Books

21 Canadian comics to watch for in spring 2021

If you love comics, check out these Canadian books coming out in the first half of 2021.

If you love comics, check out these Canadian books coming out in the first half of 2021.

Afterlift by Jason Loo & Chip Zdarsky

Afterlift is a comic by Chip Zdarsky (bottom right) and Jason Loo (top right). (Dark Horse Comics)

Afterlift is a series from Canadian creators Jason Loo and Chip Zdarsky. It's about a ride-share driver named Janice Chen, who gets caught up in a supernatural world when she picks up a pair of mysterious passengers. 

Afterlift debuted online last year as part of the comiXology Originals line. This paperback includes issues #1-#5.

When you can read this: Feb. 2, 2021

Jason Loo is a cartoonist from Toronto. He is best known for the series The Pitiful Human-Lizard. He also worked on the Captain Canuck reboot.

Chip Zdarsky is a comic book writer and illustrator born in Edmonton and based in Toronto. The creator with a quirky sense of humour has worked on books such as the award-winning Sex Criminals, Kaptara, Jughead, Howard the Duck, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man and Daredevil.

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

CBC Books

2 years ago
4:31
The writer and illustrator of comic book characters such as Daredevil, Spider-Man on how to make it in the comic book industry. 4:31

Snow Angels by Jeff Lemire & Jock

Snow Angels is a comic by Jeff Lemire & Jock. (4Twenty Limited, Francois Hercourt)

In Snow AngelsMilliken and Mae are two young girls who live in the Trench. It's a community that exists inside a massive sheet of ice, and people never enter and never leave. But when the girls go on an adventure to commemorate Milliken's 12th birthday and to learn how to survive in this unforgiving land, they realize there's an entire world beyond the Trench — and accidentally awaken the Trench's defender, the Snowman. 

Snow Angels is a new series. It's part of the comiXology Originals line and will be available digitally.

When you can read this: Feb. 16, 2021

Jeff Lemire is an author and illustrator whose work includes RoughneckEssex County, The Underwater Welder, Royal City and Gord Downie's Secret Path. The Toronto comic creator has also worked on Justice League and Green Arrow for DC Comics and Hawkeye for Marvel.

Jock is the pen name for the British cartoonist Mark Simpson. He has worked for 2000AD and on The Losers, Batman and Wolverine comics.

The graphic novelist and cartoonist on his favourite fictional character, his idea of perfect happiness, and why David Lynch and Tom Waits are heroes to him. 4:06

Catalogue Baby by Myriam Steinberg, illustrated by Christache Ross

Catalogue Baby is a comic by Myriam Steinberg. (Page Two Books, Diane Smithers)

Myriam Steinberg shares her journey to parenthood in the comic Catalogue Baby. When Steinberg turned 40, she decided she couldn't wait any longer to have children, and decided to pursue the process as a single mother. What unfolded was a four-year journey marked by highs and lows, love and loss as she experienced many things we don't talk about along the fertility process. 

When you can read this: March 2, 2021

Myriam Steinberg is a writer from Vancouver. Her writing has appeared in publications across Canada, including on CBC. Catalogue Baby is her first book.

Christache Ross is an actor and illustrator from Vancouver. He also illustrated the picture book Some Bunny Loves You.

'No one tells you what the risks are when you set out to have a baby,' says Myriam Steinberg. In the end, it took 7 rounds of intra-uterine insemination, 3 rounds of in-vitro fertilization, 2 rounds of donor eggs and donor sperm, and 5 pregnancies before her twins Isaac and Abegail were born. 7:27

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.

When you can read this: March 23, 2021

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.

Red Rock Baby Candy by Shira Spector

Red Rock Baby Candy is a comic by Shira Spector. (Fantagraphics, Zoe Gemelli)

In Red Rock Baby Candy, artist Shira Spector recaps 10 years of her life, at a time when she's trying to get pregnant and her father is diagnosed with cancer. She reflects on relationships past and present, in Toronto and Montreal, and plays with colour and composition throughout.

When you can read this: March 23, 2021

Shira Spector is an illustrator and artist from Toronto. Red Rock Baby Candy is her first book.

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 Life, 76-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 the 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?

When you can read this: March 30, 2021

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.

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. 

When you can read this: April 6, 2021

Curt 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.

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

Represented Immobilized by Rick Trembles

(Conundrum Press)

Represented Immobilized is a comic that recaps musician and artist Rick Trembles' early years in Montreal. When he and his roommate have to move, Trembles has to go through some of his childhood memorabilia, which trigger several old memories. Represented Immobilized  pieces all this together, along with other autobiographical comics from Trembles' 40-year career.

When you can read this: April 15, 2021

Rick Trembles is a writer, cartoonist, musician and filmmaker from Montreal. His work has been included in Russ Kick's The Graphic Canon, Robert Crumb's Weirdo, Thomas Waugh's Montreal Main and Pictopia.

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.

When you can read this: April 15, 2021

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.

Cole Pauls and his Indigenous punk comics

Exhibitionists

2 years ago
4:13
Tahltan comic artist Cole Pauls has been inspired by punk music, pizza and carrying the legacy of Southern Tutchone language through his comic art. Filmmaker: Camille Vernet 4:13

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.

When you can read this: April 27, 2021

Katherena 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 were contributors to the graphic novel series.

Award-winning poet and filmmaker Katherena Vermette talks about her graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo. 5:27

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. 

When you can read this: May 1, 2021

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

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.

When you can read this: May 1, 2021

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.

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.

When you can read this: May 4, 2021

Aminder 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.

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.

When you can read this: May 11, 2021

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.

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.

When you can read this: May 11, 2021

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

Hell's Flaw by Lovern Kindzierski, illustrated by John Bolton

Hell's Flaw is a comic by Lovern Kindzierski (left), illustrated by John Bolton (right). (Renegade Arts Entertainment)

Hell's Flaw is the fifth book in Lovern Kindzierski's Shame series. In Hell's Flaw, Hope must deal with the corruption of a good friend. But that's not her only challenge: she might have to fight monsters as she tries to find her way back to the Cradle.

When you can read this: May 19, 2021

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

John Bolton is a British cartoonist and illustrator.

Little Victories by Yvon Roy

Little Victories is a comic by Yvon Roy. (Titan Comics)

In the comic Little Victories, Yvon Roy shares his experience of what it's like raising a son with autism, sharing the daily lessons, struggles and joys. The story is compassionate and heartfelt but also humorous and eye-opening. 

When you can read this: May 25, 2021

Yvon Roy is a writer and illustrator from Quebec. In 2020, he won the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Sugar Falls 10th anniversary edition by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson

Sugar Falls 10th anniversary edition is a graphic novel by David A. Robertson. (Highwater Press)

Sugar Falls is a powerful graphic novel that recounts the horror Indigenous children experienced in residential schools. It was first published in 2011, and is being reissued for this 10th anniversary. Based on the true story of Betty Ross, an elder from Cross Lake First Nation, Sugar Falls tells the story of Betsy who, at eight years old, was sent to residential school. While there, she is abused and suffers, but the words her father told her keep her spirit and her hope alive.

When you can read this: May 25, 2021

David A. Robertson is a Swampy Cree author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. He has published more than 20 books across a variety of genres including novels, children's books and memoir. He also hosts the CBC Manitoba podcast Kiwew

Scott B. Henderson is a comics artist and illustrator from Winnipeg. He has illustrated several graphic novels, including Katherena Vermette's A Girl Called Echo series, Fire Starters by Jen Storm and A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp.

To say Cree author David A. Robertson is prolific is a bit of an understatement. He started his writing career in 2009, and has already published more than 20 titles. This fall he has three books being released. This week on Unreserved, an extended conversation with the author. 43:38

Status Update by George Toles & Cliff Eyland

Status Update is a comic by George Toles and Cliff Eyland. (At Bay Press)

George Toles has been posting Facebook updates every day since 2009. The updates, which were illustrated by Cliff Eyland, are collected now in Status Update. They cover everything from climate change to politics to personal relationships and vary in tone from serious to humorous and everything in between.

When you can read this: May 25, 2021

George Toles is a professor at the University of Manitoba. He is also the author of A House Made of Light: Essays on the Art of Film and Curtains of Light: Essays on the Metaphysics of Theatrical Space on Film.

Cliff Eyland was an artist from Halifax and the director of Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba. He was best known for works of art containing hundreds of index-card–sized paintings and drawings dotting the walls of Winnipeg's downtown Millennium Library and the Halifax Central Library.

Factory Summers by Guy Delisle

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

In Factory Summers, Guy 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.

When you can read this: June 15, 2021

Guy 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.

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 Neighbor, new 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 post-partum life.

When you can read this: June 29, 2021

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

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this list include Weeding by Geneviève Lebleu. Weeding has been delayed.
    Mar 19, 2021 3:28 PM ET

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now