LAKES 2019: Lakes International Comic Art Festival announces ‘Breakthrough’ mentoring initiative

A new initiative - aimed at 'paying it forward' - will allow six people to recieve help and support in learning how to tell stories through the comics medium, supported by pros who can help them get through the door of the industry...


Our good friends at Tripwire Magazine and Down The Tubes has brought us a reminder of the impending deadline of a new initiative to be spearheaded by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (the show held as always in the town of Kendal in the Lake District, this October).

Launched at last years Lakes and spearheaded by renowned writer/editor Tim Pitcher, BREAKTHROUGH promises to provide ‘under-represented individuals’ the tools and the means to ‘express themselves through the medium of comics’, while also giving a chance to open the door into a career in the industry.

“The Breakthrough initiative will teach the participants the skills and techniques of comics in order to empower them to tell their own personal stories of living in Britain,” says Festival Director Julie Tait. “This will include several workshops and remote one-to-one mentoring leading to them completing their first finished comic strip. Ultimately, these stories will be collected into an anthology providing a revealing snapshot of life in Britain today.”

BREAKTHROUGH will be an 18-month mentoring initiative, set up by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in conjunction with Arts Council EnglandWellcome Trust FellowshipSoaring Penguin PressQuarto Books and other partners, launching next month in April 2019 and culminating in a number of showcase events surrounding Lakes 2020, including the publication of an anthology book launched at the show. Six lucky applicants will be chosen to participate (aged 18 and over, and who have not been previously professionally published, or previously studied art or creative writing in Further Education) and will be given one-on-one tutelage in the craft and art of telling stories through comics.

The Festival are especially interested in those voices that are underrepresented within comics, including the BAME and LGBT communities, but also particularly interested in applicants from poorer, working class backgrounds; those with mental wellbeing concerns or Special Educational Needs; Senior Citizens, and people living in rural areas.

Historically, comics have been a medium that has high accessibility for dyslexics, reluctant readers and as a cheap mass market form of entertainment. But in recent decades the working class, and other voices, have become increasingly underrepresented within the mainstream media, and are often excluded from current creative print and online comics resulting in their stories not being told and shared.

Breakthrough seeks to give those people agency and in doing so, build their self-esteem and hopefully lead on to a career creating sequential art, whilst inspiring them to become a positive reflection for subsequent creators.

The Festival is interested in mentoring stories that reflect what it is like to live on or below the poverty line, concerns about identity and place in society, health and wellbeing and what it means to be a UK citizen. This can be done through fiction, comics journalism, autobiography or any genre the participants feel is appropriate.

Tim Pilcher (image: Lakes Festival)

“Breakthrough is an incredibly exciting project to help launch the comics career of some of best British creators yet to be discovered,” enthuses co-ordinator Tim Pilcher. “We are looking for people from right across the UK who have a burning desire to tell their stories in sequential art, yet don’t know how to do it yet.

“We will give them all the skills and knowledge they need and the participants’ work will then be published in a graphic novel anthology, putting them on the first step to a brand new profession.”

Full information on Breakthrough is available on the Lakes International Comic Art Festival web site here, including links to application forms

• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival runs from in Friday 11th – 13th October 2019 at various venues across the town

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