Book Madam raves about D+Q artists!!

Sequential Art n' Stuff - TCAF

Book Madam    |    Book Madam    |    May 10, 2011

Do comic snobs still exist? Not the people who are snobby about comics, I know those exist (and are easily dealt with via wedgie, swirly, or punching their pocket protectors until their pens break), but the luddites who refuse to see comics as a valid literary art form?

If so, they would not have had a good time at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this weekend. I, however, managed to break the bank and walk away with signed books from Chris Ware, Philippe Girard, and Darwyn Cooke. Possibly three of the most talented comics-artists today, right along with Seth, Faith Erin Hicks, Adrian Tomine, Chester Brown, Kate Beaton, Jillian Tamaki, and Jeff Lemire. They were all there too. I'm not going to link those; I don't want to spend all day linking to incredible creators and writers who were at TCAF as that would take all damn day.

I will link to Mike Holmes. I am shameless.

What's somewhat astounding to me is how many of these amazing artists are Canadian. There seems to be a large number of Canadians in the top-tiers of comics today. No one who pays attention to indie comics today would disagree that the artists I've listed are among the top-tier of comics creators today, and all but Adrian Tomine and Chris Ware are Canadian.

A lot of that can be attributed to the ineffable Drawn and Quarterly, who really set the bar for literary comics. Based in Montreal, Quebec, they have published everyone from Daniel Clowes to Julie Doucet to Lynda Barry to Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

But the Canadian goodness doesn't stop there; Conundrum Press is an incredible Nova Scotia-based publisher with an impressive list of talent. The aforementioned Philippe Girard (If you're into Guy DeLisle or more aptly, the Michel Rabagliati Paul series, Girard is for you.), Marc Bell, David Lapp, and even Jillian Tamaki. I could go on. Owner Andy Brown has a sharp eye for the weird and wonderful.

TCAF was great, the constantly-packed house was a testament to the vibrant Canadian comics community, which, much like short stories, is an art we seem to have an abundance of excellence in, yet is unfortunately somewhat overlooked by the average reader. And because of that, I offer you a list of five Canadian artists and books which you should a) read and b) give to someone to show them that comics are awesome.

1) Skim - Jilliand and Mariko Tamaki - Coming of age story, natch. Set in a private school, this (emphatic string of words)ly illustrated tale brings to life the crushing, soul-sucking world that is teenagehood. My partner read the whole thing, which is saying something as she HATES comic books.

2) Burma Chronicles - Guy Delisle - A travelogue of a regular guy who moves to Burma with his wife, a UN worker. It's the classic slice-of-life comic, set in Burma.

3)Killing Velazquez - Philippe Girard - There's a priest and a 'boy's club' and it's autobiographical. An amazing book; Girard's raw style of illustration works disconcertingly well at portraying the torment of the story.

4) Parker: The Hunter - Darwyn Cooke - The first of four, Darwyn Cooke adapts and illustrates noir author Donald Westlakes' famous Parker series.

5) Hark! A Vagrant - Kate Beaton - Gut-bustingly funny webcomics which are being turned into a book by Drawn and Quarterly. This is a book I will buy. I highly suggest not following this link until you have some serious spare time, as you will probably break the back button on your browser from clicking so much.


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