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Looking at Camosun College’s Comic Arts Festival 2016 Edition!


Camosun College’s 4th Annual Comic Arts Festival is certainly growing and the program teaching the next generation of visual artists are here to show to residents of Victoria, BC they are ready to tackle the world. This show took place over the April 16th weekend, on the third floor of the Young Building at Lansdowne Campus.

Plenty of talent can be found in this exhibit of past graduate, current graduate and artists in the field of creating sequential art. Local talents like Nelson Dewey, Janine Johnston, and Glen Mullaly (to name a few) were also on hand to present their works, and sell their wares alongside their students. Gareth Gaudin’s Perogy Cat also made an appearance!

Also attending was Tsukino-Con to show that their event is not just about anime, but in celebrating the visual arts medium. Superheroes of Victoria was also present in costume (you have to be careful walking around Deadpool, otherwise the hilt may hit you) for the drop-in drawing-room. A few panels also highlighted the afternoon which looked at constructing web-comics (hosted by Alex Steacy), Splash! a watercolour painting demonstration by Karen Gillmore (Spam and the Sasquatch, Mermaid Music) in one of the most difficult of mediums to master, and a discussion of the ever-changing role of women in comics. A careful selection of comic convention level conversations can be found at this small show and they alone make this event worth attending every year. The best part is that for now, this festival is free to the public.

Program creator and instructor Ken Steacy has worked in the comics industry for 40 years as an author, illustrator, art director, editor, and publisher. He was inducted into the Joe Shuster Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 with a lifetime achievement award honouring Canadian comic book creators for their contributions to the industry.

On the next day, Bolen Books hosted a special keynote address to both the public and students who are dedicated to being published. Whether by the big four, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse or Image, or independent, the challenges can be intimidating. From talking about intellectual property rights, dealing with editors and self-publishing, creators Faith Erin Hicks, Tony Cliff, Renee Nault and Sam Logan reveal what they faced, and offer advice. Not many people realize the behind the scenes process involved in getting any comic to print, digital or not. They also talked about their choice of how to get their art created. Should they go completely digital or is pen and paper the only way? The pros and cons are weighed. This keynote was very insightful and for this comic book enthusiast, my hope is more lively discussions will be offered in future shows.

This event has the potential to grow. With it heading to a milestone year, its fifth year in 2017 and being a unique program in the post-secondary school system, I’d like to see it get the attention of former Vancouver Islanders (Todd McFarlane used to live here). Who knows, to have a big name talent suddenly drop in to give a talk at Camosun’s Fisher Building main lecture room would certainly draw attention beyond the island and put this city on the map as the place to live for creative folks. They don’t all have to live in the municipality of Fernwood.

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