Pictured: Charlie Adlard in front of the artwork he created for The Shrewsbury Comics Trail, outside Shrewsbury Library.
There was huge excitement in Shrewsbury at the weekend, as fans waited to meet their comic book idols for the launch of the Shrewsbury Comics Trail.
Nine of the world's best comic book artists have contributed giant artworks for a trail around town, telling the story of Shrewsbury.
It's a brilliant idea from Comics Salopia, funded by the Arts Councils - to show off the awesome talent we have in Shrewsbury, whilst also adding value for visitors to the town. Featured on the trail are some of the best-known names in the comics industry, including several artists and writers who live right here in Shrewsbury, making our town the unofficial home of the British comics industry!
The first stop-off on the trail, at Shrewsbury Library, is Shrewsbury resident Charlie Adlard, best known for his work on X-Files and The Walking Dead.
Charlie said: "This is the start of it, the first picture on the comics trail - have fun and enjoy the other eight! Hopefully the trail will show that comics aren’t just for kids - they’re for everyone. The aim is to put Shrewsbury on the map as a comics hub. We’ve probably already got more cartoonists living here per capita than anywhere else and the list is growing!”
Fellow comic book artist Mike Perkins was also at the launch, offering free signings for fans. Mike has just moved back to Shrewsbury from Florida and has illustrated just about every superhero you could mention, including Spiderman, Captain America and Swamp Thing (read our My Shrewsbury interview with Mike here - Legendary Comic Book Artist Mike Perkins Returns)
"The role of an illustrator is to share a story, which is exactly what the Comics Trail is all about," Mike said. His panel, at St Mary's, tells the story of showman Robert Cadman, who famously attempted to descend on a rope from the church spire, falling to his death in 1739.
The script for the trail has been written by John Wagner, co-creator of Judge Dredd, who lives just outside Shrewsbury. John was on hand to meet his fans on Saturday. Giving workshops on the day to rapt fans were legendary Beano artist Lew Stringer and manga artist Sonia Leong, whose artworks are also featured on the trail.
The other contributing artists are Doug Braithwaite (Hulk, X-Men, Thor), UK comics laureate Hannah Berry and indie comic creator Rachel Smith (Doctor Who, The Rabbit), Marvel artist Jimmy Broxton and Doctor Who/Spiral Cage illustrator Al Davison.
Organiser Shane Chebsey, of Comics Salopia, added: "The idea behind the comics trail was that we could have artwork that people can interact with. It's Covid proof, totally free and entirely interactive - you can post selfies online with the hashtag #ComicsTrail2021."
The nine panels will remain in place around Shrewsbury town centre for 12 months. Can you find them all?!
The trail was organised by the Comics Salopia Festival and Shrewsbury Town Council in partnership with Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury BID and The Big Town Plan. It was awarded £14,500 of lottery funding from the Arts Council of England, which went towards commissioning and producing the artworks.