Vancouver’s First Comic Arts Festival Bolsters City’s Indie-comics Cred

More than 90 cartoonists are assembling for the very first time in Vancouver to celebrate small press, web and indie comics

Comic artist Tony Cliff’s prints of dinosaurs riding other dinosaurs will be available for purchase at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

Indie comics, web comics and small press represent at Vancouver’s first Comic Arts Festival

The Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (VanCAF) is putting the city’s indie-comics cred on display May 26-27 at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. More than 90 cartoonists and assorted funny-book makers are assembling for the very first time to celebrate small press, web and indie comics.

There’s also a solid contingent of Portland cartoonists making the trip to Vancouver, along with notable web-comic creators from across the continent, like Joey Comeau and Emily Horne (A Softer World) from Toronto, Christopher Hastings (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja) from New York and David Malki ! (Wondermark) from Los Angeles.

Inspired by Canadian comics events like Calgary Expo and the highly respected Toronto Comic Arts Festival, organizer Shannon Campbell is hoping to bring a similar sense of passionate comics-love to town.

VanCAF is a non-profit event – and completely FREE to attend – but you’ll probably still want to bring lots of money to shower all the creative talent with.

Vancouver Comics Talent in Attendance

Campbell noted in a phone interview that while Vancouver’s comics scene is strong and starting to develop a unique voice, it’s still new and figuring out exactly what it is. But that’s not a bad thing. VanCAF’s guest list contains a wildly eclectic lineup of local cartoonists and creators.

Here are a few of the standouts in attendance:

  • Ryan Pequin is a web-comic master of the absurd. His comic Three Word Phrase has recently featured talking dog ministers, ALF-shaped cloud formations and the raddest take on The Metamorphosis ever.  
  • While the idea of battle-scarred warrior women riding giant fluffy kittens is amazing, it’s Rebecca Dart’s clean, dynamic art that gives Battle Kittens a savage – but super-fun – life of its own.
  • Murder Book is kind of like a Twilight Zone of horrible deaths. The twists in these short Vancouver-set crime tales written by Ed Brisson aren’t supernatural, but they still pack a mean punch – literally and figuratively.
  • Angela Melick creates the popular autobiographical comic Wasted Talent, which follows the misadventures of her career as an engineer.
  • Tony Cliff has picked up prestigious comic industry award nominations for his action-adventure comic Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, and it’s easy to see why. Cliff’s storytelling is smoother than a flying yacht. (Also, he’ll be selling sweet prints of dinosaurs riding other dinosaurs at the show.)

Other Vancouver Comic Arts Festival Events to Check Out

There will also be an array of events happening in around the Roundhouse throughout the weekend.

On Saturday, comics historian Ken Boesem will talk about a little-known period of Canadian comics history when the likes of Superman and Batman were banned from crossing the borders, and a league of all-Canadian heroes was born.

On Sunday, there’ll be a sketch comedy panel featuring four of the funniest guys at the festival; David Malki !, Kevin Wilson, Steven Shanahan and Ed Appleby.

And the party doesn’t stop at the Roundhouse. On Saturday night, many of the show’s guests will be hitting up different watering holes and cafes around town for The Great Yaletown Cartoonist Hunt. Attendees are encouraged to follow VanCAF on twitter (@VancouverComics) to participate in a (potentially drunken) scavenger hunt, while partying with other guests and attendees in the community.