Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, tells us a little more about what we can expect at this year’s inaugural comic carnival…
Just two days to go and our guests and audiences will soon start to arrive in Kendal for the inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Our aim is to appeal to aficionados and, at the same, time draw a new audience into comic art.
Comic art is a growing art-form and one which has been mis-catergorised for some time i.e. a genre of literature or of visual arts rather than being given its own status and profile.
We have pioneers, leading talent and new and emerging creators too from across the world descending on the market town of Kendal on the edge of the Lakes from the USA, Scandinavia, Spain, France, Belgium and even Scotland! Manga, political cartooning, superheroes, crime and horror genres, 2000AD, issue-based comic books – you name it. Joe Sacco, Ed Brubaker (our coup as first visit ever to UK), John Wagner, Duncan Fegredo, Posy Simmonds, Trina Robbins, Carlos Ezquerra, Kurt Busiek, Hannah Berry, and Sean Phillips, Bryan and Mary Talbot who are our founder patrons.
A pass costing £25 for the weekend gets you into 4 daytime events of your choosing with guaranteed seats plus unlimited access to our equivalent of the marketplace/artists’ alley – The Comics Clocktower where we have more than 70 creators and exhibitors including people like Gary Erskine, Emma Vieceli, John Allison, SelfMadeHero, Nobrow, Myriad, Knockabout etc. Plus there’s a free exhibitions programme, a free family zone and more to make it a full festival weekend. It’s a different model to what many UK comic art event and convention attendees are used to and I am aware it may take a while for people to see the difference (and benefits) and, I accept, it may not be to everyone’s tastes.
However whilst I know you can’t always please everyone, we’re having a go! Actually what we are trying to do is ensure there are different “entry points” so we can include as many people as possible who may think they are only interested in X but rub up along Y and try something new…. or not. The events programme represents a wide range of genres etc and a reasonable international representation too. There is much to build on in the future. At the same time we have areas which are totally free and less “earnest” in presentation to attract those new to it all. However quality is the connecting factor I hope. Around that is the broader festival experience so it’s family-friendly, has a buzz and whilst the town goes about its business, there is a feeling of something extraordinary happening too. Again it shows off the wonderful qualities and appeal of comic art beyond sitting in auditoria and browsing market stalls. We’ve got a windows on comic art trail through town involving 28 shops and businesses, a one-off dispensation to fly a flag from the Town Hall for the weekend (yes it’s the bat symbol) and we’re turning a local bar into the Fnarr Bar for the weekend to honour all things Viz (Graham Dury and Simon Thorp will be the focus of an event on Saturday evening).
People think we’re at the end of the universe up here but we’re closer than you think. We have a mainline train station at Oxenholme which connects to a town station too on a line from Manchester airport to Windermere. It takes approximately 75 mins from Manchester, just 1hr 40 mins from Glasgow and 2 hours 45mins from London. There’s an excellent regional/local bus service too. It does mean you can do a day trip to the festival from North East, Yorkshire, Southern Scotland, Manchester, Liverpool. Who knows yet whether we have enough accommodation – people keep asking. There’s a great local information service all detailed on our website including what campsites still open and within a 10 mile radius there’s lots of accommodation. We’re also starting a home-stay scheme this year which we hope to build on – again European-style where you can stay with families for a much-reduced rate B&B and get a true local experience! We need to get people out of London – they need and deserve a different kind of cultural experience!
You can find details of our full programme at www.comicartfestival.com and we also have a free downloadable app as a trial this year.
Julie Tait, for Waterstones.com/blog
Nye Wright, author of Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park… When You’re 29 and Unemployed, and creator of our very own Sprout’s BookClub, is appearing at the festival this Saturday 19th – find out more here.