Frank Santoro will be at this year’s event, bringing his Comics Workbook project to Britain for the first time with fellow creators Aidan Koch and Connor Willumsen.

The Comics Workbook events are just three of many workshops aimed at fostering aspiring comic creators work at this year’s Festival – and helping to hone the skills of those already working in the field.

Pittsburgh-born Frank Santoro’s most heralded work, Storeyville, inspired the legendary Chris Ware to say, “I consider reading Storeyville for the first time one of the touchstones of my life as a cartoonist, and the book itself one of the landmarks of comics’ development.” It was self-published in tabloid newspaper form in 1995 and has since been reissued in deluxe hard cover editions by publishers in the US and France.

Since then Frank has produced a unique body of work that includes Cold Heat with Ben Jones, in a wide variety of formats and in the process pioneered an approach to comics’ production that tailors form to content. At the same time he acts as an online tutor and guru to the next generation of comic creators around the world.

Comics Workbook LogoComics Workbook is a training school and residency program based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” Frank explains. “It is an online correspondence course, and an international network of cartoonists. It is a world-wide composition competition, monthly comic salons, backyard masterclasses, and a library of minicomics. It is a community, a team, a house on the corner.

“I’ve distilled the essence of my comics ninja training school and am bringing it to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Just like in Pittsburgh, where my more advanced students teach the beginner students, I’ve got two superstars of my program with me and together we’re going to introduce everyone to the techniques and processes that I’ve been developing since 1988.”

Together, he Aidan Koch and Connor Willumsen will host a composition competition within a special workshop at the Festival. Centring around the advanced application of techniques developed by Comics Workbook, participants will compose directly with no script or prior preparation, completing a one-page comic strip within the time allowed. There will be a symbolic competition to foster a challenging atmosphere in order to bring out the best in each participant.

Beginners and experts are welcome and all participants will have the opportunity to have their work printed with the help of the Comics Workbook gang at the Comics Clocktower at their “riso depot”).

“We are honoured and excited to be creating a new collaboration with Comics Workbook and bringing Frank and team’s unique perspective on comics to this side of the Atlantic,” says Festival Director Julie Tait. “We couldn’t ask for a more inspiring and energetic partner.”

Tickets for the main events at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival are on sale now.

Guests at this year’s Festival include Charlie Adlard (artist on The Walking Dead), Jordi Bernet (Torpedo and Jonah Hex), Rufus Dayglo (2000AD‘s “Bad Company”, Last Gang in Town), Isabel Greenberg (The Encyclopedia of Early Earth), Joe Kelly (I Kill Giants,Deadpool), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim, Seconds), Luke McGarry and Steve McGarry, Mick McMahon (2000AD), Leah Moore and John Reppion, artist and Festival art designer Ken Niimura, and Paco Roca, best known for his award-winning graphic novelWrinkles.

Many international and British comic creators – writers, artists, publishers and retailers – are heading to Kendal, in Cumbria, for a packed weekend of comic celebration in October, crammed with panels, exhibitions, children’s events and other activities. The town will be entirely given over to comics, with business owners lining up to support the Festival’s famous “Windows Trail“, providing store front space to display comics art created by artists and local groups and school children.

While panel events and film screenings are ticketed, the Comics Clock Tower offers plenty of free access to many comic creators and their work, and there’s an exciting line up of free events lined up for children, too, in assorted venues across Kendal.

Find out more about the Comics Workbook “Compostion Competition” workshop and how to book tickets here
Find out more about Aidan Koch’s “Visual Poetry” workshop and how to book here
Find out more about Connor Willumsen’s workshop “The Hammer Party” and how to book here

• Buy your tickets now from The Brewery, Kendal – (Social media short link – | Box Office 01539 725133 | Email

How to get involved with Comics Workbook

• Check out the website:
• Apply for a Rowhouse Residency: email santoroschoolATgmail
• Take the Correspondence Course: email santoroschoolATgmail
• Attend a workshop, lecture, or comics salon near
• Get the official Comics Workbook Handbook:
• Write an article for us: email santoroschoolATgmail


Frank SantoroFrank Santoro is the author of StoreyvillePompeii, and numerous other comic books (all published by PictureBox) and is a columnist for The Comics Journal. He co-founded the comics criticism magazine ComicsComics with Dan Nadel and Timothy Hodler. His comics have been published in Kramers ErgotMome, and The Ganzfeld.

He has exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, The Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and at The Fumetto Festival in Switzerland. He has taught drawing at Parsons School of Design and led workshops at comics festivals around the world. Santoro created a correspondence course for comic book makers that has evolved into a residency program and school which he runs out of his Pittsburgh home.

He maintains and edits the Comics Workbook tumblr blog as a showcase for new and under-appreciated comics work, while running the Comics Workbook website as a comics education and documentation platform. Through his own comics and his school, Santoro has consistently applied himself to developing new approaches to creating comics, while simultaneously pushing down barriers separating comics from fine arts and the classical tradition. His work has influenced comics pedagogy and continues to mould and inform the next generation of comickers and cartoonists.

Frank Santoro Online

Aidan Koch

Aidan Koch

Aidan Koch was born in Seattle, Washington in 1988 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA in Illustration at the Pacific NW College of Art in Portland, Oregon.

Well known for her “visual poetry” comics, which often utilise unusual mediums, Aidan’s voice is unique in the scene. Her work has appeared in many group exhibitions, as well as The Paris Review. Past books include the Xeric Award winning The Whale (Gaze Books, 2014), Field Studies (Floating World Comics, 2012) and the anthology Astral Talk (Publication Studio, 2011), which she edited. Most recently, Koyama Press released After Nothing Comes (2016).

Aidan Koch Online

Connor Willumsen

Connor Willumsen

Connor Willumsen was born in Calgary, Alberta in the late 1980s. He received a design degree from The Alberta College of Art, and began making comics during a year at the School ofVisual Arts in NYC.

His work finds an energetic balance between mainstream and underground comics. He has drawn stories for Marvel and DC, and made illustrations that accompanied the Criterion edition of David Cronenburg’s Scanners.

His comics have appeared on The Nib (Penetrating Rule, 2015) and Study Group (Calgary: Death Milks a Cow, 2013).

Breakdown Press published Volumes One and Two of Treasure Island (2014) and his self-published work includes Sunset People (2014) and Swinespritzen(2014).

Connor Willumsen Online

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