The National Cartoonists Society will host the inaugural NCSFest, a celebration of comics and cartoon art from all over the world in the picturesque seaside town of Huntington Beach, California. Applications for tables in NCSFest’s Artist Alley and ‘Marketplace” are now available at http://ncsfest.com/.
Based on the comic art festivals that are hugely popular in Europe, NCSFest will be held over the weekend of May 17-19, 2019. Hundreds of the world’s most celebrated creators are expected to attend the three-day event, participating in seminars, exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions and signing sessions, the vast majority of which will be free to the public. Downtown Huntington Beach will be the setting, with all events staged beachside, on the iconic pier, at the city’s Arts Center and library and in local hotels and businesses, all within easy walking distance. Current announced guests include Charlie Adlard (“The Walking Dead”), Lalo Alcaraz (“La Cucharacha”), Sergio Aragonés (“Groo”, MAD Magazine), Daniel Clowes (“Eightball”, "Ghost World”), Cathy Guisewite (“Cathy”), Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (“Love and Rockets”), Rick Kirkman, Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott (“Baby Blues” and “Zits"), Patrick McDonnell (“Mutts”), Luke McGarry (Sad Chewy, MAD Magazine), Bill Morrison (“Yellow Submarine”, MAD Magazine), Sean Phillips (“Hellblazer”, “Sleeper”), Tom Richmond (MAD Magazine), David Silverman (“The Simpsons”), Dana Claire Simpson (“Phoebe and Her Unicorn”), Simon Thorpe and Graham Drury (VIZ), Jerry Van Amerongen (“Ballard Street”) and many more to come.
Main Street, adjacent to the city of Huntington Beach’s world famous pier, will have marquees and tents just yards from the beach and the Pacific ocean. The festival will be closing off three blocks of Main Street, at the Pier, to traffic and to showcase its “Artists Alley” and “Marketplace.” NCSFest will be staging extensive programming aimed at families in the City library, with artists conducting “how to” classes in one room while renowned children’s book creators read excerpts from their books in the other. Across the street from the library, there will be four world class exhibitions at the huge Arts Center, and local businesses will feature art displays in their windows, creating a cartooning “Window Walk”. At the beach there will be free seminars and signings open to the public, a comics/creators marketplace and an army of artists will be creating a giant mural along one side of the famous pier. There are plans to involve local schools and we anticipate that there will be many, many thousands of people congregating at the beach to celebrate all things comics and cartoon related.
To create NCSfest, the Society has partnered with the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, a much-admired annual festival held in the town of Kendal, in the picturesque Lake District of the UK. Julie Tait, Director of LICAF, will act as Assistant Director of NCSFest.
“This is probably the most ambitious comic arts festival ever staged in North America,” said NCSFest Director Steve McGarry, who also serves as President of the National Cartoonists Society Foundation, the charitable and educational arm of the NCS. “We’ve long admired the great comic arts festivals of Europe and we wanted to adopt that model for an American audience. We were hugely impressed with the work that Julie Tait has done, in a very short time, in establishing The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival as the UK’s premier festival, so we are delighted that Julie and her team have agreed to lend their expertise.”
Julie Tait notes that the bonds between The Lakes and NCS are already pretty strong, with many NCS luminaries having appeared at the British festival, including MAD magazine legend Sergio Aragones and For Better Or For Worse creator Lynn Johnston. “Bringing together the best of European-style festivals with the phenomenal force of the NCS is dynamite,” she says. “It’s a world first in this respect and we are honoured and excited to be part of this new collaboration.”
To further cement bonds between United States and European creators, NCSFest is staged in association with France’s Lyon BD Festival, whose director Mathieu Diez is part of th NCSFest advisory team. Diez expressed his delight at being involved in NCSFest, commenting: “I am extremely excited to be part of this new project aimed at bringing Europe’s fashion of comic art festivals in the United States. I look forward to building a strong French comics presence and wide and innovative programming around the interaction of both cultures of comics.”
“Comic book conventions have become commonplace in every big city in America, but this is something different,” says NCS President Bill Morrison, the editor of MAD magazine. “NCSFest will offer cartoonists and fans a rare opportunity to share in a weekend celebration of comic and cartoon art together in a way that few in this country have experienced.”