10 comics you need in your life

by Kitty Drake in June 2019
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Art & design Illustration

The eighth annual East London Comics and Arts Festival opens today (7 June), showcasing the most dynamic comics in print. The festival will see small publishers, writers, and illustrators from around the world gather for a festival of pop-up stalls, talks, workshops, screenings and exhibitions over the weekend. Read on for ELCAF’s Ligaya Salazar’s guide to 10 comics everyone should read, all of which will be featured at this year’s event.

Kingdom, Jon McNaught

ELCAF 2019’s artist-in-residence is Jon McNaught, whose newest graphic novel Kingdom is a visually eloquent, contemplative meditation on an ordinary summer holiday. In his story, a family sets off for a long weekend at a caravan park on the British coast. We follow them through familiar landscapes: motorway service stations, windswept cliffs, dilapidated museums and tourist gift shops. It’s an ode to seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I’m Not Ready, Jayde Perkin

Jayde Perkin won the ELCAF x WeTransfer Award 2018 for her proposal I’m Not Ready, a full-length graphic novel about the loss of her mother. Her comics, which use songs as their titles, are about the ways we attach memory to music, and places; and the process of listening to those songs and visiting those places again while grieving.

Sunday’s Child, Serena Katt 

Serena Katt began work on Sunday’s Child at The Royal College of Art in 2013 as part of her final year piece. Published as a full-length graphic novel in 2019, Katt interrogates the history of her grandfather, Opa, who joined the Hitler Youth at the age of 10. It’s an extraordinary piece of work, taking the shape of conversation between grandfather and granddaughter; and a dialogue between past and present.

Fragile, Melek Zertal

Melek Zertal is an Algerian born artist living between Paris and California. Since graduating from Les Arts Decoratifs de Strasbourg in 2017, she has worked on a series of small-scale comics, including Fragile, about a girl writing a love letter in a diner. Her characters are remarkable for a certain doe-eyed honesty, and her artwork is a wash of hazy, muted colours.

In Waves, AJ Dungo

A J Dungo’s memoir In Waves remembers his late partner and their shared love of surfing. The narrative weaves together his partner’s battle with cancer with a history and celebration of the sport. It’s a beautiful graphic novel, the artwork rolling through the pages like water.

Me and My Fear, Francesca Sanna

Me and My Fear is by award-winning children’s picture book author Francesca Sanna. It tells the story of a young immigrant girl, who has to travel to a different country and start at a new school, accompanied by a large animal-like creature called ‘Fear’, who grows bigger every day.


Cenit, María Medem

María Medem’s work is printed in risograph and largely wordless, using bright, block colours and strong lines to create a simple but masterful aesthetic. Lush and unsettling, her book Cenit is about sleepwalking, and the struggle of not knowing if you dreamed something or actually lived it.

Colorama Clubhouse

Colorama Clubhouse is a comics collaboration led by Berlin-based publisher and risograph printer Colorama. The latest issue is an anthology of 30 poster illustrations from artists around the world.

As Time Passes, Madalena Matoso

Madelana Matoso is one of the three founding members of Portuguese children’s publishing house Planeta Tangerina. Her book As Time Passes reflects on the ageing process, depicting books that weather and fade to yellow, paths trodden down into roads, and even trousers, so outgrown they become shorts.

Ground Floor, Camilla Costa (text) and Gui Athayde (illustrations)

Launching at ELCAF this June is the gorgeously illustrated Ground Floor, written by Camilla Costa and illustrated by Gui Athayade. Published in Brazil, the book reflects on the act of moving and leaving a home, with sparse text written in both English and Portuguese. The illustrations themselves depict a person, or a body, in transition. Here physical movement is grounded by internal stasis; or longing for a home that once was. The illustrations consume the pages in pastel blues and pinks, or sometimes get stripped back to leave only the text hand lettered and running parallel in both languages.

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