Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The ELCAF buy guide 2015

It's the East London Comics and Arts Festival (ELCAF) this weekend -boy, has that come around quickly- and as you most likely know by now, this year the festival is taking place on not one, but two full days. Like lots of people, I like to have a bit of a list in my head about which tables/artists/books I definitely want to check out, and then that once those are done, it leaves you free to have a more. It's a rough system of sorts, and it can help make the whole thing a little less overwhelming, whilst ensuring you don't miss what you really want, and still come away with something. It relies on people making announcements and sharing about what they'll have, so it's by no means thorough; and there'll be a host of fantastic things available that aren't on here. But the list below is  a short compilation of some of the books/prints/items I'm aware of, and interested in picking up. Some are limited quantities so it helps to have precognitive knowledge! 

First up- ELCAF have printed up some tasty-looking totes which they'll be giving away free to the first 200 people through the doors on both Saturday and Sunday. I'm not usually too bothered about this kind of  thing, but the navy and orange combo is very nice, and that's Jillian Tamaki's ELCAF poster design that it's carrying. So if you're going early, it's perhaps something to keep in mind (I think they'll have an additional treat inside, as well).

Lizzy Stewart has a new comic, 'Summer 96,' that looks incredibly lovely. I'm a big fan of Stewart's art, especially her various travel and object zines, so I'm looking forward to picking this up. If you can't make it to ELCAF, it's also available online in her shop. I imagine she'll have some prints and more of her zines with her, too.

The excellent Stephen Collins (The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, Some Comics) will have with him a new mini comic called Bad Likeness, comprising of bits from my next book, which I'm really curious to see. I don't think Collins has made a comic that I haven't enjoyed yet, so while the new longform work may be a while off -Jonathan Cape will be publishing it in 2017-, it'll be interesting to read and see what it's about.

Those Swedish comic maestros are tabling again this year, and they'll have a table full of comics and prints that will no doubt make your head spin. The three new comic that they've published in 2015, and all of which I recommend are, The Nature of Nature by Disa Wallander, Soft by Jane Mai, and Lemon & Ket by Natalie Andrewson. Three very different books, but all are worth your time. Peow will actually have Jane Mai in residence, and my tip is (especially if you only have limited funds and have to make a choice) to buy her book and get signed and sketched in, because it will sell out quickly, as with her last one. I believe this is Mai's first UK comics festival. I've covered most of Peow's books at some point or the other, so perusing the Peow! Studio tag to get a look at interior pages and read reviews may be helpful. 

Breakdown Press are quite low-key with their marketing, so the only newer title that I know of is a Michael DeForge comic. On Topics collects 2 of DeForge's Patreon comics: Regarding Quickand and About Kissing. I much prefer to have things in print, so this goes on the list. DeForge will in attendance for the weekend, doing talks and signing at the D&Q table (times on the ELCAF website), so if getting things signed is your thing, that's an option. I'm assuming Breakdown will have their wider catalogue, perhaps a reprint of Lala Albert's Janus, even. It's worth checking out their table, one way or another.

Probably the thing I'm most excited to get my hands on- an advance copy of Jose Domingo's latest for Flying Eye Books: Pablo & Jane and the Hot Air Contraption.  It's a kids book, but I don't think that should stop anyone else from enjoying it, and that cover below, is just amazing. Domingo's art and colours always make my eyes very pleased indeed. Here's a little blurb: 'A strange green glow is coming from the old house up on the hill, and when Pablo and Jane decide to inquire they make an unexpected discovery! Zapped into the Monster Dimension by the evil cat, Dr. Felinibus, they must now find a way home in the broken Hot Air Time Machine, with a little help from their friend Dr. Jules (a nineteenth century scientist trapped inside the body of a rat).'

You need to see ELCAF's artist in residence, and this year's star guest, Jillian Tamaki, and buy a copy of SuperMutant Magic Academy which is one of the undoubted books of 2015. The past 2 years have been spectacular in terms of her releasing work that's been exceptional, and winning a clutch of awards and accolades for it. This is also her first UK comics festival, as far as I'm aware -and the only one she's doing this year, so it's a unique chance to meet her, and tell her how ace you think she is. I know many people have been waiting for ELCAF to buy her very good Youth In Decline comic, Frontier 7: Sex Coven which I'm assuming will also be for sale here, so this presents a good opportunity to save some international shipping costs.

I came across Thomas Danthony's work on Tumblr (where else), and the serenity of it appeals to me: the colours, composition, the reflective solitude. So I'm pleased to see Danthony will be tabling with a selection of prints (even though I have almost no wall space left).

Dilraj Mann will have copies of the Jen Woodall edited and curated Fight! zine. Contributors include Mann himself, Sam Bosma, Kali Ciesemier, Madeleine Flores, Valentin Seiche, Guillaume Singelin, Mathilde Kitteh, and more. The zine sees illustrators create their own original female fighting game characters to face off within its pages, with each artist given a direction to draw their character facing and the spreads of the book mimic the appearance of versus matches in a fighting game. It was funded through Kickstarter, and with that roll call of artists it's essentially irresistible to me. You can see more here.

And finally, Nobrow's 17x23 line has been of a very high quality this year. The two that I'd pick out as excellent, 'must-reads' are Jen Lee's Vacancy (review here) and Wren McDonald's Cyber Realm. You can't go wrong with either.


  1. Great suggestions. Will definitely pick some of those up! New Stephen Collins!!

    1. From his Twitter, sadly Stephen will no longer have copies of his new mini for sale, as there's been a problem with the printers.