Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival

The Tent of Talent.
I'm back from a long weekend at the Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival and I need to catch up with work but I wanted to post my thoughts on the event before it becomes another in a long list of things to do. 

The original idea behind the event was that it would be connected to the Shrewsbury Fields Forever music festival, combining a guest list that included live music from the Happy Mondays, Dizzy Rascal, and more, alongside comics creators. Unfortunately, with only days to go, and through no fault of the organizers, the music festival was postponed until September. The Comic Art Festival went ahead as planned in Quarry Park but I cant help feeling it would have benefitted from music fans attending, as many of them also seem to be into comics. As it was, this first Comic Art Festival still attracted 1,200 visitors, even though a few were only curious locals just strolling through the tent whilst walking their dogs in the park. It seemed more like Crufts at one stage. Even John Wagner and Jenny O'Connor brought along their dog. This is by no means a bad thing. I like dogs. Why should humans have all the fun at comics events? 
We've set out our stalls, ready for action!
Modest and super-talented Dylan Teague drawing another fantastic sketch.
Being a free festival set in a large tent in a public park, the event had the advantage of bringing comics to the attention of people who wouldn't usually go to a comics show. I met a number of enthusiastic Beano readers, and one young and excited 3 year old who enjoyed Toxic. Even I wasn't reading comics at that age, but he knew his stuff and liked the monsters I create for the Team Toxic strip. More of those coming up in future issues! Meeting readers old and new is the best thing about conventions and it makes this crazy career we do feel worthwhile.
There were a steady number of visitors throughout the weekend.
Top comics writers Robbie Morrison and Dave Ballie.
Once again it was great to catch up with comics colleagues and friends Phil and Pippa Winslade, Dylan Teague, Leah Moore, Robbie Morrison, Deborah Tate, Andy Diggle, Jimmy Broxton, John Wagner, Jenny O'Connor, Jessica Martin, Pete Doherty, Doug and Sue Braithwaite, Barry Kitson, John McCrea, David Ballie, Roland Boschi, Jatinder Ghataora, and more. Many thanks to Shane Chebsey and his team for organizing the event. (The comics community wouldn't exist without people like you putting on these cons!)

The social side of comics events are great too. I could go into more detail but what happens in comics industry stays in comics industry. Especially as I don't want everyone to know what a terrible snooker player I am. Oops! Too late.
Writer/editor Joey Cavalieri talking about comics and his
admiration for the work of the late great Harvey Kurtzman.
Leah Moore interviewed by Olly MacNamee on her ELECTRICOMICS digital
venture (which I'll be reviewing here soon).
Andy Diggle, John Wagner, and Dave Ballie having a laugh.
The festival was featured in the Shropshire Star on Tuesday. They got my name wrong and a few other details but it's all good publicity! Let's hope there's another Shrewsbury Comic Art Festival next year!

The next event I'm attending is the London Film and Comic Con at Olympia from Friday 29th to 31st July. More news on that soon!


Nutty Big D said...

Hello "Lee". I think it's the law for the local press to get the names wrong on photograph captions. When two of my friends appeared in the local rag, both names were correct - except of course they were swapped round.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, my local paper is just as bad. It must take a special talent. :)

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