Panel show

For a decade now comic makers have descended on the Lake District for a weekend of creativity

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Now in its tenth year, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) has built a reputation as something special with a massive and eclectic programme of events. This, along with the community outreach and artist support work it does, makes it stand out.

“I love the idea of a comics festival in this country that captures the magic of something like Angoulême International Comics Festival,” says writer and illustrator Andi Watson, who has worked on everything from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics to his own critically-acclaimed graphic novels. Like Angoulême, LICAF has programming spread across multiple different venues in one locality, Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District.

“Conventions can be fun experiences but can also be a grind when you’re stuck on one side of the table and meeting readers is reduced to selling and signing. Being freed from the table is liberating. At LICAF readers and authors are free to roam and discover.”

One person who will be doing some roaming is illustrator and cartoonist Oliver East, who’s hosting Walking – Drawing with Oliver East on Saturday 15 October. The artist will lead participants on a walk during which they will gather field notes in the form of sketches, subsequently using them to create a comics page of their own.

“I hope participants will enjoy an approach to drawing in the field that has kept me interested and excited for years now,” East says.

“I walk and draw at the same time so I don’t stop to steady the drawing surface nor do I stop moving to draw anything. I’m trying to record the world as we see it when we move through it.

“As we’re moving through landscape and architecture, the perception of the objects around us is changing so it doesn’t make much sense to record that as one static vantage point as most observational illustration does.”

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The workshop is part of a programme that includes book launches, panel discussions, live drawing events, a stand-up comedy show and more. Also, for any families who want to take a trip to the Lakes that weekend, there is Little LICAF, a special free space for children under 12 and their adults.

“There have always been many elements at LICAF for children,” says cartoonist Marc Jackson. “They love to get involved. LICAF has also sent me to many schools over the course of the year to run workshops as part of their funded programme and that is always rewarding.”

This community outreach is an important part of LICAF’s mission, as the festival’s artistic director, Julie Tait, explains.

“We did a project at Abraham Moss Community School in Manchester where children had issues of all-ages comic The Phoenix delivered to their homes and there were also interventions and workshops in school using comics.

“That saw improvements in literacy amongst the children involved and anecdotal evidence from teachers and parents suggested improvements in things like their confidence too.”

For the future, Tait promises to preserve the friendly atmosphere that so many have commented on over the years of LICAF.

“The creators love it – even the fact that they might be stopped in the street. They really get to engage with their readers.”

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival (  is at locations in Bowness-on-Windermere, 14-16 October

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