Orbital attends the 2D Festival in Northern Ireland

A view of guests on the ground floor

Recently, on behalf of Orbital, I was lucky enough to attend the 2D Arts Festival, an annual event that celebrates comic book culture and sequential storytelling. I’ve always heard great things about this convention, and wondered how a family-oriented, education-based art fair in Northern Ireland manages to attract so many big-name creators year after year. Now was my chance to find out.

From humble origins as a series of comics-themed learning workshops (organized and funded by Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre) the rapidly growing success of 2D means that it is now the largest comics festival in Northern Ireland. Famous names from around the UK, Europe and from across the pond were all in attendance. Take a look at this year’s guest list!

Guests of honor included legendary artist Herb Trimpe (best known for his Marvel work on the Incredible Hulk, during which he was the first artist to draw Wolverine), multiple award-winning Perry Bible Fellowship creator Nicholas Gurewitch, artist/colourist Jordi Bellaire and award-winning DC/Vertigo editor Will Dennis.

The legendary Herb Trimpe

Will Simpson chats with fans

Dan Berry sketches Spidey Talks and workshops took place over the course of four days, including (no, I’m not kidding) afterwards, at the pub. Orbital’s own Chris Thompson hosted several panels, which were infused with as much humour as they were with industry insight.Talks and workshops took place over the course of four days, including (no, I’m not kidding) afterwards, at the pub. A look at the programme will give you an idea of the range of activities available to participate in. A few of my favorites were the Saturday evening Keeping it Real panel (discussing realism in comics, hosted by Orbital’s own Chris Thompson and infused with as much humor as with industry insight) and Will Simpson’s Creating the World of Game of Thrones talk on Sunday.

Perhaps the secret to 2D’s success is that, despite the excess of talent in attendance, it is the kind of convention that attracts more families than fanboys. The creators are freer to chat and sketch at a far more relaxed pace than they would be at any big-city con, and there’s an atmosphere of fun and friendship between everyone there. I had a great time, and I could easily see myself going back again in the future. Definitely worth the trip!

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