AN artist who sketched Dan Dare science fiction comics is among dozens of professional comic creators talking at the 21st Caption festival in Oxford.

Hundreds of comic lovers will descend on the East Oxford Community Centre next Saturday and Sunday for Caption, the longest-running independent comic festival in the UK. The event allows visitors to enjoy workshops and talks on a range of subjects, such as writing comic strips inspired by dreams.

The festival has been running since 1992, when a group of students at Oxford University Comic Book Society put on a convention dedicated to supporting British small authors and enthusiasts.

Guest speakers will include artist and graphic designer Rian Hughes, who drew (the new) Dan Dare in the 1990s.

He will be joined by award-winning Polish comic book and film poster artist Andrzej Klimowski and Paul Collicutt, artist and writer of the graphic novel The Murder Mile.

Jenni Scott, 43, co-organiser of the festival and one of the founding members, said: “At the time there were only a few conventions in the UK and they all had more of a focus on mainstream comics.

“At Caption, we do not have much of a wall between the professional creators and the consumers.

“The East Oxford Community Centre is a very participatory venue with great areas for holding workshops.”

The convention has been held at the centre since 2006, with The Oxford Union and Wolfson College among previous venues.

All profits from the convention – including ticket and comic memorabilia sales – go back into funding for future festivals, which typically cost between £600 and £800 to put on.

Alex Fitch, 38, who has been helping organise the festival from his home in Brighton, said it is a very different comic convention to others in the UK.

He added: “It’s all about small press publishing and giving advice to people who are trying to break into the industry.

“You will not see people wandering around in superhero costumes like at other conventions. It’s more about small press creators hanging around with professionals.”

One of the festival founders, Damian Cugley, said the event was now firmly fixed in people’s calendars.

David Fickling, 60, of Jericho, is a children’s book editor and founder of the weekly Oxford-based comic anthology The Phoenix He said: “Comics are a brilliant way of telling stories and they are open to everybody.”

Tickets for the festival cost £6 for each day or £10 for the full weekend.

  • Caption is on from 11am to 7.30pm on Saturday, August 24 and 11am to 3.30pm on Sunday, August 25 at the East Oxford Community Centre in Princes Street.