I’m a big comic book fan, but I’m pretty much a mainstream sort of guy, so when I heard that the Nation of Shopkeepers on Cookridge Street would be hosting the 4th Leeds Alternative Comics Fair on Saturday 28th April, I imagined a group of drug addled student types trying to sell badly written, drawn and photocopied “comics” heavily influenced by episodes of The Mighty Boosh and William S Burroughs. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
The Leeds Alternative Comics Fair takes place in the laid back Nation of Shopkeepers, a food serving pub just behind Leeds Art Gallery, so attendees can start or end their visit with a pint and a quirky pub meal. Due to the limited space exhibitors are by invitation only, although there was a communal table where other creators could exhibit their wares in return for helping to man it. Entry was free, and despite the fair only running from 12 noon to 5pm footfall was high, with exhibitors doing a brisk trade.
Exhibitors included Geordie creator Gary Bainbridge, creator of Sugar Glider, Column and Grainger Street, all of which are set in Newcastle upon Tyne; Oliver East, creator of “Allemensratten”; John Allison of Bad Machinery fame; Dan Berry, illustrator of “After We Shot The Grizzly” & “Cat Island”; James ‘Couk’ Dowing; Karoline Rerrie; Manchester-based Adam Cadwell, creator of “Blood Blokes” and “Paper Science” contributor; Andy Sykes of Hexjibber Hobbies fame; awesome designer and illustrator The Pern, and of course the Fair organizers Steve Tillotson of Banal Pig Comics and illustrator and comic creator Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine.
The highlight of the Alternative Comics Fair for me was Leeds based illustrator and comic creator Kristyna Baczynski, whose work is very technically accomplished and a delight to look at. The main reason for my visit was to pick up her Figrin D’an & The Modal Nodes print for the Star Wars May The Fourth show this coming weekend at the Leeds Full Circle Gallery. She had a table full of wonderful illustrations and comics, including her new limited edition 10-page concertina mini comic “Nine Lives”. If you’ve not seen Kristyna’s work before, she will signing at Travelling Man Leeds on 19th May as part of Antony Johnston’s Coldest City tour.