Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 Wrap-Up Part 2: WordsFest

This Fall, the 3rd annual WordsFest took place in London, Ontario and I was happy to participate once again. I moderated the graphic novel talk with writer Mariko Tamaki and cartoonist Teva Harrison and illustrated the cover to the WordsFestZine.

In Conversation With Mariko Tamaki & Teva Harrison

WordsFest is local literary festival that celebrates creative ideas, artistic expression, and cultural diversity. Words features emerging and established writers from London, Canada, and beyond. The festival takes place over a weekend and is chock full of programming, special events and readings.

Traditionally the fest has at least one graphic novel related panel and they've had stellar guests - the first year the fest hosted Joe Sacco, last year was Phoebe Gloeckner (which I was also lucky to moderate the talk for), and this year was Mariko Tamaki and Teva Harrison.

In Conversation with Mariko Tamaki and Teva Harrison

Mariko Tamaki writes fiction, YA and comics. Her books include two of my all-time favourite graphic novels Skim and This One Summer. She has a brand new book out called Saving Montgomery Sole and is currently writing Supergirl for DC Comics and Hulk for Marvel Comics.

Teva Harrison is an artist, writer and cartoonist. She's the author of the bestselling, critically-acclaimed hybrid graphic memoir, In-Between Days. The book was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. 

I've moderated just a few talks in my life, and it's something I take very seriously. I think to be respectful to the artist and to the audience that you should really prepare, do your research, know the work and ask thoughtful (and original) questions. When talking to cartoonists or artists, I also think it's vital to show examples of their work - how can you take about a visual medium without showing the visuals? So, I like to prepare a slide deck and time it as best as possible to my questions. It's actually a lot of work, kudos to excellent moderators out there!

Moderating a talk with 2 people has its own unique challenges. I wanted to make sure I gave equal time to Teva and Mariko & showcase them both properly. Luckily Teva and Mariko are not only supremely talented women, but are also extremely articulate, funny and charming! There was a good turn-out for the event, a big line-up at the autography table for Teva and Mariko afterwards, and all and all I think turned out very well!

An extra bonus was grabbing some frozen yogurt with Teva and Mariko. I know Mariko, but had never met Teva, and Teva and Mariko had never met before! Getting to hang out with them a bit over the weekend was the highlight of the festival and two lovelier people you could never meet! I highly recommend all of their work!

WordsFest Zine Cover

Cover to this year's WordsFestZine
I was commissioned to do the cover of WordsFest's Zine this year. I didn't know what the content would be beforehand, so I needed to come up with an image that could represent a number of different things. Because the festival takes place at Museum London, I thought about the location, (and of course the arts). I love, love, love Tom Benner's rhino statue that sits in front of the museum.

It's become an iconic landmark of London, and I've always wanted to draw it. This was my chance! I'm happy with how it came out.

The final issue features poetry, fiction and non-fiction by writers like Penn Kemp, Tom Cull and even Canadian poet laureate George Elliott Clarke.

No comments: