Kendal, 31st May 2016: Working in partnership with The Finnish Institute in London, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival is delighted to announce the forthcoming appearance of several top comic creators from Finland – a country steeped in storytelling often inspired by its rich mythology and folklore, and a country with one of the biggest comics readerships in the world.

Joining a growing list of already-announced top international and British comics guests in Kendal in October will be Hanneriina Moisseinen, Virpi Oinonen, Ville Ranta, Johanna “Roju” Rojola and Petteri Tikkanen, along with musicians Niko Kumpuvaara and Aleksi Ranta.

Their visit is part of an extension to the Lakes Festival’s rapidly-expanding Comic Creator Exchange Program with other major comics events around the globe.

In addition to appearances on panels about comics and workshops, the Finnish creators will also be bringing their unique Comics in Concert project to the Festival, featuring artist Ville Ranta, guitarist Aleksi Ranta and accordionist Niko Kumpuvaara, delivering what they describe as “a fascinating new art form”.

Petteri Tikkanen is a rock star in terms of comic art in Finland, performing in all manner of venues, including the Opera House on Töölönlahti Bay in Töölöand. He’ll also appear at the Lakes Festival’s “Comic Fringe” venue  as “Black Peider”, a character that is something of a YouTube phenomenon.

Hanneriina Moisseinen is a multi-faceted, multi-media artist who has exhibited in many countries. Her stunning work will form one of two main exhibitions at the Wildman Gallery – an installation featuring hundreds of pages from her most recent work, sound and more.

An enterprise social consultant, London-based Virpi Oinonen has worked as an online producer and campaigner for nonprofits for almost ten years. She’s also worked as a journalist and a comics artist.

Johanna “Roju” Rojola is Finland’s equivalent of Britain’s Comics Laureate. Every five years, the Finnish Comics Society awards the title of Comics Commissioner to persons who have significantly furthered the genre of comics. This year, Johanna Rojola was awarded the title for her relentless work as an artist, producer, publisher, teacher and an activist spanning causes such as feminism, gender equality, global justice etc. She has paved the way for many female comics artists in Finland in one way or the other, being an inspiring teacher and mentor since the 1990s.

“This is the beginning of a new strand in the festival concentrating on Finnish comic art which in many respects is breaking new ground,” enthuses Festival Director Julie Tait. “Per capita, I’m told Finland is the third largest comic reading nation.

“Our partnership begins with the Helsinki Comics Festival, which takes place on first weekend of September, working with The Finnish Institute in London. We’re taking a gaggle of comic creators to Helsinki this year as part of this exchange.

It’s a project that is helping make our Festival distinctive and we’re doing similar exchanges with several other countries now, including Japan and Canada.”

“At The Finnish Institute in London, we think comics are a powerful means of creating social change. We are also very proud that Finland has many exceptional, prominent and successful female comic creators,” says Pauliina Ståhlberg, Director of the Institute.

These talented Finns will join other already-announced guests (and many others) for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2016 are – artist Jordi Bernet (Torpedo and Jonah Hex); writer Joe Kelly (I Kill Giants, Deadpool), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim, Seconds), top US cartoonists Luke and Steve McGarry2000AD artist Mick McMahon; artist Ken Niimura, who has designed this year’s Festival art; Benoit Peeters, Britain’s first Professor of Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, at Lancaster University; and Paco Roca, best known for his award-winning graphic novel Wrinkles.

Many more international and British comic creators will be announced over the coming weeks, joining a host of writers, artists, publishers and retailers for a long weekend in the Lakes crammed with panels, exhibitions, children’s events and other activities. The town will be entirely given over to comics, with business owners lining up to support the Festival’s famous “Windows Trail”, giving over store front space to display comics art created by artists and local groups and school children.

The October weekend is just one of a number of comics projects from the Festival on its way this year, which has included the world premiere performance of Black Dog – the Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean that took place at Kendal Town Hall this weekend.