Safari Festival is August 27th–this upcoming Saturday. And, it being in London, which is far away and tricksy once you get there, I can’t go. Can you go? If you want to, you should. Here’s the sell!
Safari is run by Breakdown Press. Like their comic output, it is curated. Breakdown Press are the sort of people who have “strong opinions” about various things. These things include the best way to put on a comics show. So when they throw their own, as they have for the last two years, you know that however they have made it, it’s that way on purpose. Breakdown Press have particular standards and aims to be interesting (or at least “not boring”). I think they are great and that strict definitions of quality are fun. If you feel the opposite–if you’re less than convinced by terms like highbrow and art comic, perhaps–you should go, and see if they fail. The good thing about having a very controlled context is that there will always be something to say about it.
I asked Tom Oldham what’s so stand-out about Safari, anyway:
I guess we go with what we like; we invite artists who create progressive or accomplished work in the comics medium. We try and look for individuals or groups with different perspectives being expressed through aesthetically-exciting art. Nothing vanilla, we welcome plenty of work with soft edges or that’s being birthed from a place of communication via smart design rather than expressive art, but there’s a balance with that and work that is aggressive or transgressive. The show is a celebration of these types of work and also a statement about where we would like comics in the United Kingdom to go, how we would like the medium to progress, hopefully corrupting and educating a few visiting artists on the day. With that in mind, this year we’ve also teamed up with HOPE Not Hate. Post Brexit Britain can feel quite grim, and I want to see comics that celebrate diversity and liberal values, and so aligning the festival with organisations that have that agenda seem like a natural fit.
The poster for the event features Anna Haifisch’s Artist, a regular presence on VICE, and it’s seeing publication in a collected volume from Breakdown in November this year. The Artist is an emaciated, birdish fellow drawn in simple lines and acid pastels; the Artist exists “then” and “now” as best serves the events of each strip and appears to hate art. This, of course, is fair enough. Or is the hate for life-as-art? The Artist is interesting.
Broken Frontier is running a two-week extravaganza on Safari’s attending artists, which I recommend taking a glance through. We’ve covered some of their guests before; Hanselmann an especial WWAC favourite (but isn’t this true everywhere). I have written about Kessler at ComicsAlliance (Windowpane #4 will debut at the show) and Kus! at Loser City, and interviewed CBSP on the short-lived WWACRadio (Megan Byrd also interviewed Hannah Chapman for us way back when, in text). There’s plenty to interest you (or for you to hate) in the lineup listed below:
Simon Hanselmann, Fantagraphics Books, Joan Cornella, Anna Haifisch, Alexis Beauclair, Ally Russell, Anti Ghost Studio (Babak Ganjei, Rob Flowers), Becca Tobin, Bergen Street Comics Press, Breakdown Press (Joe Kessler, Antoine Cossé, Richard Short, Alexander Tucker, Zoë Taylor, JMKE), Brigid Deacon, Comic Book Slumber Party, Comics Workbook, Crumb Cabin, Decadence Comics (Lando, Stathis Tsemberlidis, Emix Regulus), Dilraj Mann, Disinfotainment (Mark Pawson), Donya Todd, Eleni Kalorkoti, Esther McManus, Evan Androutsopoulos, Eyeball Comix, Famicon Express (Leon Sadler, Stefan Sadler, Jon Chandler), Feminist Library, Gabriel Corbera, L’Institut Sérigraphique, Irkus M. Zeberio, Hope Not Hate, Jack Teagle, Jazz Dad Books, Joseph P Kelly, Krent Able, Kus!, Landfill Editions, Laura Callaghan, Lizzy Stewart, Luke Stewart, Matt Swan, Matthew Pettit, One Beat Zines, OOMK Zine, Otto Press, Retrofit Comics, Sammy Stein, Shaky Kane, Silica Burn (Will Tempest, Liam Cobb, Tom Kemp), Simon Moreton, Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives, Takayo Aikyama, Treasure Fleet, Vincent Fritz, Wai Wai Pang, and Will Sweeney.
Look, there’s even a party afterwards. That’s nice, isn’t it? Man, I’d love to go. But I can’t, so you should. Mate, how many comics shows are free? If curiosity and curation can’t get you in, surely “free” is worth a ride. It’s summer! Treat yourself.