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Comica Festival

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BBC Collective

The following article was written by Nadia Shireen and appeared on the BBC Collective web site in advance of the first Comica Festival in 2003.

It’s a celebration of graphic art and literature. Honest.

In the first of an annual event, the COMICA festival at London’s ICA celebrates the art of the graphic novel. Sweaty men absent-mindedly fondling themselves at the sight of dog-eared first editions? Hopefully not.

Expect, instead, talks from Palestine and Notes From A Defeatist creator Joe Sacco (02 July), fellow Fantagraphics author Chris Ware in conversation with Alex Garland (01 July), and daughter of the legendary Robert Crumb, Sophie, talking about her work and the legacy of her father (04 July)... and tattooing someone from the audience, apparently.

A festival highlight should be a rare performance from cult artist and musician, Daniel Johnstone, who has inspired the likes of Kurt Cobain, Harmony Korine and Beck. Johnstone will also be contributing to the OuBaPo project, where artists and guests will “experiment with the comic format in an evolving, wall-sized, multi-pathed artwork”. Find out what that might mean from 27 June onwards.

With a series of lectures covering all aspects of comic book creation and appreciation, COMICA should provide a long-overdue celebration of graphic art and literature. Well, that’s what to tell your mates when they accuse you of going to a spoddy comics convention.


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"...Sacco had some interesting things to say about the comics form in general."
Simon Hacking

"With Comica, the ICA is doing what it does best: reaching out to culture's fringe."
Kulture Flash

"Gives the comic form the cultural representation the UK doesn't normally see."
David Greene

"The Comica Festival's uniqueness resides in its selection of international comic artists [and] its presentation of cutting-edge themes..."
Dominique Le Duc

"...a place where aspiring graphic novelists get the chance to rub shoulders with established comic book artists..."
Valerie Pezeron

"When the event was over the audience was left wanting more."
Liban Diriye

"...packed out..."
Tony Venezia

"Yet another fabulous evening."
Martin Eden

" over beers with some of the UK's coolest comic types..."
Thomas Behe

" inspiring look into the creative lifestyle."
Pop Culture Hound