Five Artists to Catch at TCAF this Weekend
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Five Artists to Catch at TCAF this Weekend

Some up-and-coming cartoonists you should know about.

While the Toronto Comic Arts Festival will feature some comics rockstars like Kate Beaton, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Jeff Smith, and Alison Bechdel, there are plenty of less famous artists worth checking out. Here are a few we’ve got our eye on.

Emily Carroll

Carroll made a name for herself with the 2010 Halloween folktale comic His Face All Red. With lush colouring, her inkwash style gives way to shaded backgrounds and playfully expressive bodies. Appropriately, Carroll uses this ethereal look to explore the kinds of ideas that escape our grasp but haunt our imaginations: mysteries, fairy tales, and dreams.

Last year, Carroll narrowly missed being nominated for a Doug Wright award for Canadian Comics in English, but she is nominated in the best emerging talent category for 2012 (winners will be announced in a ceremony Saturday at the AGO).

Maurice Vellekoop

Were you looking for a comic with lesbianism, gay three-ways, and time machines? Of course you were.

Vellekoop has had a strong career doing illustration and pin-up art; his new offering from Toronto’s Koyama Press marks his return to comics after a long hiatus.

In World of Gloria Badcock, Gloria, bodybuilder Sven, and Dr. Cornelius travel back in time, exploring the sexuality of different eras. Needless to say, hijinks and problems ensue. Also, you know those headlines saying that comics aren’t just for kids anymore? This one is definitely not for kids.

Lucy Knisley

Are you a foodie who likes to travel and read non-fiction? Then Lucy Knisley’s comics are for you.

Like many other autobiographical cartoonists, Knisley is introspective and literary. However, with bright colours, a clear, linear style, and self-deprecating humour, her comics are also playful and accessible. (That’s her work at the top of this post.) Knisley the character is someone readers can relate to and root for as she moves her way through the obstacles of her twenties. Check out her short autobiographical strips in her webcomic, Stop Paying Attention, or her book-length travelogue about French cuisine, French Milk.

Britt WilsonBritt Wilson’s Greatest Book On Earth! is matched by energetic panels inside. What makes Wilson’s comics stand out is the quality of her art, which has a wonderfully kinetic feel.

Ethan Rilly

While Rilly lives in Montreal now, his Pope Hats series is based in Toronto. Originally a self-published mini, Pope Hats #1 won a prestigious Xeric grant before being picked up by Adhouse Books publisher Chris Pitzer; acclaim has continued from there.

Pope Hats #2 came out last fall and the comic reads as good as it looks. Rilly’s smooth and confident line, which already found fans in Seth and Chester Brown, is more refined here, and his confident sense of pacing allows the panels to breathe. The story picks up where #1 left off, as law clerk Frances Scarland is torn between her Bay Street job and decidedly non-corporate group of friends. This ambivalence positions her to observe Toronto moments acutely—the politics of her office, having drinks at a dive bar, or a bird observing the scene above Christie Pits. The challenge for Frances is to stitch together these disparate moments in a way that provides meaning for her, and Rilly makes that journey enticing.​