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The Golden Age of Comic Book Creators has arrived, with talent from Welland to Oshawa on display at FAN EXPO


By Glenn Hendry

Posted on October 25, 2021 at 4:51 p.m.

Are we entering a golden age of comic book creators in Canada? And do they all live in the GTA?

A quick survey of the talented artists, writers, and comic book makers on Artist Alley at last weekend’s Fan Expo in Toronto would certainly lead you to believe that with over 50 of the roughly 60 artists in attendance at the show, originating from the great white North.

To be fair, those numbers are going to be skewed by the ongoing pandemic and border restrictions still in place, but still, nearly 90% of talent on display at one of the biggest pop culture and comic book conventions in the world. North America are this top heavyweight with the Canucks that must mean something to you.

Ramon Perez, an artist raised in Oshawa and trained at Sheridan College (Hawkeye, Stillwater) who now resides in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood, says the wealth of comic book talent here did not happen overnight.

“There has always been a great Canadian art scene here, especially in Toronto. This is one of the things I noticed when I left the Shwa, ”he said, adding that he had not considered a career in comics until he graduated. graduating from Sheridan College and discovering so many comic book artists who lived in the GTA.

“There is a great comic book art community here.”

Perez has since helped cultivate this community at the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design – better known as the RAID studio, which was founded by his collaborator on their comic book Stillwater owned by their creator, Chip Zdarsky, in 2002.

RAID acts as an incubator for new talent, as well as a scalable creative agency and many local talents have partnered with the studio to help market their projects including Andy Belanger (Montreal), Scott Hepburn (Toronto) and Dax Gordine (Welland), which markets its webcomic Forest Folk for all ages through the collective.

Toronto’s Jason Loo (GI Joe, Fantastic Four and Toronto’s newest superhero, The Pitiful Human Lizard) agrees with Perez on the sense of community and that the ‘golden age’ Comic Book Creators has been with us for over a year.

“I think we reached this ‘golden age’ some time ago and it has prospered ever since,” he said. “I have seen more and more talent every year. And we are all so supportive of each other.

Hamilton’s Greg Hyland, meanwhile, hasn’t noticed any new infusion of comic book talent in GTA because “it’s always been there.”

“I started in 1990 and it seems to be the same. There is a lot of talent here.

Rossi Gifford, a Scottish illustrator who moved to Toronto to be part of the art scene here, was busy in a sketch duel on stage with fellow Toronto colleague Megan Huang when asked the question, said the talent – Not to mention the closeness to the major comic book companies like Marvel and DC – that’s what drew her here, and it’s that oft-mentioned sense of community that keeps her here.

“Everyone here seems to know each other. “

The global reputation of the GTA and the multiculturalism of Canada’s largest city are the main reasons the region has become such a hotbed of artistic talent well known in the industry, noted Ken Lashley, billed as an artist “superstar. On the Exhibition Fan Program.

Lashley, who grew up in Burlington and now lives in Mississauga, has worked as a colorist, designer and cover artist on major titles such as Suicide Squad, Superwoman, X-Men Gold and Moon Knight. He believes it’s the diversity of Toronto that makes it so attractive to find talent.

“We’re very international here and our location close to the United States makes it easy for businesses to find us,” he said. “And I think the melting pot of cultures that we have helps too. We have a very diverse talent pool in the GTA and that means a diverse group of voices and styles. “

Anthony Ruttgaizer (or Anthony Kingdom James when he dons the tights – and still does occasionally at age 47 – on the local pro wrestling circuit) is a Toronto-based comic book writer and illustrator (Heroes of Homeroom C ), a podcaster (The Handsome Genius Club) and an event promoter and host.

In fact, he was difficult to find for an interview on Sunday because he hosted the skit duels that took place most of the day, but he found the time to talk about this “golden age” of artists. comics.

“You can tell just by watching Artist Alley how good the talent is, and most of it is here in GTA,” he said, pointing to the stands in front of him to prove his point. “It’s only a matter of time before some of these artists become the next Darvin Cook or Ken Lashley, and there’s the RAID studio as well.”

“There is so much good talent here. It is simply a matter of making yourself known and developing its properties.

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Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson