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Posted: October 15, 2015

The Cape Observer Comica Graphic Short Story Prize has been running for eight years, discovering the writers and artists of the future.

The judges for 2015 were Peep Show co-creator Sam Bain and acclaimed graphic novelist Karrie Fransman (The House That Groaned and Death of the Artist) alongside the regular panel of judges: Dan Franklin, publisher at Jonathan Cape; Suzanne Dean, creative director of Random House; Paul Gravett, director of the Comica Festival and the Observer’s Rachel Cooke. Judging took place on October 9.


The Orbital Gallery at Orbital Comics, 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JA launches an exhibition of the Shortlisted Finalists (alongside some Past Winners) and celebrates with an Opening Party on Thursday 15 October from 7pm, all welcome!

These are the eleven finalists in the shortlist in alphabetical order by surname:

Beth Dawson, Leeds.  “Getaway”

Matthew Dooley, London. “Pints, Putting and the End of the World”

Paul Fitzgerald, Oxford. “And Then”

Rebecca K. Jones, Harrow. “Lazy Sunday”

Seokhan Jung, London. “Back Soon”

Jiey Kim, Kingston. “Square”

Candice Purwin, Edinburgh. “Matinee”

Teresa Robertson, London. “Tarquin”

Sam Rowe, Bristol. “Onyeka”

Olivia Wailer, East Sussex. “Stuffed”

Richard Woods, Crosby. “The Giants of Football”


The winner and runner-up of the Cape Observer Comica Graphic Short Story Prize 2015 will be announced at a special event at Orbital Comics on Saturday 24 October 2015 at 6pm - again all are welcome. The exhibition continues till 1 November.

Previoius winners and finalists including Isabel Greenberg, Julian Henshaw and Fumio Obata will be among the guests and will sign their graphic novels.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the creators of tomorrow … today!

The winner’s story will be published in The Observer newspaper and on their website on Sunday 25 October 2015.

For more details visit Cape’s Prize website and read Shorties, their digital sampler of previous winners.

Deadline for 2015 entries closed on Friday 2 October 2015.

Comica & Floating Cinema Bring You CanalCon on Sunday September 20th!

Posted: August 14, 2015

On Sunday September 20th 2015, Comica Festival is teaming up with Floating Cinema to create the first ever canalised comic convention or CanalCon, as a homage to Comic Con and as the grand finale of their exciting weekender of science-fiction related events under the title Extraterrestrial London: Humans In Space!.

At this free event, there will be a Mini-Comiket fair from 12 noon to 6pm of publishers offering some of greatest SF-themed graphic novels and comics, including Rebellion, publishers of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine; indie powerhouse SelfMadeHero, whose superb list includes SF gems by Jodorowsky & Moebius, Frederick Peeters, Ian Culbard and others; Knockabout Comics, famed for their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series & much more besides; First Second, the US publishing house behind intergalactic wonders like Battling Boy, The Divine, Last Man, Glorkian Warrior and Aurora West; and Britain’s brightest weekly comic for kids, The Phoenix, whose SF stories include Pirates of Pangaea, Star Cat and Mo-Bot High. More stellar exhibitors to be announced soon.

The location for CanalCon is in the buzzing King’s Cross Knowledge Quarter, as Floating Cinema brings its unmissable barge venue to the astro-turfed steps on the cnal-side of Granary Square, home of Central Saint Martins. Publishers will welcome you into their comfy gazebos, joined by dozens of authors and illustrators happy to sign and sketch in your books, while the nearby House of Illustration is offering a range of comics-making workshops on board the Floating Cinema with Merlin Evans.

Then from 7pm to 8.30pm, everyone is invited to chill out on the astro-turf and hear CanalCon’s very special guest, Dave Gibbons, the nation’s Comics Laureate, the acclaimed co-creator and illustrator of Watchmen, Martha Washington and Kingsman: The Secret Service, the classic 2000 AD artist on Dan Dare, Rogue Trooper, Robusters, and artist and writer on iconic superheroes like Green Lantern and other ‘Humans In Space’! He’ll be in conversation with Paul Gravett, sharing his experiences and tips, answering your questions and signing his books.

Join us for this free London comics event, brought to you by Comica Festival, Floating Cinema and House of Illustration. It’s going to be ‘out-of-this-world’!


Enter the 2015 Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize!

Posted: May 26, 2015

You too could be following in the footsteps of previous winners and finalists of the Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize like Julian Hanshaw, Isabel Greenberg, Stephen Collins, Joff Winterhart and Fumio Obata, all now published and acclaimed Cape graphic novelists. This year’s competition is officially open and the deadline for your four-page comics is October 2nd 2015. Here’s the announcement from Tuesday May 26th in Guardian Books by Lisa O’Kelly:

“The 2015 Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize has been running for eight years, discovering the writers and artists of the future. If you dream of being one of them, then do not miss your chance to enter. The first prize is £1,000 and the publication of your four-page story in the Observer New Review and on

“This year’s judges include Peep Show co-creator Sam Bain and acclaimed graphic novelist Karrie Fransman (The House That Groaned and Death of the Artist) alongside our regular panel of judges: Dan Franklin, publisher at Jonathan Cape, Suzanne Dean, creative director of Random House, Paul Gravett, director of the Comica festival and the Observer’s Rachel Cooke.

“Last year’s prize, which was won by Alexis Deacon for The River, attracted a record number of entries. “I entered because I’d been finding it very hard to convince people this was something I could do,” said Deacon after his triumph. If you’re thinking of entering, visit the Graphic Short Story Prize website. You will also want to take a look at Shorties, a free e-comic that showcases a lineup of favourite entries from the early years of the prize.”

Comica Festival wishes every entrant the very best of luck!

Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie in Comica Conversation on Picasso Graphic Biography

Posted: March 19, 2015

In the shops now is the gorgeous collection from SelfMadeHero of Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie’s four-volume graphic biography of Picasso, entitled Pablo. Taking in Picasso’s early life among the bohemians of Montmartre and his turbulent relationship with his model and lover Fernande, this stunning book shows how the artist’s style developed in response to his friendships and rivalries and follows the artist’s career from his origins in penury to the advent of modern art.

On Wednesday April 15th, Birmant and Oubrerie are coming to London to take part in an exclusive Comica Conversation at the Institut Français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT, with Comica Co-Director Paul Gravett, followed by Q&A and a book signing. This is a free event starting at 7pm, but you need to RSVP please to book a place by sending an email to: [at] - see you there!

This event is co-hosted by COMICA Festival, the Institut Français, SelfMadeHero and the London Book and Screen Week.

Scott McCloud Presents The Sculptor At The British Library

Posted: February 9, 2015

Comica Festival and SelfMadeHero are pleased to co-host an exclusive London presentation by comics guru Scott McCloud at The British Library on Friday March 6th 2015.

Since the release of his classic graphic novel Understanding Comics, McCloud has been recognised as the West’s leading authority on the power of comics and visual communication. Sin City writer Frank Miller has called him “just about the smartest guy in comics”, and his non-fiction graphic novels have been celebrated by Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman and many more.

Scott McCloud visits the British Library to talk about his first full-length fictional graphic novel, The Sculptor, just published in the UK by SelfMadeHero. Neil Gaiman has said of McCloud’s long-awaited magnum opus, “The Sculptor is the best graphic novel I’ve read in years. It’s about art and love and why we keep on trying. It will break your heart.”

McCloud wrote the definitive guide to how comics work; join him at the British Library to learn how his understanding of the craft was put to use in the creation of this breathtaking, funny and unforgettable piece of fiction. Scott McCloud will be in conversation with Paul Gravett, co-director of Comica Festival, and this will be followed by Q&A and signing.

When: Friday March 6th, starting 6.30pm

Where: Auditorium, Conference Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Tickets: £8 / £6 / £5

Booking Online: Click here!...

The Scott McCloud Comica Conversaton on Friday March 6th coincides with the birthday of comics legend Will Eisner and is a part of Will Eisner Week, a worldwide series of events celebrating Eisner’s legacy. Visit for more details.

This event also continues The British Library’s association with Comica Festival and hosting of graphic novel-related events, which included the Comica Festival Comiket and Conversations on August 16th and 17th last year, over the closing weekend of the Library’s blockbuster exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, and Emily Carroll, author of Through the Woods (Faber) in a Comica Conversation with Isabel Greenberg last November.


Emily Carroll Answers Your Questions In Her Comica Chat

Posted: November 17, 2014

Many thanks to Comica Festival Twitter followers for sending in your questions for Emily Carroll to answer this lunchtime about her fabulous Faber book Through The Woods. Here she is signing at Gosh! in London tonight, photo courtesy of David Clayton.

Below we are presenting her complete Comica Chat tweets together with some extra web-exclusive questions for Emily, available only on this Blog! Enjoy!

The Gothic Graphic Story at The British Library

And don’t forget to book the last remaining tickets for Emily Carroll in a live Comica Conversation with Isabel Greenberg, The Gothic Graphic Story, in the Bronte Room of The British Library Conference Centre from 7pm to 8.30pm including book signings. Here is the booking link… See you there!


Welcome Emily Carroll. Thanks for talking to us about your work and your Graphic Novel Through The Woods.

How’d you decide to pursue comics over animation?

EMILY: It was actually pretty simple - I’m awful at animation.

I went to school for it, but my grades were terrible, I’m too impatient.

Comics let me work quickly, and also by myself (which is good, as I’m rather solitary anyway).

What do you think is distinctive about storytelling via comics vs film?

EMILY:  Aside from elements like music, sound cues and so on, probably how time is controlled.

In film you can control how long a shot appears on screen for, whereas in comics you can’t really control how long someone looks at a panel.

But the upside of comics is that I can draw whatever I want without worrying about limitations of technology, camera or sfx. :0)

Love the pacing of your web comics & the layouts you use in print. Does one influence the other?

EMILY:  Not consciously, I don’t think. I am very aware of timing, but it probably relies more on the story itself than the format.

What scares you?

EMILY:  Oof, honestly, too many things to list.

The dark. Noises IN the dark.

I still check under the bed sometimes, it’s terrible.

Do you have a fave book/film/comic that has had an impact on your storytelling?

EMILY:  The Scary Stories to “Tell in the Dark” series by Alvin Schwartz has been a huge influence, especially in the rhythm of my short horror stories.

Art-wise, The Highwayman as illustrated by Charles Keeping has been pretty influential.

I read both of these when I was a little kid and they both stuck.

They still scare me actually (and are still delightful, of course).

Would you like to see any of your stories animated? ‘Out of Skin’ my fave and would be amazing!

EMILY:  Haha so long as I didn’t have to animate them myself, yeah, that’d be great!

I’d probably choose the same story as you too.

You rarely close your stories: is engaging reader’s imagination key to good horror?

EMILY:  Tastes vary, but for me - yes.

I am frequently let down by stories that over explain whatever the horror is.

It makes things less threatening when you discover they can be solved or how they can be defeated.

(Not to mention that the reader’s imagination is always going to conjure something worse than I could ever fulfill anyway!)

Some of your comics online are interactive. How did you end up thinking to do that? Inspiration?

EMILY: It’s probably from all the video games I play!

It’s fun to figure out new ways to build mood or suspense, and so I borrow certain elements from games here and there and try them out to see if they work.

It’s just a lot of experimenting really.

What is your writing process like? Do you use outlines, thumbails, scripts or is it more free-form? 

EMILY:  It depends (on the time I have, if I’m working with another person, my mood).

More often than not I will do thumbnails and script alongside that, just loose notes, but occasionally I will do something like make a list of story beats and flesh them out from there.

I’m experimenting with just straight script writing now too, with notes to help me visualize.

Describe the room where you usually create comics?

EMILY: I share a little office with my wife (who makes games).

The walls are painted bright red (well, it’s sorta orange) and there is usually a massive cat (also sorta orange) sprawled out on the floor next to me. :0)

What are your interests outside of creating comics?

EMILY: If I’m not making comics (and that’s rare, I spend the bulk of my time these days making comics) then I’m probably playing video games, and when the weather’s warm I laze about outside reading novels a lot.

I also like going on walks, and I go to my town’s local library a few times a week.

Creatively, I’m interested in making games, though unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for that these days.

Where are you now and what can you see?

EMILY: I am in my hotel room in London, and I can see all the usual hotel trappings, as well as my reflection in the mirror opposite me, and a television show about gardening beside that (but muted, so I can focus!).

What are you currently reading?

EMILY: I’m just about to start reading the new Stephen King book, Revival.

I have absolutely no idea what it’s about and haven’t read anything about it in advance, so I’m looking forward to it.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her-him?

EMILY: Right now, one of my favourite authors is Margaret Laurence.

Her 1966 book A Jest of God is proving to be a major influence on a new story I’m writing, both in terms of characters and themes (and to some degree, setting).

While her work can often seem rather sad, even bleak, there’s a dry humour to it I very much enjoy, and I admire the ability to pull that off.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

EMILY: Oh, I have to say I most look like a Moomin troll.

Who is your hero-heroine from outside graphic novels and comics?

EMILY: Hm, the first person to come to mind is Margaret Atwood.

She’s been one of my biggest influences ever since I was a teenager.

She’s an incredible writer, but on top of admiring her stories and prose (and poetry, for that matter), I also appreciate her environmental activism and political work.

Thanks for doing this chat with Comica, Emily Carroll :0)

EMILY: Thank YOU! :0) And thanks everyone for all the questions!

Yes, Thanks to everyone who tweeted for great questions! @tisisbahoosh @DClayton72 @davethecrane @RytKing and @rachelnabors
We love questions, but we like answers more.

Jonathan Ross Opens Junko Mizuno Exhibition & Comica Festival 2014!

Posted: October 20, 2014

Tonight saw the opening party to launch the 2014 season of Comica Festival, from October 20th to November 19th 2014 all across London, and the private view for Junko Mizuno’s first London gallery exhibition at Atomica Gallery at 29 Shorts Gardens in Covent Garden, which runs till October 28th. Lots of works sold on the night, but there are still a few choice pieces and some of her limited edition prints as well.

Jonathan Ross, a long-time admirer of Junko’s unique artistry, came along to introduce her and her show and plug Comica’s upcoming programme, including Junko’s interview by Jason Atomic at Foyles Charing Cross Road on Wednesday October 22nd. Some tickets are still remaining, so be sure to book asap and be there for her only public speaking appearance and live drawing event! Photo courtesy of Kazuyo O’Neill.

Comica Festival 2014 Presents Transitions 5 Free Symposium at Birkbeck London

Posted: September 12, 2014

After our amazing weekender at The British Library to coincide with their major exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the main season of Comica Festival 2014 is fast approaching. Here’s the brilliant poster designed by John Miers to announce the fifth one-day Transitions symposium, once again held at Birkbeck, University of London.

Transitions takes place on Saturday October 25th and is completely free, you just need to register by emailing transitions [dot] symposium [at] gmail [dot] com. The symposium’s day schedule will be unveiled shortly, along with the full programme of Comica itself. Sign up for our email Newsletter to get the latest advance alerts and booking opportunities.

Get Your Selfie With Ricky Rouse At Comica Comiket!

Posted: August 13, 2014

This Saturday morning from 10.30am on August 16th at the Comica Comiket, our free-entry Independent Comics Market at The British Library, you will have the chance to meet a “real-life” comics character in the flesh - or in the felt!

Ricky Rouse is the unsettlingly familiar-looking cartoon critter who grins wide-eyed in the brand-new brashly satirical graphic novel by Jörg Tittel and John Aggs, Ricky Rouse Has A Gun, , launching from SelfMadeHero.

Come along to Comiket to snap your own ‘SelfieMadeHero’ with this cute-but-strange rip-off rodent, send it to #rickyrouse on the Saturday and at 4pm Ricky will announce the winner of a signed limited edition hardback edition of his graphic novel - be there and he’ll present it to you in person!

And check out his amazing music video, featuring an original track by UNKLE’s James Lavelle:


Comica Festival Weekend at The British Library August 15th to 17th!

Posted: July 5, 2014

Put these dates in your diary! Six weeks today, Comica presents the Comica Festival Weekend at The British Library, London on August 15th to 17th! It’s an amazing, huge, welcoming public venue in which to celebrate comics at their most exciting and creative. It also marks the final weekend of Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the biggest exhibition of British comics ever seen in this country, so it’s sure to be heaving with visitors.

Bryan Lee O’Malley, creator of Scott Pilgrim, is interviewed on Friday August 15th at 6.30pm and signs copies of his wildly anticipated new graphic novel, Seconds, published in the UK by SelfMadeHero, and in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival (where Bryan appears over the weekend). You can book tickets here to Bryan’s BL gig - don’t delay as demand is already high for his exclusive London speaking engagement.

On Saturday August 16th, from 11am to 5pm, Comica Comiket, our unmissable independent comics fair, will take over the vast public foyer areas of The British Library, offering the chance to meet and buy direct from some of the greatest publishers, from solo creators to graphic novel majors. Bryan Lee O’Malley will also open the Comiket and sign on the SelfMadeHero stand. Admission to the Comiket is completely free for the public. The packed day will also include a range of extra activities as well as our much-loved Drawing Parade, a chance to watch leading cartoonists working live for thirty minutes each and projected onto giant screens.

Then on Sunday August 17th, from 11.30am to 6.30pm, Comica programmes a series of fascinating, forthright panel discussions and book signings in the British Library’s prestige Conference Centre (above). This is bringing together a remarkable roster of comics writers and artists including Matilda Tristram, launching her autobiographical graphic novel Probably Nothing from Viking Penguin, and special guest from France, Emmanuel Guibert, courtesy of the Institut Français, premiering How The World Was: A California Childhood, just published by First Second.

Full details for booking Tables for exhibitors to the Comiket are available here.

Info and links for the public to book the Sunday panel discussions will follow very shortly.

We look forward to welcoming you to this once-in-a-lifetime Comica Festival Weekender at The British Library!

Read all the latest Comica news here.


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Comica & Floating Cinema Bring You CanalCon on Sunday September 20th!

Enter the 2015 Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize!

Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie in Comica Conversation on Picasso Graphic Biography

Scott McCloud Presents The Sculptor At The British Library

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"It was definitely worth the trip."
Garen Ewing

"Comica features some of the most highly regarded figures currently working in the form..."
The Observer

"...a major new international festival devoted to sequential narratives."

"The whole affair was very effective as an insight into the creative process of a genius."
Unified Review Theory

"...packed out..."
Tony Venezia

"...a fantastically wide selection of comics, to be touched, admired and purchased."
Toby Litt

"Guibert turned out to be a captivating speaker."
Sarah McIntyre

"Thank you, Paul Gravett, for another wonderful season of Comica!"
Sarah McIntyre

"...another very successful event providing a wonderful voyage into the world of graphic literature."
Dominique Le Duc

"The talk - to a full house - was pleasant, convivial and amusing."
Tim Pilcher