Let Me Live Through You: Go To Safari Festival

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.

Safari Poster 2016, Anna Haifisch
The festival will be free to attend and will take place at Studio 2, the Shoreditch gallery space of London-based creative agency, Protein.

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 HanselmannFantagraphics BooksJoan CornellaAnna HaifischAlexis BeauclairAlly Russell, Anti Ghost Studio (Babak GanjeiRob Flowers), Becca TobinBergen Street Comics PressBreakdown Press (Joe KesslerAntoine CosséRichard ShortAlexander TuckerZoë Taylor, JMKE), Brigid DeaconComic Book Slumber PartyComics WorkbookCrumb CabinDecadence Comics (Lando, Stathis Tsemberlidis, Emix Regulus), Dilraj MannDisinfotainment (Mark Pawson)Donya ToddEleni KalorkotiEsther McManusEvan AndroutsopoulosEyeball ComixFamicon Express (Leon Sadler, Stefan Sadler, Jon Chandler), Feminist LibraryGabriel Corbera, L’Institut SérigraphiqueIrkus M. ZeberioHope Not HateJack TeagleJazz Dad BooksJoseph P KellyKrent AbleKus!Landfill EditionsLaura CallaghanLizzy StewartLuke StewartMatt SwanMatthew PettitOne Beat ZinesOOMK ZineOtto PressRetrofit ComicsSammy SteinShaky Kane, Silica Burn (Will TempestLiam CobbTom Kemp), Simon MoretonSpelling Mistakes Cost LivesTakayo AikyamaTreasure FleetVincent FritzWai 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.


Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at clairenapierclairenapier@gmail.com and give me lots of money