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LICAF 2021: Lakes Festival unveils striking Dave McKean poster artwork

Comic conventions are doing their level best to start planning for the eventual revival of the fandom calendar, post-pandemic, with the general consensus being that the back end of the year is looking the safer option, once vaccines start kicking in and lockdown measures start having their eventual effect.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) was always scheduled for the tail end of the convention schedules of the year and, for 2021, the event – which takes over the tranquil town of Kendal in the UK’s Lake District – is gearing up for its grand return over the weekend of Friday, 15th to Sunday 17th, October 2021.

As part of the initial announcements for the Festival, the organisers have released the official artwork that will serve as the branding of the show, illustrated by master artist Dave McKean, the renowned artist behind BLACK ORCHID, ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH and BLACK DOG: THE DREAMS OF PAUL NASH.

McKean, who has been a guest to the Festival in the past as well as a featured element to last years virtual con Lakes Festival Live, has created an incredible, haunting, evocative piece which will showcase on the schedules, posters and promotional material throughout.

McKean explains his aesthetic choices for the design: “The book as an unfolding path is an image I’ve played with a few times but the poster for this Festival seemed to be the perfect place for it. It feels like the unfolding of individual panels, the progress of the narrative, and the huge creative advance recently of the comics medium as a whole.

“The character is a version of my creation Raptor, a traveller, a hunter, and someone trapped between two worlds; our reality and the imaginative world of literature and art.”

We can’t wait to hear the first names of the invited Special Guests list for the Festival, due shortly: one thing the Lakes always does is attract the cream of UK and international talent and, from all the chatter online and in spite of the concerns still in people’s minds at this time, talent is gagging to get back out there and meet fans and friends once again. When we hear, you’ll hear.

From the official Lakes release:

Planning for a return to a physical event in 2021, with a final decision in May, the team is preparing a hybrid event of both the “real” and “virtual” – the latter in response to the huge success of last year’s online LICAF LIVE, archived on the Festival’s official site and YouTube. In the works are panel events, exhibitions, an anime film program, children’s activities through LITTLE LICAF, and, of course, the return of the ever-popular Comics Clock Tower, again to be mirrored online.

Dave McKean, who featured in a special “Through the Keyhole” segment of LICAF LIVE in 2020, has illustrated and designed many award-winning and ground breaking books and graphic novels, including THE MAGIC OF REALITY (by Richard Dawkins), THE HOMECOMING (Ray Bradbury), VARJAK PAW AND PHOENIX (SF Said), ARKHAM ASYLUM (Grant Morrison), and MR. PUNCH, SIGNAL TO NOISE, THE WOLVES IN THE HALLS, CORALINE and the Newberry and Carnegie Medal winning THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (Neil Gaiman).

His self-penned CAGES, published in 2010, received several awards for the year’s best graphic novel and he wrote and drew the Lakes International Comic Art Festival graphic novel created in partnership with 14-18 NOW, the Arts Council and US publisher Dark Horse, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash. Dave was also a contributor to the Festival’s other World War One-inspired anthology collection, Traces of the Great War, published in partnership with Image Comics.

He has also 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 work has also been exhibited in the US, Europe and Japan and he has released four monographs of photographs.

Dave has designed characters for two of the Harry Potter films and has also directed five short films and three feature films, the award-winning MirrorMask, Luna and The Gospel of Us, with Michael Sheen.

Leonard Sultana
Leonard Sultana
Leonard Sultana is a full-time DJ / part-time nerd and is doing his damnedest to swap those around. He is the creator of An Englishman In San Diego, The Convention Collective and a rather nice cocktail involving Dandelion & Burdock.

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