I have some news for you. You may want to sit down for this:
Kendal is going to have a Comic Art Festival.
I’ll say that again in case you missed it. In fact, I’ll say it in bold with a bigger font and exclamation marks:
Kendal is going to have a Comics Art Festival!!!
The first Lakes International Comic Art Festival takes place on October 18-20, 2013 and will be centred on Kendal. The aim is to make the auld grey town an international comic book venue to rival the likes of Angoulême and Comiket.
Given that these two festivals receive 200,000 and half a million visitors respectively, this may seem a tall order. But everyone has to start somewhere and, judging from the launch at The Brewery last night, this one is off to a flying start.
The driving force behind it is Julie Tait, who also works with Lakes Alive. Festival founding patrons are ace comic artist Sean Phillips
and Bryan and Mary Talbot, whose graphic novel, Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, won the biography category in this year’s Costa Awards.
Comic books (or graphic novels if you live in Hampstead) are coming of age in the UK. The broadsheets have been telling us this every two years for the last decade, so it must be true. Across the Channel, bande dessinée has been a strong force on the French cultural scene for many decades, where one in three books sold is a comic book. No one looks down at a comic book fan, let alone someone who does squiggly drawings for a living.
Comic books today are more than Dan Dare or The Beano writ large. They can deal with any subject under the sun, up to and including current conflicts abroad. They are imaginative, enthralling, exciting and inspirational. So it’s surprising that the UK - the spiritual originator of cartoons and comic art with the likes of Hogarth and Rowlandson - has never had a comic book festival. Good grief, we’ve only had a cartoon museum for ten years and we invented the cartoon!
Julie and her team hope to set that straight. It sounds like the event is going to be awash with big names, from the UK and abroad, both in the graphic novel and cartoon fields. There are going to be family events, trading stalls, talks and drawing. Lots and lots of drawing.
As you can tell, I am in no small measure quite excited by this. So much so, I’m going to have to go and have a lie down.
To find out more, see today’s national media or zap across to their website at www.comicartfestival.com
You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and if all that fails, ace comic book blogger John Freeman will have all the info at www.downthetubes.net.
And I’ll be posting regular updates here and on my Twitter feed. 'Natch.