NEXTCOMIC Festival is a little known Austrian comic art festival which takes place annually… little known, unless, that is, you’re a comic artist or cartoonist. Then you will definitely know about NEXTCOMIC. And I’m very glad that I now know about it too. Held in the Austrian city of Linz, in many ways Linz is the perfect place to host a festival about a niche type of art that appeals to all ages and is published across a number of different platforms.

NEXTCOMIC’s story began in 2009 as one of a number of events planned to coincide with Linz’s year as European Capital of Culture but like a number of other initiatives and schemes, NEXTCOMIC Festival has turned into a popular annual event that attracts some of Europe’s best comic artists, cartoonists and illustrators. The majority of the festival’s exhibits and events are held in the Offenes-Kulturhaus, a centre for culture and arts found in OÖ (OberÖsterreichische) Kulturquartier in central Linz, other fringe events and artworks were on display in ARS Electronica Centre, and additional events taking place in two nearby towns, Wels and Steyr.

It was my first time attending a comic art festival and I have to be honest in saying that my knowledge of comic art hadn’t won me any awards, or even pub quizzes, so I was a little apprehensive about what to expect. It turned out you don’t have to have a detailed knowledge of comic art or cartoons as NEXTCOMIC will quickly educate you with exhibits from some of Germany and Austria’s most famous and established illustrators, graphic artists, cartoonists and street artists showing a very wide range of art, from a memorable disembowelled Little Mermaid mural by Austrian street artist NYCHOS to the original sketches by one of Austria’s most famous satirical artists, Milan Ilic.

The “headliner” of the festival was Kyle Platts, a Sheffield-born British artist whose work has been featured in magazines like VICE and he has been commissioned by Arctic Monkeys to deliver his trademark colourful, detailed artwork. With artists doing Q&A sessions and book signings throughout the festival, other events included a “comic battle” where artists went head to head with live drawings.

Money Saving Tips

  • Linz is not expensive to stay in at all and even the most stylish hotels are a fraction of the cost they would be in a different city, however, there are ways to save money in Linz, not least purchasing a Linz Card for €15 which will get you free entrance to all the museums and will also get you free public transport around the city.
  • Linz is home to several free festivals including Pflasterspektakel street theatre festival in July, Linz Fest in May and Bubble Days a msuic and wake boarding festival held on the Danube in June.

Did you know?

  • Linz’s New Cathedral is Austria’s largest, but not tallest cathedral. That honour goes to St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
  • Following the Second World War, Linz also had its own version of “Checkpoint Charlie”. Located, somewhat ironically, on Niebelungen Bridge which was built and named by Hitler, this checkpoint marked where American and Russian controlled parts of Austria met at the Danube and stayed in place until 1955.
  • In the past Linz has been called “Hitler’s city” as he lived there as a teenager and later he had grand plans to transform the city with new buildings, houses and infrastructure, including a museum and a hotel named after him. Nowadays locals are understandably quick to distance themselves from this piece of their history, but nonetheless it does make for a fascinating history lesson.

My personal highlight

In addition to hanging out at NEXTCOMIC festival and finding out more about comic art, the real highlight was finding out how much there is to do and see in Linz. It was completely unexpected and could easily have kept me busy for another three days! Among the things I wanted to do but didn’t have time for was a bike ride along the Danube, seeing a performance at the new Opera House and checking out what was on display at Lentos Art Museum.

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