Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

TCAF Top Picks

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Each lucky, sunny day of May seems to be flying by at an alarming pace. The upswing of this temporal situation is that any day now we will be in the thick of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. The festival has been bursting the brains of Torontonians since 2003 on a bi-annual basis (until this year which has thrown an annual wrench in the pattern, meaning the last festival occurred in 2009). Claiming not to be a comic convention, TCAF features readings, panel discussions, gallery shows, affiliated book launches as well as exhibitors.

The programming schedule was finally posted today, to my unbridled excitement. There are so many panels I want to attend and so many exhibitors I want to “fan” out on! The list below is a meagre attempt to point you to at least some of the excitement going on this weekend.

Also, don’t forget, admission to TCAF is absolutely FREE!!!

The Basics:

Saturday May 8th, 9am-5pm
Sunday May 9th, 11am-5pm
@ Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St., Toronto, Canada

Exciting Exhibitors:

In addition to comic power houses such as Chester Brown, Daniel Clowes, Seth and Jim Woodring (all of whom I hope to shake hands with), there is an absolute bounty of amazing and diverse comic makers attending the festival. Here’s a short throw down of my (mostly Toronto-based) favourites:

Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant
I love this lady’s webcomic so much! Not only does Beaton (often) portray hilarious interpretations of Canadian history, her drawing style is gorgeous. Her latest book, Never Learn Anything From History, is nominated for the Doug Wright Pigskin Peters Award for unconventional, "nominally-narrative" comics.

R.L. Stevens of Diesel Sweeties
Stevens has been making this comic, featuring pixelated robots, hipsters, porn stars, hippies and other subcultures for a long, long, long, time. I’m not sure how long, but I’ve been reading it for years.

Michael DeForge of King Trash
This guy used to live in the apartment upstairs for me! I have some of his artwork in my house, which his roommates threw out after he moved. If none of that is significant for you, his comics are also weird and awesome. Deforge is a Doug Wright finalists for the Best Emerging Talent category.

Shannon Gerard
Shannon is an inspiring comic artist, crafter and printmaker. Recently, she has teamed up with writer and TCAF exhibitor, Jim Monroe (of No Media Kings), on the graphic novel Sword of My Mouth, launching tonight at Tequila Bookworm from 7-11pm!!! (Oops, I’m late.) It is a story of post apocalyptic Detroit, food security and mutant hipsters that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Wowee Zonk
Members of the art collective Wowee Zonk and Broken Pencil Magazine are collaborating on an exciting exhibition space at the festival, called the Toronto Small Press Schooner Room, which will feature a rotating display of work by some of Toronto’s finest DIY comic and art makers. I know of a few innovative artists who will be exhibiting there and I am excited to see what they come up with!

Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics
Ryan North’s webcomic is an interesting example within the genre: each day the images in his panels do not change, only the words. Over and over, Toronto’s North has proven to me that he reads a lot of books and that dinosaur clip art never gets old.

KC Green of GunShow Comics
Oh man, am I ever excited to meet KC Green. He used to write my favourite comic on the internet, Horribleville, an intense jaunt through self-deprecation, artistic laziness and writer’s block. I imagine it got to be a heavy burden to carry, so I’ve since forgiven him for cancelling the strip. His other comic, GunShow, still manages to get my guts rolling (in laughter?) and my perverse brain panting for more.

WOW! Awesome panels I hope to witness:

(Okay, the first one is cheating, since I’m talking on this panel and it is a bit of SHAMELESS self promotion, but I’m going in a chronological order here. Yeah, let’s go with that).

The Artist Book and the Graphic Novel: Converging Traditions
Saturday, May 8th, 10:00 – 10:45am, Novella Room
Outside the world of mainstream comics, painters and print makers have long been interested in using images to tell sequential stories. The tradition of the artist book includes such distinguished names as William Blake and Rockwell Kent. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of artist books, often harkening back to the tradition of the woodcut novel while also paralleling developments in the graphic novel. This panel will consist of fine artists who are part of this exciting fusing of traditions: George Walker (teacher at OCAD and historian of the graphic novel), Marta Chudolinska (whose book Back & Forth is nominated for a Doug Wright Award), writer Leon Rooke (winner of the Governor General’s Award) and Tony Calzetta (a painter who collaborated with Rooke on a new book How God Talks in His Sleep). Jeet Heer will moderate.

Comics as Art Objects: Form vs Function
Saturday, May 8th, 10:45 – 11:30am, Novella Room
Screenprinted; hand-sewn; individually colored; hand-done die-cuts — some comics are created as art objects in and of themselves. How does this focus on the comic as an art object affect the stories comics tell? Join cartoonists Willow Dawson, Lizz Lunney, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Matt Swanson, Robbi Behr, and Matt Wiegle to answer these questions and raise many more! Moderator TBD.

Feature: Daniel Clowes, James Sturm, Seth, Chester Brown, and Jim Woodring
Saturday, May 8th, 11:30 – 12:30pm, Learning Center 1
Five of the world’s most respected cartoonists in one room, on one panel! Moderated by Tom Spurgeon.

Tracers, Photoshoppers, Cut & Pasters: Cheaters or Revolutionaries
Saturday, May 8th, 3:30 – 4:15pm, Novella Room
Comic artistry has traditionally valued drawing things with nothing but a pen and raw illustrative talent. But people working from photoreferences, using digital tools and collaging techniques are producing some of the most innovative and beautiful work in the comic world. Does this diversify comic expression and represent an unshackling from the draftstable? Or is it just cheating? Four non-traditional comic artists discuss this and their approach to comic making. Featuring Shannon Gerard, Emily Horne, Sonja Ahlers, Ryan
North, and moderator Jim Munroe.

Canadian Drawing and Cartoon Art in Galleries
Saturday, May 8th, 4:00 – 5:00, The Pilot
In the past several years, comics art has slowly but surely been making its way off the page and into the art gallery. This program showcases a number of cartoonists discussing how the climb to the gallery world affects their art and their careers — and peoples’ perceptions of the medium as a whole. Featuring Seth, Marc Bell, Amy Lockhart, Peter Thompson, Scott Campbell, and Sonja Ahlers. Moderated by Professor Bart Beaty.

Comics and Social Media
Sunday, May 9th, 11:00 – 12:00pm, The Pilot
Is comics a solitary pursuit, in creation and enjoyment? Or can there be community, sharing, support, and all of the headaches that come with it? More importantly, should there be? And what happens when it comes time to get away from it all? Join creators Kate Beaton, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Rowland, Rich Stevens, and James Sturm, to hear what they have to say about building communities and using social media, and getting away from the internet entirely! Moderator TBD.

Webcomics and Serial Storytelling
Sunday, May 9th, 12:00 – 1:00pm, The Pilot
Comics have a long history of gag a day and serialized storytelling in comic strip culture… but as the medium has moved to the web it is the gag-a-day strips that seemed to find immediate success. We talk to a number of comics creators doing long-form, serialized comics on the internet to see the challenges they face, and how serial storytelling works when it’s online. Creators include Ananth Panagariya (Applegeeks), Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie), Spike (Templar, Arizona), Jonathan Rosenberg (Goats), Tara Talan (Galaxion), Cameron Stewart (Sin Titulo), and Ramon Perez (Kukuburi). Moderated by Holly Post of Topatoco.

Not to be missed!

The 2010 Doug Wright Awards
Saturday, May 8th, 7pm, The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon (Free, Tickets Required)
On Saturday night, the Doug Wright Comic Book Awards will be presented for last year’s top books. Amazingly enough, my graphic novel “Back + Forth: a novel in 90 linocuts” has been nominated for best book. This year has quite a crop of amazing and inspiring books contending, including Seth’s latest masterpiece, George Sprott: 1894-1975.

Have a great festival and comic responsibly!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Marta Chudolinska

Marta Chudolinska is a printmaker, bookbinder, zinester, painter and writer. Her first (wordless) graphic novel, Back + Forth: A novel in 90 linocuts, was published in September 2009 by the Porcupine’s Quill Press.

Go to Marta Chudolinska’s Author Page