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2019 East London Comics & Arts Festival

Last weekend, Hackney came alive with the 8th edition of the East London Comics & Arts Festival, reuniting artists UK, France, Italy, Germany, USA, Lebanon, Korea, Brazil and beyond.

Celebrating the very best in illustration and comics the East London Comics & Arts Festival is now in its 8th year, and this year’s programme was bursting with talks, workshops, screenings and masterclasses.

Founded in 2012, ELCAF aims to introduce smell press publications and a growing community of artists and collectives working in comics and illustration. Each year, the festival brings together 170 artists, and since 2012, ELCAF has worked with 450 exhibitors from the UK and abroad.

Amongst the artists present, three rising stars of French comics books were present, and each sought to combine their artistic visions and social engagements.

Paris-based Tom Haugomat ran a stencil workshop focusing on the way of creating realistic, multi-dimensional landscapes through the use of foreground and background imagery. After studying archaeology and history of art, Tom went on to study at the prestigious Ecole des Gobelins where he worked on the conception and realization of animated films, leading to his collaboration as a film director alongside Bruno Mangyoku on a short film entitled 'Jean-Marc' (2009). Tom is part of the Parisian workshop "Messieurs Dame", and his works have been featured in publications such as XXI, Le Monde...

Illustrator Melek Zertal, for her part, talked about the role of comics in bridging the gap between contemporary art and popular culture, and about the political and activist determination of comics writers. She also pondered on her relation to her birth country and her foster one, and evoked her profesionnal focus on queer, and more specifically lesbian relationships and characters.

A former student of the Haute école des arts du Rhin, Melek Zertal mainly works on relationships, especially romantic ones, friendships and family stories. Her graphic identity includes a strong use of pastel colours and blurred lines, giving off a dreamy vibe, in sharp contrast with her sad stories.

Based in Bristol, Camille Aubry graduated as an architect in Paris before completing an MA in illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. Through her artwork, she documents stories of activism on various scales. Her latest graphic novel A Journey to Motherhood, twice longlisted for the Laydeez Do Comics Prize, explores the reality of motherhood and deconstructs social expectations. In 2010, she co-founded the collective Sans plus Attendre, an association of architects and artists who reconcile their respective crafts in collaborative projects.

OKIDO studio organised a workshop, combining an artistic vision with an environmentalist goal by teaching participants how to create weathervanes out of scrap and junk.

Amongst the exhibitors and partners of the event, Jonathan Cape presented some of the best graphic novelists, including Alison Bechdel, Raymond Briggs, Daniel Clowes, Joe Sacco, Marjane Satrapi, Posy Simmonds and Chris Ware. Nobrow editions, who focus on bringing young talent to the forefront of public attention, also presented works such as AJ Dungo’s In Waves, or Mathieu Sapin and Marguerite Abouet's Akissi: More Tales of Mischief. They also published Tom Haugomat's Through A Life. Emmannuelle Walker, who has worked with the likes of The Walt Disney Company, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Lancôme and Christie's as an animation director and illustrator, was present as well.

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