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A COMICA REVIEW BY:

TIM PILCHER


Tim Pilcher is the author of a number of books on sex, drugs and comics. Tim attended the Comica talk by Dan Clowes and Chris Ware in Brighton on 25 May 2010.

Last night I went and saw Dan Clowes and Chris Ware in conversation with Paul Gravett at the Brighton Dome. The trio had just flown back from Copenhagen’s Komiks.dk festival (with Peter Stanbury) and had done a signing at Gosh before heading down to the South Coast. Or rather, they didn’t. Due to a “fatality on the line” the train was delayed by an hour or so.

Still, the audience got free wine and beer and I got to catch-up with Brighton’s comics-erati such as Warren Pleece (who has forthcoming exhibitions in Brighton and London he’s busy working on), Corinne Pearlman, Fraser Geesin, Gavin Burrows, Rory Walker, Hannah Berry, and Stella Starr. And people came from far and wide to be there including Garen Ewing (Rainbow Orchid) from East Grinstead, Karen Rubins from London, and - most impressively of all - North Wales School of Art & Design graphic novel lecturer Dan Berry who’d come all the way from Shrewsbury for two hours, before heading back!

The talk - to a full house - was pleasant, convivial and amusing. A selection of both creators work was shown on a massive screen and Paul kept the whole thing running mellifluously living up to Michael Caine’s mantra of being like a duck: look smooth and graceful on the surface, but paddle furiously underneath.

They talked about Clowes’ new book, Wilson, and examined both their entire oeuvres. Both creators touched personal issues and how they affected their work: Clowes’ open heart surgery and Ware’s coming to terms - or failure of coming to terms - with his absentee father. Clowes’ was definitely the better raconteur, but while Ware’s legendary self-depreciation and awkwardness was still present (sitting on his hands when talking) it was somewhat diminished.

Afterwards, there was a massive queue to sign books (no time for sketches) and the Cartoon County crowd - along with Karen Rubins, Peter Stanbury, and Garen Ewing - decamped to Carluccio’s for sandwiches, very generously laid on by Corinne, and hopefully for Clowes and Ware to join us. Alas, time was against them, and they had to catch the last train back to London.

Despite not meeting the stars of the show it was a pleasant night in the company of comics chums.

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Reviews

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

"...vastly informative and entertaining."
Kevin Fitzsimmons

"A Comica event - but at the V&A?!"
Jinty

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

"There's always something interesting in Comica's raft of events..."
Joel Meadows

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

"PHEW! I just met Matt Groening!"
Jim Medway

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

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

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