COSTUMED crime fighters and masked vigilantes gather this coming weekend as some of the world’s best-known superheroes blaze a visual trail across Kendal in the first Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Running from Friday until Sunday, October 18-20, the creative line-up features some of the biggest names in comic art, reflecting the diversity of comics, including biography, political cartoons, journalism, satire, superhero comics, comedy, adaptations of historical novels and innovative new storytelling.

Among the elite of the comic world descending on the Brewery Arts Centre and other venues across town will be Kurt Busiek, who has won dozens of comics industry awards for his writing. Born in Boston in 1960, Kurt started writing and drawing his own comics in his teens, and by the time he graduated from college he had already sold his first comics script – a backup story for Green Lantern #162.

Following that, he wrote Power Man and Iron Fist for Marvel and worked on series, including World’s Finest, Wonder Woman and Red Tornado. In 1993, alongside painter Alex Ross, they created Marvels, which was a commercial and critical smash. Since then, Kurt has divided his time between mainstream series, including Avengers, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, Conan, and Superman and creating his own projects, including Thunderbolts, The Wizard’s Tale, and the multiple-award-winning Astro City.

You can also don your superhero costume for two family cartoon workshops with The Westmorland Gazette cartoonist, Colin Shelbourn, on Saturday and Sunday (3pm-3.45pm) in the Westmorland Shopping Centre.

Whatever age or level of drawing ability, join Colin - author of Drawing Cartoons (Crowood Press) - to draw faces, people, animals, monsters and superheroes and Kendal's longest cartoon strip.

With 50 events in the magical mix and more than 70 creators involved the festival packs a powerful creative punch.

As well as Kurt Busiek, guests include artist Sean Phillips, American writer Ed Brubaker, Charlie Adlard the artist on The Walking Dead, Simon Thorp and Graham Dury who created Viz, American comics journalist Joe Sacco, cartoonist Posy Simmonds, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra who created Judge Dredd, plus festival patrons Bryan and Mary Talbot creators of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes.

The programme includes meeting the creators via presentations, live drawings and interviews, panel discussions, a film programme, exhibitions, and workshops, not forgetting the Comic Art Trail through Kendal town centre with shops windows filled with comic art created by local youngsters and the Comics Clock Tower in town hall will be a smaller version of a traditional comics marketplace.

Also free activities in a special Family Zone at the library, Westmorland Shopping Centre and Elephant Yard, including workshops, a chance for kids to create a new superhero, a Phoenix Comics extravaganza and a Beano pop up shop.

On display will be comic art exhibitions from top artists at Wildman Street Gallery, Castle Diary Wildman Street, the Brewery and at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, as well as an exhibition from Viz, including original artwork and some classic memorabilia, at Ruskins in Stricklandgate.

The special film programme at the Brewery will include V for Vendetta on the opening night (Friday, 7pm) as well as a stage version of V for Vendetta at The Box on Saturday (8.45pm).

To tie in with the festival there’s an amazing exhibition of Sean Phillips artwork on show in the Brewery’s Sugar Store Gallery, showcasing his extraordinary talent and the incredible variety of work he produces.

Depicted is Batman, who powers his way down one of the gallery’s big style, as well as smaller scale, and incredibly detailed works, including a series of life drawings in acrylics, covers from his days creating for Judy, strips of Fatale and Sleeper and a piece portraying the film 12 Angry Men.

Sean has also released The Art of Sean Phillips, a lavish, hardback tome, that covers his comic creativity from his early teenage years to the present.

At a glance, some of the many highlights...

* Friday:

The Big Comic Draw – four of the world’s leading comic artists come together for one of the festivals leading events, 7.15pm, Brewery Art Centre.

* Saturday:

Watch Them Draw – Charlie Adlard – a unique opportunity to get close up and see one of the UK’s foremost comic artists at work, 12.15pm, The Box, Wildman Street

The Art of Political Satire, Steve Bell - the famous satirist reflects on his career as a political cartoonist, 12.15pm, Brewery Arts Centre, Screen One

The Art of Sean Phillips - an insight in to the career and work of one of the most acclaimed artists in comics today, 2pm, Brewery Arts Centre, Screen One

The Ninth Art? – Observer critic Rachel Cooke hosts a panel of top figures in the graphic novel world to debate explore the phenomena that is comic art, 6.45pm Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Viz – Better than Nothing? – it is almost 25 years since they made an appearance at a comic festival, hear Viz creators Simon Thorp and Graham Drury talking about their work, 8.30pm, Brewery Arts Centre, Screen One

2000AD: An ON-Earth Odyssey – a special celebration of the evolution and influence of the ever popular British comic 2000AD, 8.30pm, Kendal College main site

* Sunday:

Everybody we Know Loves the Beano – a trip through 75 years of Beano history and Beano artist Steve White will work on a Beano strip in real time, 10.30am, Kendal Library

Posy Simmonds: A Life in Drawing – the famous ‘laureate of English middle-class muddle,’ this award-winning and extraordinary cartoonist, talks about her life and works, 12.30pm, Brewery Arts Centre theatre

* Saturday and Sunday:

The Comic Clock Tower – a comic market place and chance to meet creators, see them sketch, get works signed as well as buy books, prints and more, Saturday, 10.30am-6pm and Sunday, 11am-5pm, Kendal Town Hall For tickets and further information telephone the Brewery box office on 01539-725133 or visit and