Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Camosun Comic Arts Festival returns for fifth year

April 10, 2017 by Adam Marsh, student editor

Students of Camosun’s Comics and Graphic Novels program are getting ready to showcase their work at the fifth annual Camosun Comic Arts Festival. Program co-creator and instructor Ken Steacy (Camosun instructor Joan Steacy, Ken’s wife, is the other co-creator) says the projects on display at the event—running from noon to 5 pm on Saturday, April 15, on the third floor of the Young Building—will be a full-colour, 28-page comic that the students have created from scratch, and there will be copies for sale.

Steacy himself started in the comic and graphic novel industry in 1974. Since then, he says, the industry has changed dramatically, moving away from its original form of print media to a more convention-, technology-, and people-focused art form and profession. He says this ties in to what the students will be doing at the festival.

A sampling of some of the students’ work from this year (photo provided).

“It gives students an opportunity to experience conventions and tabelling, which is going to be a very important part of their careers going forward,” he says. “We stress entrepreneurship because the industry has changed over the years, and it’s very important that students understand how to connect with their audience. A lot of that happens online, but a lot of it also happens at conventions, where you’re at your table, you’re selling your comic, and all the swag that you create, prints, posters.”

Steacy says he has been required by the changing times of the industry to also change the way that he teaches.

“I’ve been in this for a long time, and I’ve seen dramatic changes, the transition from comics being a disposable pop-culture medium to something collectible, that was fed by the comic shops like Legends and Curious and Yellowjacket,” he says.

But as public interest in comics grew, so did the desire for films based off of comics, or, as Steacy says, “the explosion of genre material in film.” Although the various films made billions, Steacy says that didn’t trickle down to the comics industry.

“People are not going to see X-Men or Batman and saying, ‘Wow, that used to be a comic book; I’m going to go to a comic shop,’” says Steacy. “I think they’re doing a really poor job of that. Comics are still selling in hundreds of thousands of copies, but when you think of the millions of people that go see the movies, it’s still only a few hundred thousand.”

The Camosun Comic Arts Festival this year will also feature a number of professionals in the industry, including two “guests of honour”: Johnnie Christmas, who is the artist for Angel Catbird, Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood’s graphic-novel trilogy, and publisher Hope Nicholson, who is the consulting editor for the trilogy. Local artist Renee Nault will also be at the event. Find out more here.

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