Tag Archives: comics

3rd Annual Prairie Comics Festival


Are you a fan of local and Canadian writers, artists and creators? Are you a fan or writer of comics, graphic novels, zines and webcomics or are interested in finding out more about them? Well, do we have a treat for you! From Saturday, May 5th 10:30-5:00 pm to Sunday May 6th 1:00-5:00 pm at the Millennium Library in the Carol Shields Auditorium, we are co-hosting the 3rd annual Prairie Comics Festival. Over 25 Comics writers, artists and publishers will be exhibiting their works for purchase in the auditorium, meeting with fans and writers and participating in panels throughout the day.

This year we are also excited to have three special guests at the festival: Mariko Tamaki is a comics creator who co-created This One Summer with Jillian Tamaki, a graphic novel which received Caldecott and Printz Honors as well as the Eisner and Ignatz Awards. ALB is an illustrator and digital content creator, whose videos you may have seen on YouTube and CBC. Valentine de Landro is a Canadian comic book artist, illustrator and designer who has illustrated for Marvel, DC Comics, IDW, Valiant, and Dark Horse and is the co-creator of BITCH PLANET.

You can find a full list of all the exhibitors and publishing houses who will be attending the festival at the official website prairiecomics.com.

As I mentioned the festival will also be offering some amazing panels which all are welcome to attend, the following is the panel schedule for the two days.


Saturday May 5:

11 am-12 pm      

Working for U.S. Publishers

Comic creators discuss the experience of working as editors, colour artists, writers, and artists for the largest comic book companies in the world. How they broke in, what the benefits and limitations are of working for large publishers, and how their experience has changed over time.

Panellists include:

Mariko Tamaki (She-Hulk, writer, Marvel)

Chris Chuckry (The Flintstones, colour artist, DC)

Valentine de Landro (Bitch Planet, artist, Image)

Hope Nicholson (The Secret Loves of Geeks, editor, Dark Horse)

1:00-2:00 pm    

Social Media and Comics

Comic creators and journalists discuss the role of social media. Is it necessary? How far do you let your personal self shine through? How do you use different platforms, and why is it important to diversify your posts on each? What are the current hot topics when it comes to comics on social media?

Panellists include:

Nyala Ali (Comics journalist)

Autumn Crossman (Comic creator)

ALB (Comic creator/Youtube creator)

Ryan Harby (Webcomic creator)

3:00-4:00 pm                   

Breaking out of the Panel

Comic creators discuss the different formats comics can take, and innovative ways to showcase the medium. Whether this is in massive side-scrolling comics, mini self-made zines, or comics made in the shape of bubblegum wrappers, we will showcase ideas and brainstorm new ways to look at the medium of comics.

Panellists include:

Scott A. Ford

Robert Pasternak

Hely Schumann

Alice RL


Sunday May 6:

1:30-2:30 pm    

Young Adult Comics Panel

Come join a roundtable of librarians discussing what are the best young adult graphic novels to read! A focus on inclusive programming, this will also showcase graphic novels that are available to be checked out immediately from the library after the panel.

Panellists include:

WPL Librarians                

3:00-4:00 pm    

Prairie Comic Festival Guest Spotlight

Mariko Tamaki, Valentine de Landro, and ALB are our special guests this year for the Prairie Comics Festival. Come join the panel and hear about their current and past projects, and engage in an open Q&A where you can ask them questions about their work.

This festival and its panels are free to attend, so please come on down; we look forward to seeing you!

If you are unable to make it to the festival, the Blankstein Gallery at the Millennium Library will feature artwork by the local publishers and invited guests throughout the month of May.



Celebrate comics with us

If you’re a comics/manga/graphica fan, you’ve probably heard of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, or TCAF. This annual two-day exhibition and vendor fair features hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other TCAF events include readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, and much more.

PCFposterOne of the things that makes TCAF unique is that since 2009 it’s been co-sponsored by Toronto Public Library and held at the Toronto Reference Library. While TCAF is now one of the largest and best-known international comic festivals, it started as a much smaller event.

This is what we’re hoping to emulate here in Winnipeg with the first ever Prairie Comics Festival, a free one-day festival celebrating the best in comics creation on the prairies! Join us at the Millennium Library on Saturday, July 30 from 10:30 am – 5 pm.

The brain child of local comics publisher Hope Nicholson, the PCF is your opportunity to meet local comics creators, purchase their books and artwork (many of which will be premiered at this event), and learn from them in a full day of panel presentations. More than just a space to promote the creation of comics and discover new stories, it will also be a community experience where we can share our love of the comics medium.

For a complete list of exhibitors and panels, check out the Festival website.

The PCF is also curating a gallery exhibit of sensational artwork from comic book artists with ties to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Both honouring the legacy and promoting the present and future of comic book storytelling on the prairies, it includes Winnipeg-based comic book creators from the past such as Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), John Simpkins (Jasper), and John Stables (Brok Windsor); artwork from modern names in comics including Richard Comely (Captain Canuck), Todd McFarlane (Spawn), Tom Grummett (Superman); and a bevy of independent and webcomic artists such as Meags Fitzgerald, Nicholas Burns, and Elaine Will.

I’ll be there looking to discover new comic loves, and I hope you will be too!


What Marvel Studios does right

I’m not sure if I still have a good buzz going from last weekend’s C4 (that’s Central Canada Comic Con for you non-geeks), but I can’t be the only one who is excited that Thor: The Dark World opens tonight! The latest live-action movie from Marvel Studios sees Thor “fight to restore order across the cosmos… but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.” Also, puny god Loki is in the movie. Yay!

The past few years have certainly been good to Marvel Studios. As comic writer and all-around genius Gail Simone (@GailSimone) tweeted this morning, “Marvel has made almost zero missteps in their live action stuff, they’ve been nothing short of brilliant.” I have to agree – Marvel Studios has definitely accomplished something rarely seen; they’ve built a shared cinematic universe with a series of interconnected films beginning with 2008′s Iron Man and big screen team-ups like 2012’s The Avengers.

Spider-man 3When the comic book movie craze was starting out in the 1990’s, Marvel had licensed its characters out to various studios. Blind vigilante Daredevil fought crime in Hell’s Kitchen but was stationed at Fox; The Hulk was detained at Universal; and Spider-Man swung through New York City but always came back to Sony. After the success of the three Spider-Man movies, Marvel started to develop the characters that it still retained the rights to (second-stringers like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor), in house. This is when things really started to take off.

AvengersThere are a large number of good decisions behind Marvel Studios’ success. IMHO, their best decision was to bring the right directors and actors to the project. These people weren’t picked for their A-status, but because they turned out to be real fans who really understand the characters. Best decision number 2? Marvel Studios made sure that they had a plan. That’s how Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger were all able to connect into The Avengers, which then connects to Iron Man 3, and will continue to connect to Thor: The  Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as well as Guardians of the  Galaxy, Ant-Man, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series!

Speaking of television, their new Joss Whedon co-created drama, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., got a full-season order at ABC. Yesterday my fellow comic book nerds rejoiced with the landmark announcement that Marvel will develop at least four original series exclusively for Netflix, followed by a miniseries for the streaming service. The series will be focused on Marvel heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, in that order. Will they glut the television market? Only time will tell, but I don’t think so. We’ll continue seeing the flipping images of Marvel’s title sequence for a number of years now.

— Barbara

From Comics to Graphic Novels… and beyond

From an early age I can remember reading BDs (in French comics are referred to as Bande dessinées or simply as BDs) such as Astérix et Obélix, as well as Les Schtroumpfs. The stories were fun and lighthearted; furthermore, no matter what kind of adventure the heroes embarked upon, no matter what kind of peril they faced, there was always a happy ending.

In time, I replaced those classic BDs with DC and Marvel comics. The sharp witted Spider-Man was one of my favourites, not to mention the caped crusader otherwise known as Batman. Every now and again I would jump on my BMX and ride off to Comic Cave, which at the time was located across the street from Glenlawn Collegiate. There I would pick and choose which comics to buy and which to leave behind. The problem was that it was a comic store and there were far too many options to get my head around. Should I buy back-issues of Spider-Man, or should I buy the newest issue of Spawn? In time, and after a lot of second guessing, I’d make my choice and head off back to the suburbs to devour my latest purchase.

Years later, I came to the fateful decision to stop collecting comics. As a teenager it was getting more and more difficult to manage my meagre earnings from my flyer route. Despite my love of certain Marvel Comic classics like the X-Men, I couldn’t afford the outrageous price of 3.50$ for a comic. After all, my illustrious career as a flyer delivery boy couldn’t cover all of my mounting expenses.

It was only after I began working at the Saint Boniface library, that I discovered the ever-growing collection of graphic novels. To my delight, the titles seemed endless; DMZ (Brian Wood), V For Vendetta (Alan Moore), Scalped (Jason Aaron), 100 Bullets (Brian Azzarello), Hellboy (Mike Mignola), Heavy Liquid (Paul Pope), Hellblazer (Mike Carrey), Transmetropolitan (Warren Ellis). It was as if I had stumbled into a long forgotten crypt, only instead of finding gold or jewels, I found a treasure trove of comics.

What impressed me more than anything was how the stories had changed. These stories were nothing like what I had grown up reading. The days of super-heroes dressed in tights, fighting against super-villains (who were also dressed up in tights) were a fading memory. Instead, they were replaced with a collection of bold anti-heroes and diabolical protagonists who sought to destroy or (possibly) rebuild the world in their own image. Furthermore, the heroes’ happy endings were no longer guaranteed. Instead, it was replaced with hard-fought battles in which the hero found themselves against seemingly impossible odds. The battles against good and evil had higher stakes than previously. The hero’s morals, which had once been ironclad and unwavering, were now being questioned. The antagonist, who once wanted nothing more than to wipe out a major metropolis with their death ray, now is nothing more than a pawn, wielded by a sadistic puppet master who remains lurking, unseen in the background.

For me, it was the beginning of a very bold and exciting new world.

One great local example is the Imagination Manifesto series, a graphic novel trilogy written by GMB Chomichuk, James Rewucki and John Toone. It is a remarkable series that is both well written and beautifully illustrated, by Chomichuk himself. This is an important detail to note, because it is an anomaly within the comic book industry for the writer to also be the illustrator.

In these three volumes, the reader discovers stories that feature cowboys, heroic deeds, time travel, super powered heroines, and a hoard of weird monsters. It may sound like a strange formula for a graphic novel and it is. But it draws strength because it’s so unique. What happens when a soldier fights against the present while still being haunted by her past? When you no longer know the difference between reality and the nightmares that plague your sleep? Do you listen to the wisdom of your friends and find the will to fight? Or do you allow the horror to consume you? These are some of the questions which the author poses while slowly pulling you into a dark world filled with betrayal and chaos. But there’s no reason to be afraid, because there is hidden beauty in each of these stories. Here are some examples:

The Tomorrow Society

Our own world is a place fraught with peril. It is a place where billions of ordinary people go about their lives with the simple hope of being able to live peacefully and comfortably. In “The Tomorrow Society” we encounter a variety of individuals who are much more than ordinary. They possess great powers and strive to accomplish great deeds in spite of the odds that they face. Some might call them super-heroes. After all, some of them do wear tights. In spite of this, it becomes difficult for the reader to be able to tell the difference between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’.

In that moment of uncertainty, when even the reader cannot tell the difference between friend and foe – that’s when you know that the writer was smiling while he was writing this story.

There is a moment where one of the main protagonists finds herself betrayed by a comrade in arms. The wound she suffers is fatal. Our heroine is dying. This act of betrayal caught her completely by surprise. They had fought side by side countless times. Why? How could this happen? It is because the world she is fighting to protect is not our world. It exists in another time. This battle is happening in an alternate reality.

Therefore, it is not the same comrade; it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The Imagination Manifesto

A woman is summoned by an old acquaintance. A clue to an old mystery convinces her to return to her old life. She once served a queen. Forgotten battlefields are home to the scores of dead she slew. Those who are still alive remember well the terror she wielded. Her name is Endswell and she is more than a soldier she is a legend that soldiers still tell to one another, (albeit) in hushed tones.

“The Imagination Manifesto” is a wonderful tale of revenge and rebirth. Along her journey, we meet a diverse cast of characters (some of whom happen to be monsters) including but not limited to an ancient lich (undead wizard), a succubus, and even a troll. Our journey introduces to us a world of mystery where magic is within reach and legends are as real as the laws of gravity. Or is it? A brilliant blend of mythology and mystery, this story will peak your interest and leave you wanting more.

The popularity of graphic novels has been on the rise for years, and while comic book enthusiasts (also referred to as geeks) debate among themselves about whether this is good or bad, there is a real danger that exists. That danger is that an influx of poorly drawn comics which feature mediocre writing will come into print and taint this beloved genre. Quality does matter. Fortunately, there are some heavy weights that continue to produce excellent work. And while companies such as Marvel, DC and Vertigo possess an edge in the market, it is writers such as GMB Chomichuk that will introduce a dose of creativity that will re-energize this industry.

The Imagination Manifesto is available for your convenience at the Winnipeg Public Library.

Join the fight!

– D.P. Bohémier

Two kinds of detective stories

I really can’t accept that it’s September already, so instead of talking about new books for the fall, or good reads for chilly nights, I thought I’d tell you about a couple of books I really enjoyed this summer.

The GCPD in action.

On the recommendation of a friend, I picked up the DC comics series Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka.  The original run has been reprinted in a number of trade paperbacks, and WPL has all of them. This series is unique in that it follows not one main character, but an ensemble cast, over its 40 issue run.

Gotham Central focuses on the police department of Gotham City, which just happens to be Batman’s city. It tells the stories of the men and women who work in the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) of the department. What I like is that it doesn’t make the cops out to be one-dimensional stooges who need rescuing and assistance from the superhero in every issue, as in many superhero comics. Rather, the detectives try to solve cases, big and small, on their own and only turn the Bat-signal on as a last resort. The police actually resent the idea of Batman and often find him to be a distraction.

Batman and many familiar villains (Mr. Freeze, Joker, Two Face, etc) appear throughout the series, but often only in supporting roles. The true stars and heroes of this series are the police who follow up on mundane leads, sit on stakeouts, and navigate departmental politics.

I stuck with the detective theme and really enjoyed P.D. James’ Unnatural Causes.

This is the third book in which Inspector Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard appears. Dalgliesh has just completed a gruesome and emotionally draining case in London, and is looking forward to a peaceful holiday on the Suffolk coast at his aunt’s cottage. But it isn’t long until his holiday is interrupted by the news that a body has washed ashore in a small boat  — with both hands cut off. It turns out to be the body of a local mystery writer and soon we’re introduced to many of the eccentric residents of this usually sleepy village, most of whom are suspects. While Dalgliesh is not officially a part of the investigation, news spreads that Scotland Yard’s finest is in the vicinity and he is drawn in to help solve the case.

While some have criticized James for being too wordy, I personally love to get lost in her poetic prose. I’ll leave you with the following passage, when Dalgliesh first arrives at the coast:

At the crest of the track Dalgliesh stopped the car to watch and to listen. Autumn had never been his favourite season, but in the moment which followed the stopping of the engine he wouldn’t have changed this mellow peace for all the keener sensitivities of spring. The heather was beginning to fade now but the second flowering of the gorse was as thick and golden as in the first richness of May. Beyond it lay the sea, streaked with purple, azure and brown, and to the south the mist-hung marshes of the bird reserve added their gentler greens and blues. The air smelt of heather and wood-smoke, the inevitable and evocative smells of autumn.