The Comics Laureate is an ambassadorial and educational role for the comic genre and aims to raise awareness of the impact comics can have in terms of increasing literacy and creativity. The Comics Laureate appointment is made biennially to a distinguished comics creator, writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the genre.
Working closely with the Lakes International Comics Art Festival, the Comics Laureate will champion the role of comics in improving literacy through a programme of educational visits, workshop events, guest appearances and conferences. A key focus is working to increase the acceptance of comics as a creative artform in schools, libraries and throughout the education system.
Charlie Adlard was the second Comics Laureate, a comics creator best known as artist on much of the highly successful The Walking Dead comic series, which became a popular TV series and video game. He’s also worked on many other comic projects including 2000AD, Mars Attacks, The X-Files and X-Men, as well as his own independent projects.
I’ve always thought of myself (as the saying goes) a jack of all trades, master of none. In the field of comic art, I think that rings true - I can pencil, ink, paint, colour - all of those things, but I wouldn’t say I’ve ever become an expert at any. I’m just pretty good at them all.
So when I was asked whether I’d like to be Laureate, my initial thoughts were, is this something I can add to my ‘I’m pretty good at list’? Or is this going to put me completely out of my comfort zone, that I fail terribly at? Anyway, got to admit, whether people think the former or the latter, I hope that I made a pretty good fist of it. I knew right from the start that there were people out there who could probably do a much better job than me - I was not used to standing in front of an audience and giving a presentation/lecture/talk.
(I’ve no problem with being interviewed on a stage - I can ramble on unprepared for hour, like that!) - but what could I bring that was unique to the job?
Like Dave Gibbons before me, and Hannah after, I think we we’re all positioned in a certain way in our careers that we could bring a different slant on things when it comes to talking about comics and it’s boundless possibilities.
My personal slant was talking about how comics can especially reach people with Dyslexia and other reading issues - it comes from personal experience as my eldest son has Dyslexia - and how comics are open to all types of people from children to adults. Comics are for everyone.
The opportunities that I had as Laureate were very exciting - the travel to different parts of the UK, Toronto, France, Japan... It’s given me the confidence to talk with a presentation, even if they were slightly shambolic (old habits...). So thank you to everyone involved who had helped on this road I’d have never thought I go down. And if I’ve helped or changed the mind of a few people of the power of comics in my tenure, then my job is done.
What a wonderful experience it was - and long may the role continue. I can now add that to my list of things I’m pretty good at...”
The Comics Laureate is kindly supported by Lancaster University, Peters (the UK’s leading supplier of books and furniture for nurseries, schools, academies and public libraries) and Crescent Purchasing Consortium.
With additional support from Bryan Talbot