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Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie in Comica Conversation on Picasso Graphic Biography

Posted: March 19, 2015

In the shops now is the gorgeous collection from SelfMadeHero of Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie’s four-volume graphic biography of Picasso, entitled Pablo. Taking in Picasso’s early life among the bohemians of Montmartre and his turbulent relationship with his model and lover Fernande, this stunning book shows how the artist’s style developed in response to his friendships and rivalries and follows the artist’s career from his origins in penury to the advent of modern art.

On Wednesday April 15th, Birmant and Oubrerie are coming to London to take part in an exclusive Comica Conversation at the Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT, with Comica Co-Director Paul Gravett, followed by Q&A and a book signing. This is a free event starting at 7pm, but you need to RSVP please to book a place by sending an email to: [at] - see you there!

This event is co-hosted by COMICA Festival, the Institut Français, SelfMadeHero and the London Book and Screen Week.

Scott McCloud Presents The Sculptor At The British Library

Posted: February 9, 2015

Comica Festival and SelfMadeHero are pleased to co-host an exclusive London presentation by comics guru Scott McCloud at The British Library on Friday March 6th 2015.

Since the release of his classic graphic novel Understanding Comics, McCloud has been recognised as the West’s leading authority on the power of comics and visual communication. Sin City writer Frank Miller has called him “just about the smartest guy in comics”, and his non-fiction graphic novels have been celebrated by Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman and many more.

Scott McCloud visits the British Library to talk about his first full-length fictional graphic novel, The Sculptor, just published in the UK by SelfMadeHero. Neil Gaiman has said of McCloud’s long-awaited magnum opus, “The Sculptor is the best graphic novel I’ve read in years. It’s about art and love and why we keep on trying. It will break your heart.”

McCloud wrote the definitive guide to how comics work; join him at the British Library to learn how his understanding of the craft was put to use in the creation of this breathtaking, funny and unforgettable piece of fiction. Scott McCloud will be in conversation with Paul Gravett, co-director of Comica Festival, and this will be followed by Q&A and signing.

When: Friday March 6th, starting 6.30pm

Where: Auditorium, Conference Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Tickets: £8 / £6 / £5

Booking Online: Click here!...

The Scott McCloud Comica Conversaton on Friday March 6th coincides with the birthday of comics legend Will Eisner and is a part of Will Eisner Week, a worldwide series of events celebrating Eisner’s legacy. Visit for more details.

This event also continues The British Library’s association with Comica Festival and hosting of graphic novel-related events, which included the Comica Festival Comiket and Conversations on August 16th and 17th last year, over the closing weekend of the Library’s blockbuster exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, and Emily Carroll, author of Through the Woods (Faber) in a Comica Conversation with Isabel Greenberg last November.


Emily Carroll Answers Your Questions In Her Comica Chat

Posted: November 17, 2014

Many thanks to Comica Festival Twitter followers for sending in your questions for Emily Carroll to answer this lunchtime about her fabulous Faber book Through The Woods. Here she is signing at Gosh! in London tonight, photo courtesy of David Clayton.

Below we are presenting her complete Comica Chat tweets together with some extra web-exclusive questions for Emily, available only on this Blog! Enjoy!

The Gothic Graphic Story at The British Library

And don’t forget to book the last remaining tickets for Emily Carroll in a live Comica Conversation with Isabel Greenberg, The Gothic Graphic Story, in the Bronte Room of The British Library Conference Centre from 7pm to 8.30pm including book signings. Here is the booking link… See you there!


Welcome Emily Carroll. Thanks for talking to us about your work and your Graphic Novel Through The Woods.

How’d you decide to pursue comics over animation?

EMILY: It was actually pretty simple - I’m awful at animation.

I went to school for it, but my grades were terrible, I’m too impatient.

Comics let me work quickly, and also by myself (which is good, as I’m rather solitary anyway).

What do you think is distinctive about storytelling via comics vs film?

EMILY:  Aside from elements like music, sound cues and so on, probably how time is controlled.

In film you can control how long a shot appears on screen for, whereas in comics you can’t really control how long someone looks at a panel.

But the upside of comics is that I can draw whatever I want without worrying about limitations of technology, camera or sfx. :0)

Love the pacing of your web comics & the layouts you use in print. Does one influence the other?

EMILY:  Not consciously, I don’t think. I am very aware of timing, but it probably relies more on the story itself than the format.

What scares you?

EMILY:  Oof, honestly, too many things to list.

The dark. Noises IN the dark.

I still check under the bed sometimes, it’s terrible.

Do you have a fave book/film/comic that has had an impact on your storytelling?

EMILY:  The Scary Stories to “Tell in the Dark” series by Alvin Schwartz has been a huge influence, especially in the rhythm of my short horror stories.

Art-wise, The Highwayman as illustrated by Charles Keeping has been pretty influential.

I read both of these when I was a little kid and they both stuck.

They still scare me actually (and are still delightful, of course).

Would you like to see any of your stories animated? ‘Out of Skin’ my fave and would be amazing!

EMILY:  Haha so long as I didn’t have to animate them myself, yeah, that’d be great!

I’d probably choose the same story as you too.

You rarely close your stories: is engaging reader’s imagination key to good horror?

EMILY:  Tastes vary, but for me - yes.

I am frequently let down by stories that over explain whatever the horror is.

It makes things less threatening when you discover they can be solved or how they can be defeated.

(Not to mention that the reader’s imagination is always going to conjure something worse than I could ever fulfill anyway!)

Some of your comics online are interactive. How did you end up thinking to do that? Inspiration?

EMILY: It’s probably from all the video games I play!

It’s fun to figure out new ways to build mood or suspense, and so I borrow certain elements from games here and there and try them out to see if they work.

It’s just a lot of experimenting really.

What is your writing process like? Do you use outlines, thumbails, scripts or is it more free-form? 

EMILY:  It depends (on the time I have, if I’m working with another person, my mood).

More often than not I will do thumbnails and script alongside that, just loose notes, but occasionally I will do something like make a list of story beats and flesh them out from there.

I’m experimenting with just straight script writing now too, with notes to help me visualize.

Describe the room where you usually create comics?

EMILY: I share a little office with my wife (who makes games).

The walls are painted bright red (well, it’s sorta orange) and there is usually a massive cat (also sorta orange) sprawled out on the floor next to me. :0)

What are your interests outside of creating comics?

EMILY: If I’m not making comics (and that’s rare, I spend the bulk of my time these days making comics) then I’m probably playing video games, and when the weather’s warm I laze about outside reading novels a lot.

I also like going on walks, and I go to my town’s local library a few times a week.

Creatively, I’m interested in making games, though unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for that these days.

Where are you now and what can you see?

EMILY: I am in my hotel room in London, and I can see all the usual hotel trappings, as well as my reflection in the mirror opposite me, and a television show about gardening beside that (but muted, so I can focus!).

What are you currently reading?

EMILY: I’m just about to start reading the new Stephen King book, Revival.

I have absolutely no idea what it’s about and haven’t read anything about it in advance, so I’m looking forward to it.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her-him?

EMILY: Right now, one of my favourite authors is Margaret Laurence.

Her 1966 book A Jest of God is proving to be a major influence on a new story I’m writing, both in terms of characters and themes (and to some degree, setting).

While her work can often seem rather sad, even bleak, there’s a dry humour to it I very much enjoy, and I admire the ability to pull that off.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

EMILY: Oh, I have to say I most look like a Moomin troll.

Who is your hero-heroine from outside graphic novels and comics?

EMILY: Hm, the first person to come to mind is Margaret Atwood.

She’s been one of my biggest influences ever since I was a teenager.

She’s an incredible writer, but on top of admiring her stories and prose (and poetry, for that matter), I also appreciate her environmental activism and political work.

Thanks for doing this chat with Comica, Emily Carroll :0)

EMILY: Thank YOU! :0) And thanks everyone for all the questions!

Yes, Thanks to everyone who tweeted for great questions! @tisisbahoosh @DClayton72 @davethecrane @RytKing and @rachelnabors
We love questions, but we like answers more.

Jonathan Ross Opens Junko Mizuno Exhibition & Comica Festival 2014!

Posted: October 20, 2014

Tonight saw the opening party to launch the 2014 season of Comica Festival, from October 20th to November 19th 2014 all across London, and the private view for Junko Mizuno’s first London gallery exhibition at Atomica Gallery at 29 Shorts Gardens in Covent Garden, which runs till October 28th. Lots of works sold on the night, but there are still a few choice pieces and some of her limited edition prints as well.

Jonathan Ross, a long-time admirer of Junko’s unique artistry, came along to introduce her and her show and plug Comica’s upcoming programme, including Junko’s interview by Jason Atomic at Foyles Charing Cross Road on Wednesday October 22nd. Some tickets are still remaining, so be sure to book asap and be there for her only public speaking appearance and live drawing event! Photo courtesy of Kazuyo O’Neill.

Comica Festival 2014 Presents Transitions 5 Free Symposium at Birkbeck London

Posted: September 12, 2014

After our amazing weekender at The British Library to coincide with their major exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the main season of Comica Festival 2014 is fast approaching. Here’s the brilliant poster designed by John Miers to announce the fifth one-day Transitions symposium, once again held at Birkbeck, University of London.

Transitions takes place on Saturday October 25th and is completely free, you just need to register by emailing transitions [dot] symposium [at] gmail [dot] com. The symposium’s day schedule will be unveiled shortly, along with the full programme of Comica itself. Sign up for our email Newsletter to get the latest advance alerts and booking opportunities.

Get Your Selfie With Ricky Rouse At Comica Comiket!

Posted: August 13, 2014

This Saturday morning from 10.30am on August 16th at the Comica Comiket, our free-entry Independent Comics Market at The British Library, you will have the chance to meet a “real-life” comics character in the flesh - or in the felt!

Ricky Rouse is the unsettlingly familiar-looking cartoon critter who grins wide-eyed in the brand-new brashly satirical graphic novel by Jörg Tittel and John Aggs, Ricky Rouse Has A Gun, , launching from SelfMadeHero.

Come along to Comiket to snap your own ‘SelfieMadeHero’ with this cute-but-strange rip-off rodent, send it to #rickyrouse on the Saturday and at 4pm Ricky will announce the winner of a signed limited edition hardback edition of his graphic novel - be there and he’ll present it to you in person!

And check out his amazing music video, featuring an original track by UNKLE’s James Lavelle:


Comica Festival Weekend at The British Library August 15th to 17th!

Posted: July 5, 2014

Put these dates in your diary! Six weeks today, Comica presents the Comica Festival Weekend at The British Library, London on August 15th to 17th! It’s an amazing, huge, welcoming public venue in which to celebrate comics at their most exciting and creative. It also marks the final weekend of Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the biggest exhibition of British comics ever seen in this country, so it’s sure to be heaving with visitors.

Bryan Lee O’Malley, creator of Scott Pilgrim, is interviewed on Friday August 15th at 6.30pm and signs copies of his wildly anticipated new graphic novel, Seconds, published in the UK by SelfMadeHero, and in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival (where Bryan appears over the weekend). You can book tickets here to Bryan’s BL gig - don’t delay as demand is already high for his exclusive London speaking engagement.

On Saturday August 16th, from 11am to 5pm, Comica Comiket, our unmissable independent comics fair, will take over the vast public foyer areas of The British Library, offering the chance to meet and buy direct from some of the greatest publishers, from solo creators to graphic novel majors. Bryan Lee O’Malley will also open the Comiket and sign on the SelfMadeHero stand. Admission to the Comiket is completely free for the public. The packed day will also include a range of extra activities as well as our much-loved Drawing Parade, a chance to watch leading cartoonists working live for thirty minutes each and projected onto giant screens.

Then on Sunday August 17th, from 11.30am to 6.30pm, Comica programmes a series of fascinating, forthright panel discussions and book signings in the British Library’s prestige Conference Centre (above). This is bringing together a remarkable roster of comics writers and artists including Matilda Tristram, launching her autobiographical graphic novel Probably Nothing from Viking Penguin, and special guest from France, Emmanuel Guibert, courtesy of the Institut Français, premiering How The World Was: A California Childhood, just published by First Second.

Full details for booking Tables for exhibitors to the Comiket are available here.

Info and links for the public to book the Sunday panel discussions will follow very shortly.

We look forward to welcoming you to this once-in-a-lifetime Comica Festival Weekender at The British Library!

Call For Papers from Transitions 5 Comica Festival Symposium!

Posted: June 30, 2014

For the fifth year in a row, Comica Festival supports the Transitions Symposium in London, promoting new research and multi-disciplinary academic study of comics/ comix/ manga/ bande dessinée and other forms of sequential art. This is the announcement of the call for papers for the forthcoming 5th Transitions Symposium on Saturday October 25th 2014 at Birkbeck, University of London.

By deliberately not appointing a set theme, the organisers hope to put together a programme reflecting the diversity of comics studies.  They welcome abstracts for twenty minute papers as well as proposals for panels. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: text-oriented approaches – studies of key creators – historical and contemporary studies of production and circulation of comics – readerships and fan cultures – critical reception – formats, platforms and contexts – the (im)materiality of comics – archival concerns – formalist/narratological approaches – comics and aesthetics – adaptation, convergence and remediation – international iterations and transnational comics – children’s comics – political comics – comics and cultural theory – ideological/discursive critiques – web comics – graphic medicine – non-fiction comics – comics as historiography – comics practice and theory– cultural histories/geographie.

Abstracts for twenty minute papers should be no more than 250 – 300 words. Proposals for papers and panels should be sent as Word documents, with a short biography appended, and submitted by the 30th of July 2014 to Hallvard, Tony and Nina at transitions.symposium[at]

Keynote: Dr. Jason Dittmer (UCL, Captain America & the Nationalist Superhero)
Respondent: Dr. Roger Sabin, Central Saint Martins, Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels)
Transitions is supported by Comica, The Centre for Contemporary Literature (Birkbeck), and the Contemporary Fiction Seminar. Image by John Miers.

Enter the Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize!

Posted: May 9, 2014

It’s your chance to join a distinguished list of winners – and even runners-up – and make an impact in the world of graphic novels! Now in its eighth year and announced last Sunday by Lisa O’Kelly in The Observer, the Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize has established itself as the one to win, if you want to make an impact in the world of graphic novels and beyond. Even runners-up have found themselves fêted in ways they might not have predicted only a few years ago.

In 2012, for example, our 2009 runner-up Joff Winterhart, was shortlisted alongside Hilary Mantel for best novel in the Costa book awards for his superb Days of the Bagnold Summer (above). Meanwhile, two previous winners - Stephen Collins, who won the prize in 2010, and Isabel Greenberg, who carried it off in 2011 – published their first books last year to ringing acclaim. Raymond Briggs praised Collins’s The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil as “amazing” and “completely original” before it was even published, while Mark Haddon, among others, paid tribute to Greenberg’s The Encyclopedia of Early Earth as “a celebration of storytelling itself… strange and wry and funny and beautifully drawn”.

The highly accomplished Greenberg is one of our judges this year. She will join the regular panel (Dan Franklin, publisher at Jonathan Cape, Suzanne Dean, creative director of Random House, Paul Gravett, co-director of the Comica festival and the Observer‘s Rachel Cooke) as well as the actor, comedian and writer Peter Serafinowicz.

If you’re thinking of entering, visit Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize website for full terms, conditions and dimensions and the dedicated Prize page on this website. You will also want to take a look at Shorties (above), a free e-comic that showcases a line-up of favourite entries from 2007 to 2011, the early years of the prize. The talent on view there is impressive - but please don’t let that put you off. It is intended to inspire. And we hope to receive a record number of entries in 2014. The winner will receive a cheque for £1,000 and their winning 4-page story will be published in the Observer New Review in November, and the runner-up receives £250 and their entry is published online. There will also be an exhibition of the finalists’ work (Foyles cafe in London displayed them last year, below).

The all-important deadline is September 26th 2014 - so sharpen your pencils and your mind and get to work on your own entry - best of luck!

Ben Katchor in Comica Conversation with Peter Blegvad at Foyles, Wednesday March 26th!

Posted: February 22, 2014

Book your tickets by clicking here for now!

America’s master satirist of urban absurdities, Ben Katchor is your guide through the foibles and follies of our modern metropolis. See the city through his eyes and you can explore such bemusing notions as the little-known property market ripe for development under your bed, or the six-acre false forest of artificial trees in New Jersey designed for hay-fever sufferers.

An acclaimed cartoonist and public speaker, published in Raw and The New Yorker, Katchor will be performing ‘picture-recititations’ of his full-colour comic strips, published in the leading American architecture journal Metropolis. His monthly comics from 1998 to 2012 have now been compiled into his latest graphic novel Hand-Drying in America, selected by Time magazine and National Public Radio as one of their ‘Books of 2013’.

Katchor will also be in lively conversation with friend and fellow American Peter Blegvad (below), musician, singer-songwriter and creator of the Leviathan strip in The Independent newspaper. A collection of Blegvad’s strips was published by Sort Of Books and its French edition from Apocalypse won the Prix Révélation Award at this year’s Angoulême International Comics Festival.

Don’t miss Katchor and Blegvad’s exclusive public speaking engagement in London! Followed by book signing till 8.30pm.

Title: Ben Katchor: Our Modern Metropolis - A Comica Conversation with Peter Blegvad

Place: Foyles Gallery, 3rd Floor, Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, London London WC2H 0EB.

Time: Doors open 6.15pm for 6.30-8.30pm

Tickets: £6 from

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Latest News

Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie in Comica Conversation on Picasso Graphic Biography

Scott McCloud Presents The Sculptor At The British Library

Emily Carroll Answers Your Questions In Her Comica Chat

Jonathan Ross Opens Junko Mizuno Exhibition & Comica Festival 2014!

Comica Festival 2014 Presents Transitions 5 Free Symposium at Birkbeck London

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"...a two-week celebration of the art form..."
The London Paper

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

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

"5 Stars... a superb exhibition."
Time Out

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

"I'll definitely be going to more Comica events."
Matthew Rees

"The whole affair was very effective as an insight into the creative process of a genius."
Unified Review Theory

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

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

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