The Perth Comic Arts Festival 2023 hosted workshops, activities and a lively market of over 80 independent local and interstate comic creators. The weekend was full of creative energy, drawing around 1500 people to a program featuring a life drawing session with sword-wielding models, an art battle fight featuring acclaimed Australian comic artists, and a (potential) national record set for the longest collaborative comic.

On Saturday the State Library of WA hosted the Perth Comic Arts Festival Academy Day, which saw five panels hosted by comic artists and industry professionals. The talks kicked off with the panel ‘Culture in Comics’ where three Aboriginal Australian comic creators, Brenton McKenna (Hairy Holes), Scott Wilson (The Indigiverse) and Christopher Wood (The West Australian), discussed how their culture and identity influenced their comic practice. Another highlight was ‘The Invisible Art of Comics’, where Eleri Mai Harris (Editor of the Eisner Award Winning publication, The Nib), Joshua Santospirito (Swallows Part One, The Long Weekend in Alice Springs) and Iurgi Urrutia (Australian Library and Information Association) discussed the challenges in comics editing and publishing, the trials and tribulations faced by comic within Australia’s literary industry, as well as book censorship across the globe.

The flourishing state of Australian comics was on full display at the WA Museum Boola Bardip on Sunday, which played host to the market of comic creators exhibiting their works. “PCAF is one of the highlights of my year, with the outpouring of creative support always proving both inspirational and affirming,” said Wolfgang Bylsma of Gestalt Publishing, one of the nation’s premier independent graphic novel publishing houses.

“It also provides Gestalt with the opportunity to present our Australia-made comics to a dedicated audience of comics-centric readers… it was a joy to be there having conversations, introducing new readers to our books and engaging with other creators.”

Australia’s Longest Scroll Comic was a popular activity run in collaboration with local community group, the Illustration Club, and had over a hundred festival guests and exhibitors contributing to the impressive 30 metre long continuous comic. Participants added to an ongoing story, which originally started with the simple premise of a dog who lost his bone and was transformed into a sprawling epic, crossing dimensions involving aliens, dinosaurs, and jazz. The roll of paper stretched longer than the WA Museum’s iconic 24m Blue Whale skeleton. 

PCAF 2023’s ‘Tale Town’ featured works from twelve comic makers responding to the theme of ‘WHO CARES?’ exhibited at the State Library of Western Australia. The pieces featured tender, thought provoking and blood boiling stories which were displayed on fabric tea towels, and printed within the Tale Town anthology.