The 2023 UK Comic-Con Calendar: Thought Bubble, The Lakes And Comica

by Richard Bruton

The convention slate here in the UK continues to fill up with comics goodness, including two of the best in the world and the return of a classic – Thought Bubble Festival, The Lakes International Comics Festival, and Comica London.


As the year moves on (and so fast), we’re getting more information through on multiple comic events across the UK to delight and entertain comics fans. These are all proper comics events, none of your signing sessions from the 8th Stormtrooper from the left and that sort of thing, all three of these events live and breathe the sequential arts.


First up in the year, coming in March, we have the 20th anniversary Comica London Festival, organised by Paul Gravett.

Back in 2003, Gravett and John Harris Dunning co-founded COMICA, the London Comics Festival, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, or ICA. To mark the 20th anniversary after several years away, Gravett’s announced the return of Comica in March with a season of event at the Century Club, Soho on Shaftesbury Avenue, in association with VIP Brands and one of the other great comics festivals the UK has to offer, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Events include…

Posy Simmonds in conversation with Lizzy Stewart

“Heralded for her debut ‘Alison’ (Serpent’s Tail), graphic novelist Lizzy Stewart compares notes with The Guardian’s Posy Simmonds, author of ‘Gemma Bovery’ and ’Tamara Drewe’, and will be presented with the 2022 National Cartoonist Society’s Sergio Aragonés Award for Excellence in Comic Art, which is in partnership with The Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Thursday, 2nd of March, 7pm.” 

Full details here.

Russell Taylor and Charles Peattie, creators of Alex

“Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor give the low-down on ALEX, Britain’s favourite investment banker (and subject of the longest-running current daily British cartoon strip) in: On the Money: The Life and Times of Cartoon Investment Banker Alex Masterly. Tuesday, 7th March, 7pm.”

Details here.

Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland

“The co-creator of Watchmen, Dave Gibbons, joins Brian Bolland, definitive illustrator of Batman and Judge Dredd, to launch their illuminating autobiographies in: Designing Dystopia – An Evening with the Artists behind Judge Dredd and Watchmen. Tuesday, 14th March, 7pm.”

Details here.

‘They shoot comics, don’t they?’ – Comics to Screen

“An exceptional panel of key media professionals and film and TV creatives including producers including producers Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin), Michael Lake (Violent Cases), Tim Searle (Dennis & Gnasher) and Patrick Walters (Heartstopper) discuss how they bring comics to the big and small screen in: They Shoot Comics, Don’t They? Wednesday, 22nd of March, 7pm.”

Details here.

Lucy Sullivan and Lucie Arnoux

“Lucy Sullivan and Lucie Arnoux share their journeys from animation to comics and their approaches to putting their personal experiences onto the page in: Turning Your Life into Comics. Thursday 23rd of March, 7pm.”

Details here.

Dave McKean and Iain Sinclair

“Countercultural writer Iain Sinclair and multi-media artist David McKean of ’Sandman’ fame consider the future of creativity and art amidst the rise of Artificial Intelligence in: But Is It Art? AI and the Visual Media. Tuesday, 28th March, 7pm.”

Details here.

Martin Rowson

“Award-winning Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson takes us on a rambunctious, rollicking ride through his 40 years of ankle-biting, satirical-savaging attempts to hold the great and good to account – whilst depicting the nine prime ministers who have been in office during his career – using ketchup, mustard, mayo, peanut butter, toilet duck and various other household condiments in: Giving Offence: A Talk and Live Draw with Cartoonist Martin Rowson. Thursday 30th of March, 7pm.”

Details here.

Martin Rowson also features in a special month-long exhibition of original cartoons presented by Comicon.


Next up, happening 29th September to 1st October, with plenty of events happening in the run-up to the weekend as well, we have the 11th Lakes International Comic Art Festival, once again taking place in Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria.

It’s the second year for the festival in Bowness with the entire town filling up with comics events all festival weekend and an international guest and exhibitor list – more details of which we’ll be sharing with you as we find out.

Again, early days yet, although if you’re interested in exhibiting at the festival’s Lakeside Comics Marketplace you’ll need to get moving, as the deadline for getting applications in is Friday 24th February.


This year’s festival image courtesy of Natalie Andrewson.

And finally… finishing the year as it usually does, we have the 2023 Thought Bubble Festival. The festival in Harrogate takes place from 6th to 12th November, with the usual comics weekender convention on 11th and 12th November.

It’s a week-long celebration of all things comics, jam-packed with creators, a huge selection of the best of British comics making, along with plenty of events, talks, exhibitions, and so much more.

Again, more info on guests as we get them of course, but if you’re looking to exhibit this year the deadline for applying is 21st February.

The full image for this year’s Thought Bubble – art by Natalie Andrewson.



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