Some of the UK’s finest talent was on show last Saturday, as the third East London Comic and Arts Festival hit Bethnal Green.
Comic festivals are always fun, but this year’s ELCAF felt particularly special as hundreds of people queued around the block to enter a sold-out warehouse that contained many of the UK and Europe’s best comic artists… including a fair share of former OFF LIFE contributors.
Donned in hastily made OFF LIFE t-shirts, jammed together in a shed at 1am the night before, we shuffled from table-to-table and took in the sheer wealth of quality.
First up, it has to be said that Dan Berry is a master of the comic festival. With a roll-up, roll-up market stall patter and a lay-out full of beautifully crafted front covers, his table was three deep with readers all day long. The added bonus was that he was sharing the space with OFF LIFE favourite Kristyna Baczynski, whose excellent new book A Measure of Space was hot off the press and debuting that day.
While catching up with the pair of them, Dan introduced us to their blood brother style, sloppy hand-santiser greeting. But the less said about that, the better.
Just a few tables down we also caught up with Andy Poyiadgi, who assured us that his much-anticipated debut book (we think it’s on NoBrow) is coming along nicely and due out in just a few months. Likewise, Darryl Cunningham was happy to be completing the final edits on Supercrash – of which an extract was published back in OFF LIFE 8.
Great Beast had one of the strongest line ups at the show, with no less than WJC, Adam Cadwell, Robert Ball, John Cei Douglas and Rachael Smith gracing the table. We sometimes feel like a cheerleader for this excellent self-publishing outfit, having featured many of their artists and interviewed the founders, but when something’s good… it’s good.
Jack Teagle must win the prize for most new books at a festival. His table, shared with the equally brilliant Donya Todd, was piled high with enticing titles such as The Day the Jack Left Earth, Turtle Fighters and Son of Diamond. We opted for his Teagle Comics #1 anthology – which, as you might expect from Jack, is packed full of bizarre animal-headed characters.
Meanwhile, Isabel Greenberg wins the prize for best placed table… opposite Seth and Chris Ware’s signing spot and under an air conditioning unit to boot. Few would deny Isabel the spot though, as her book The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is (for our money) one of the strongest comic titles to be published this decade. We’ll get her in an issue one day, dammit!
Finally, we got pretty excited by what Breakdown Press is touting, with stunning titles including Windowpane by Joe Kessler. Headed up by chaps who’ve positions at Gosh and NoBrow on their CV, Breakdown’s quality seems is matched only by its friendly, open-minded attitude towards comics publishing. With its very own exhibition coming up later this summer, we’re excited with the possibilities that this neat outfit presents.
We had a great day and it was awesome to meet so many of our contributors and readers. It would be impossible to get to everyone here, but we enjoyed chatting to every one of you.