Scotland’s 2023 Edinburgh International Book Festival has announced its programming for August. We have filtered through the poets, novelists and picture book illustrators to spot the programming that is comics or comics-adjacent so you don’t have to. 

The 2023 Edinburgh Book Festival sees two Beano editors take the stage for the comic’s 85th birthday year, Alice Oseman talking Heartstopper, Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown talking 30 years of the bestselling series, plus Tsunami Girl creators Chie Kutsuwada and Julian Sedgwick talk about the world of Yōkai and their forthcoming book 100 Tales from the Tokyo Ghost Café. Workshops are also taking place run by Scottish publisher BHP, graphic novelist Lizzy Stewart, Metaphrog duo John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs, and mangaka Chie Kutsuwada.

2023 Edinburgh

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has been in existence since 1983 and has been described as the “largest and best-respected literary festival in the world“. While comics, graphic novels and manga have seldom been given significant (nor consistent) billing – their slowly rising status in British literary circles has helped them to become a small part of festival programming over the years.

Note: All programming is in GMT.

Saturday August 12, 2023

Two Beano Editors Make Mega Mischief [Ages 6+ and Families]
1.30pm-2.30pm GMT, In-person + Online

“Come and join the mischief in this interactive session with two Beano comic Editors, Craig Graham and Mike Stirling. Together they’re in charge of making sure that everything in Beano is as funny and naughty as it can possibly be! Mike and Craig will reveal their top tips for creating laugh out loud stories, share jokes from their latest Boomic, Little Menace’s Great Escape, and take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of Beanotown’s greatest secrets as the comic celebrates its 85th birthday this year.”

Workshop: “Comic Creation Chaos with BHP Comics [Ages 8-12]
4pm-5pm GMT, In-Person only

“Create your own super-duper superheroes in this interactive workshop that looks at the characters created by Sha Nazir and Gary Chudleigh. The graphic novelist pair will take you on a fun, super-powered trip that will leave you well on the way to the start of your own Marvel Universe”

Friday August 18,2023

Workshop: “Twisted Tales with John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs [Ages 9+]
4.30-5.30pm GMT, In Person Only

“Graphic novel duo John Chalmers & Sandra Marrs (the artists formerly known as Metaphrog!) are on top form with their newest, Scottish-set, graphic novel releases: Harris and Grace, a twisted take on Hansel and Gretel, and Freya, the story of a female Scottish clan chief accused of being a witch. Join the talented twosome to hear all about their latest books and try your hand at thinking up plots and characters yourself.”

Saturday August 19, 2023

Workshop: “Lizzy Stewart: Illustrated Reading Lists
10.15-12.15pm GMT, In Person Only

“Many people keep a list of the books they’ve read – but why not make it an illustrated list? Choose your four favourite books of the year and bring pictures of their covers to this practical session with illustrator and graphic novelist Lizzy Stewart. She helps you turn them into a gorgeous illustration – and leaves you with the tools to keep an illustrated record of your books of the year. Stewart is the author of several books including her most recent graphic novel Alison.”

Horrible Histories 30th Anniversary with Martin Brown [Ages 8+]
1.30-2.30pm GMT, In-Person and Online

“Join illustrator Martin Brown to celebrate 30 Horrible Years of the world’s bestselling children’s history series! Expect savage stories, gruesome games, foul facts and deadly drawing. Find out the best worst bits of history from brand new book Horrible Histories: The Worst in the World and pick up some wicked drawing tips. Fun for all the family!”

Alice Oseman: Stopping Hearts [Ages 12+]
3.15-4.15pm GMT, In-Person Only

“Join Alice Oseman, creator of global smash-hit Heartstopper, for a very special in-conversation event. Heartstopper follows Nick and Charlie as they navigate the ups and downs of first loves, school, friendships, coming out, and mental health. Alice discusses her charming love story’s incredible journey: from webcomic, to bestselling graphic novel, to critically acclaimed Netflix Series. She’ll maybe even give readers a sneak peek of Heartstopper Volume 5! Chaired by author Benjamin Dean.”

Sunday August 20, 2023

Workshop:Lizzy Stewart: Introduction to Graphic Storytelling
10.15am – 12.45pm GMT, In-Person Only

“Join graphic novelist and artist Lizzy Stewart – author of Alison and Walking Distance – as she guides you through a series of creative techniques for graphic novels. Sharing her insights into her own illustrative process, Stewart will demonstrate how to get started or continue with your visual storytelling.”

The World of Japanese Spirits with Chie Kutsuwada & Julian Sedgwick [Ages 12+]
12pm-1pm GMT, In-Person Only

“Dare you enter the haunted heart of Japan? Author and illustrator duo, Julian Sedgwick and Chie Kutsuwada – creators of Tsunami Girl – invite you into the fascinating world of Japanese ghosts and spirituality. Learn about mythical yōkai and tsukumogami, from their traditional roots to the modern day, and find out why, even now, incredible worlds exist just beyond the visible. Then watch Chie conjure a manga yōkai as Julian reads an exclusive preview from 100 Tales from the Tokyo Ghost Café.”

Workshop:Manga Yōkai and Ghosts Workshop with Chie Kutsuwada [Ages 10-14]
2.30pm-3.30pm GMT and 4.30pm-5.30pm GMT, In-Person Only

“Join us for a short introduction to the ghosts and yōkai of Japan, followed by a drawing workshop where you can conjure up your own spirit with manga creator Chie Kutsuwada. Explore the intriguing and unpredictable world of the mystical yōkai and tsukumogami spirits, and bring your own manga creation to life.”

Crash and Burn… Killtopia with Dave Cook & Craig Paton“[Ages 12+]
6pm-7pm, In-Person Only

“Join Killtopia creators Dave Cook and Craig Paton as they discuss the journey of the book from concept to completing the series and its new life on screen. Killtopia Volume 5 is the final part of this exhilarating, cyberpunk graphic novel series.”