Lakes International Comic Art Festival launches search for new Comics Laureate

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has launched its quest for a new Comics Laureate, who will be announced at this year’s annual gathering in Bowness-on-Windermere (Friday 29th September – Sunday 1st October 2023).

The next incumbent will be selected from nominations received from the comics community by a panel of experts who include comic creator and publisher Yomi Ayeni, multi-award-winning journalist Rachel Cooke and Peter Kessler, Chairman of the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 30th June 2023. The chosen Laureate will take up the role in January 2024.

Applicants should be aware the position of Comics Laureate is honorary position, and not a paid role, although reasonable expenses are covered. Schools and organisations who request the Laureate’s attendance are asked to cover these.

“It is hard being small press in the UK,” notes Yomi Ayeni of the challenges facing comic creators the Comics Laureate role seeks to overcome. “If not for social media, comic conventions, fans, and stores like Page 45, it would be an almost impossible task, especially as some shops are reluctant to stock our books.”

Introduced in 2014, previous incumbents in the role were comic creators Dave Gibbons, Charlie Adlard and Hannah Berry. 

The current Comics Laureate, artist, specialist retailer and comics provocateur Stephen L. Holland has been hugely active in the role, and his will be difficult shoes to fill. During his tenure, he has given 22 presentations, workshops or talks, been guest editor for LoveReading4Kids and been confirmed as a Patron of Refuge in Literacy UK. 

Reflecting his determination to reach new, diverse audiences and encourage young people to create comics, Stephen has made numerous appearances in schools, to plenty of deserved acclaim.

“I wanted to get straight into schools and start spreading the word in order to generate a renewed love of reading for pleasure,” he reiterated recently, “and empower young minds with the knowledge that they can create for themselves.

“Wherever I roam – in schools and elsewhere – I wanted to surprise, as we explore together what the comics medium actually is; where it has appeared, what it can do and how it can do it, while emphasising the limitless breadth of subject matter that comics can cover. To show everyone in this country who’ll look and listen the true diversity of this medium we all love, and to promote its most individualistic voices!

“Comics is a visual medium,” he emphasises. “You can’t tell the public that they must start reading comics! You have to show them this medium’s full, diverse and fascinating glories – which they won’t be expecting – and so tantalise them into exploring graphic novels for themselves!”

• Please send your nominations for Comics Laureate to Carole Tait by email at, to be received no later than Friday 30th June 2023. Let us know who you want to nominate, why, and include some links to their work if you can

 • Find out more about the role of the Comics Laureate here:

• Check out the Comics Laureate Recommended Reading Section on the Festival web site:


Lucas Maxwell is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, and has been a school librarian in the UK for ten years. In 2017, he was named the UK’s School Librarian of the Year and in 2022 he was named the UK Literacy Association’s Reading for Pleasure  School Reading Champion.  

Rachel Cooke is a multi-award-winning journalist, author and critic. Since 2010 she has been the regular comics reviewer for The Guardian and writer of their Graphic Novel of the Month feature. 

Yomi Ayeni is an interactive media producer, based in London. His work spans music, film, graphic novels, immersive events and much, much more.  Yomi is a Patron of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Peter Kessler is the Chairman of the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival. He reads comics and graphic novels incessantly, and has written one book about them, The Complete Guide to Asterix. He spent many years as a TV Producer, winning one BAFTA award. He has also worked as an English teacher and is the founder of a primary school in London.

Julie Tait is the founder and Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and a keen comics fan with a passion for sharing the message that “Comics CAN change the World”.

• Please send your nominations for Comics Laureate to Carole Tait by email at, to be received no later than Friday 30th June 2023

FESTIVAL DATES: The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns to Bowness-on-Windermere 29th September to 1st October 2023 | Head to the Festival’s official web site now and book your weekend tickets at a special “Early Bird” price, an offer that ends 31st May 2023

• Early backers of the Little LICAF Crowdfundr can choose to buy a Festival 2023 Weekend Ticket for just £20, but only a limited number are available.

• Buy your “Frankie Boyle and Josie Long Talk Comics” Festival Opening Night tickets here

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