Dave McKean’s multimedia performance of Black Dog returns to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival

We are absolutely delighted to announced the return of its co-commission, premiered in 2016, Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean, at this year’s Festival in September in Bowness-on-Windermere.

This multi-media performance combines visual storytelling, a captivating musical score and spoken word performance, offering a visual journey through the mind and experiences of artist Paul Nash, explored through the exceptional comic artwork. Dave McKean will perform live alongside collaborators Clare Haythornthwaite and Matthew Sharp.

Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash was commissioned by the 14-18 Now and The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, as part of a four-year slate of new artworks for the centenary commemorations of World War One. It is a graphic novel, and a live performance piece, covering the life of the British landscape artist Paul Nash during his time as an officer in Ypres, and how his experiences there changed his art and his character.

“He went into the war a young, idealistic, romantic, rather wishy-washy symbolist, and emerged the other side a hardened, angry, expressive and committed socialist”, notes Dave McKean. “He didn’t label himself an ‘artist’, he had become a ‘messenger’. His calling, to show the people back home what had happened, what the truth of war means to the men caught up in it, to ‘wipe the cant and lies from English life’. And to show how the devastation we inflict on the land, on the natural world, reflects the scars and violence we inflict on each other.”

Paul Nash (11th May 1889 – 11th July 1946) was a British surrealist painter and war artist, as well as a photographer, writer and designer of applied art. Nash was among the most important landscape artists of the first half of the twentieth century. He played a key role in the development of Modernism in English art. The artworks he produced during World War One are among the most iconic images of the conflict. 

‘When I look at Paul Nash’s work, I always feel like I am watching a dream,” Dave has also said. “They feel like looking at the real world through the filter of his imagination.So many people lock their experiences of war away, don’t want to talk about it – but artists and writers can put that experience somewhere. You can really see that in Paul Nash’s work: his impressions of the people, the landscape and how that reflects the psychology of the experience. I think he absolutely nailed it.”

A graphic novel and a performance spanning many different media – comic art, music, graphic story-telling, projections and visual art, the performance has toured internationally to huge acclaim, including a sell-out performance at Tate Britain, as part of the Toronto Comic Art Festival in 2017 and as a closing performance at the Derby Book Festival in June 2017. It was awarded the Event of the Year at the Cumbria Life Culture Awards 2017.

Don’t miss the chance to see it in the intimate surroundings of the Old Laundry Theatre. Admittance to this performance is included in the price of the Weekend Ticket.

Black Dog is one our proudest moments,” says Festival Director Julie Tait, “and a mesmerising and moving experience.”

Weekend tickets for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival are on sale now, and, separately, tickets for the Opening Night event, “Avengers – The Uncivil War”, have also gone on sale, a fun event that will see comic creator Emma Vieceli try and keep aspiring Avengers such as Yomi AyeniVIZ’s Graham DuryKeli LarkPieter de Poortere and Tom Richmond, and others to be announced, in line!

Supported by Arts Council England, the British Council, Creative Scotland and other funders, the Festival’s guest list includes creators such as Mohammad Sabaaneh, whose acclaimed work has been exhibited across the globe; Sean Phillips, whose crime title, Criminal, created with Ed Brubaker, is heading to the small screen; Junko Mizuno, whose art simply refuses to be categorised; Doctor Who comics and series storyboard artist Mike Collins; and graphic artist Victoria Lomasko, whose graphic reportage has earned acclaim across Europe and beyond.

The weekend will also host Britain’s first International Comics Rights Market where, akin to Europe’s Angouleme Festival, international publishers will meet British creators and publishers to consider their work for publication; the Lakeside Comics Marketplace, where independent creators will be selling comics, artwork and more; and many free Little LICAF events for young, aspiring creators to enjoy making comics and more.

The full programme of events at the Festival, running at various venues across Bowness-on-Windermere over 27th – 29th September will be revealed shortly.

The guest line-up is: Aimée De Jongh, Amy Tetteh, Benoit Dahan, Bobby Joseph, Bruno Redondo, Bryan Talbot, Cyril Lieron, Dagsson, Dan Panosian, Dave McKean, Emma Vieceli, Fumio Obata, Gigi Cavenago (TBC), Isabel Greenberg, Jacob Phillips, Jason Quinn, Jorge Fornés, Juanjo Guarnido, Junko Mizuno, Karel Osoha, Kate Charlesworth, Keli Lark, Kevin Eric Raymundo, Luke Healy, Marc Jackson, Mary Talbot, Mehdi Annassi, Michael Lark, Mike Collins, Mollie Ray, Nina Six, Paolo Herras, Patricia Ramos, Pieter De Poortere, Reetta Niemensivu, Sean Phillips, Terry Moore, Tom Richmond, Victoria Lomasko and the VIZ team.

• Full details of each guest feature on the Festival website here, and there’s a guide to creators exhibiting at the Lakes Comics Marketplace here, too.

You can find details of tickets here on the Festival website and how to buy them

Dave McKean talks about the creation of “Black Dog” - both graphic novel and performance - here on his official website and here on the 14-18 NOW YouTube channel