Frank Santoro Brings His Comics Workbook Project to The Lakes international Comic Art Festival
Kendal, 2nd August 2016: The Lakes International Comic Art Festival (14th -16th October 2016) is delighted to announce that top indie comic creator Frank Santoro will be at this year’s event, bringing his Comics Workbook project to Britain for the first time with fellow creators Aidan Koch and Connor Willumsen.
The Comics Workbook events are just three of many workshops aimed at fostering aspiring comic creators work at this year’s Festival – and helping to hone the skills of those already working in the field.
Pittsburgh-born Frank Santoro’s most heralded work, Storeyville, inspired the legendary Chris Ware to say, “I consider reading Storeyville for the first time one of the touchstones of my life as a cartoonist, and the book itself one of the landmarks of comics’ development.” It was self-published in tabloid newspaper form in 1995 and has since been reissued in deluxe hard cover editions by publishers in the US and France.
Since then Frank has produced a unique body of work that includes Cold Heat with Ben Jones, in a wide variety of formats and in the process pioneered an approach to comics’ production that tailors form to content. At the same time he acts as an online tutor and guru to the next generation of comic creators around the world.
“Comics Workbook is a training school and residency program based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” Frank explains. “It is an online correspondence course, and an international network of cartoonists. It is a world-wide composition competition, monthly comic salons, backyard masterclasses, and a library of minicomics. It is a community, a team, a house on the corner.
“I’ve distilled the essence of my comics ninja training school and am bringing it to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Just like in Pittsburgh, where my more advanced students teach the beginner students, I’ve got two superstars of my program with me and together we’re going to introduce everyone to the techniques and processes that I’ve been developing since 1988.”
Together, he Aidan Koch and Connor Willumsen will host a composition competition within a special workshop at the Festival. Centring around the advanced application of techniques developed by Comics Workbook, participants will compose directly with no script or prior preparation, completing a one-page comic strip within the time allowed. There will be a symbolic competition to foster a challenging atmosphere in order to bring out the best in each participant.
Beginners and experts are welcome and all participants will have the opportunity to have their work printed with the help of the Comics Workbook gang at the Comics Clocktower at their “riso depot”).
“We are honoured and excited to be creating a new collaboration with Comics Workbook and bringing Frank and team’s unique perspective on comics to this side of the Atlantic,” says Festival Director Julie Tait. “We couldn’t ask for a more inspiring and energetic partner.”
Tickets for the main events at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festivalare on sale now.
Many international and British comic creators – writers, artists, publishers and retailers – are heading to Kendal, in Cumbria, for a packed weekend of comic celebration in October, crammed with panels, exhibitions, children’s events and other activities. The town will be entirely given over to comics, with business owners lining up to support the Festival’s famous “Windows Trail“, providing store front space to display comics art created by artists and local groups and school children.
While panel events and film screenings are ticketed, the Comics Clock Tower offers plenty of free access to many comic creators and their work, and there’s an exciting line up of free events lined up for children, too, in assorted venues across Kendal.
Testing a new type of learning institution for comic book making. Commodity form as community form.
Comics Workbook is a training school and residency program based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is an online correspondence course, and an international network of cartoonists. It is a world-wide composition competition, monthly comic salons, backyard masterclasses, and a library of minicomics. It is a community, a team, a house on the corner.
The project is the brainchild of Frank Santoro, who has been making and writing about comics since 1988. His work has been exhibited at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.
“Allegedly, I’m a good egg and one of the most passionate proselytisers for comic books and visual literacy that you will ever meet,” he says. “I’m from Pittsburgh, and I want to make this city the best place in the world to learn comic book making.
“We are creating a dojo for students much like a martial arts academy,” he expands. “The beginner student will learn from more experienced students. We run the school like a sports clinic. What’s wrong with your swing? We can fix it. The dojo sparring sessions (so to speak) are recorded and broadcast. We have a ‘broadcast booth’ and a radio show. We interview veterans and rookies and make room for friendly competition in order to push the boundaries of what is possible in the art form.
“This is not your regular comic book academy. This is a ninja academy, a samurai school, a Jedi academy. I do a really good Yoda impression.
“The student can live for a day, a weekend, a week or a month at a time in the same space. That way, the student-resident can have a total immersion in the process. Most cartoonists work out of their home, so why have an expensive school building and make the student live in a crappy dorm or apartment off campus? Why not just give them a desk and their own bedroom?
“The residents take classes with me in the living room of the house. And my mom lives up the street and makes great spaghetti sauce and lasagna. So it’s a family affair. We broadcast lessons and publish the work of residents through the local powerhouse, Copacetic Comics. Bill Boichel, the proprietor of Copacetic Comics in the Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh, is my Yoda. I want to pass on the lessons he taught me to a new generation of Jedis.
“The circle is now complete. School is in session!”
Frank Santoro is the author of Storeyville, Pompeii, and numerous other comic books (all published by PictureBox) and is a columnist for The Comics Journal. He co-founded the comics criticism magazine ComicsComics with Dan Nadel and Timothy Hodler. His comics have been published in Kramers Ergot, Mome, and The Ganzfeld.
He has exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, The Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and at The Fumetto Festival in Switzerland. He has taught drawing at Parsons School of Design and led workshops at comics festivals around the world. Santoro created a correspondence course for comic book makers that has evolved into a residency program and school which he runs out of his Pittsburgh home.
He maintains and edits the Comics Workbook tumblr blog as a showcase for new and under-appreciated comics work, while running the Comics Workbook website as a comics education and documentation platform. Through his own comics and his school, Santoro has consistently applied himself to developing new approaches to creating comics, while simultaneously pushing down barriers separating comics from fine arts and the classical tradition. His work has influenced comics pedagogy and continues to mould and inform the next generation of comickers and cartoonists.
Aidan Koch was born in Seattle, Washington in 1988 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA in Illustration at the Pacific NW College of Art in Portland, Oregon.
Well known for her “visual poetry” comics, which often utilise unusual mediums, Aidan’s voice is unique in the scene. Her work has appeared in many group exhibitions, as well as The Paris Review. Past books include the Xeric Award winning The Whale (Gaze Books, 2014), Field Studies (Floating World Comics, 2012) and the anthology Astral Talk (Publication Studio, 2011), which she edited. Most recently, Koyama Press released After Nothing Comes (2016).
Connor Willumsen was born in Calgary, Alberta in the late 1980s. He received a design degree from The Alberta College of Art, and began making comics during a year at the School ofVisual Arts in NYC.
His work finds an energetic balance between mainstream and underground comics. He has drawn stories for Marvel and DC, and made illustrations that accompanied the Criterion edition of David Cronenburg’s Scanners.
His comics have appeared on The Nib (Penetrating Rule, 2015) and Study Group (Calgary: Death Milks a Cow, 2013).
Breakdown Press published Volumes One and Two of Treasure Island (2014) and his self-published work includes Sunset People (2014) and Swinespritzen(2014).