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A COMICA REVIEW BY:

THE LONDON PAPER


The London Paper published the following Comica feature by Jessica Holland on Tuesday, November 11 2008.

The Big Show: Comica
The genre’s top artists are in town for a graphics fest.

Ian Rankin’s new book isn’t quite like the rest of his output. Expected out next summer, it’s the latest in the comic-book series Hellblazer - and just one more sign that comics are taking over the world.

“Comics got me interested in storytelling,” he says. ‘At an early age, I was trying to write the myself, but my drawings were terrible. Then, just when I was beginning to realise I wanted to be a professional writer, superhero comics were going through a period of real innovation, and I got excited about them all over again.”

Rankin is one of the many luminaries who will be appearing at Comica, a two-week celebration of the art form centred around the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with events at the V&A and Institut Fran├žais. Organised by expert Paul Gravett, it encompasses talks by seminal writers Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman, an underground comics fair, an anime double-bill, discussions, and an appearance by Daredevil artist Alex Maleev.

Gravett, a lifelong comics enthusiast and the author of The Leather Nun and Other Incredibly Strange Comics - a collection of bizarre book covers with titles like Amputee Love and The Girl Who Loved The Swastika - organised the first Comica six years ago. “It was a response to the fact that comics are spreading out in so many different directions. They’ve never been quite so multi-faceted.”

With an explosion of manga being translated into English, plus film adaptations from The Dark Knight to Persepolis and Iron Man hooking new fans, and writers such as Philip Pullman and Jodi Picoult turning their hands to the art form, comics are being accepted in the mainstream like never before. But there’s still a way to go.

“It’s a bit like Obama getting elected,” Gravett explains with a laugh. “These things can take a hell of a long time, but over time the understanding of comics and even the ability to read them evolves.” He cites Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus , which deals with the Holocaust, and Moore’s Watchmen , as examples of what can be achieved.

“You can’t tame this medium,” he says, confident that comics will never become so mainstream they lose their special appeal. “There’s no need to worry about gentrification because unconventional work is going to find other ways to get out. In the future, there will be plenty more material to put in a future book of Incredibly Strange Comics . I’m sure of that.”

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Reviews

"Thank you, Paul Gravett, for another wonderful season of Comica!"
Sarah McIntyre

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

"...hearing literary translators talk about their work reminded me of the immense difficulty, creativity and importance of the task."
The Financial Times

"Yet another fabulous evening."
Martin Eden

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

"The ongoing stream of Comica-related events throughout the year spoils us..."
Andrew Salmond

"...some of the UK's sharpest cartoonists gathered at the ICA in London for a unique test of creativity and endurance: a 24-hour comic marathon, during which each artist was challenged to create a spontaneous 24-page story."
The New Statesman

"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 comprehensive, varied and exciting season that demonstrated the reach and diversity of the art form."
The Comics Journal

"...a major new international festival devoted to sequential narratives."
Flux