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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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"British preconceptions of graphic novels are changing as exhibitions such as Comica expose the challenging work out there."
Design Week

"It was definitely worth the trip."
Garen Ewing

"Every time I go to these events I come back inspired to do more work."
Sylvia Libedinsky

"Imagine one of the world's greatest cities hosting a series of events starring the world's greatest cartoonists, put together by one of the world's greatest comics scholars. That's London's Comica."
The Beat

"...a fantastically wide selection of comics, to be touched, admired and purchased."
Toby Litt

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

"...a very special conversation between two incredible artists."
Chris Thompson

"Comica Comiket at the ICA was buzzing with invention and ideas."
The Guardian

"This event showcased some of the great variety of manga art styles and artists working across languages, continents and cultures in the world today."
Karl Pell

"Guibert turned out to be a captivating speaker."
Sarah McIntyre