COME weekend and Kendal will be awash with fast drawing, record breaking challenges and stunning international talent.

Yes, the world of comic art returns for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, (October 11-13) a family-friendly gathering packed with great events, activities and workshops for all ages.

The Kendal festival is a world leader and attracts some of the biggest names that populate the comic art world.

For 2019, the festival will feature comic artwork and writers who are tackling some of the biggest issues and taboos facing society. It will include artists using the comic art form to explore the devastating impacts of climate change, censorship, freedom of speech, political satire, grief and mental illness, sexuality, air pollution and the role of comics to push the boundaries of creative expression.

Among the scores of guests will be Alessandro Tota, Julie Rocheleau, Doug Braithwaite, Lucy Sullivan, Garth Ennis, Joris Vermassen, Hannah Berry, Sean Phillips and the Talbot's, Bryan and Mary.

Providing the main stage is the Brewery Arts Centre with other events at Wildman Street Gallery, which hosts From The Depths, The Hellboy comics of Duncan Fegredo; Cross Lane Projects, which stages an exhibition to celebrate the 100th birthday of comic creator and gay icon, Tom of Finland (admission restricted to those aged 18 or over); Kendal Library has plenty going on for all the family and the Westmorland Shopping Centre hosts a 'free family zone' to enjoy mask and badge making, face painting, comic strip drawing and more.

Ruskins also gets in on the act during the weekend with Tom's Pop-up Pub, which includes a Pop Noir multi-media DJ set from 9.30pm on Friday night courtesy of Joe and Luke McGarry from Los Angeles.

Also in the spotlight is the highly inventive Next Frame, featuring eight international artists who will respond to the eminent Abbot Hall Art Gallery collection. Artists have a few hours each to create what they think would be the next frame to the artwork they have selected. Their artwork will be on display at the gallery alongside the originals on Saturday and Sunday.

Another highlight for this year's LICAF promises to be The Viz 150 Character World Record Challenge. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Viz, artists from the UK and US will attempt to draw all 150 Viz characters in 50 minutes in a high energy and entertaining opening event at the Brewery on Friday.

Also on Friday there'll be a presentation of the 2019 Sergio Aragonés International Award for Excellence in Comic Art.

One of the great 'draws' of the festival is the mega Comic Inspired Windows Trail, taking over the town, offering a terrific opportunity for schools, businesses and artists to collaborate in the outdoor street art exhibition.

Fans can also expect a massive welcome during the weekend at Kendal Town Hall, which will be transformed into The Comics Clock Tower, a marvellous marketplace bursting with exhibitors, creatives and comic art publishers. On Saturday, The Comics Clock Tower also features the launch (12.30pm-1.30pm) of Rain: Bryan and Mary Talbot’s latest graphic novel that follows the everyday experiences of ordinary people experiencing the impact of climate change, flooding and pollution.

Meanwhile, one of the exhibitions running at the Brewery will be The Smurfs at 60, tipping its hat to one of the world’s most enduring comic creations. The exhibition charts the rise of the Smurfs to worldwide popularity.

As part of the finale on Sunday there will be a Zombie concert at the Brewery from 3.30pm-4.30pm, where zombies are brought to life in a new performance featuring live drawing with The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard and internationally-renowned composer and musician Julien Limonne.

Worth noting is that the festival weekend pass gives people access to all the main events on Saturday and Sunday, including live draws, masterclasses, talks, presentations and a chance to get up close to the best comic creators in the world. Seats are unreserved for all events and subject to the size of the venues. However, the weekend pass does not include the Friday Gala opening event.

Once again the fabulous festival will transport all and sundry to other dimensions and worlds, packed with superheroes, fantastical creatures, zombies, crime fighters, politics, satire, documentary, comedy, manga and much more.

Festival director Julie Tait said that this year's comic art event welcomes more creators, more countries, more exhibitors and more commissions than ever before: "We have a packed programme of events for festival pass holders and a free Comics Clock Tower and family zone which will showcase an amazing selection of artist and publishers.”