Eric's historically-inspired comics about local happenings are putting independent comics on the radar of readers who might otherwise never know about this fast-growing field. But Lethbridge is far from a one-comic town. It seems that there are a few other big local comics supporters, such as retailer Kapow! Comics, for example. And apparently the Lethbridge Public Library has a particularly big and wonderful collection of comics. No wonder Eric feels so much at home in this town!
Twenty years ago, even ten years ago, I don't think independent comics had much representation at literary festivals. But in 2017, indie comics have a growing audience, as witnessed by events like last week's CXC Expo in Columbus, Ohio, as well as homegrown festivals like Winnipeg's Prairie Comics Festival and Calgary's Panel One Comic Creator Festival. Readers are interested in this medium!
Still, though, there are probably some old-fashioned folks who think the comics makers and readers should stay at their own designated festivals where they belong. Not so Lethbridge's annual Word on the Street Festival. This year the festival played host to a whole day's worth of comics conversations, featuring Panel One's Erin Millar; Svetlana Chmakova talking publishing illustrated books with Yen Press; Halli Lilburn and Ryan Jason Allen Willert talking colouring books; and of course the Lethbridge-inspired work of Eric Dyck.
I was so excited to be invited to come down and join in the comics conversations at WOTS. Anybody who's seen my work can tell that I like drawing pictures, but here's a little-known fact: I'm much more interested in the words. It's the story that drives everything else. So thanks, WOTS Lethbridge, for including me among your talented writers this year!
My favourite part of this event was the conversation between the writers themselves. Not just comics creator shop talk - although I do love that - but I also had the chance to talk with, and listen to, a few YA fiction writers. Teenager books are one of my favourite subjects, and Tom Ryan's casual E. L. Konigsburg reference was a highlight of my last evening! Where else do I find people who know about this stuff??
Here are some pictures I took. Scroll over them to see the captions. The best picture's at the bottom!