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A COMICA REVIEW BY:

JOEL MEADOWS


Joel Meadows attended the Comica '09 events held on the 7 November 2009. The following review appeared on his blog Walls & Bridges.

COMICS AS ART

As it’s November, it’s time for the month-long festival of Comica at the ICA in London. Each year, curator Paul Gravett manages to gather together a diverse mix of comic creators, publishers and those associated with the industry and the form. There are too many events to go to all of them but I went to two of them the Saturday before last: Dark We We Were and Golden-Eyed, hosted by Mike Lake, which looked at the history of the British comic shop, and Grandville, a talk complete with slides by Bryan Talbot, which revealed the influences on Talbot’s Grandville graphic novel.

On the comic shop panel were Derek ‘Bram’ Stokes, the man who ran Dark They Were and Golden Eyed, the first comic shop in London, Phil Clarke, who started British comic shows in Birmingham, Mike Lake, the co-founder of Forbidden Planet and Titan Books, Judge Dredd and Batman artist Brian Bolland and the aforementioned Bryan Talbot, who filled in for an ill Dave Gibbons. It was interesting to delve into the past and find out a little bit about what the scene was like in the days long before Forbidden Planet and Gosh but it was quite a bit before my time so it didn’t have any personal nostalgia. It was also intriguing to see fanzines by Bolland as a kid and the first UK Comic Art Convention flyer from 1970.

Talbot’s talk on Grandville was very well organised and Talbot showed why he is one of the most erudite and intelligent comic creators currently working in the English language as he draws influences from places like Edwardian and Victorian children’s illustrators and from Europe. He held our attention like an old pro and it was eye-opening to sit through this after reading Grandville.

I also popped in on the Thursday after to the opening of a Robert Crumb exhibition at the Scream Gallery in Mayfair, R Crumb Uncovered, which was also under the Comica banner. But it was too crowded and packed with the sort of people that Crumb would run a mile from. However it is good to see a comic artist getting that sort of attention from the mainstream art world.

Comica continues to be a must-visit destination each year for the comic and comic art aficionado and long may it continue…

I intend to go to at least a couple of other Comica events so I’ll post from them too but here are a few photos including some rather grainy ones from the comic shop talk and the Grandville one…

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Reviews

"It's fun, it's informative, it's inspirational, and it's an absolute must-do."
Gosh! Comics

"I went in a casual fan, and came out an undisputed Kirbyphile."
Comic Book Resources

"I was about to fall off my chair from overstimulation."
Sarah McIntyre

"...the social buzz is what I will remember from the day."
Ed Pinsent

"...far and away the best place to find a serious and eclectic showcase of world comics fare."
The First Post

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

"...the viewer's efforts were amply rewarded by the superb quality of nearly every comic in the exhibit."
Alison Frank

"Comiket... was packed to bursting with enthusiastic, earnest artists hustling their work."
Mike Leader

"...another very successful event providing a wonderful voyage into the world of graphic literature."
Dominique Le Duc

"Yet another fabulous evening."
Martin Eden