Birmingham Comics Festival 2017

Lead academic(s)

Robert Mclaughlin, Lecturer, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment

Background to engagement activity

The Birmingham Comics Festival began in 2015, and was instigated as a series of month long comics-related city wide events celebrating comics. It grew to include a conference and convention for comic fans across the region and country.

Engagement activity undertaken

The 2017 festival included a small academic and creator-led conference that allowed practitioners, theorists and educators to come together to provide talks and papers based around sequential art, comics and design. The conference allowed local creators like Steve Tanner of Aftershock Comic and renowned comic artist Hunt Emerson to join staff in developing ideas for an exhibition and publication which led to students assisting Hunt in an exhibition in Walsall Art gallery.

Also in 2017, the festival organised the Action Reloaded: Creative Networks which saw legendary comic strip writer Pat Mills mentor students as they give his works a modern makeover using radio, drama, film and comic book formats. Mills was an integral part of the UK comics’ scene in the 1970s and 1980s and was part of the creative teams that bought to life some of the most iconic British comic book characters such as ‘Judge Dredd’, ‘Marshall Law’, ‘Slaine’ and ‘Nemesis the Warlock’. The Creative Networks brought together all parties involved in screen and sound media in the West Midlands, promoting both successful business development and collaboration. The event was hosted at BCU and was free to attend to members of the public.

In June 2017, the Festival supported the ‘WILD About Comics’ family activities day at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park. Throughout the day participants were able to win free comics and magazines, join in drawing competitions and meet cartoonists and artists sketching away in a great family day out.

Knowledge transferred

The festival stimulated knowledge exchange between academics, students, professionals and the public. Collaborations allowed BCU students and staff to work across different disciplines in a collaborative environment to create new content and knowledge. These included a radio drama where students from the School of Acting created a 20 minute radio piece under the direction of Paul Hunt of IronMouth Productions and BBC radio.

Evidence of impact

The collaborations stimulated by the festival have resulted in the creation of new exhibitions, films, radio pieces and have supported the portfolio development of students from across the university.

Dates of activity

2015 - 2018