Women of Comics II (WOC II) is a two-day event, taking place on Saturday, June 9th and Sunday June 10th as part of the 2007 Paradise Toronto Comicon. Sponsored by All New Comics Inc., WOC II is designed to showcase female talent and creativity in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, the symposium will feature signings, portfolio reviews, panel discussions, and direct interaction with the artists themselves.

This year will feature a spotlight on local Toronto imprint Kiss Machine Presents, dedicated to publishing “graphic novellas” by top Canadian talent. Founded in 2005 by editor Emily Pohl-Weary, Kiss Machine Presents was launched with “Violet Miranda: Girl Pirate” by Pohl-Weary and Willow Dawson, and also features “Skim” (winner of a special Doug Wright award and soon to be a graphic novel by Groundwood/House of Anansi press) by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, and “Mendacity” by Tamara Faith Berger and Sophie Cossette.

An offshoot of Kiss Machine, a Toronto-based zine that focuses on art, literary culture, and political views, the purpose for Kiss Machine Presents was different, but no less important to publisher, Emily Pohl-Weary. “In comics it’s hard to find good female characters, and they all look like Barbie,” she laughs. “I wanted to create a fun, sexy, woman-run comics line that was a meeting place for innovative, unusual talents”.

Next up, at the end of June 2007, is Summer Ink: An Illustrated Book of Letters, by Golda Fried (Governor General’s Award Finalist for Nellcott is my Darling) and Vesna Mostovac (animator and Foolish Girl creator). Summer Ink represents two months’ worth of correspondence between the long-time friends. On the pages, sticky with tears, cigarette ash, beer, coffee, ketchup and bacon grease, they document their trials and tribulations in the world of love and heartbreak, paying close attention to the songs spinning in the background. Each letter comes alive with graphics Vesna has drawn and collaged, based on images present in the writers’ minds as they wrote the letter.

Learn more about this dynamic line at the Women of Comics Kiss Machine Presents panel, taking place on Saturday, June 9th at 4:30 PM featuring guests Emily Pohl-Weary, Willow Dawson, Vesna Mostovac and Mariko Tamaki.

The 5th Annual Paradise Toronto Comicon runs from June 8-10th in Hall C at the Direct Energy Centre on the CNE Grounds.