(This story is sponsored by the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.)
From live drawing to panel discussions with illustrators, video game creators, and comic authors, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) has it all. This year, TCAF has pivoted to an entirely virtual format in order to safely deliver its exciting programming to comic arts enthusiasts during the pandemic.
Running from May 8 to 15, the festival will include an online marketplace where creators will sell their work, interactive games, Q&A sessions with headliners and more. Similar to previous years, TCAF is free and easily accessible for comic fans and art lovers across Canada.
TCAF will feature appearances by Cole Pauls (Pizza Punks), Nalo Hopkinson (The Sandman Universe), Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL), Molly Ostertag (The Witch Boy), Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets), and Nagata Kabi (My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness).
Online attendees can also check out the games for display during the Comics X Games Jam and show support for local zine makers and publishers through Canzine.
If you’re an avid comic reader or have a passion for writing and illustration, be sure to mark these six TCAF events in your calendar. For the optimal festival experience, post up on your patio with your laptop and a cold bevvy in-hand.
Cole Pauls Spotlight
At 7 pm EST on Saturday, May 8, join Vancouver-based Tahltan comic artist, illustrator and printmaker Cole Pauls as he discusses his latest graphic novel Pizza Punks. The comic book is a punk-rock celebration of everyone’s favourite food. Those tuning into the event will find out that when comics and punk music come together, catchy pizza-inspired anthems are inevitable.
Gal Av-Gay from the Vancouver-based band Dumb, and Jarret Samson, singer and guitarist for Tough Age, will also be joining Pauls. In addition to discussing his ever-so delicious comic strip, Pauls will be revealing a secret project that he created in collaboration with the two musicians.
Interview with Nagata Kabi
Nagata Kabi is a renowned Japanese manga artist, best known for My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. On Wednesday, May 12 at 7 pm EST, manga lovers can attend an in-depth interview between Kabi, visual storyteller Deb Aoki, and Jocelyne Allen, the interpreter and translator of all of Kabi’s work.
They’ll discuss both volumes of My Solo Exchange Diary and her latest book, My Alcoholic Escape from Reality, which will be released in May. Kabi is currently serializing Wandering Warrior: Nagata Kabi – Go Gourmet! in the online magazine webAction.
TCAF + Loop Sessions: Seeing Sounds
On Saturday, May 8 at 6 pm EST, talented illustrators Freddy Carrasco, Hana Shafi aka Frizz Kid, and Gyimah Gariba, will be performing a live drawing session to music. The three musicians, Cheema Waves, Reazhun, and Sikh Knowledge, join TCAF this year in collaboration with Loop Sessions Toronto and will provide the perfect soundtrack for the drawing event.
Comics Night in Canada
The ultimate comic competition, which runs for four weeks every Thursday at 7 pm EST in May starting May 6, will feature two artists (each representing a different Canadian city) at every event. Each week, the artists will battle through the art of drawing until the grand finale on May 27.
Viewers can vote for their favourite artist to help get that city crowned the “2021 Comics Champion.” The events will be live streamed on YouTube. Dates and times can be found on the TCAF website.
This is a #CanCAF event. CanCAF is a partnership between TCAF, VanCAF, MCAF (Montreal Comic Arts Festival, or FBDM), and Quebec BD.
Memoir Comics Workshop with Robin Ha
If you’re eager to create your own comics, cartoonist Robin Ha can help you develop a story, make a layout, and start illustrating the pages. Ha is a Korean American cartoonist and is the author and illustrator of Almost American Girl and the bestselling graphic cookbook Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes.
In this workshop, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm EST on May 14, virtual attendees will gain a basic overview of comic-making. Ha will also touch on the drawing materials and elements that you can use to make unique comics.
For this hands-on event, you’ll need a pencil, eraser, pen, ruler, 10 loose sheets of blank paper, and a notebook. All ages and experience levels are welcome.
This event is part of Libraries and Educator Day (all day on Friday, May 14) which is for library workers and educators. Registration is required.
LGBT+ Micro and Macro Perspectives
On Wednesday, May 12 at 3 pm EST, panelists Lee Lai (Stone Fruit), Syan Rose (Our Work is Everywhere), and Sami Alwani (The Pleasure of the Text) will discuss how comics can explore personal desires. They’ll also share how the collective desires of a community can be met through social activism and how the personal often becomes political in the queer community.
Lai will explore the tensions that keep us apart and the commonalities that bring us together. Rose showcases voices from all corners of the queer community and looks at issues like sex worker activism and Black femme mental health. While Alwani fuses comedy and tragedy together to create comics that question the ideologies underpinning our society.