Books

17 Canadian comics to watch out for in spring 2020

The CBC Books spring preview is here! Here are 17 Canadian comics to watch for in spring 2020.

The CBC Books spring preview is here! Here are 17 Canadian comics to watch for in spring 2020.

Constantly by GG

Constantly is a comic by GG. (Koyama Press)

Constantly explores the debilitating impact of anxiety on the every day, examining how it stretches and paralyzes daily tasks and decisions.

When you can read it: Jan. 17, 2020

The graphic novel is a follow-up to GG's Doug Wright Award-nominated debut I'm Not Here.

Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, colour by Donovan Yaciuk

Northwest Resistance is a comic written by Katherena Vermette. (Highwater Press, Lisa Delorme Meiler)

The next chapter in Katherena Vermette's graphic novel series follows time-travelling teen Echo Desjardins as she witnesses the return of Louis Riel. The first two books in the A Girl Called Echo series were Pemmican Wars and Red River Resistance.

When you can read it: Feb. 25, 2020

Vermette is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning poet and bestselling novelist based in Winnipeg. Her books include North End Love Songs, The Break and river woman.

Artists Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk were contributors to the first two books in the graphic novel series.

Author Katherena Vermette brought along her baby girl Ruby when she dropped by our studio in Toronto to take The Next Chapter's Proust questionnaire. 4:35

Familiar Face by Michael DeForge

Familiar Face is a comic by Michael DeForge. (Drawn & Quarterly, Matthew James-Wilson)

A constant flow of radical updates from the government throw citizens into turmoil. At the government's department of complaints, the narrator of Familiar Face sorts through an endless pile of citizen-reported issues that range from trivial to heartbreaking.

When you can read it: March 3, 2020

Michael DeForge is a Toronto-based creator who has won awards for comics like Leaving Richard's Valley, Dressing and Lose #1. Other acclaimed books include StuntBig Kids, Ant Colony, Sticks Angelica Folk Hero and more.

An excerpt from Familiar Face by Michael DeForge. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Enemy Alien by Kassandra Luciuk, illustrated by nicole marie burton

Enemy Alien is a comic by Kassandra Luciuk (left) and drawn by nicole marie burton (right). (Between the Lines)

Enemy Alien is based on the memoirs of a writer named John Boychuk, who documented his life in a Ukrainian internment camp in Canada from 1914 to 1917. This graphic history shares Boychuk's story, from his arrest in Toronto to forced labour, malnutrition and abuse from guards in Kapuskasing, Ont.

When you can read it: March 3, 2020

Luciuk is a PhD candidate specializing in Canadian history at the University of Toronto. nicole marie burton is an Ontario illustrator of comic books and children's literature.

Talking to Strangers by Marianne Boucher

Talking to Strangers is a comic by Marianne Boucher. (Doubleday Canada)

Marianne Boucher's graphic memoir Talking to Strangers describes how, in the summer of 1980, she moved to California to follow her figure skating dreams and ended up joining a cult. Boucher details how the group's sophisticated brainwashing techniques overpowered her free will — until she managed to escape.

When you can read it: April 7, 2020

Boucher lives in Toronto and has covered major criminal trials as a court reporter and illustrator.

Art Life by Catherine Ocelot, translated by Aleshia Jensen

Art Life is a comic by Montreal artist Catherine Ocelot, translated to English by Aleshia Jensen. (Conundrum Press, Justine Latour)

Catherine Ocelot explores what it means to be an artist in the contemporary world and speaks to seven others about their doubts, challenges and insights into the Art Life. Described as a "tragicomic tale tinged with fantasy," Art Life's original French version won the Prix Bédélys in Quebec.

When you can read it: April 15, 2020

Ocelot is a Montreal-based creator who previously worked at the CBC as a designer and art director. Art Life is her third book and first to be published in English.

Jensen is a Montreal-based translator whose previous work includes the Governor General's Literary Award-nominated Explosions by Mathieu Poulin and This Woman's Work by Julie Delporte, co-translated by Helge Dascher.

An excerpt from Art Life by Catherine Ocelot, translated by Aleshia Jensen. (Conundrum Press)

The Dripping Boat by Julian Lawrence

The Dripping Boat is a comic by Julian Lawrence. (Conundrum Press, Julian Lawrence)

The Dripping Boat follows four shipwrecked friends, Drippy, Harry, Bleeker and Zot, as they navigate rough waters in a less-than-seaworthy lifeboat. The comic is inspired by the 1897 short story The Open Boat by reporter Stephen Crane, who based it on his experience being stranded at sea with three men after their ship hit a sandbar and sank.

When you can read it: April 15, 2020

The character Drippy first appeared in 1999 when Lawrence was a comics editor in Vancouver where he still lives. He teaches comics courses at Emily Carr University of Art.

Bix by Scott Chantler

Bix is comic by Scott Chantler. (Scott Chantler, Simon & Schuster)

Bix is a near-wordless graphic biography of Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, a jazz soloist and composer from the 1920s. Though he wasn't well-known in his time, Bix is now considered a jazz legend for his innovative contributions to the genre. Scott Chantler's telling of his story follows Bix to his musical peak, fight with inner demons and descent into alcoholism.

When you can read it: April 28, 2020

Chantler is a Stratford, Ont.-based creator behind Eisner-nominated works like Two Generals and Northwest Passage. He recently published a 10-page comic with the University of Windsor about the Chatham Coloured All-Stars baseball team's historic 1934 run to the provincial baseball association title.

Topp by David Collier

Topp is a comic by David Collier. (James Collier, Conundrum Press)

David Collier paints a portrait of Toronto's art scene in the 1970s and 1980s in Topp, honing in on the life of his first boss, Gary Topp. An influential concert promoter and champion of Canadian repertory cinema, Topp brought acts like The Police, The Ramones and the Dixie Chicks into the city.

When you can read it: May 5, 2020

Collier's previous books include Colliers, Portraits from Life, Just the Facts, Surviving Saskatoon and more. His strips have been published in Kramers Ergot, American Splendor and Weirdo.

Langosh and Peppi: Fugitive Days by Veronica Post

Langosh & Peppi is a comic by Veronica Post. (Conundrum Press)

Veronica Post's debut graphic novel, Langosh and Peppi: Fugitive Days, follows a transient man named Langosh and his loyal dog Peppi through the streets, alleys and undersides of Hungary. Langosh and Peppi discover traces of the country's war-torn history in these rarely-tread places and meet people who have been forced out of their countries only to encounter hostility rather than refuge.

When you can read it: May 5, 2020

Post is a furniture maker and educator in Halifax. Langosh and Peppi is her first book.

I Know You Rider by Leslie Stein

I Know You Rider is a comic by Leslie Stein. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Leslie Stein's memoir, I Know You Riderbegins at an abortion clinic and takes readers through a year in her life, as she questions the decision to reproduce. Stein speaks to a childhood friend about raising twins in an environmentally-conscious household, to a man undergoing a vasectomy so his wife can stop using birth control and to her mother, who longs to be a grandmother.

When you can read it: May 5, 2020

Stein is a Canadian creator based in New York. Her previous books include Present and Bright-Eyed at Midnight. She's been featured in The New Yorker and the Best American Comics anthology.

An excerpt from I Know You Rider by Leslie Stein. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Necromantic by Lovern Kindzierski, illustrated by David Ross & Geof Isherwood, colour by Christopher Chuckry

Necromantic is a comic by Lovern Kindzierski. (Renegade Arts Entertainment)

Necromantic is about Jesse, a high-powered intelligence officer with the Agency, as well as a psychic. When her boyfriend Blake is killed in action, Jesse becomes linked to his soul and embarks on a dangerous mission to take down a necromancer.

When you can read it: May 13, 2020

Lovern Kindzierski is a Winnipeg-based comic writer whose past work includes Underworld and the Shame trilogy.

David Ross and Geof Isherwood are both artists who have drawn for Marvel and DC Comics. Christopher Chuckry is a comic book colourist based in Winnipeg.

Mary Pickford, Queen of the Silent Film Era by George A. Walker

Mary Pickford, Queen of the Silent Film Era is a comic by George A. Walker. (Porcupine's Quill)

Toronto's Gladys Louise Smith was 17 when she became Mary Pickford, silent film star, eventual Oscar winner and America's sweetheart. Mary Pickford, Queen of the Silent Film Era is a wordless graphic biography of her life, George A. Walker explores Pickford's numerous accomplishments, including appearing in 52 feature films and helping to establish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Walker is a wood engraver and OCAD University teacher based in Toronto. Mary Pickford, Queen of the Silent Film Era was originally printed in Walker's studio as a limited edition run of 35 copies.

When you can read it: May 15, 2020

Dancing After TEN by Vivian Chong & Georgia Webber

Dancing After TEN is an autobiographical graphic novel by Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber. (Fantagraphics Books)

In Dancing After TENVivian Chong recounts how her life changed after a rare skin condition, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis or TEN, resulted in her becoming blind. Chong explored a range of artistic practices — from drumming to stand-up to dance — in an effort of expression, healing and self-discovery.

When you can read it: May 19, 2020

Chong is an artist based in Toronto. She's releasing Dancing After TEN in conjunction with a dance-theatre production called Dancing with the Universe.

Chong's co-writer Georgia Webber is the graphic novelist behind Dumb, a memoir about the creator's experience losing her speech for months after a throat injury.

An excerpt from Dancing After TEN by Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber. (Fantagraphics Books)

Warm Blood Vol. 1 by Josh Tierney, illustrated by Afu Chan, Saskia Gutenkunst, Joysuke et al.

Warm Blood is a comic written by Josh Tierney, pictured above with his family. (Buno Books, submitted by Josh Tierney)

In Warm BloodPenny is a shy high school student whose dream is to become a video game developer. Over her first year at Greenwood High, Penny encounters a series of increasingly bizarre events — from a serial murderer to evil twins and shadow monsters.

When you can read it: May 29, 2020

Volume One of Warm Blood collects the strips from Josh Tierney's popular webcomic. Tierney is the writer behind the series, but each scene is illustrated by a different artist from around the world. 

Wendy, Master of Art by Walter Scott

Wendy, Master of Art is a comic by Walter Scott. (Drawn & Quarterly, CBC)

In Wendy, Master of ArtWendy is a serious art student at the University of Hell in a small Ontario town. As she works toward her Master Fine Arts, Wendy confronts her ever-ballooning insecurities, fears and doubts with therapy, excessive drinking and partying.

When you can read it: June 16, 2020

Walter Scott is a Kahnawá:ke-born artist who lives in Toronto. He's published two other Wendy books, including Wendy's Revenge, and has appeared in The New Yorker and the Best American Comics anthology.

The creator of the Wendy comics, which follow the misadventures of a messy yet lovable aspiring artist, debuts material from his new book in Montreal, the city where Wendy was born. 5:10

One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks

One Year at Ellsmere is a comic by Faith Erin Hicks. (First Second, Nathan Boone)

Faith Erin Hicks's new comic follows a 13-year-old girl named Juniper who is excited to join the prestigious ranks at Ellsmere Academy. But school is not all it's cracked up to be, as a rumoured monster stalks the woods next door and Juniper is immediately targeted by the school's mean girl. One Year at Ellsmere is a remake of Hicks's 2008 comic The War at Ellsmere, which is no longer in print.

When you can read it: July 7, 2020

Hicks is an Eisner Award-winning comic creator whose books include the Nameless City series, Friends with Boys and the YA novel Comics Will Break Your Heart.

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