Bellingham Comic Arts Festival
WHAT: Bellingham Comic Arts Festival
WHEN: 12-7pm Sat., March 14
WHERE: The Majestic, 1027 N. Forest St.
COST: Entry is free
WHAT: BellCAF Animation Showcase; the event feature animations and theatrical comics performances from BellCAF exhibitors and will be hosted by Gridlords, a Portland-based comic performance group
WHEN: 9pm Sat., March 14
WHERE: Pickford Film Center’s Limelight Cinema, 1418 Cornwall Ave.
COST: Entry is free (first-come, first-served)
WHAT: “Bellingham Comic Arts Fest Gallery Show”
WHEN: 12-5pm Tues.-Sat., through March
WHERE: Make.Shift Art Space, 306 Flora St.
COST: Entry is free
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Cullen Beckhorn is a busy guy.
In addition to founding and maintaining the Bellingham Alternative Library—a volunteer-run lending library in the downtown core focused on unconventional literature and graphic novels—he also publishes and distributes a variety of comics via Neoglyphic Media.
On top of these not-insubstantial duties, Beckhorn and his publishing company are also behind this weekend’s inaugural Bellingham Comic Arts Festival (BellCAF), a one-day event highlighting and celebrating an array of cartoonists, illustrators and printmakers from both near and far.
When the 60-plus BellCAF creators and small publishers show up to share their comic books, zines, prints, graphic novels and other creative works at the Sat., March 14 event at the Majestic, they’ll be taking part in a unique event that is unlike many other comic book conventions.
Instead of finding dealers and comic shops with rows of boxes of old comics, attendees will discover the tables stocked with small-press and handmade books and other comic art. Beckhorn says the contributors represent many diverse styles and approaches to their art, with many publications made by hand in small print runs that may only be available onsite (a list of exhibitors and what they have to offer can be found at the BellCAF website).
At an opening reception last Friday for the auxiliary “Bellingham Comic Arts Fest Gallery Show” exhibiting at Make.Shift Art Space through the month of March, Beckhorn commented that part of what’s been interesting about putting the Bellingham Comic Arts Festival together is seeing who applied—including artists who don’t necessarily consider themselves to be comic book artists.
“There have been a couple artists who have developed their own language as painters and drawers, but who don’t consider themselves cartoonists and are looking to explore their art through that venue,” he says. “I’m really excited to see folks trying to explore narrative and generally try something new.”
Beckhorn says he defines “comic book art” by its ability to “communicate a sense of narrative through systems of visual symbols,” and hopes those who attend BellCAF will discover more about the art form—both by talking to the artists, and perusing and purchasing their varied works.
“I’m excited to be able to bring so many amazingly talented and driven people from all over the west coast to Bellingham to share their work, and to see how our community responds to it in the months that follow,” he says.
Among the offerings on display, you’ll also find items by Beckhorn’s Neoglyphic Media, which he started a few years ago to produce work that contributes to ongoing conversations that inspire and excite him. Each publication, he says, is approached as something “completely unique”—another characteristic that is likely to be found among the rest of those who’ll be front and center at the Majestic this weekend.
“I’m hoping the event will get more people in Bellingham aware of and excited about the emerging culture of DIY publishing,” Beckhorn says. “I’m hoping to create something inspiring and exciting for the artists who will be traveling here for this festival and give them a reason to return to Bellingham to share their work again.”
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