A global comic superstar has put ink to paper to help change perceptions of Cumbria as a great place to live and work.
Los Angeles based Luke McGarry has teamed up with Choose Cumbria through the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF), to create three humorous comic strips designed to make readers think differently about what Cumbria has to offer.
Luke said he was able to draw on his own experience when it came to the challenge of visualising the change in perceptions. The cartoonist and illustrator famed for his Star Wars-inspired "Sad Chewie" cartoons, which became an internet phenomenon, first visited Cumbria in 2016 to meet fans at LICAF along with his father Steve, who worked in the hit films Despicable Me 2 and Minions.
“I know Cumbria and The Lake District as somewhere you go on holiday, that can be quiet and sleepy, but going to the festival in 2016 was an eye opener for me,” said Luke, who will be attending the festival this weekend.
“The festival itself is amazing as you have artists and enthusiasts coming from around the world to share their work and passion.
“It is true that once you’ve had a look around and seen things for yourself, you are surprised by what there is to see and do there. I can definitely see it is somewhere you can have a great work/ life balance and I think people who live here are really lucky.
“I tried to get this mind shift across in a fun way. You can express so much more through cartoons,” added Luke, who has also created animated music videos for artists including Jack Black and fronts indie dance duo Pop Noir with twin brother Joe.
The comic strips will form part of a Choose Cumbria leaflet that will be distributed during the festival, which takes place at various locations in Kendal on 13 to 15, October.
Luke Dicicco, of Choose Cumbria -whose partners include BAE Systems, GSK, Kimberly-Clark, NHS organisations in Cumbria, Sellafield Ltd, University of Cumbria, Inspira – said: "It has been fantastic to work with Luke McGarry this year to shout about our involvement with LICAF and to help deliver the Choose Cumbria message in a fresh and engaging way.
"A picture paints a thousand words, and Luke's work certainly gets across so many things in just a few, colourful and vibrant frames."
This year’s event will see more than 70 of the biggest names in comic art from across the world gather to bring a splash of colour to the “Auld Grey Town” of Kendal.
Event organiser Julie Tait connected Choose Cumbria with Luke McGarry.
“It has been fantastic to help make the link, and to see the final work,” she said.
“I think it is totally brilliant and helps get across the message that this is a vibrant and creative place.
“We can’t wait for the festival to get underway this year. It has continued to grow and evolve, and it brings a real buzz to Kendal.”
It is the third year Choose Cumbria has supported LICAF as a sponsor. In addition to leaflets, the Choose Cumbria logo and website will be emblazoned on the back of the army of helpers linked to the event – dubbed the “Red t-shirt brigade”.