Books

10 Canadian comics to read right now

The Toronto Comics Arts Festival is coming up! Pick up some Canadian comics to celebrate.

The Toronto Comics Arts Festival happens on May 11 and 12, 2019. Pick up some Canadian comics or graphic novels to celebrate.

This Place by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, et al.

This Place is an anthology of comics. Contributors include (from top left): Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Andrew Lodwick, Scott A. Ford, Katherena Vermette, Chelsea Vowel, Donovan Yaciuk and Alicia Elliott. (HighWater Press)

This Place is an anthology of comics featuring the work of Indigenous creators as they retell the history of Canada of the past 150 years. Elements of fantasy and magical realism are incorporated throughout the book, telling the stories of characters like Jack Fiddler, an Anishinaabe shaman facing murder charges, and Rosie, an Inuk girl growing up during the Second World War. 

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood & Renee Nault

The graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale was done by Renee Nault. (Liam Sharpe, McClelland & Stewart, Submitted by Renee Nault)

Published to acclaim in 1985, Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale continues to resonate with audiences around the world. Adapted for television, film, ballet, opera and more, the classic dystopian novel is now a graphic novel, adapted by Victoria, B.C.-based artist Renee Nault. The book tells the story of a Handmaid known as Offred, who is trapped in a society where her only purpose is to conceive and bear the child of a powerful man. The original novel won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Chicken Rising by D. Boyd

Chicken Rising is a graphic memoir by D. Boyd. (Conundrum Press)

D. Boyd's graphic memoir looks back on her childhood in 1970s New Brunswick. Raised by a critical mother and father who owned a fried chicken franchise, Boyd was a shy girl who struggled to make friends and experienced bullying at a young age. Now living in Montreal, Boyd posts webcomics on her website pastureoflove.com.

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

When I Arrived at the Castle is a comic by Emily Carroll. (Koyama Press)

A young woman determinedly makes her way to the Countess's castle, where many have gone but never returned. When I Arrived at the Castle is a gothic horror comic from Stratford, Ont.-based artist Emily Carroll, whose first two books Through the Woods, a collection of horror comics, and Speak, an adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's YA novel, were published to critical acclaim.

Leaving Richard's Valley by Michael DeForge

Leaving Richard's Valley is a comic by Michael DeForge. (Matthew James-Wilson, Drawn & Quarterly)

Toronto artist Michael DeForge collects his Instagram comic Leaving Richard's Valley in book form, following the fates of Omar the Spider, Neville the Dog and Ellie Squirrel as they risk the wrath of a beloved but tyrannical leader in order to save their friend, Lyle the Raccoon. When exposed, the three friends are kicked out of the only home they've ever known and make their way to the big city for a fresh start. Leaving Richard's Valley won the Slate Book Review and Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies's Cartoonist Studio Prize for best web comic in 2018. 

This Woman's Work by Julie Delporte

This Woman's Work is a comic by Julie Delporte. (Julie Delporte, Drawn & Quarterly)

This Woman's Work offers a string of memories that explores Julie Delporte's experience of womanhood. Throughout the book, the Montreal artist challenges gender assumptions and looks at how rape culture and sexual abuse has shaped her life and the world of women around her. In cursive writing and coloured pencil drawings, This Woman's Work is a personal and contemplative inquiry into feminity and feminism. Delporte's previous work includes the book Everywhere Antennas, for which she was nominated for the Doug Wright Spotlight Award.

Clyde Fans by Seth

Clyde Fans is a comic by Guelph, Ont. artist Seth. (David Briggs Photography, Drawn & Quarterly)

Seth's Clyde Fans illustrates the quiet desperation of two brothers struggling to keep their family's increasingly irrelevant business afloat. As homes adopt air conditioning, selling oscillating fans proves challenging — and less than fulfilling — for Simon Matchard, who struggles to shake off his dutiful brother's criticism. Seth, who hails from Guelph, Ont., has contributed to publications like The New Yorker and New York Times Magazine and twice won the Doug Wright Award for best book.

Death Threat by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Ness Lee

Death Threat is a comic by Vivek Shraya (right) and Ness Lee. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Tanja Tiziana)

In Death Threat, poet and musician Vivek Shraya collects the transphobic hate mail she received from a stranger in the fall of 2017. These disturbing letters, along with her responses, are accompanied by illustrations from Toronto artist Ness Lee, culminating in a surreal and satirical comic book about the spread of hatred, violence and dangers of the internet. Shraya is also the author of the essay I'm Afraid of Men and the poetry collection even this page is white.

Aurora Borealice by Joan Steacy

Aurora Borealice is a autobio/graphic novel by Joan Steacy. (joansteacy.blogspot.com, Conundrum Press)

Joan Steacy recounts her life from the perspective of her alter-ego Alice, an illiterate young woman with a talent for visual art and a thirst for higher education. The story follows Alice after she leaves her small town in 1974 for art college and an eventual career in Toronto, falling in love with a Canadian cartoonist along the way. She now teaches at Camosun College in comics and graphic novels with her husband and lives in Victoria, B.C. 

Dear Scarlet by Teresa Wong

Dear Scarlet is a graphic memoir by Teresa Wong. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Ken Hurd)

Teresa Wong pens an honest and emotional letter to her daughter in the graphic memoir Dear Scarlet. The Calgary writer describes her experience with postpartum depression — how feelings of sadness, loss and guilt consumed her — and her many attempts at healing. Dear Scarlet is Wong's first book.

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