You Nearly Missed: Art and comics galore at VanCAF 2023

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      Above my desk is a gallery wall of beautiful, bountiful nature art. A girl relaxing with plants; a dozen postcards illustrating the Rockies; a greenhouse bursting with life and ruins crumble into moss. All of these prints were acquired at the Vancouver Comics Arts Festival (VanCAF), which returns to the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre this weekend for its 11th year.

      From 10am to 5pm on May 20 and 21, the Roundhouse’s exhibition hall and gym will be filled with hundreds of local, national and international exhibitors selling comic books, art prints, zines, stickers, pins and more. For the first time since 2019, the festival has a full slate of in-person exhibitors and panels.

      "VanCAF is always such a thrill as we get to share with our communities the breadth and depth of comics to a wider audience," festival director Jarrett Evan Samson said in a press release. “I'm so excited to welcome back so many amazing creators from around the world and those close to home like artist Valen Onstine, the creator of our 2023 Land Acknowledgment comic, and the incredible Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.” 

      Yahgulanaas will be launching his new Haida manga JAJ at a VanCAF event on Friday evening, All That JAJ. It’ll feature a conversation between Yahgulanaas and UBC anthropology professor Dr. Nicola Levell, as well as a book signing.

      Panels and talks will also be running throughout the weekend, including discussions of Batman, animation workers’ rights, and parenthood; readings from graphics novels; spotlights on local comics artists; and a “psychedelic fantasy musical experiment”, Houndsville.

      The website asks attendees to wear masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and notes all staff, volunteers and vendors will be masked. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available, and external doors will be kept open to increase ventilation.

      VanCAF executive director Fernanda Viveiros said in a statement that comic art creators and fans were excited to return to the in-person festival. “It’s inspiring to go from room to room and see the level of talent showcased,” she said.

      All That JAJ takes place on May 19 at the Roundhouse at 7pm. Free tickets are available here. VanCAF takes place on May 20 and 21 at the Roundhouse, from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free.