The Lakes Con have landed Darwyn Cooke as their first headline guest for their October 2015 event in Kendal. This is a major coup for the fledgling festival, considering that this is Cooke’s first visit to the UK. They have promised that more Canadian guests will be announced to add to their line-up, which gives us all sorts of interesting possibilities to look forward to.
LICAF, possibly due to its newness, seems to fly under the radar of the regular comic convention visitors which is a great shame and is totally undeserved. The previous two events have hosted such international comics luminaries as Jeff Smith, Ed Brubaker, Gail Simone, Kurt Busiek and Scott McCloud as well as top British creators such as Charlie Adlard, Sean Philips, Dave Gibbons and Duncan Fegrado to name just a few. What makes this event really different is the vast array of International and UK independent creators which the organisers go to great lengths to invite. Guests such as Eddie Campbell, Boulet and Gilbert Shelton have all graced the event with many more too numerous to mention.
There is a twin focus to the event layout. The first is the Arts Centre, which houses all the seminars and presentations. There is such a wide choice each year that there is sure to be something to interest even the most discerning and eclectic comic fan. The Centre is also a great place to meet creators, get signings after seminars and have a chance to chat without time constraints and the pressure of a long queue waiting behind you. There is also an array of evening entertainment held at the Arts Centre, laid on over three evenings so the festivities can go on late into the night.
The second area is the Clock Tower, which is the main venue for signings but also houses the specially selected independent publishers with a sprinkling of comic dealers. 2014 saw this attraction being free to enter and it was easy to spend hours wandering round the two floors of this building seeing the various stands and getting sketches and autographs.
There is already plenty to differentiate this Convention from every other one in the UK but it goes one step further in that it seems to get the whole centre of Kendal involved in the event. Shops and the Library all take part and there are a huge number of comics related events and exhibitions particularly for the kids. The Clock Tower attracts many of the locals who wander in and see comics related goods and creators for the first time. The excitement generated for the children walking round the building is plain to see.
Part of me is very reluctantly writing this glowing review because of the current ease in getting signatures at LICAF, which a more popular event would make more difficult. Where else can you join a queue thirty minutes in for a Charlie Adlard sketch and signing session and only have three people in front of you?
But my selfish reasons aside, this event deserves all the support it can get for daring to be different in so many ways. Under the patronage and vision of Bryan and Mary Talbot and Sean Phillips, it is difficult to see anything other than sustainable growth and continued success for this remarkable event in the UK Convention calendar. I can’t wait to find out who else is on the 2015 guest list!
Peter Brewer and Riven Alyx Buckley