The weather ensured that the local 2013 fall Culture Days was a quintessentially Vancouver experience. Friday brought winter storm warnings to the city, and with EmilyCon 2013 scheduled to run on the morrow, artists were panicking online about getting their work to the convention site in one (dry) piece.
The rain wasn’t anything that I hadn’t seen before so I strapped on my waterproof gear and headed to set up for the 11AM start time. Of course, I didn’t have a tonne of merchandise for sale, so after my quick and easy set-up, I watched the other vendors set up their comics, sketches, zines, DIY mini-comics, stickers, busts, and trading cards for sale. Cloudscape, Vancouver’s Comics Society, had a table and was showcasing several local comic book artists. Their table was definitely the slickest and optimally placed to catch everyone who walked in the door. Working artists rubbed shoulders with amateur/students to offer a variety of art and process.
Attendance was a slow trickle throughout the morning, and once the panels began, it was pretty quiet. Halfway through the History of the Comic Strip panel, the rain started to come down in thick, heavy waves. The noise in the hall was amazing as rain made from elephants tap danced on the skylights of the building. 2 sets of wedding couples were rained-out of their Granville Island photo shoots and joined us (at least, in the building) while the storm raged. While the rain may have kept away the faint of heart, comic enthusiasts of all ages came out and I’m glad to have gotten a chance to chat with everyone who came by.
My contribution to Culture Days was a sculptural illustration (featuring my story character Josephine) and an interactive comic space. The goal was to use post-its as comic panels and have people contribute to an ongoing narrative throughout the day. I told my participants to ignore the spacing as I would write those in afterwards, and that dialogue was not important as the story would change with each added panel. The order and the colourful path of the story swerved through the afternoon finally reaching it’s final draft at 5PM with the last pink post-it contribution.
Here are the combined fruits of the interactive comic space (from various artists, edited by me) from my 2013 Culture Day table @ EmilyCon. Each panel represents at least one unique post-it illustration, drawn by attendees at EmilyCon. Click for a larger image.
A big thank you to Robin Thompson, local comic artist and teacher at Emily Carr University. I have had the good fortune to be Robin’s student and he brought the same kindness, and attentiveness to the convention as he does to the classroom. It is definitely a lesson for any artist who struggles with the public or with an excessively introverted personality (not rare amongst artists). Just be nice and listen.
I look forward to seeing what he presents next year at Emily Con 2014.
Culture Days is a national, collaborative, volunteer-run movement to raise awareness of Canadian arts and culture in our local communities. There were more than 500 different (registered) activities in British Columbia, celebrating culture in Canada this past weekend.