LICAF 2021: Dave McKean officially announced joining Lakes Festival special guest line-up for October’s IRL event

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In possibly not the biggest shock or surprise announcement to come out of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, it has been revealed that master illustrator and all-round maestro storyteller Dave McKean has been enlisted to join the already prestigious line-up of talent making their way to the lush landscape of the Lake District in October.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) will be taking over the town of Kendal over the weekend of Friday 15th to Sunday 17th October 2021, as always installing itself in numerous art centres, libraries, schools and shopping centre malls around the area and filling them with the likes of THE WALKING DEAD‘s Charlie Adlard, QUARANTINE COMIX‘s Rachael Smith, the father-son cartooning force that is Steve and Luke McGarry, visitors from further afield such as Yomi Ayeni, Sayra Begum, Maria Björklund and Hugleikur Dagsson, cartoonist Steven Appleby and hoo boy a whole lot more.

As well as being well-regarded and award-winning in many fields, Dave McKean’s work will be incredibly familiar to mainstream comic fans, being a multiple-time collaborator with Neil Gaiman on books such as NEVERWHERE, BLACK ORCHID and THE SANDMAN, as well as the incredibly best-selling, globe-straddling, house-buying tome that was ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH with Grant Morrison.

His inclusion into the LICAF roster was kind of foreshadowed by his selection to provide the artwork for this years celebration of comic art and illustration, an incredible and typically moody piece of work that shows off Dave’s mastery of mixed media with a dash of playfulness, suitable for the tone of the Festival.

Offical Poster, Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2021 (Dave McKean)

And this won’t be Mr. McKean’s first trip oop North to visit LICAF, of course – I myself, Dear Reader, encountered the man’s jovial and imposing frame (he is very tall!) when he presented a live commentary track to a screening of his self-penned and directed film LUNA in 2015 – an odd experience for anyone who hadn’t seen the film previously (which I hadn’t), to watch an obviously compelling film on the Brewery Art Centre cinema screen with this deep, soothing voice booming over the top from the ether…

…and then again when I was incredibly lucky to be in the room for the emotionally impacting, multimedia presentation of BLACK DOG: THE DREAMS OF PAUL NASH the following year, something I wish that more people could have the chance to experience because, frankly, the whole thing left me a blubbering wreck – it was utterly spellbinding.

Tickets for the Festival are now available to purchase and, following last years virtual event – thanks a bleedin’ bunch, Global Pandemic – the organisers will be pulling out all the stops to make sure that the IRL Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2021 will be a weekend to remember and a must-attend show. Get your tickets ASAP, HERE.


From the LICAF official release:

Dave McKean joins Lakes International Comic Art Festival Guest List

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is delighted to confirm that award-winning graphic novelist Dave McKean, designer of this year’s promotional artwork, is joining this year’s international guest line-up in Kendal in October.

Dave is no stranger to the long-running Lakes-based comic Festival, not only appearing as a guest but also creating the acclaimed graphic novel BLACK DOG: THE DREAMS OF PAUL NASH, a book and accompanying performance work, commissioned by the 14-18 Now Foundation, The Imperial War Museum, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and On a Marché Sur la Bulle. It was published as an artist’s edition in the UK, and worldwide by Dark Horse Publishing and Glénat to wide acclaim. Dave also premiered his associated multimedia work based on the book in Kendal; a series of projections, combined with a performance of orchestral music and songs, all written and produced by the artist.

Dave McKean, who designed this year’s LICAF Festival poster, has illustrated and designed many award-winning and groundbreaking books and graphic novels including THE MAGIC OF REALITY (Richard Dawkins), THE HOMECOMING (Ray Bradbury), VARJAK PAW AND PHOENIX (SF Said), THE SAVAGE, SLOG’S DAD and MOUSE BIRD SNAKE WOLF (David Almond), WHAT’S WELSH FOR ZEN? (John Cale), ARKHAM ASYLUM (Grant Morrison), WIZARD AND GLASS (Stephen King) and MR. PUNCH, SIGNAL TO NOISE, THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS, CORALINE and the Newberry and Carnegie Medal-winning THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (Neil Gaiman). His self-penned CAGES received several awards for the year’s best graphic novel.

He has also written and illustrated PICTURES THAT TICK, VOLS I AND II (collections of short comics) and CELLULOID, an erotic novel. He has created hundreds of CD, book and comic covers for Michael Nyman, Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Bill Bruford, Bill Laswell, Tori Amos, Altan, Fear Factory, Roy Harper, Frontline Assembly, John Cale, and the entire run of Neil Gaiman’s influential SANDMAN series.

His recent book projects include CAUSTIC, a collection of drawings inspired by silent erotic cinema, Colorado Kid (Stephen King), I Am Legend (Richard Matheson), Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist (David Almond), Postcard from Venice (a sketchbook), and Apophenia (an art book).

His latest graphic novel, RAPTOR: A SOKOL GRAPHIC NOVEL, is to be published on 29th July 2021 by Dark Horse Comics, a story following two storylines. In one, Arthur, a nineteenth-century writer in Wales, mourns his late wife whilst dabbling in the supernatural in the hopes that he might commune with her again. In the other, Sokol wanders a feudal landscape hunting monsters for those who can afford to pay the cost for his bounties.

Dave joins a line-up of guests at the Festival, running Friday 15th – 17th October 2021, that includes Charlie Adlard, Steven Appleby, Yomi Ayeni, Sayra Begum, Maria Björklund, Neill Cameron, Kate Charlesworth, Hugleikur Dagsson, Marc Jackson, Nicola Jennings, Olivier Kugler, Michael Lark, Jeff Lemire (now making a virtual appearance due to COVID-shifted work schedules), Leomacs, Vojtěch Mašek, Lou McKeever (aka BlueLou), Luke McGarry, Steve McGarry, Ziki Nelson, Wang Ning, Sean Phillips, David A. Roach, Miles Ross, Martin Rowson, Greg Rucka, Rachael Smith, Clarice Tudor and Steve Yeowell.

“We’re delighted Dave is joining us for this year’s return to a physical Festival,” says Festival Director Julie Tait. “He’s been a tremendous support to the organisation and his amazing work speaks for itself.”


Announced guests for October 2021 in Kendal so far, in alphabetical order, include: Charlie Adlard, Roger Beley Alonzo, Steven Appleby, Yomi Ayeni, Sayra Begum, Maria Björklund, Boulet, Neill Cameron, Kate Charlesworth, Chris Condon, Darren Cullen, Darryl Cunningham, Hugleikur Dagsson, Oliver East, Manuele Fior, Simon Hanselmann, Marc Jackson, Nicola Jennings, Olivier Kugler, Michael Lark, Jeff Lemire (now making a virtual appearance due to COVID-shifted work schedules), Leomacs, Mike Luckovich, Jul Maroh, Vojtěch Mašek, Dave McKean, Lou McKeever (aka BlueLou), Luke McGarry, Steve McGarry, Ziki Nelson, Wam Ning, Albert Luba Ntolila, Jacob Phillips, Sean Phillips, Kate Prior, David A. Roach, Miles Ross, Martin Rowson, Greg Rucka, Matt Smith, Rachael Smith, Glen Southern, Lucy Sullivan, Jack Teagle, Ann Telnaes, Clarice Tudor, the VIZ team and Steve Yeowell.

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