Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 12.57.51SUNDERLAND will roll out the red carpet to esteemed guests from Mega-City One, Gotham, Metropolis and a host of other fantasy playgrounds of superheroes, talking animals and steampunk detectives, as the line-up of the Wonderlands Festival is confirmed.

The creative geniuses behind such comic and graphic novel mainstays as Judge Dredd, The Punisher, Thundercats, X-Men, Batman and our very own Alice in Sunderland will descend on Wonderlands, which is returning to the city for a second year, after gaining international recognition in 2015.

Among the main guests will be Steve Bell, principal editorial cartoonist for The Guardian newspaper since the mid 1990s; Doug Braithwaite who has drawn just about every major character in both the Marvel and DC Universe; and Karrie Fransman, creator of the award winning comic, ‘Over, Under, Sideways, Down’ about an Iranian teenage refugee, for The British Red Cross.

The expo will also feature Marvel mainstay David Hine, who also wrote and drew Strange Embrace and has collaborated with Doug Braithwaite on Storm Dogs; and curator of the festival Bryan Talbot , creator of Alice in Sunderland and Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard, a two-fisted badger with the deductive abilities of Sherlock Holmes.

These big names are just some of the 30-plus artists and writers who will attend the graphic novel event, many of whom will be speaking about their works and the genre, staging workshops and hoping to inspire the next generation of graphic artists.

Wonderlands lands in Sunderland on Saturday, May 28, at the University of Sunderland’s CitySpace, which will be transformed into a dystopian “Wonderland”, only fitting as it welcomes some of the most successful graphic novelists in the world.

Bryan Talbot, who has written and drawn comics and graphic novels for over 30 years, said: “For Wonderlands to draw so much talent from the world of comics and graphic novels is incredible, but clearly demonstrates how much industry noise our first event created last year.

“We are bringing creators of worlds, guardians of superheroes, satirical slayers of political giants and some of the funniest folks you could wish to meet to Sunderland for this inspirational event – bigger and better than last year isn’t what we’re aiming for. We want it to be stranger and more sinister, more creative and colourful, brighter and bolder, darker and dreamier. I would urge anyone and everyone to come along, you won’t be disappointed.”

Other guests include Darryl Cunnigham (Science Tales, Supercrash), Woodrow Phoenix (Rumblestrip), Jeff Anderson (The Graphic Bible, Transfomers), Metaphrog (The Red Shoes), comics historians Paul Gravett and Mel Gibson, Una (Becoming Unbecoming), and Mary Talbot (The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia).

The event is free, and includes a talk from Sha Nazir and Laurence Grove from Glasgow University on ‘The Glasgow Looking Glass’, which is regarded as the first mass produced comic book that was published with illustrations. A screening of “Futureshock: The Story of 2000AD” will also be shown at the event.

Other presentations, talks and panel discussions will explore issues from self-publishing and the state of the industry at present to the history of UK graphic novels and graphic novel auteurs, those creators who both write and draw their books.

The Publishers’ Hall will act as a base point, where people can meet their favourite graphic novelists and comic writers.  There will also be an alternative workshop schedule that will host some exciting presentations and interactive workshops that are suitable for all ages. The public will have the opportunity to develop their own stories and characters with the help of some of the novelists in attendance.

Hannah Matterson, fundraising and event development officer for MAC Trust, which is co-ordinating Wonderlands, said: “Last year’s event was amazing – having so many creative people in one place created a buzz that was sustained throughout the festical and felt by everyone who attended. We’re really pleased to bring such a prestigious and exciting event back to Sunderland.  Please don’t miss it.”

The event takes place between 10am and 6pm on Saturday, May 28. For more information and the full line-up of events, visit www.wonderlands.org.uk or email info@wonderlands.org.uk.