Supporting The Next Generation Of Talent
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has held the first workshops for its ambitious Breakthrough project, which aims to give under-represented individuals a chance to express themselves through the medium of comics…
Five aspiring comic creators – Abbigayle Bircham, Danny Christie, Halima Hassan, Hannah Hodgson and Michael Lightfoot – are taking part in the inaugural 18-month mentoring initiative, co-ordinated by writer, publisher and editor Tim Pilcher.
The project was set up by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in conjunction with Arts Council England, Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Soaring Penguin Press, Quarto Books and other partners, with the aim of giving under-represented individuals a chance to express themselves through the medium of comics – and to hopefully open up a career pathway within the publishing industry.
The initiative – which sought applications from anyone aged 18 and over, who has not previously professionally published comics or had the opportunity to study art or creative writing in Further Education – will will run for approximately 18 months, and had its first gathering for workshops at Chicheley Hall, Buckinghamshire, near Milton Keynes, last weekend.
The Breakthrough project will culminate in an exhibition of the participants’ work and production of an anthology book which will act as a portfolio to hopefully gain them employment or to start a career as a self-employed comics creator.
“The Breakthrough Initiative got off to a flying start, and all the creators have such fascinating and diverse approaches and experiences, ensuring a truly unique publication. Their sheer enthusiasm and dedication to storytelling was inspiring,” said Project Co-Ordinator, Tim Pilcher.
“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.”
• Full information on Breakthrough is available on the Lakes International Comic Art Festival web site here
In seeking participants for the inaugural Breakthrough, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival was especially interested in those voices that are underrepresented within comics, including the BAME and LGBT communities, but also 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.