Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The convention beat: Claire and Zainab go to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015

Detail from Joe Decie's comic mural

I've been thinking about comic festivals/conventions a lot. Whenever I return from one, I look to report back on the experience, but increasingly find I'm not really sure what to say. The 'saw-this-did-that' approach seems very rote -more so when you take into account the type of creator-orientated events I like to attend don't have really big news coming out of them. I've attended 3 cons this year -TCAF. ELCAF, and the Lakes, and will be going to Thought Bubble next month - and while I don't consider that a lot, the experience in itself is starting to wane a little. Or certainly what used to satisfy me as an attendee- just the opportunity to buy comics and see people's work, on its own isn't doing it for me. The more festivals and cons that pop up, the more it makes me think what I, and others want and get out of them, and how those expectations or wants are changing (please feel free to email me any thoughts you have- genuinely interested to hear more perspectives).

There are more comic events than ever in the UK today (mirroring a parallel growth that seems to be happening in North America and Canada), but one of the largest problems appears to be a lack of focus and identity. (It's worth noting that many of these UK events are 'comics' events in an extremely broader, associative cultural sense- merchandise, and pop-culture guest orientated). What does a convention offer that differentiates it from the next? This is an increasingly important factor as people now have a choice of events to attend. The three most distinct conventions in the UK currently are Thought Bubble, ELCAF and Safari, and each have a particular bent: Thought Bubble bringing together quality guests and exhibitors from abroad and here; ELCAF providing a spotlight on graphic art very much in keeping with Nobrow's oeuvre; while Safari gathers the best of alternative comics talent.

So where does the Lakes International Comic Art Festival fit into this picture? It has a unique facet in terms of its locale and in its aim to be a community-driven event, garnering the participation of shops, businesses and schools. Three years into its conception, it's still a relatively small and relaxed festival. If you're visiting for the weekend, there's plenty of time to both explore some of the surrounding Lake District attractions and walk around the various comic at leisure. The curious thing about the Lakes has is its proximity to Thought Bubble: set 4 weeks before an established festival that offers everything it does and more -including many of the same guests- doesn't make much sense and makes differentiation even more difficult. With the rest of the UK calendar open for a strong creator-focused convention, I'm not sure why the Lakes is tabled so close to Thought Bubble; an early summer date would likely benefit it further in terms of footfall and people checking it out. It remains to be seen whether the UK comic scene/audience is robust enough to sustain two very similar festivals a month apart, and what impact the Lakes growth may have on Thought Bubble.

In that vein I talked to a few artists and small press outfits who said they wouldn't be returning because it simply wasn't worth their while in money made back some despite being invited as guests (which generally means travel and accommodation is paid or provided for). Motivations for attending a convention are  obviously different for comic creators who table for a multiple of reasons: to sell their work and make money, to meet peers, friends, and associates in the community that they wouldn't normally see, to exhibit work for visibility, to make connections, and so forth. These goals shift depending on the convention: different events are geared towards different goals.  

Rough context aside, I had a really good time at the Lakes. My friend and Women Write About Comic scribe, Claire Napier and I travelled up separately to Kendal on  Friday 16th October. My journey involved 3+ hours and 2 train changes (which I hate because I get very anxious about connections, which platform I'm supposed to be at, whether I'm going to miss it), but it was smooth enough, even if time did choose that precise moment to take a prolonged yawn. 'This is all that cartoon gang,' a construction worker remarked to his colleague as we and some others walked by. We stopped to eat at The Catch and also ask directions to the place we were staying (we ate there again on the Saturday because the food was so good and the people lovely and friendly). It was about a 20 minutes walk, which was easily doable. Tired from commuting, we didn't do much on the evening apart from some food shopping.

Claire: The food shopping was remarkable because Kendal's Asda is so freakin' big. I know, I'm a bumpkin in every way, but from the town that we saw as we walked from the station through the high street out to the hotel in the suburbs I didn't expect such a large supermarket. Kendal's a market town, with less than 30,000 in permanent residence; from my experience of similar places the Superstore seemed outsize. But considering it again now, we talked a couple of times about how often Kendal seems to have festivals on -- even checking the place out on google maps, they have up a banner for a Harley Owners' Club rally. Which explains (in reverse) why the town seemed so well-suited for hosting a sprawling event. It's a very well-arranged place, I think, easy to understand as a pedestrian and many decent-sized host locations within the scope of the high street. On our way to the hotel that first day we stopped to look at a billion window displays from local businesses (independent and chains, I think?)... Kendal really seems to understand its status as host. Geographically, at least.

Titan Comics


Zainab: We got in early on Saturday at 10:30. The festival is dived into approximately 5 areas: the Clock Tower, which has 4 rooms/halls where cartoonists and publishers exhibit; the Canadian Lodge, which was one room with books by various Canadian cartoonists (Michael DeForge, Kate Beaton, Darwyn Cooke, etc), the comics family zone, the Elephant Yard which housed Boulet/Soaring Penguin Press, Viz, and the Bartkira exhibition, and the Brewery Arts Centre where most of the talks/panels and screenings were being held, and which was also hosting the small shojo manga exhibition. All these areas are free entry, but all talks, workshops, and screenings are paid entry via ticket. The signage around the town was excellent once again, with lots of flags and posters, while spray-painted red maple leafs and blue elephants lead a route to the Canadian Lodge and Elephant Yard respectively. Likewise the free festival programme was clear and informative with times, events and locations all listed.

One of my favourite things about cons is the atmosphere on the opening morning- everybody's excited and ready to go; it's a really positive, shared vibe and an affirming environment to be part of. Two of the first tables we saw in the Clock Tower were AdHouse's -manned by Chris Pitzer- and Lando/Decadence Comics. I bought the Four Reptiles of the Apocalypse from Lando, which was/started out as a webcomic. I'm not sure that I entirely get his work yet, but I'm always drawn to it, and some bits of it I can glean something from. It doesn't feel deliberately obfuscating but him doing his thing, which I like and respect. It moves beyond its influences.

Portrait of Lando by Claire

Looking at Lando's The Four Reptiles of the Apocalypse

I loved the personalised drawing dispenser at the Fanny Butcher Press table. It's beautifully designed and eye-catching, with little slips of paper sitting next to it. The form asks you to write down 3 random words and then slot it into the box along with a pound. In exchange you receive a time-stamped ticket which tells you when to return and collect your drawing. I think Claire and I wrote down the words 'butter,' 'ostrich plumed hat' and 'moon,' and got a gorgeous little drawing  from it, inventively combining the words. I'm a big fan of when people do fun and interesting things like this at cons, it's great, and offers something different.

The highlight of the festival was meeting the amazing Asia Alfasi, whose work I'm only superficially aware of, but was completely bowled over by. We've chatted a little bit over email, etc., so it was gratifying and inspiring to finally meet her, and to have the opportunity to buy her work for the first time. It's fascinating to see how she can move between Arabic and English in her work; Arabic is one of those scripts/languages that lends itself beautifully towards calligraphy and seeing it in a comic is just a special kind of thrill. I picked up her comics collection, Harvest, and Claire had her portrait done in a 'manga style' which, as you can see in the picture below, Asia did a fantastic job of. I wasn't the only person who thought so, as her portrait slots quickly got booked up and she had to put up a sign to inform people she couldn't take any more requests for that day. Her prices were ridiculously low, too- £6 for portraits, £2 for gorgeous A4 posters. Asia will be at Thought Bubble, too, where I'd highly recommend visiting her table.

Claire: Asia is a total peach. I met her at OK True Believers in Cheltenham this January, and was dismayed not to find much of a presence online afterwards. Her work is full of verve and humour, and her comics adapting the stories of the folk hero Juha are so much fun that they swept away all the sound and fury of a convention hall while I read. I want to see thick volumes of her work on shelves, and I want to see her getting all of the recognition she deserves! If you see her at a con, go and chat to her, look at her work, and tell your friends.

Zainab: I think it was the first time I'd seen all the Breakdown Press crew together: Tom Oldham, Joe Kessler, Simon Hacking, along with their authors Richard Short and Antoine Cosse. The whole weekend, people kept on asking me if I'd spoken to Richard because he was 'hilarious,' but he kept his light hidden under a bushel. He does have excellent teeth, though, so there you go; the cutting edge of comics reporting. He was debuting his new book, Klaus Magazine, which feature strips and stories from his Klaus comics, and also took part in the 24 hour comics marathon. It was a pleasure to talk to the Breakdown guys, although I have no idea what I said because I get really nervous talking to people across tables, and conscious of blocking it and potential sales. My leaning is that we tried to put the comics world to rights and failed, mainly because Joe wasn't having any of it. Tom also gave me a copy of their new alt-manga release, Ding Dong Circus and other stories by Sasaki Maki, once again edited and translated by Ryan Holmberg, which looks overwhelmingly insane- just very dense work.

Claire: Now Zainab will say "Tom also gave me a copy of their new alt-manga release" but she won't say "they tried to give me Klaus but I insisted on buying it". Walking a con floor with her is a unique experience -- so many people know her, everybody who does appears to like her enormously, and people constantly try to give her things for free. "No, no, I'll pay for it!" Such graciousness sets me aback. Hey, chumps, give ME your things for free.

Breakdown Press are always nice to see because their tables unfailingly are beautiful. It's the straight quality of their books (paper, size, design, visual cohesion throughout), nothing special about how they arrange them. They're the kinds of objects one wants to touch and hold, although I didn't, because of germs. But it also helps that they look like beatniks, the lads behind the table. They set their wares off nicely. I played a little game with myself, trying to match each to a Beat Name, but the only one I really settled on was Kessler as Bukowski. And that only because he seemed to be carrying a postbag.

While I was waiting for Zainab to come out of the bathroom I eavesdropped on Simon Hacking (waiting in the queue; there was only one restroom per floor) discussing the panel they'd been on. I don't recall much of what I learnt, except that they all tried not to be smug. That's good though, isn't it?

Zainab: Them boys do wear a good jumper.

Zainab: There were a couple of people who were selling off their old comics who had very good taste, especially in manga: volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub for £2 each. I picked up older editions of Junji Ito's Gyo because the spot-gloss detailed colour covers and larger size combined with low prices were too much to resist, and volume 2 of Crying Freeman. I read volume 1 many years ago and cant quite remember if the phenomenon of invisible genitalia was always present? It's sort of classy and odd way of going about things simultaneously. Claire bought some Lone Wolf and Cub, and Oliver bought the older, 'flipped' editions of Uzumaki (apparently the reading right to left experiment has not been going well). They also had the hard-to-find Gotham Adventures trade which I already have and needlessly got a bit obsessed about, hoping it would go to someone who appreciated it. I did deliberate over buying it myself, but where would that road end.

Claire: I'm already regretting not buying all of the Lone Wolf and Cub that they had; the volumes are so small they really are almost pocket-sized, they fit my hands so nicely! They're an older Dark Horse release, and I have volume nine of the current Omnibus releases which uses the regular translated tankobon page dimensions. Not such a good reading experience, as it's incredibly thick. A workout for the digits and tendons! Having previously only experienced Lone Wolf and Cub through the film adaptations (and a cameo in Abaranger...) I'm enormously satisfied with the original work. The art's wonderful to look at but it's also just indistinct enough that it allows you to look through it, into the "real world" of the story with your mind's eye. If more artists found this balance, I think more film adaptations would make sense.

Re: the invisible genitals of Crying Freeman, it depends what you mean by invisible? When I wrote about the sexual focus of volume one I included a full-frontal that's got definite penis delineation, but I think there's always been at least some blank-space-for-modesty in closeups of erections. How much probably varies with the publisher. It's a strange book to censor, I gotta say, as it's so rare in how much psychological impact it ascribes to sex.

I hope somebody did buy those Gotham Adventures. You cared so much!

Zainab: People not being at the places you'd expect was a recurring issue. It's fully understandable when people leave to participate in talks/panels, and usually volunteers fill in (I saw this happen when the Breakdown Press guys left for their talk), but it's odd -and I'd imagine disappointing- that the names advertised as guests and big artists to draw visitors are nowhere to be seen unless you've paid for entry into a talk. Nobody expects people to stay chained to tables, but it's an easy and regular practice to give 'signing' times to people, too- on the Sunday, there was a chalkboard outside the Elephant Yard with the times Boulet would be present, for example.

We stepped out for lunch and saw Joe Decie hard at work painting his comic mural. You can see the full thing over at his Tumblr. He was working with acrylic paint after a long time, and it's impressive how his style remained distinct and intact over the transference of medium and scale. And he wasn't painting it chronologically; instead starting to the right (where the opening to the main street was) in a bid to grab passing peoples' attention. The mural was  part of series of work Joe had been producing, something he writes about a bit more here:

Earlier this year I was awarded a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England to work on my new book Collecting Sticks. And, as the project progressed, I came up with two site specific pieces based around comics festivals I was visiting. So in May I produced the comic There’s No Bath In This Bathroom for and about the excellent TCAF festival in Toronto. And this weekend I produced Lost In Kendal a large scale comic mural for and about the equally brilliant LICAF show.

The TCAF comic was one he gave away for free, and this mural is obviously accessible to anyone, too. I'm a big fan of Joe's comics and his particular brand of humour and quasi-fantasy, but I really like that he does things like this- again, just offering comics in slightly different way. He's another of those low-key consistently excellent British cartoonists who seem to get overlooked. We chatted a bit abut his new signing with Jonathan Cape: the afore-mentioned Collecting Sticks is what Joe's working on now and will be published by them when it's completed.

Claire: I was glad to meet Joe, because having done so I feel like I get his comics in a way I was stumbling with before. I mean, also, he was nice. But Joe really looks like his comics look like him, and seeing him as a living individual eating Greggs in the cold gave me a leg-up on the obviously adult perspective he draws from. Hey, kids, grown-ups are people, and one day you'll be one too! There's an almost psychedelic quality to the way Joe Decie (pronounced Dee-see, by the by) paints, even though he sticks to monochrome. A dreamy, hazy, everything-sliding dimensionality to the way he makes solid shapes appear. Having a chat after he'd sunk eight pints or so was like -- oh right.

Zainab: The festival has adopted the 24 hour comics event and, much like Angouleme, repurposed it somewhat as a tentpole feature of sorts. Organised by Dan Berry, the notion of 6 cartoonists -John Allison, Jade Sarson, Richard Short, Emma Viceli, Jonathan Edwards, and Berry himself- being 'locked away' to work on producing a comic book within 24 hours is an easy point of interest: the feat of it has a sense of intrigue and prompts conversation. The subsequent printing of those comics then provides attendees with something to seek out. That does make the printing of the books integral- last year this all went smoothly and books were available to browse and buy on the Saturday, and with creators at their tables. 

This year they didn't get printed until late on Saturday and made available on the Sunday. It's a tough turnaround, for sure, but also a shame because Saturday easily saw double, maybe even triple the footfall of Sunday (there's a blog-post up on the Lakes website about this year's attendance although it doesn't say how that's measured), and quite a few people were looking for them on the Saturday, but nobody was at their tables and there was no news- perhaps a sign would be useful? No doubt they'll get reprinted and people will be selling them at other cons and at their online shops. I also like the 24 hour comics event because you can see the work created right there in both its original format and then see the printed book. It's very immediate and insightful, allowing a glimpse into the making side of the process. Nice touch, too, in presenting the cartoonists with little personalised trophies for their achievement; I'd imagine it's nice to have a memento.

Claire: John Allison is serialising his on Scary Go Round, right now, in fact!

You're right about the signage, though; if I were attending alone, especially when I was younger, not being able to find who or what I was after would be a killer. I used to be simply incapable of asking where anything was, and hanging around with no idea about whether my quest would be fruitless would have made a misery out of a hopeful girl. The town-wide, free-entry, open atmosphere of the Lakes fest would have made it all the more likely that I'd be attending alone as a teenager or young adult (there were few large groups, by my reckoning. People seemed to be there of their own volition, rather than as a Friendship Outing) and so as much silent communication as possible would have been a saving grace for an attendee like me.

Zainab: We stayed up far too late doing nothing with a bunch of cool people: John Allison, Joe Decie, Dan Berry, Louise Evans, Jonathan Edwards, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Laura Snapes, Alan Martin... The latter made Claire almost burst with happiness when he told her a story of Geri Halliwell and Victoria Beckham auditioning for the Tank Girl film, before their Spice Girl days.

Claire: Can you imagine! Spice Girls! Spice Girls for Tank Girl! Can you imagine! I'm so happy!

I tried to explain to Alan Martin (people kept asking if he was proud to have helped bring the Spice Girls together, and my argument was obviously you should be) that the Spice Girls were actually an incredibly powerful force for girls' engagement with narrative (because they each had a theme, and that theme impacted upon-- okay, watch out for the essay) and with anti-authoritarianism. He didn't seem incredibly convinced, but I mean... it was cold, maybe he was distracted by that. Dan Berry tried to give Zainab his Hourly Comics Day comic (see? constant gifting) but she already had it. So I got it! Ahahaha!

It's good, I really like how Dan Berry draws necks, and people looking straight upwards. He's a Quentin Blake for the new Millennium, although of course Quentin Blake is not dead. Similar palate and similar language of expression, but different attitude to outline, is what I mean.

Zainab: Tried to convince Michael DeForge to watch cricket: 'It's amazing, you can play for 5 days and it ebbs and flows and there can still be no winner... it's about mental endurance as much as it is physical... it's a poetic metaphor for life.' He looked at me: 'Life... is life.' Cartoonists think they're so deep. Totally fucked up my eyes by keeping in my contacts for too long so that they were red and bloodshot for 4 days afterwards. I'm a lightweight. It's always such a pleasure to be able to relax and hang around with these people; you could put them in a room anywhere and have a good time. I can get a bit -I don't know if intimidated or star-struck is the word- but just very aware that the people I'm sat down with and talking to are ones I respect and admire a lot, so I loved that Claire was so insouciant, pulling out her nail file and getting to work.

Looking at the printed 24 hour comics on Saturday evening

Jonathan Edwards' 24 Hour pages

'The Helper' character from Jonathan Edwards 24 hour comic, created by Felt Mistress, Louise Evans

Jade Sarson with her 24-hour comic trophy

The finished 24-hour comics

The shop window trail had some excellent contenders this year- our favourite (and the best by a long mile) of which was the wool shop, William's Wools. They had  given proper consideration to the theme and worked to actually combine their business and craft with the comics festival's, by knitting and crocheting several comics and gaming characters- Astro Boy, Gon, Pikachu, Luigi, Totoro and more, and then displayed them alongside their books. Other windows displayed local schoolchildren's self-designed superheroes and comics, painted murals, and so forth.

We walked up to Kendal Castle after the con for a timeout. It's about a 15 minute or less walk from the town centre and festival. The weather was good- a little brisk, but sunny and dry. The sunshine and fresh air felt after the heat and bustle of the con floor. There's something inherently soothing about simply seeing greenery, and open spaces that works to calm the mind. You could picnic there if you were better organised; it's nice to have the castle as a thing to visit and perhaps plan around. An incongruous but strangely delightful thing: there's a simulated ski slope right next to it which offers a rather good view. The sun was just starting to set as we walked up and streaming through the trees, making the crisp golds and rusts of the autumn leaves look even more beautiful. We saw some great dogs.

Claire: The (a) nice thing about hanging out with Zainab is that we both talk like we write. Not necessarily in structural terms, although probably, but we take the same perspective in person or in text: carve the book up from ten directions at once, discuss the themes, relate the character development to real life and get excited about flaws and strengths. It's not incredibly uncommon to find myself feeling ridiculed for being "so serious" about a story and the telling of it. But we sat on the castle wall (isn't it the most wonderful thing to be able to actually touch and interact with ruins?) and talked about how John Allison makes his angry teen bully Blossom too real to hate, the strange satisfaction of having read helpful things too late, and the quality of acid in Moyoco Anno vs Kyoko Ozaki like that's just what you do. So peaceful! So stress-free.

Zainab: BLOSSOM! Also, I felt up some stones.

Zainab: The small shojo exhibition was interesting and featured the work of Akiko Hatsu, Keiko Takemiya, and Yukiko Kai. I'd never heard about the practice of 'genga dash' before; a process which involves replicating original art (in order to preserve and protect the original) for transportation to galleries and so forth, down to the pen and smudge marks. The inscriptions were informative and easy to read; providing general overview to shojo and manga created by and for women, and the manner in which it grown to become taken seriously. It would have been great to have individual nameplates/page detail next to each piece, as the absence of these made it difficult to tell who had done what, or the context of it. The pieces on display were wonderful; the black and white one immediately below this paragraph is probably my favourite. Looking at the work now it seems classically shojo in tone and material: romantic and space sagas

Claire: I was so impressed with the clarity and compression of the captions for this exhibition! They got across the growth of girl-specific manga and the subsequent adoption by adult male audiences with minimal space and well-chosen illustrations. Genga dash is a delightful concept, it really pleases me. I was crazy for the Lichtenstein graphic paintings of paint when I was in school, too. I don't know what it is about purposeful fakery that appeals to me, but it tickles me deep. I suppose it relates to the joy of running about on ancient tumbledown walls, as well. I love the mid-century blobfeet that were so prevalent in cartooning. And hark at the composition!

Zainab: I feel cheated! It's like Toronto's dinosaur museum all over again- everything in that place was fake...

It was very quiet on the Sunday:

Zainab: Here are some pictures of the Bartkira exhibition. It was well put-together: the aesthetic of it as this grunge/guerrilla thing with dim spotlights and pieces tacked up on the wall like fly-posters in a reference to Otomo's fictional world. I'm not sure of the point of Bartkira. I remember writing about Ryan Humphrey's original mash-up drawings and approaching them as such: a fun, well-drawn thing, before James Harvey took over and decided to expand the project into re-doing the whole of Akira by way of the Simpsons. With various artists from around the world signed up to contribute pages, it looks incredible, but my old person brain doesn't quite grasp the why of it, beyond drawing practice and some visibility. Perhaps it doesn't need one?

Claire: As you'll remember, James Harvey came to talk to you with the aim of apologising for his personally poor behaviour a while back, and after a while conversation turned to Bartkira. Harvey himself says he shies away from intellectualising the project, which... I think is silly, to be honest. What is a brain for, if not to think. Bartkira is interesting in a fair number of ways, not least in the legs the project has turned out to have -- Akira is long af. What's the fucking point of recreating it through the lens of the Simpsons? It's been done (or it's on the way to being done -- I'm not sure), so there must be a point.

On the one hand, I reckon, it's the relief/release in seeing Akira Americanised. Truly, But the Prom's Tomorrow. It's the most elaborate meme ever, a bootleg raised to Art reduced to bootleg raised to Exhibition. It's the intrigue regarding how the narrative and the personal impact changes when a classic is transmogrified into fan fiction. It's two great tastes that have sure been mixed up together. There's probably some vengeance in there, getting our collective own back on The Simpsons for "being shit now", wherever our personal canon begins or ends. It's the ever-present instinct to make things gritty, but using the template that's been proven as bearing quality, so nobody has to be embarrassed about being shallow. It's probably really motivating for the artists involved, what with the clear guidelines, group legitimacy, and personal stylisation opportunities. It's hyper-recognisability and cognitive dissonance all at once. And entry's free! How 'bout that?

Zainab: Claire is so much smarter than me. This is such an academic response, haha!

Zainab: Something I get asked about a lot even today is my experience of the Lakes festival last year, namely discussing the reaction and reception towards me as hijab-wearing Muslim British Pakistani woman. Quite a few people told me they were sorry about what happened, but these things are hardly new to me- the attitudes of a whole environment and thousands of people are not something I expect to change, but I found it worth mentioning because it factored in my experience of what is tilted as a community event. I do, however, expect not to be attacked by people in charge of the event for raising it as an issue. That's the thing I find most disturbing. Truth be told, I dislike speaking about the experience over and over, but when you're asked directly about it, it's difficult to bat it away without being rude in response. A number of people -largely white men- then respond with 'I had a really good time,' or 'I like it.' Which... I mean... I'm pleased for you? You having a good time doesn't negate the validity of my experience. Other people tell me 'small town' (which I take to mean 'small white town') with a shrug of their shoulders, like that means something. I *live* in a small town. It's not a reason or excuse for intolerance and bigotry. That general atmosphere was still present, although to a lesser degree, which is simply to do with expectation and adjustment on my behalf. It's strange because the Lake District is a tourist destination so one would presume that (in the least) its residents are used to seeing visitors of all types. I wasn't planning on attending the festival itself this year, but I'm a stubborn person and I refuse to allow people to shut me out.

So I'm glad I went. I had a good time, as I did last year. I'm really glad I got to spend time with Claire (because she's the absolute best) and a bunch of people I like a lot. But when the choice is to spend £300+ on travel, accommodation, and expenses, or wait 4 weeks and have a festival that does everything the Lakes does and more -and is more inclusive and welcoming to boot- it's a no-brainer. It's a strong festival, but it doesn't have enough that differentiates it to make that time, money and effort worthwhile. 

Claire: Having read your account of your discomfort last year, my body was ready all weekend to headbutt anyone who looked like they might need it.

-All photographs taken by, and belong to, Claire and myself. Please credit and link back if using, Thank you.


  1. This one made me very happy. More ZnC, please!

  2. Great Post. Will you be reviewing the Graphic Short Story Prize, like you did last year?

    1. Does it diverge from past winners aesthetics?

    2. Personally, I think that they seem to go for a particular aesthetic/colour palette, but was I was interested in your opinion on this years winners, runner up and their shortlist, after reading your past reviews on it and never knew if you reviewed them yearly for your blog or not.

  3. Great review! Speaking of cricket & comics, are there any good comics about cricket you can recommend?