Sequential Blog founder Salgood Sam and Sequential Magazine editor Brendan exhibited at 2023’s edition of the Montreal Comics Arts Festival (Festival de Bandes Dessinees Montreal) and had a great time.
The show took place Friday May 26 – Sunday May 28 once again as a street festival on Rue St Denis in partnership with the street’s business association. The 1.2km stretch from rue Roy to rue Gilford was lined with tents filled with comics creators, publishers, stores and activity space.
Being outdoors does leave you at the mercy of the elements but the weather was beautifully sunny and warm but not scorching. The occasional breeze kept it comfortable though risked blowing away light zines. As a street festival it integrated well with he nearby businesses, mainly restaurants, which allowed people to enjoy food and drinks in between browsing the tables.
A doughnut or candy store to treat yourself as well. It also linked up to another pedestrian street initiative which drove foot traffic. So the audience was an interesting mix of comics dedicated fans and curious people who appreciated art. For creators considering this show it would be ideal to cater to both by having books as well as decorative prints.
Montreal is a bilingual city so both English and French comics were sold. While the former location of the festival in Parc Lafontaine was also nice, the move to a street festival has brought new life into the festival post pandemic and integrates it better with the local community.
A huge thank you and congratulations to the organizers for an extremely well run show. Below are my personal highlights but there was so much going on I certainly can’t cover it all.
The creators present were a delightful mix hailing from Montreal, rest of Quebec, Toronto, a few Americans and a special delegation from Chile and Brazil lead by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon known for The Umbrella Academy.
I was also pleased to meet American Sarah Anderson creator of the Sarah’s Scribbles web comic strips you’ve probably seen as they’ve been very viral on social media.
MCAF was a great showcase of established and newer Canadian creators. Of course there were Montreal locals Boum, Cab, Emmanuel Filteau and Tania Mignacca (Ponto). But there was also Scott Chandler for a signing, and booths by Chris Sanagan & Jason Lapidus (Group of 7 comics); Nelson Caetano; and Andrew Wheeler.
There was as a battle of the birds as both Effin Birds (Aaron Reynolds’s) and False Knees (Joshua Barkman) were present and quite popular. I was very pleased to have discovered some newer creators getting out there to show off their work after having few shows available over the past couple years.
It was a good sign to me that Canadian comics isn’t stagnating and is as vibrant as ever while recovering from the pandemic. After the gallery below I want to highlight the newer creators I met.
First there’s Mauricio G. aka “Art or Die” winner of the English independent comic Bédélys award for his debut comic Lost Virtue. It’s issue 0 so a prelude to a new series coming soon. The meticulously detailed art is reminiscent of classic novel illustrations but in comic form.
Originally from South America but now living in Canada, he’s certainly been making art for years now but has decided to publish his first comic series. This first printing of issue 0 is sold out but you can sign up for his newsletter on his website to see when its reprinted and there’s no social media accounts listed.
Then I also met Natalie Nardozza. A Montreal based cartoonist who’s anime inspired, clean, digital age aesthetic shows how the younger generation has evolved the medium.
Her webtoon published series are created with print editions in mind but also adapted for the mobile age of digitally reading in an infinite scroll format.
She has three online to discover Step-Vampire, Beneath the Surface and Gemini Crisis all here.
Beneath the Surface: “Every year, Clarke and her friends leave the city and for a chalet in the woods weekend retreat.
When her friends are asleep, Clarke takes a walk to the lake and nearly drowns. Olivier saves her… but ever since surfacing from the lake, something is off.
Decisions from Clarke’s past haunt her as she navigates her own emotions, the feelings of those around her, and whatever it is that emerged from the lake with her.”
Windy & Wallflower (Winter Jay Kiakas and Tas Mukanik) are a young duo also living in Montreal who make the queer positive series Paint the Town Red. “Paint The Town Red is a noir-inspired rom-com about monster babes (of the more sapphic persuasion) who kiss, date and have dramatic pasts, presents and futures! Paint the Town Red includes traditional favourite monsters: vampires, werewolves and demons all learning to try and co-exist with one another.”
I believe I first met them just before the pandemic but now they have a much wider array of art and products for sale showing that diversifying your artistic products can help grow your indie art business beyond just comic readers.
Dany Darkly is also a Montreal based artist who creates animatics, comics and story boards.
Her animatic about her take on the little red riding hood was surprising popular (>5million views on youtube) so due to audience interest she has turned it into a web comic.
A short, six-part romantic re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood with a touch of darkness.
This is an interesting way to build a following and shows that there are always new ways to get into indie comics.