Cumbrian artist's collaboration with chart star to launch at Comic Art Fest


AMONG the guests from around the world travelling to this weekend's Lakes International Comic Art Festival, there is an artist from closer to home who will be rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in the industry.

Having visited and exhibited at the event in recent years, Cumbria's Mal Earl is among the speakers in 2017, joined by his collaborator Kermit Leveridge – one of the founder members of chart-topping band Black Grape - to launch their new graphic poem.

Mal says: “I’ve attended the Festival every year; two as a visitor, two as an exhibitor selling my previous projects. Guesting this year will bring the cycle full circle, so to speak, and I’m honoured to be given the platform.

“The Festival has gone from strength, and offers an alternative to the Comic-Con style of events, which don’t always give ‘comics’ the serious appreciation they deserve.”

Mal, who was born and raised in Whitehaven and still lives in the region, met Kermit at the first festival back in 2013. The rapper was attending, looking for an artist who could help his self-penned poems leap off the page.

The result is Lies and Other Fools - a powerful graphic poem exploring the near-death experience brought about by septicaemia.

“Based around Kermit’s near fatal collision with heroin addiction, the book is an attempt to stretch the boundaries of what might be perceived as a comic,” says Mal.

“We are giving a question and answer session in the Clock Tower at LICAF on Saturday afternoon, covering the inspiration and development of the book, how we met up, and the ups and downs of what has turned out to be a long collaboration that almost didn’t happen!

“Kermit was visiting the Festival in 2013 and was impressed by the artworks I was carrying that year. After a long series of follow up discussions I agreed to produce the art for an adaptation of one of his extended poems.

“The poem was recorded, read by Howard Marks in 2014, and I produced sleeve and label art for the limited 7” vinyl presentation.

“For numerous reasons the project stalled at this point, and I feared that it may never come to fruition, but late last year we resurrected the book, and after some major style changes the results will be launched on Saturday.”



The 2013 festival was key for Mal in many ways, having taken a table at the event to exhibit his work, the appearance led to work on David Lloyd’s respected Aces Weekly digital anthology series, as well as his chance encounter with Kermit.

More than 30 years on the road with breakdance crew Broken Glass and hip hop band Ruthless Rap Assassins, and alongside ex-Happy Mondays man Shaun Ryder in Black Grape, gave Kermit many tales to draw inspiration from – and Mal opened the doors for those stories to see the light of day.

Mal continues: “I kept in mind, throughout the production of Lies, that we were telling a sequential story - an aspect that doesn’t necessarily ‘gel’ too well with such an expressionistic poem as Lies.

“Once I had designed a character for the reader to identify with and follow, the images were all inspired by placing him into the centre of those peculiar mists conjured by the abstract words of the verse.

“Hopefully we have succeeded in generating a linear drive for the reader to follow.”

Lies and Other Fools launches at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on Saturday, with a presentation and signing session at the Comics Clock Tower Chamber at 2.30pm. The festival runs from Friday to Sunday, and a full programme is available at

Friday, October 13, 2017 at 2:04PM
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