Ghostly Glasgow

Ghost Comics Festival 2019 – Glasgow School of Art

I dropped in on the Ghost Comics Festival at the weekend. This was a new event for me – I only heard about it a few days before, and it so happened I was going to be in Glasgow that day. There were a number of other events running as part of the festival including workshops in collaboration with Good Press Gallery and Category Is Books.

In other locations this would probably be called a zine fest or similar and the exhibitors were all entirely new to me – which was great. It’s good to get off the standard con trail and see something different. The art school location was a bit of a giveaway, and I did get the impression that most of the participants were current or recent members of that venerable establishment. It had quite a warm, community feeling which was very positive.

One issue I did have was finding the event, which was in an upstairs room of what might have been the students union. The website info was vague and there were no signs, where was this phantom festival? Even art school staff had no idea what I was talking about. Luckily, when I did eventually find it, the event itself was great and full of people who were clearly less daft than me and had no problem finding their way around.

As usual there were far more great looking books than I could afford to get (I am trying to be a bit more restrained these days and it is Thought Bubble in a couple of weeks.)

I was very impressed by Jules Scheele whose art style is marked by clear lines and excellent figurative work. Their book Sleepless is a fearless and intensely personal set of diary comics. Sleepless is comics as catharsis and a kind of therapy.

Steven Fraser works in the area of mental health in writing, comics and film (and probably lots of other areas I don’t know about). He had a work about rejection, which included a scrunched up page of a comic, literally thrown in the bin. I wish I had got that now, but I did pick up Interview-ABC and Coming Out Autistic. Interview – ABC seeks to give a voice to people who are dealing with mental illness. Steven explains “Art can be a therapeutic and expressive way of conveying emotions and problems and with Interview ABC I wanted to show how verbal communication can be presented on a page.” Coming Out Autistic is a zine containing interviews with people “who are LGBTQIA+ and how they tell others they are autistic”. I’d recommend both books both for the illustrations which are bold and colourful with a surreal and underground feel and because, well, you’ll probably learn something. I know I did.

I also picked up Summer Pamphlet:Noah Travels by Megabus by Luke Humphries and George Manson – a brief and funny tale about going on holiday on your own which I really hope is not based on a true story. Also Snuff by Dylan Hall, based on Irvine Welsh’s short story of the same name – a cold and distressing tale of a life lived through a VHS player.

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