Jamie Coville has, as always, recorded the best of the panels from TCAF, including a shocking number in which I participated. YOU can hear the audio of the panels here and the DWAs here. The DWAs are notable for the extraordinary remembrance that Seth offered or Dawwyn Cooke and also the induction of James Simpkins into the Giants of the NOrth hall of fame and Jeet Heer’s trbute to Alvin Buenaventura. Trust me, there were no dry eyes in the house for this evening.
Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) 2016 (May 13 – 15) – 81 Photos
Note: Friday May 13th was Librarian & Educator day. For the general public TCAF was May 14-15th.
Keynote Speech by Ryan North (1:02:06, 56.8mb)
Introduction by Kalervo Sinervo. Ryan talked about the desire to go back in time and make changes. He spoke about technology and when things were discovered, but were not utilized for many years later.
Among these were writing, then comics and particularly the word balloon. He spoke about how the word balloon changed and evolved over the years. Ryan also showed examples about how when humanity really
wants people to understand something, they use comics to say it. This could be in the form of promotional or informative comics to warning labels. There was a Q&A where Biff, Bam, Pow articles get
discussed, graphic novels being racked in bookstores together instead of the by genre with other books, Dinosaur comics and continuing to write it, working for Marvel and their characters and writing for a specific audience.
Touchy Subjects (1:03:17, 57.9mb)
Moderated by Scott Robins, panelists include Cory Silverberg, Matt Holm and Fatma Faraj. Cory talked about Sex is a Funny Word and it’s touchy subjects of showing naked bodies, masturbation and sexual abuse.
Matt discussed Sunny Side Up which deals with Sunny’s older brother having drug and behavioral problems, plus her grandfather who is still smoking despite having “quit” and how these things affect the family.
Fatma talked about her experience as a Librarian stocking these titles and the discussion they bring about. The group talked about paranoid parents and kids being their own censors and questions coming from kids
regarding their books. Scott and Fatma spoke about Amulet, Drama, Child Soldier, Chiggers, In Real Life, Yummy and gave a should out to This One Summer and how each of those books have dealt with touchy subjects.
Q&A was about triggers for kids with problems, librarians being too strong when they self censor and how they combat it.
Comics and Mental Health (51:00, 46.6mb)
Cory Silverberg was the moderator, panelists included jes sachse, Tory Woollcott, Jason Bradshaw and Jenn Woodall. The group started by introducing themselves and their books, all of them had self published a book
about their particular issue. Cory then asked about terminology, what they find offensive and what terms they prefer. They discussed what annoys them about depictions of mental health in pop culture and why possibly
they are presented that way. During Q&A they talked about mental health as a plot device and something that can be “fixed.” They panelists had suggestions for what was needed for more stories to be published about
Reformation (58:33, 53.6mb)
Moderated by Naomi Bain, on the panel was Krystal Tabujara, Amelia Ruthven Nelson, Fadia Jerome-Smith and David Brothers. The group first defined what diversity was and showed the new Ontario Guidelines for making
schools more diverse. They gave some stats showing how teaching staff and published authors do not match the diversity of the general population. David talked about the black superhero characters he was exposed to
growing up and also Milestone Media and why that was important to him. The panel then broke the audience into groups based on what age group they dealt with (or wanted to focus on) and the panelists spoke to those
groups about which books would be good for those groups. They engages in a discussion with the audience in this manner. At the end they all came back for a quick Q&A. During the breakout session I traveled from
group to group and while there is some background chatter you can usually hear the main speaker(s) okay.
Manga for Adults (1:09:46, 63.8mb)
On this panel was Brigid Alverson, David Brothers, Peggy Burns and Christopher Butcher and showing up late was Calvin Reed. The group talked about good manga books for adult readers. They said some of the manga audience
are in adulthood and this panel was suggestions for which books to use to keep them reading. They started with The Pushman & Other Stories and a Drifting Life. Peggy said they published those reading left to right
(ie “flipped”) in order to get non Manga adult readers to read the books. They said this was done with creator Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s permission (as he had a hard time reading the opposite way when it comes to North
American comics) and he helped in rearranging the artwork. Among the other books discussed were Onward To Our Nobel Deaths, Showa: A History of Japan – 1926-1989, Vegabond, Real, Emma, A Bride’s Story, Vinland Saga,
Planetes, OPUS, Ghost in the Shell, Pluto, Children of the Sea, Solannin, Nijigahara Holograph, Goodnight Punpun, Gensiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, Tekkonkinkreet: Black and White, Sunny,
Not Simple, Nana, Helter Skelter: Fashion Unfriendly, Pink, Ooku: the Inner Chambers, Sakuran, In Clothes Called Fat, Oishinbo ala Carte, What Did You Eat Yesterday and Massive. Peggy revealed that she though Vertical
published really good Manga for Adults and when Drawn and Quarterly started publishing Manga they based themselves off what Vertical was doing.
The Graphic Novel Revolution and How it Changed Comics (1:24:58, 77.7mb)
The introduction was done by Christopher Butcher. The moderator was Heidi MacDonald and on the panel was Brian K. Vaughan, Annie Koyama, Andy Brown and Mark Siegel. The group started off telling their origin of
becoming publishers and what made them want to do it. They explained what books were their storytelling idol and how submissions have changed. Brian spoke about how creators can do more with comics now,
particularly with Image. Mark said when he started First Second he published books for all age groups and tries to sell them in all markets, which is very unusual for New York Publishing imprints. He said American
Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang was a major breakthrough for the publisher and after it won the Printz Award (which means a lot of Library sales for years and years) suddenly other major book publishers started doing
Graphic Novels. Andy Brown talked about Michel Rabagliati and Annie spoke about Michael DeForge and Jesse Jacobs. Brian said he worked on TV shows for about a year and his wife ordered him to start writing comic books
again so he’d have an outlet for his not acceptable to TV ideas. The group also spoke of the next big challenge in comics. Within the Q&A Mark said which markets are harder to crack, which lead to Annie and Andy talking
about the Direct Market and how the Diamond Comics minimums forced indy publishers to do Graphic Novels. Brian revealed that Digital distribution helped Saga. They group also discussed taking the increased awareness
about comics and converting it into sales.
Spotlight: Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce: We Stand On Guard (51:08, 46.8mb)
This panel was moderated by Barry Hertz. Among the topics discussed were how the Brian and Steve met, adding the Canadian flavour to the work, the depiction of why the war happened, doing a torture scene with
virtual reality, Steve designing robots, doing additional stories, killing characters, Brian’s writing and his politics, Ottawa being destroyed, working with Image, adaptation of the book into other media, Brian
and Steve discuss working in comics vs working in TV/Film, Brian’s lack of knowledge of French, how Brian works with artists, Brian’s advice on breaking into comics, avoiding stereotypes, comics being an artists
medium, the reaction from people in the letter pages.
Black Comics: Comics and Race (1:00:15, 55.1mb)
On the panel was Marguerite Abouet (and her translator), Bill Rosarium, Taneka Stotts, Spike C. Trotman, Richie Pope and the panel was moderated by David Brothers. The group spoke about why they got into comics,
Bill’s recent super successful Indiegogo campaign to raise money to publish comics, Spike’s seeing the evolution of opinions on Kickstarter, Marguerite’s unexpected success of the Aya series, collaboration and
working with other people, they talked about how cartoons that apply race to things that do not need it (My Little Pony among them), growing up as a minority among white people and then being called “not black enough.”
Spotlight: Jennifer Hayden (54:08, 49.5mb)
Brigid Alverson moderated this panel. They first talked about the title to Jennifer’s book, The Story of My Tits. They discussed the humor in the book, the positives of her experience, the goddess image and how she
used it, her mothers breast cancer, the deer motif in the book, how her “cartoony” style works for the serious chapters, the big balancing act between seriousness and light heartedness parts of the story, her family’s
reaction to the book, Jennifer’s love of Charles Dickens and how his work influenced the book, how she learned to write and draw, her other books, both out now and coming soon, her method of working and there was a
back and forth with her editor Leigh Walton regarding working with Top Shelf.
Spotlight: Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (53:32, 49mb)
Moderated by Mark Medley, this panel featured the original Y: The Last Man editor Heidi MacDonald, Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Heidi talked about Brian pitching the series and how Pia joined as the artist.
Brian spoke about coming up with Y and Pia explained what she was working on when she got hired for Y. Heidi said she knew Brian was ready for something big after reading his last issue of Swamp Thing. The group
all talked about the Y world, what reaction they were expecting, the other creators on the book (inker, letterer, etc..), how the series progressed, changes they might have made if the series were being done today,
how 911 affected the book, how Yorick was based on Brian, being invested in the series until the end, possible multimedia adaptations, among other topics.
Small Press (57:19, 52.4mb)
On the panel was Tucker Stone (NoBrow), Box Brown (retrofit), Patrick Crotty (Peow)
and Raighne (2dcloud). Heidi MacDonald was the moderator. The group started with the how and why they started doing small press books.
There was lots of talk about the difficulty of getting distribution and Diamond, the group also talked about the amount of sacrifice they’ve gone through and the lack of money. They also spoke about what makes all the
struggle worthwhile. The various formats they published and why, how they find artists and what pitfalls to avoid were the other topics discussed.
Spotlight: Marguerite Abouet (55:05, 50.4mb)
Brigid Alverson interviewed Marguerite through translator Nathalie Atkinson. They discussed what other books beside Aya she’s done, how close Aya was to her life, how she created the characters, why it was set in the
1970s, the multiculturalism in the area, why the women appear to be smarter than the men, the African proverbs within the story, how homosexuality was treated in Africa back then, Women getting respect and awards in
the French comics community, her journey to become a writer and getting Aya published which includes a funny story involving Joann Sfar, the voices in the Aya animated film and what medium she prefers to work in and why.
Spotlight: Chester Brown (47:34, 43.5mb)
The panel was moderated by sex worker and activist Alex Tigchelarr. Chester started with a reading of the Hymn of the Pearl which was in the Drawn and Quarterly 25 Anniversary book that was published a year ago, he then
read from his new book Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus. He spoke about what started his interest in the stories, sex work and Mary Magdalene, Chester’s process of creating this book, STDs, the criminalization of sex work
& the catholic church and Chester’s research into the alternative interpretations for these biblical stories.
The Doug Wright Awards 2016 (May 14) – 22 Photos
Full 12th Annual Doug Wright Awards (1:07:45, 62mb)
The Awards were presented by Dustin Harbin, Seth, Jeet Heer, Joe Ollmann, Chester Brown, Heidi MacDonald, Chris Kuzma, Maurice Vellekoop, Nathalie Atkinson and Betty Liang.
The nominees for the 2016 Doug Wright Award for Best Book are:
Dressing by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press) – Winner
Melody by Sylvie Rancourt (Drawn & Quarterly)
Palookaville #22 by Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
Step Aside, Pops! by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
Stroppy by Marc Bell (Drawn & Quarterly)
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)
The nominees for the 2016 Doug Wright Spotlight Award (“The Nipper”) which recognizes Canadian cartoonists deserving of wider recognition are:
Ted Gudlat for Funny Ha-Has (Roads Publishing)
Dakota McFadzean for Don’t Get Eaten By Anything (Conundrum Press) – Winner
Rebecca Roher for Mom Body (The Nib)
Sabrina Scott for Witchbody (Self-Published)
Kat Verhoeven for Towerkind (Conundrum Press)
The nominees for the 2016 Pigskin Peters Award, which recognizes unconventional, experimental, or avant-garde Canadian comics are:
Leather Vest by Michael Comeau
New Comics #6-7 by Patrick Kyle – Winner
Intelligent Sentient? by Luke Ramsey (Drawn & Quarterly)
We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians by Tin Can Forest and Geoff Berner
Agalma by Stanley Wany (Éditions Trip)
James Simpkins was inducted into the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame, aka “Giants of the North” by Seth. The award was accepted by his grandson.
There was a remembrance of Alvin Buenaventura and Darwyn Cooke who both passed away recently.
The Beat’s coverage of TCAF is made possible this year by the generous support of Z2 Comics.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.