As spring arrives in North America, so does the return of in-person events. Namely, in-person conventions such as Toronto Comicon at Fan Expo. It’s the start of convention season, starting with Toronto Comicon which serves as the precursor to one of Canada’s biggest events, Fan Expo. Such events are not only fun for movie studios and celebrities coming to promote their content, but also important for independent comic book creators. It’s events like these where self-published or independent creators gain exposure and build a fan base. I had the opportunity to speak to some of the comic creators at Toronto Comicon 2022 to discuss why these events are so important. Find out what these independent comic creators had to say and be sure to support their work.
Toronto Comicon 2022 comic creators came out in droves
Image via Grachow Illustrations.
As the first in-person convention of the season in Canada, Toronto Comicon at Fan Expo was surprisingly busy. The usual hordes of cosplayers and celebrity guests made the event special and fun for the whole family. But for independent comic book creators, events like these are a way to network and promote their work to the masses. It’s a commercial event, in many ways for a lot of creators I’ve spoken with. To find out what this event was like from a fan perspective, check out the throwback to in-person conventions that my colleague and comic book partner in crime, Meghan Hale wrote. To find out what the convention looks like for independent creators, read on.
Many comic creators at Toronto Comicon 2022 agreed that in-person conventions are a great way to showcase their projects. But it is also their bread and butter. Keith Grachow has been a writer and creator of comics in the industry for 10 years. Grachow focuses on children’s stories, but also many other types of illustrations and books. He comments on how the pandemic has affected him as a creator and someone who does this for a living. Keith also looks at the bright side of things that confinement has given him.
“Fortunately the last 2 years I had work before the pandemic so I was able to continue working throughout which was a godsend. Of course not having any shows or signings has a bit affected our lives. … It’s really great to be back at shows. And seeing people in person and showing them all the new work I’ve created in these 2 years. —Kieth Grachow. Toronto Comicon 2022; Comic Years
Independent comic creators rely on in-person events
Image via Sigma Comics.
One of the most interesting Toronto Comicon comics at Fan Expo this year was Calico. The book is about a violent vigilante who brings animal abusers to justice. The comic itself has amazing artwork by Javier Orabich and the story from creator HH German also has a social justice warrior angle. Although the comic is quite graphic, the goal seems to be to convey the true horrors of animal abuse. The editor, Sigma Comics, founded by German, uses the comic to raise awareness of animal abuse and get readers to support foundations against it. It is a very good cause. When I spoke to German, his comments about the importance to him of in-person conventions like Toronto Comicon at Fan Expo were very passionate.
“Getting the book to people in person is very important, especially if you’re a freelancer. … We don’t have the multi-billion dollar budgets that the Big 3 have. Marvel, DC and Image. You may think people know your comic, but they don’t. Come to the comic disadvantages. Shake a few hands. Tell the stories. And little by little, more and more people will discover your comic. This is the best way, in my opinion. —HH German, Toronto Comicon 2022; comic years
Toronto Comicon at Fan Expo is just one of many events
Image via Elewhere Media.
While the casual con-viewer may think of larger comic book conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con as the location for the big comic book movie trailer reveal. Or the big Hall H signs with the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe cast being cute with each other. But the original spirit of conventions like Toronto Comicon 2022 is an exhibition for up-and-coming artists, creators, writers and other creatives to showcase their work. To market their small creative business to gain more support and reach audiences and demographics they may not be able to form their drawing room or art office.
For me, it was a treat to talk to independent comic book creators who are passionate about their work and who, in many ways, tell new and original stories. And in a really surprising way. For example, George Todorovski of Media from elsewhere is a self-published writer and artist. Todorovski’s works include a new graphic novel, zero point and The book. The peculiarity of Todorovski is that in The book, which is an anthology of stories, it uses different art styles for each story. So while one might be a Frank Miller style of gritty realism, another is a polished digital painting art landscape. I was really impressed, with his latest, zero point giving me George Perez vibes.
Check out all of these amazing Toronto Comicon 2022 comic creators at the links throughout this article.
Are you a budding comic book maker, writer, artist? Do you find in-person conventions a viable source of promoting your work? Let us know your experience with comic book conventions in the comments below.
Featured image via Sigma Comics.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, film critic (or so he thinks), host of the Split Screen podcast (on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else), and film dad on a mission to educate his daughters on decades of history. the cinema. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves to discuss the content of movies, TV and comics until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging her on her own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.