Having established themselves firmly in the theatrical arts space, Welsh Arts in Health charity Re-Live are turning their attention to the world of comics as a fresh way to share stories of military veterans in a new anthology comic, entitled Coming Home, featuring a cover by the late Ian Kennedy – his last commissioned painting before he passed, earlier this year.
The team behind the project will be at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Bowness-on-Windermere (14th – 16th October) to promote the new anthology.
Established in 2006, Re-Live have built a reputation in their native Cardiff for translating under-represented people’s stories into award-winning theatre projects. During the pandemic, Re-Live launched a new online Life Story group for veterans, with the aim of exploring their experiences of mental health. The participants expressed their love of the comics medium, and so Re-Live began developing a Life Story comic with the group.
“We’re honoured to be sharing some of the hidden mental health stories of veterans, and hope Coming Home sheds light and understanding on the impact of military service on some of our service people,” says Re-Live Artistic Director, Karin Diamond. “Comics have proved to be a powerful and therapeutic medium to help get these stories out there.”
Coming Home will appeal to fans of traditional British war comics such as Commando, still published today, and Battle Picture Weekly, but promises to give readers a deeper insight into military life than the traditional heroic tales. Through presenting true stories, Coming Homecrosses over into the popular autobiographical comics genre, and also sits within the emerging literature of Graphic Medicine combining comics and healthcare.
“I’ve always loved comics, but as a filmmaker I’d never had the opportunity to make one before,” says Coming Home Editor Steve Sullivan. “So when I was approached by Re-live to take part in this project, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Sullivan continues, “It’s a testament to the power and emotion of our veterans’ mental health stories that we were able to attract such a stellar list of artists to help bring them to life.”
Among the incredible British comics talent involved in the project is the legendary Ian Kennedy, whose wraparound cover painting for Coming Home was the last thing he completed before passing away in early 2022, aged 89.
“It was such an honour to have Ian agree to paint our cover – and the fact it was the last thing on his drawing table when he passed away is truly humbling and poignant to us,” adds Sullivan.
Also working with veterans on the title are a host of classic and contemporary British cartoonists; including Keith Page (Commando, Strawjack), Emma Vieceli (Supergirl, Breaks), Mike Donaldson (The Dandy, The Broons), and Clark Bint (Killtopia, Heavy Metal). Logo and font designer Richard Starkings (Comicraft) created the Coming Home logo.
Based in Cardiff, Wales, Re-Live is an award-winning Arts in Health charity providing a dynamic, inspirational programme of Life Story creativity. The organisation works alongside under-represented people and communities, supporting them to share their experiences, so that audiences young and old can witness the untold stories of our time.
Their creative process takes people on a transformative journey and places their story centre stage. This process can be thrilling, cathartic and life-changing.
The team have worked creatively with military veterans with post-traumatic stress and complex mental health issues, older people, people living with dementia, and people diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Karin Diamond has been Re-Live’s Artistic Director for 16 years, producing and directing numerous Life Story theatre productions with military veterans, older people, people living with dementia, and people with a terminal diagnosis.
Coming Home editor Steve Sullivan has been a filmmaker for the last 25 years. His latest film, Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story, which he directed, produced and edited, is a feature length documentary about the comedian Frank Sidebottom and his mysterious creator, Chris Sievey. It received a World Premiere at SXSW, a national cinema release in the UK in 2019, and received four-star reviews in The Guardian, The Times and many more.
• You can follow the comic’s progress at www.re-live.org.uk/cominghomecomic ahead of its official retail release in November. Coming Home will be available via all good comic stores (visit comicshoplocator.com to find your local one) and is being distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors.
• Readers are encouraged to pre-order their copy at their local comic shop now using order Diamond’s order code SEP221929. Orders close 18th September 2022, and the comic ships in November