Fan Expo Vancouver had a very wide-ranging comics guest list featuring creators associated with various genres and a panoply of publishers. But despite the importance we attach to the names behind the funnybooks, comics creation is still relatively anonymous work, even in these days of social networking. In covering the Expo for Comixverse, beyond the more famous artists and writers, I was never really sure if the persons in Artist’s Alley I was taking pictures of were who the placecards said they were or if they were staff or friends tending the table while the actual artists or writers were out getting some fresh air or taking food/bathroom breaks.
What follows is a visual guide featuring their images as taken by myself during Fan Expo Vancouver (my sincerest apologies to Camilla D’Errico, Nathan Fairbairn, Diana Greenhalgh, Leonard Kirk, Nick Thornborrow, and Marley Zarcone for their omission in this article—I could never catch them at their tables between running up and down the escalators to catch the different events and that was further complicated by the huge crowds slowly ambling their way through Artist’s Alley at any given moment).
Kaare Andrews is perhaps best known to comics readers for his series of highly eclectic Incredible Hulk covers. Other notable comics work includes Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Year One (for which the Canadian artist was awarded the inaugural Shuster Award for Most Outstanding Artist in 2005) and the acclaimed Spider-Man: Reign, which Andrews wrote and illustrated. He directed the video for Tegan and Sara’s 2002 single “Living Room” and helmed a feature film with 2010’s Altitude. His Fan Expo Vancouver sketch duel with Esad Ribic was one of the highlights of the weekend for me, featuring impromptu comedy (he and Ribic should take their show on the road), meaningful insights into the comics creation process, and of course, awesome art.
Long-time writer on Bongo’s Simpsons Comics and husband to Y: The Last Man artist Pia Guerra, Vancouver-based Ian Boothby is an Eisner Award winner (he received the 2009 plum for Best Short Story for “Murder He Wrote,” as it appeared in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #14) and is also an active stand-up, sketch, and improv comedian. He has also done work for the CBC (Switchback, Street Cents, Big Sound, Popular Mechanics for Kids, The Irrelevant Show), CTV (The Eleventh Hour), Mainframe Entertainment (Casper’s Haunted Christmas), and the Cartoon Network (Scary Godmother: The Revenge of Jimmy).
Described by GravyZine.com as “the friendliest pervert in Vancouver,” Robin Bougie writes and publishes Cinema Sewer, a ‘zine devoted to smutty films and adult comics. His long-running Cinema Sewer Daily Blog (NSFW) is an entertaining online read, and provides a unique historical perspective on the adult film and comics industry. His comics work includes illustrating and co-writing (with Jessica Vile) My Secret Cockupation: The Private Journals of a Prostitute and contributing to the sex comic anthology Sleazy Slice. He is married to comics artist Rebecca Dart.
Ed Brisson is a freelance comic book writer and letterer and is the creative force behind Murder Book. In 2011, he was nominated (along with artist/writer Simon Roy) for the Shuster Award for best Webcomic Creator for his work on Skimming the Till, Catching Up.
A graduate of Sheridan College’s classical animation program, Emily Carroll’s portfolio and comics site showcases some of the most beautiful and artfully executed webcomics I’ve seen—I recommend any aspiring comics artists reading this article check out her one-page story The Death of José Arcadio, it features a perfect example of the use of a storytelling technique that can only be done in the comics medium.
Witchblade and Astonishing Thor artist Mike Choi didn’t really start reading comics until he was already at the University of Texas in Austin studying for a business degree. He worked as an analyst at IBM for three years before deciding on a drastic career change in 2001 and joined Top Cow Productions as a 25-year old marketing intern. His rapid transition to a full-time illustration gig on Witchblade in 2003 despite a lack of industry experience stands as a testament to his innate talent and supreme drive. His Artist’s Alley table at Fan Expo Vancouver had one of the longest lines for signings and commissions.
Vancouver artist Jason Copland has worked for Top Shelf Productions (The Perhapanauts: Molly’s Story) and has collaborated with fellow Fan Expo Vancouver comics guest Ed Brisson on Murder Book and the beautifully-illustrated Kill All Monsters print and webcomic.
Tony Daniel got his mainstream comics start on Marvel’s X-Force in the mid-1990s but is probably known better among contemporary comic book readers as the regular artist during Geoff John’s landmark run on Teen Titans and for his six-issue run as the artist/writer on Batman in 2009 and 2010. He is the regular penciler on DC’s current Detective Comics series.
California-born artist Rebecca Dart moved to Canada during the early 1990s and has been working in comics and animation since 1997. She has done model and background design work for animated series such as Mission Hill, Ned’s Newt, and What About Mimi? Her notable comics output includes the surreal 2004 one-shot Rabbithead and last year’s Battlekittens. She is married to Cinema Sewer writer/publisher and My Secret Cockupation: The Private Journals of a Prostitute artist/co-writer Robin Bougie.
Winnipeg-born, Vancouver-based, Eisner-nominated Simpsons Comics and Adventures in the DC Universe penciler John Delaney also happens to be an Emmy Award-winning storyboard artist and director. His animation work includes freelance stints with Nelvana, Cinar, Studio B Productions, Nickelodeon, DIC, FunBag, Fred Wolfe Productions, and Bardel Entertainment and he is currently the director on Nicktoons’ Voltron Force. He likes to drink while stewing over his old comics work, but don’t worry, he’ll stop before the habit becomes a problem.
Calgary’s Ryan Ferrier is the writer and letterer of Penny Farthing Press’ Terminals and is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Giant Killer Squid comics collective blog. His Tiger Lawyer comic book seemed like a real popular pick among the younger teens at Fan Expo Vancouver, I saw a good number of them clutching copies of it in their hands while waiting to enter panel discussion rooms throughout the weekend.
King City writer-artist Brandon Graham got his start doing erotic comics in New York. He is currently writing Prophet for Image Comics and makes his home in Vancouver. I reviewed Image Comics’ King City TPB recently and it’s one of my favourite reads of 2012: it’s a great book, buy it!
Australia-born comics artist Caanan Grall has previously worked as a children’s book illustrator and storyboard artist. His webcomic, Max Overacts, was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2011. He also produced Celadore for DC Comics’ defunct Zuda webcomics imprint.
Vancouver-based artist Pia Guerra has won Shuster, Harvey, and Eisner awards for her work on DC/Vertigo Comics’ Y: The Last Man. She is married to Simpsons Comics and Futurama Comics writer Ian Boothby.
Stuart and Kathryn Immonen
Artist Stuart Immonen has a long and diverse comics resumé that includes extended stints on Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, Incredible Hulk, Marvel Comics Presents, New Avengers, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., Shockrockets, Thor, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate X-Men. In 2010, he received the Shuster Award for Most Outstanding Artist.
Writer Kathryn Immonen (née Kuder) has worked primarily for Marvel Comics since 2007, where her published work includes issues of Marvel Comics Presents, Patsy Walker: Hellcat, Runaways, Girl Comics, Heralds, and Wolverine & Jubilee.
The Brooklyn-born, Miami-raised artist Georges Jeanty is best known for his work on Dark Horse Comics’ Eisner Award-winning Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight but his comics career actually stretches all the way back to 1994, where he started as a penciler with Caliber Press. A fan-favourite during the sketch duel with Stephen Sadowski and Mike Choi, Georges was a perpetually gregarious presence throughout Fan Expo Vancouver.
Vancouver-based Israeli-American comics artist and essayist Miriam Libicki’s experiences as a member of the Israeli Defense Force during the Al-Aqsa Intifada form the basis of her critically-acclaimed autobiographical graphic novel jobnik! She graduated with a BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and now works at the institution as a Continuing Studies Instructor.
Vancouver-based Bongo Comics artist best known for his work on Futurama Comics. To date, he has 27 illustration credits with Bongo Comics and even appeared in Futurama Comics #7 drawn by friend and fellow Vancouverite John Delaney.
Every aspiring comics artist out there wondering about the wisdom of sharing their work on DeviantArt need only to look to Nina “space coyote” Matsumoto as proof that the strategy can pay off with enough talent, patience, and maybe a little luck. Her manga-styled parody of The Simpsons on DeviantArt went viral on the Digg social news website and that eventually led to work from Del Rey Manga. Before long, Bongo Comics came calling. Matsumoto shares the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Short Story for “Murder He Wrote,” as it appeared in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #14. But while it’s easy to describe her success as instantaneous, it really wasn’t. Before her social networking-aided breakthrough in 2007, she spent years refining her skills and working on her webcomic, Saturnalia.
Considering how obsessive Yanick Paquette can get with his work, it’s almost surprising to learn just how prolific he is. The French-Canadian artist has penciled a diverse array of titles that include Ultimate X-Men, Terra Obscura, and Young X-Men, working with acclaimed writers such as Alan Moore, Robert Rodi, Mark Millar, and Grant Morrison.
One of the founders of Image Comics and penciler on some of the best-selling comics of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Filipino-American artist Whilce Portacio currently works as the artist on Marvel Comics’ The Incredible Hulk. The Comixverse has a three-part Leaving Proof feature on the artist that you can read here.
Esad Ribic proved to be a crowd-favourite during his scheduled sketch duel with Kaare Andrews, playing the part of the profane comics curmudgeon opposite Andrews’ exuberant ingénue in an impromptu (sketch?) comedy session during Day 2 of Fan Expo Vancouver. In between the jokes however, the Croatian artist displayed an incisive and practical understanding of the craft and history of comics, honed over the years on titles such as Wolverine, Loki, Silver Surfer: Requiem, and Sub-Mariner: Depths.
Trained in classical animation, the Vancouver-born Steve Rolston has worked on Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy, Sabrina, PB&J Otter, and Rescue Heroes. He shares the 2002 Eisner Award for Best New Series with writer Greg Rucka for Oni Press’ Queen & Country as well as the 2008 Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Graphic Novel with writer Mariko Tamaki (for Minx Books/DC Comics’ Emiko Superstar). He also illustrated the non-comics educational book The Great Motion Mission: A Surprising Story of Physics in Everyday Life by Cora Lee and teaches the Introduction to Comic Production Course at the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts.
New York Times-bestselling author Greg Rucka is a four-time (2000, 2002, 2004, 2011) Eisner Award winner and is also the recipient of a Harvey Award (in 2004 for Best Single Story). He has written numerous titles for Oni Press (Whiteout, Queen & Country, Stumptown), Marvel Comics (Punisher, Wolverine), DC Comics (Gotham Central, Wonder Woman, Checkmate, Batman, Detective Comics), and Image Comics (Felon).
British Columbia-native Stephen Sadowski’s many comic illustration credits include stints on Justice Society of America, Avengers, Wonder Woman, Starman, and Red Sonja. He also served as a character designer for Radical Entertainment’s The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction video game. His favourite superhero character is Nightwing.
Animator/designer/storyboard artist Dan Schoening’s past work includes Ed, Edd, ‘n Eddy and the 2004 animated feature film Catching Kringle. He is the current artist on IDW Publishing’s Ghostbusters series.
A 1988 Eisner Award winner (sharing the Best Art Team honour with Steve Rude and Willie Blyberg for their work on the Space Ghost Special) and 2009 Canadian Comics Hall of Fame inductee, artist and writer Ken “Value Added” Steacy is shown in this picture proudly displaying an honourary membership plaque presented to him by the 501st Legion during Fan Expo Vancouver in recognition of his contributions to the Star Wars community. His many comic book credits include The Original Astro Boy, Jonny Quest, Night and the Enemy (with Harlan Ellison), The Sacred and the Profane (with Dean Motter), The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, Who’s Who in the DC Universe, Action Force, Tempus Fugitive, Batman, and Alien Worlds.
James Stokoe’s highly-detailed work on Orc Stain has drawn comparisons to that of Philippe Druillet and Geoff Darrow.
Inkpot Award recipient (1977) and 2008 Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame inductee Len Wein is perhaps best known to comics readers as the co-creator of Wolverine, Swamp Thing, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Storm and as the editor on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen (the image to the left, taken on Day 2 of Fan Expo Vancouver showing two young fans approaching Wein at his Artist’s Alley table, is my personal favourite out of the roughly 500 photographs I took over the course of the weekend).
Along with the artists and writers listed above, aspiring artists and local small press and webcomics outfits were also prominently featured at Fan Expo Vancouver. The great thing about the whole affair was that despite the amount of top-shelf talent on display, it had all the atmosphere of a more intimate and smaller show: no hard-sell marketing gimmicks, frank and candid conversations during the sketch duels and panel discussions, and an authentic palpable sense of community.