Books

18 Canadian comics to read in summer 2021

Pick up a comic book this summer!

Burning through your summer reading list? Fill it up with these 18 comic books featuring the work of Canadian writers and artists.

The Water Lover by Patrick Allaby

The Water Lover is a comic by Patrick Allaby. (Conundrum Press)

Patrick is about to finish university when he develops a sudden, debilitating addiction — to water. The obsession takes over his life — at 20 cups a day, Patrick can't focus on school, he loses weight and is constantly going to the bathroom. Patrick's love of water ultimately lands him in the intensive care unit where he experiences, first-hand, the flaws of Canadian healthcare.

Patrick Allaby is a comic creator from Sackville, N.B. He published his first graphic novel, Martin Peters, in 2019.

The Pleasure of the Text by Sami Alwani

The Pleasure of the Text is a comic by Sami Alwani. (Conundrum Press)

The Pleasure of the Text is a collection of 20 comics that question individual identity and collective society, bringing together tragedy and humour to explore art, trauma, capitalism and everyday life. The comics include a talking baby, a ghost who survives quarantine thanks to CBD cookies and a cartoonist who is half-man and half-dog.

Sami Alwani is a cartoonist and illustrator from Toronto. He is also the author of the comics Man Bites Dog, Happy Days and The Dead Father.

Heaven No Hell by Michael DeForge

Heaven No Hell is a comic by Michael DeForge. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Heaven No Hell is a collection of comics from Michael DeForge that explores the nature of relationships, life and society in general. The included stories range from an angel touring heaven to a couple following their pregnancy with an app to a couple who make terrible choices after an experiment goes wrong.

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.

Toronto comic creator Michael DeForge talks about his latest graphic novel, Familiar Face.

Factory Summers by Guy Delisle

Factory Summers is a comic by Guy Delisle. (Submitted by Drawn & Quarterly)

In Factory SummersGuy Delisle recalls the three summers he spent working at a pulp and paper factory in Quebec City. It recalls the 12-hour shifts and the loud machinery. It also looks at the culture and camaraderie found within the factory, and how the pulp and paper industry changed over the years, impacting the communities and the workers who relied on it, including Delisle's own father.

Delisle is an author and illustrator known for graphic travelogues like Burma ChroniclesJerusalem and PyongyangHe is also the author of the comic Hostagethe true story of a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator named Christophe André who was held captive for three months while on a mission in the Caucasus region.

Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal

Cyclopedia Exotica is a comic by Aminder Dhaliwal. (Submitted by Drawn & Quarterly)

Cyclopedia Exotica is a comic set in a parallel universe where cyclops are part of our society. They are artists and doctors and parents and students. But they regularly face discrimination and xenophobia and micro-aggressions. Through this alternate world, Aminder Dhaliwal explores race, discrimination, marginalization, beauty and belonging with humour and heart.

Dhaliwal is a comic writer and television animator originally from Brampton, Ont. Now based in Los Angeles, Dhaliwal is a director at Disney TV Animation. Her comic series Woman World, originally published on Instagram to hundreds of thousands of followers, was released as a graphic novel by Drawn & Quarterly in 2018. CBC Books named Dhaliwal a writer to watch in 2019.

Canadian cartoonist Aminder Dhaliwal turns funny illustrations into sharp social commentary. She joined Tom Power to talk about how she uses the mythic cyclops as a surprising metaphor for racism in her latest graphic novel, Cyclopedia Exotica.

Rebecca and Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbor by Pascal Girard

Rebecca and Lucie is a comic by Pascal Girard. (Drawn & Quarterly)

In Rebecca and Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbornew mother Rebecca is on a quest to solve a local mystery. When her neighbour, and health care provider, Eduardo, goes missing, Rebecca is on the case. She juggles caring for her eight-month-old baby with detective work, including interviews and stakeouts. Rebecca and Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbor is a light-hearted look at postpartum life.

Pascal Girard is a comics creator from Montreal. He is also the author of the comics Nicolas, Bigfoot, Reunion and Petty Theft.

Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto, illustrated by Ann Xu

Shadow Life is a comic by Hiromi Goto. (First Second Press)

In the graphic novel Shadow Life76-year-old Kumiko is placed in a long-term care home by her daughters. It's not what Kumiko wants and she breaks out and takes refuge in an apartment she keeps secret from her children. She finds pleasure in simple, daily life, but Death's shadow haunts her. Kumiko is ready to fight for the life she's built herself, but how long can she fight back?

Hiromi Goto is a writer and editor from British Columbia. Her novels include Chorus of Mushrooms, Half World and Darkest Light. Shadow Life is her first graphic novel.

Ann Xu is an American illustrator.

In Canadian writer Hiromi Goto’s first graphic novel, Shadow Life, an independent senior named Kumiko breaks free from her assisted living facility and rents a bachelor apartment in a cool part of the city — until Death's shadow shows up. Goto joined Tom Power to tell us about the story and why she wants more older women of colour to be written as central characters.

Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell

Far Sector is a comic series drawn by by Jamal Campbell (left) and written by N.K. Jemisin (right). (http://www.jamalcampbell.com, DC Comics, Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ReedPOP)

In the metropolis of City Enduring, violent crime is a distant memory thanks to a technology that strips its population of all feeling. The new Green Lantern, Sojourner "Jo" Mullein, is tasked with overseeing the peace that has been kept for 500 years. The job proves to be far more challenging than expected, as Jo investigates a mystery that threatens everything.

N. K. Jemisin is a New York Times bestselling and Hugo Award-winning author based in Brooklyn. She became the first writer to win three consecutive Hugo Awards for Best Novel for her Broken Earth Trilogy. Jemisin received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2020.

Jamal Campbell is a freelance artist and comic book creator from Toronto. He's drawn comics for Marvel, DC Comics and BOOM! Studios.

Bestselling sci-fi writer N.K. Jemisin talks about winning prizes and forging new paths for BIPOC characters in genre writing.

Stone Fruit by Lee Lai

Stone Fruit is a comic by Lee Lai. (Fantagraphics, Leah Jing)

Stone Fruit is a comic about a queer couple, Bron and Ray, and the ups and downs a relationship goes through as it begins to fall apart. Stone Fruit explores family, identity and relationships through Bron and Ray's journey.

Lee Lai is an Australian cartoonist who now lives in Montreal. Stone Fruit is her first book.

What If We Were... by Axelle Lenoir

What If We Were is a book by Axelle Lenoir. (Top Shelf Comix)

What If We Were is about teen girls Nathalie and Marie who have had a secret game they've played since childhood. But when a new girl comes to town and joins their game, their worlds are turned upside down. Can they make it through this round with their friendship, and their hearts, still in one piece?

Axelle Lenoir is a cartoonist from Quebec. She is also the author of the graphic novel Camp Spirit and the Mertownville series.

The Gift by Zoe Maeve

The Gift is a comic by Zoe Maeve. (Conundrum Press)

The Gift is a comic that reimagines the life of Russian princess Anastasia. When Anastasia is 15 years old, she receives a camera as a gift. She begins to photograph her life behind palace walls, while a revolution unfolds outside them. But the arrival of the camera means Anastasia is starting to see things beyond our world, and someone or something is stalking her.

Zoe Maeve is a comics and visual artist who currently lives in Montreal. She is also the author of the comic July Underwater.

Fictional Father by Joe Ollmann

Fictional Father is a comic by Joe Ollman. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Fictional Father is the story of a washed-up middle-aged painter named Caleb. Now that he's sober, he must face his untapped potential, his past and his father — who made millions writing a family-oriented cartoon while neglecting his own son. Caleb is determined to face his demons and be a better man than his father. Fictional Father explores family, regret and what it means to make art.

Joe Ollmann is a comics artist from Hamilton, Ont. His other comics include The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People and Mid-Life.

Pizza Punks by Cole Pauls

Pizza Punks is a comic by Cole Pauls. (Conundrum Press)

Pizza Punks is a comic that celebrates pizza, and asks the question how far would a pizza-loving punk rocker go for a slice? All kinds of pizza are celebrated in this quirky comic, from deep dish to backpack pizza to mosh-pit pizza and more.

Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist. He created his first comic, Dakwäkãda Warriorsas a language-revival initiative. In 2017, it won Broken Pencil magazine's Best Comic and Best Zine of the Year Award.

Youth by Curt Pires, illustrated by Alex Diotto

Youth is a comic by Curt Pires (centre) and Alex Diotto. (Dark Horse Comics)

Youth is a comic about two teenagers who run away from their small town and attempt to make it in California. Before they get there, their car breaks down and they join a band of misfits on the road. But that's just where the adventure begins in this new series from Curt Pires and Alex Diotto. 

Youth debuted online in 2020 as part of the comiXology Originals line. This paperback includes issues #1-#4. in 2021. A second season is also in the works.

Youth is currently in development to be adapted into a TV series by Pires for Amazon Studios. 

Pires is a writer and producer from Calgary. He has worked on the Olympia and WYRD comic series. He co-created the Olympia series with his father, Tony Pires.

Diotto is an illustrator who has worked on the Olympia series.

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 degree, Wendy confronts her ever-ballooning insecurities, fears and doubts with therapy, excessive drinking and partying.

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.

Walter Scott on his graphic novel, Wendy, Master of Art.

Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson

Road Allowance Era is a comic by Katherena Vermette. (HighWater Press)

Road Allowance Era concludes Katherena Vermette's graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo. In Road Allowance Era, the promise of land for the Métis has gone unfulfilled and Métis leader Louis Riel has been executed. Echo's family is reeling from the fallout of these events, and she must channel the hope and resilience of her people in order to build a brighter future.

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

Artists Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk are contributors to the graphic novel series.

Award-winning poet and filmmaker Katherena Vermette talks about her graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo.

Stillwater, Vol. 1 by Chip Zdarsky and Ramón K Pérez

Stillwater is a comic book series by Chip Zdarsky, left, and Ramón K. Pérez, right. (zdars.co, Image Comics, Submitted by Ramón K Pérez)

Recently fired, Daniel is summoned to a mysterious, unheard-of town called Stillwater after receiving a letter of inheritance from his great-grand-aunt's estate. He discovers that the town is a place where no one can die — a quirk with surprising consequences for its residents.

Chip Zdarsky is a comic book writer and illustrator born in Edmonton and based in Toronto. The creator has worked on books such as the award-winning Sex Criminals, Kaptara, Jughead, Howard the Duck, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-ManAfterlift and Daredevil. He's a best writer nominee at the 2021 Eisner Awards.

Ramón K. Pérez has won multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards for his work as a cartoonist and illustrator. His artwork can be seen in comics like Jane, a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, The Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl and The All-New Hawkeye. 

Marvel's Chip Zdarsky on how to be a successful comic book creator

3 years ago
Duration 4:32
The writer and illustrator of comic book characters such as Daredevil, Spider-Man on how to make it in the comic book industry.

Championess by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker, illustrated by Amanda Perez Puentes

Championess is a comic written by Tarun Shanker (top left) and Kelly Zekas (bottom left), illustrated by Amanda Perez Puentes (right). (tarunshanker.com, Simon & Schuster, Tim Goodwin Photography, submitted by Amanda Perez Puentes)

Inspired by a true story, Championess follows bare-knuckle boxer Elizabeth Wilkinson through 18th century London. Wilkinson fights in-between odd jobs in order to make a living for her and her sister Tess, who is in severe debt. The character is based on a real pioneering figure in women's boxing.

Kelly Zekas lives in New York City and her writing partner Tarun Shanker is from Boston. Their previous collaboration is the trilogy These Vicious Masks.

Amanda Perez Puentes is a Venezuelan illustrator who now lives in Toronto.

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