Meet the acclaimed Batley-born artist behind a fantasy comic art trail taking over Leeds this summer

Businesses across Leeds will spring to life this summer with a fantasy comic art trail telling a story of 'recovery and rediscovery'.

Working under the name of Tula Lotay, Lisa Wood has credits in Batman and Wonder Woman for DC Comics
Working under the name of Tula Lotay, Lisa Wood has credits in Batman and Wonder Woman for DC Comics

Created by one of England's most successful comic artists, Lisa Wood, the Trail For Hope will encourage people to explore the city centre and discover a few hidden gems along the way.

Working under the name of Tula Lotay, Lisa has credits in Batman and Wonder Woman for DC Comics, Scarlet Witch for Marvel and has worked on posters for blockbuster films and TV shows.

Now, Lisa has created the eight-panel comic trail in partnership with her comic art festival Thought Bubble and Leeds BID, telling a story of hope after the pandemic.

The trail launches on July 20 and will run for six weeks.

“It’s been such a difficult year for people," Lisa told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

"Everyone has been suffering, but it’s businesses in city centres and communities which have suffered the most.

“It’s important to build that community back up and we wanted to create something that is fun and gets people back into the city centre.”

Lisa has painted her story on eight panels which will be displayed at sites across the city centre, starting at The Majestic.

It will also form part of Leeds BID's Leeds Jurassic Trail 2 project which boasts 13 animatronic dinosaurs across the city.

The comic art story features a 'warrior viking lady' and a dinosaur, Lisa teased, but families are encouraged to follow the hour-long trail to discover the message.

Independent businesses, including art shop Fred Aldous and comic book stores OK Comics and Travelling Man, will form an important part of the trail.

Lisa added: “I wanted to create something that was prose-like, it’s about people feeling lost but then having hope again.

"I’ve put that into a fantasy setting and matched it up with the amazing dinosaur trail that’s going on around Leeds.

“We’ve temporarily lost people closest to us, there was an intense period where we couldn’t see anyone. I wanted to explore that in a story, but show that we can move through this.”

Lisa, who has dyslexia, fell in love with comics as a young child when she would pick up five comic books for 20p at the market in her hometown of Batley.

She founded Thought Bubble 15 years ago to celebrate comics and illustration and the role they can play in helping children and adults with literacy issues.

“They blew my mind as a child and I was obsessed with them from then on," Lisa said.

“It’s another form of storytelling; they’re amazing stories that are quite adult and intricate, but it was always seen as something that was for children.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen the birth of the adult graphic novel and British writers and artists exploding onto the scene in America for DC Comics and Vertigo.

“Comic books tackle everything - religion, politics, love, action and adventure.

"Every story you want can be found in comic form and for children and adults with literacy issues, like dyslexia, comics are a great starting point for that. That’s why I engaged with them at such a young age.”

Lisa is now preparing for the 2021 Thought Bubble festival, which will take place across Yorkshire from November 8-14 and end with a two-day convention in Harrogate.

The festival is one of Europe's biggest comic events of its kind and will feature guest speakers, activities and a 'break-out' room for those who may struggle with crowds.

“It’s going to be bigger and better than ever," Lisa added.

"We've got the biggest line-up of guests and the biggest space we've ever had. It's the Thought Bubble people know, but completely ramped up in terms of the quality and the programme we've got on."