Elida Maiques is a comic book creator in Dublin, who along with eight other comic book artists, is a member of a collective called Stray Lines. Along with producing periodical issues, anthologies, and their own individual work; The Stray Lines collective host events like Dublin Comic Jam and The Comics Lab, where they foster “collaborative comic making and chats in the pub” and “innovative approaches to comics in Ireland” respectively.

Among the Stray Lines Collective’s many achievements, one of their biggest is the DCAF (Dublin Comics Art Festival) which takes place in the Chocolate Factory four times a year in April, July, October, and December. This past December, I spoke to Elida Maiques about Stray Lines and the different work they do.

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I like to present myself as a visual artist with a strong line in comics. I work in the junction between visual arts and comics. I consider the boundary between the art you would see in museums and galleries and what you see in printed media as a division of markets and nothing more.

What sort of market do you think is being provided at DCAF?
The DCAF stalls are Small Press. It can be anything from art books, short stories, one-off hand-paintings, to mass-produced publications, or whatever else the individual wants to make.

How has DCAF grown since it’s early inception?
It has been growing steadily since it’s early inception, I think in part the event is quarterly, gives creators a very clear deadline to produce their work and sell it here. Another factor is that Matt Melis (a member of Stray Lines) has ensured the price for creators to have a stall is very low so everyone has access to it whether you are selling postcards or more traditional publications that were mass-printed with 200 copies, ISBN code and such.

How would you describe Stray Lines?
Paddy Lynch always uses the slogan “For the Love of Comics.” It’s just a bunch of individuals who are interested in honing their art and continuing to draw comics. We have four anthologies under the title “Stray Lines”, among other publications (“Experiment”, “Slice”, etc from The Comics Lab), and in each of our anthologies, we are interested in pushing the medium as a storytelling device.

Some of our members recently participated in a festival where we do some live readings. They incorporate performance and sound effects in their artwork, so you have a microphone, you have an artist/speaker and a big screen, so you have kinda comics with an eerie soundtrack and sound effects, it is quite atmospheric.

What advice would you give to people who would maybe be looking to take up a stand in the future?
To take up a stand, just apply to DCAF. To start making comics, the path is the number of steps that you take. Keep a sketchbook if you want to be an artist and get used to being unhappy with your work until you start to improve. Try to fail better each time but more importantly don’t be afraid to fail worse. Find your peers and DCAF is great for this. The Comics Lab is community-based and has many volunteer workshops and talks about comics. Dublin Comic Jam runs monthly at the Thomas House pub on the last Thursday of every month from 7:00-9:00 pm.

The next DCAF will take place on April 4th in the Chocolate Factory. Elida Maiques is about to release her first graphic novel Every Inch a Cat which can be found in Books Upstairs, the Winding Stairs, SubCity, The Library Project. Check out the work of the Comics Lab, Dublin Comics Jam as well as the work of the other eight members of the Stray Lines Collective on their website at straylines.org.

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