Breakthrough Into Comics: New Mentoring Initiative For Aspiring Creators

by Richard Bruton

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is a UK comics festival, taking place throughout the town of Kendal every year in October. Over the years, the festival has worked in and with the community of Kendal and beyond to bring comics to a wider audience, including developing a number of initiatives, such as the Comics Laureate scheme, the Sergio Aragones International Award, and this year’s NCSFest in Huntington Beach, California, in partnership with the National Cartoonists Society.

The latest initiative from the Lakes Festival is entitlted Breakthrough and intends to reach out to under-represented individuals in comics and offer them a potential career path within the industry.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has launched its ambitious Breakthrough project, which aims to give under-represented individuals a chance to express themselves through the medium of comics.

The 18-month mentoring initiative, beginning in April 2019, will be co-ordinated by writer, publisher and editor Tim Pilcher, and has been set up by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in conjunction with Arts Council England, Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Soaring Penguin Press, Quarto Books and other partners. Initially offering six places, the project will end with both an exhibition of the participant’s work at Breakthrough and an anthology book to showcase their work.

Breakthrough is an incredibly exciting project to help launch the comics career of some of best British creators yet to be discovered. We are looking for people from right across the UK who have a burning desire to tell their stories in sequential art, yet don’t know how to do it yet. We will give them all the skills and knowledge they need and the participants’ work will then be published in a graphic novel anthology, putting them on the first step to a brand new profession.

Tim Pilcher, mentor and co-ordinator, Breakthrough.

The Breakthough initiative and the Lakes Festival are, particularly, interested in giving greater agency to those hitherto under-represented in comics, including those from BAME and LGBTQ communities. Further to this, they’re also actively seeking applicants from poorer, working class backgrounds; those with mental wellbeing concerns or Special Educational Needs; Senior Citizens, and people living in rural areas. These are all areas that, in UK comics, have become marginalised over the last few decade. The Festival and Breakthrough’s intent is to mentor those with stories to tell from marginalised positions, whatever those stories might be, whether they are fiction, comics journalism, autobiography or any genre the participants choose.

The Breakthrough initiative will teach the participants the skills and techniques of comics in order to empower them to tell their own personal stories of living in Britain.

Lakes International Festival Director Julie Tait

More information, including methods of application and further background on the Breakthrough initiative, is available at the Lakes Festival website,

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