East London Comics & Art Festival

Skateboarding crocodiles, cycling bears and a scurrying mouse kicking of a relay race – expect all of this and more at the inaugural East London Comics & Art Festival this weekend, organised by publishing platform Nobrow.

McBess' poster for East London Comics and Art Festival
McBess’ poster for East London Comics and Art Festival

The event, which takes place on Sunday, will see cheeky French illustrator McBess as illustrator in residence, alongside and a plethora of other illustration and graphic novel big-guns celebrating the best in the flourishing indie comics scene. McBess has designed the event poster, flyers and a mural on the side of the festival building, and his band Dead Pirates will also be making an appearance.

McBess' mural on Village Underground for East London Comics and Art Festival
McBess’ mural on Village Underground for East London Comics and Art Festival

Sam Arthur, co-founder of Nobrow Press and ELCAF, says, ‘We’ve visited quite a few festivals around the world like Angouleme in France and festivals in Brooklyn and Toronto, and although there are comic festivals in the UK nothing really captures what those ones do. As soon as we started talking about it we’ve been inundated with interest from people.’

Plans are already being made for next year’s event, and it’s hoped that ELCAF will become an annual beacon on the UK comic scene.

Among the 40 or so stalls showing their wares include Jonathan Cape, SelfMadeHero, Blank Slate and Nobrow. Alongside short film screenings and Simone Lia in conversation with the Guardian about autobiographical comics; the day will also nod to this summer’s flurry of sporting events with a drawing relay race.

The race, entitled Tac au Tac 2012, will see 20 artists take part in a relay race starting with a drawing of a little scurrying mouse. The next artist to take the baton will delineate what the critter is chasing, and so on and so forth in a 2012 rebirth of the original ‘Tac Au Tac’ invented by French cartoonists in the 1970s. ‘Runners’ include Luke Pearson, Kristyna Baczynski, Kyle Platts and Isabel Greenberg, who will create a 12 foot drawing which will be displayed in the space for the rest of the day. You can watch the video for the original Tic Au Tac here

Another sport-leaning event will also take place courtesy of Anorak Magazine , The Happy Sports Village Drawing Marathon. The magazine’s artists Kyle Platts and Matt Bromley will host an an illustration workshop to help kids and grownups create a ‘happy sports village’, including, we’re promised, a cast of skateboarding crocodiles and cycling bears.

Blexbolex's No Man's Land cover
Blexbolex’s No Man’s Land cover

French illustrator Blexbolex will be in conversation with comic fan and journalist Paul Gravett, discussing his practice and his wonderful new book No Man’s Land. The event also makes the launch of the Nobrow 7 comic.

NoBrow seven comic cover by edaakaltun
NoBrow seven comic cover by edaakaltun

Arthur says, ‘Comics artists want to tell beautiful, passionate, important stories that make other people cry, laugh and fall in love. ELCAF will spread the word that comics are a great way to support and collect inspired creative work from artists and illustrators whose pictures many people probably enjoy every day in the media without realising it.’


East London Comics & Arts Festival takes place on 17 June at Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane,  Shoreditch, London EC2A


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