Tag Archives: Michael DeForge

Advice for aspiring comic artists from small press publishers (TCAF 2013 panel)


The small press panel at TCAF 2013 was interesting.

Lots of perspectives from the people at Secret Acres, Domino Books, Koyama Press, Grimalken Press, and Rebus Books. (At least that was who were on the bill. I arrived late and missed the intros.)

It was moderated by Adam Hines and Andrew Murray who manage the Guys With Pencils Tumblr.  (I’d not heard of them before, but apparently they live here in Toronto.) They were recording the panel, so presumably it is posted someplace, but I can’t find it. You can click here for the podcast billed as their TCAF review, but the first 15 minutes were boring and I lost interest so I haven’t listened long enough to know if they include any audio clips from the panel.

The panel, however, was engaging. Adam and Andrew kept it moving along. Annie Koyama had some particularly insightful advice. You should check out the Koyama Press site if you are unfamiliar with them. They publish Michael Deforge, Jesse Jacobs and loads more great indie talent. (The above image is by Deforge of the Koyama mascot Kickass Annie.)

The main takeaways:

  • It’s never been easier to get your work out there and start building a fan base. (The Internet has changed the game.)
  • Indie publishers have limited time and so their catalogue is very small. Plus it’s planned many seasons out so don’t get discouraged by rejection letters. If they answer you back, consider it a compliment that they took the time to answer you.
  • Blind submissions don’t often work, which goes back to the first bullet.
  • Some publishers have the means to get your book into the hands of sellers even if they don’t publish it. So if you can make your own comic (see #1), they might be interested in working out a distribution contract.
  • Plus you don’t even really need a publisher these days. Sure it’s a much bigger hill to climb, but I’m finding lots of interesting comics in unexpected places. (In fact, I recently found and bought a few comics on Etsy, which goes toward this point.)

(Time lapse of TCAF 2013 by Clive Sewell)


Leave a comment

Filed under Comics - General, Events

If I were in Oslo today, I’d go to this…


(…with apologies to The Comics Reporter)

I’m just getting over my TCAF hangover, but the itch is starting again. And if I were in Norway, I would be making my way to the Oslo Comics Expo. The lineup is insane:

  • Michael Deforge (who also created the poster)
  • Paul Pope
  • Jeff Lemire
  • Luke Pearson
  • Brandon Graham
  • Gabrielle Bell
  • Scott McCloud (Scott McCloud!)

…and some Norwegian and Danish artists with whom I am unfamiliar but will now check out. Check out the roster.

1 Comment

Filed under Events

Three book debuts worth a look at TCAF 2013


One of my favourite aspects of Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and all other small press and indie comic expos for that matter, are the book debuts by super talented creators.

Here are the books I plan on seeking out when I drop by the event this weekend.

VERY CASUAL by Michael Deforge
koyama_Very_Casual_Border-michael-deforge(Koyama Press)

I’ve been following Deforge for only a year now. His work is truly original and interesting (and can also be dirty and disturbing. Check out his Ant Comic strip.)

Culled from mini comics, online comics and anthology contributions, Very Casual collects notable short stories from DeForge’s prolific oeuvre. Included are stories about litter gangs, meat-filled snowmen, righteous cops, beagle/human hybrids, and forest-bound drag queens. Very Casual also collects Spotting Deer, which won the Pigskin Peters Award for best non-traditional, non-narrative or avant-garde work at the 2011 Doug Wright Awards.

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt
(First Second)

While technically this arrived in stores on Wednesday, I held off picking up a copy so I could buy one directly from Kindt at his table this weekend.

First-Second_Red Handed The Fine Art of Strange Crimes-Matt_KindtWelcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world’s greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can’t solve—every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould’s brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology. But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples’ most anguished personal moments? Or will Detective Gould finally meet his match?

Operating with wit and perception in the genre of hard-boiled crime fiction, Red Handed owes as much to Paul Auster as Dashiell Hammett, and raises some genuinely sticky questions about human nature.

Nobrow-DESTINATION_X-john_martzDestination X by John Martz
(Nobrow Press)

Sam is the grandson of a world-renowned space adventurer. Marvelled by his ailing grandfather’s stories of interstellar travel and alien romance, he models his life after these tales – even though they may be untrue. So focussed is Sam on fulfilling what he thinks is his natural destiny in life that he becomes blind to his own reality.

More TCAF stories:
My top panel picks for TCAF 2013
Hernandez brothers vs Matt Bors – TCAF 2013
5 tips for Toronto Comics Arts Festival newbies
‘Comics are trash’ and other lessons from TCAF 2012


Filed under Aritsts and writers, Events, Toronto comic info

The ‘All-Star, All-Canadian (plus one American) Super-Villain Art Auction’ (Countdown to TCAF 2013)

DWA 2013 Art Auction: "Super-Villain Vocational Reunion Class of 1964" by Seth

So the Doug Wright Awards had a super-cool art auction fundraiser and I nearly missed the entire thing.

This is why I keep telling my wife that I should spend more time with comics: reading them, writing about them and reading about them. Otherwise I miss things like the opportunity to own original art by my favourite Canadian artists like Seth, Michael Deforge, John MartzMichael Cho, Pascal Girard, Chester Brown and so many more. And it’s for a great cause.

DWA 2013 Art Auction: "Doctor Octopus" by John Martz

Dr Octopus by John Martz

DWA 2013 Art Auction: "Page 13 of 'The Crimes Of Two Face'" by Chester Brown

The Crimes of Two-Face by Chester Brown

DWA 2013 Art Auction: "Medusa" (3 of 4) by Michael Cho
Medusa by Michael Cho

DWA 2013 Art Auction: "Venom" by Michael Deforge
Venom by Michael Deforge

Check out the entire collection at Brad MacKay’s Flickr stream. And depending on when you read this, whatever is left for sale is available at this eBay link.

The 2013 Doug Wright Awards will be held on Saturday, May 11. While not an official part of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival programming, it honours and celebrates many of the artists whose work is featured at TCAF.


Filed under comic art

“Comics are trash” and other lessons from TCAF 2012

This year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival offered some interesting moments.

Chief among them was a comment from Michael Comeau, the winner of this year’s Pigskin Peters Award for experimental or avant-garde comic. Following some very flattering words about his winning book Hellberta from presenter Jeet Heer, Comeau ended his acceptance speech more or less with: “Comics are trash. And when you’re into trash, you have a lot of friends.”

The words landed with a dull thud and a bit of the air left the auditorium packed with graphic novel types, a small handful of comic journalists, presumably some fans, and professional editorial cartoonists who had shown up to hear the respected and well-known Terry Mosher speak on the night of his hall of fame induction. I cringed a little thinking about the evening’s organizers Brad Mckay and Seth imagining how much effort they put into the affair and its attempts to elevate the work of comic artists beyond the 50 cent bins Comeau referenced in his speech.

There are any number of reasons why Comeau may have said that. (Perhaps he was being a bit of a punk in front of his friends? He has a difficult time taking praise and this is how he defuses it? It’s some sort of inside joke? Who knows?) Whatever the reason, his words handily illustrate the tension within the comic book community — a continuing struggle for recognition of artists who are producing honest, personal and transformational work, while super-soldiers and demi-gods dominate the box office and Wal-Mart aisles. There aren’t many cosplay fans dressing up as Wimbledon Green, that’s for certain.

Lesson #1: Art comic award shows are funky

The Doug Wright Awards were worth attending for the awards show program alone. This year, it was a cute little chapbook styled booklet running two dozen pages or so, reprinting a funny online strip by cartoonist Dustin Harbin about his first trip to the DW awards in 2011. First published on The Comics Journal website.

Also this year, 2011 winner Michael DeForge designed a beautiful limited edition poster. The physical awards handed out include a bowler’s hat sized to the winner’s head. And the organizers produce a rather slick video showcase of the best book category nominees. How often does a comic book get that level of treatment?

Lesson #2: Research!

I need to start taking my own advice. I didn’t realize Matt Kindt and Luke Pearson were attending. I would have loved take a few minutes to chat with those guys. Pearson’s work I discovered at last year’s TCAF where I picked up his debut book Hildafolk and a Solipsistic Pop anthology in which he contributed. I’ve since added Everything We Miss and the all-ages Hilda and the Midnight Giant to my collection. Kindt is a more recent find from his run on Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), and I’m looking forward to his upcoming MIND MGMT (Dark Horse) based on the preview pages floating around on the Internet.

Lesson #3: Budget more time

This one is difficult for me due to family commitments. But only having 2 hours at the show, one of which I spent listening to Aislin’s funny editorial cartoonist talk, meant missing some favourite artists. And who can blame them? They can’t sit at table all day. But I missed Jason (one of my all-time faves), the previously mentioned Luke Pearson and Gabriella Giandelli, to name a few. I did, however, get to talk to Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba who were super nice, seemed genuinely excited in Toronto and signed the gorgeous poster they designed for the show.

Lesson #4: Pay more attention to small press

Each year, the show helps me broaden my horizon and my taste becomes a little more indie. I’ve bookmarked Koyama Press and AdHouse Books on my web browser. And I’m now reading Lose by Michael DeForge (Koyama) and Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse).


The list of books I bought at TCAF this year

Terry Mosher and the Doug Wright Awards

Five tips for making the most of TCAF

Leave a comment

Filed under Aritsts and writers, Comic News, Events, Toronto comic info