Tuesday, May 19, 2015

VanCAF May 22-23: a check-in with Colin Upton

One of my better decisions this year was to buy a couple of packages of Colin Upton comics. It was a bit of a fraught transaction, because I ended up buying direct from the artist, and managed the feat of exiting out the wrong exit and locking myself into the balcony of his building, eventually having to call him to come let me out; but he weathered this with good humour and came to my rescue. Neverminding that brief moment of panic - which seems like something that might happen in a Colin Upton comic, in fact, excepting for it having happened to me, not Colin Upton - his yearly anthologies are quite delightful, and a very easy way to consume a variety of his works, which are cleverly drawn, funny, observant, and often amusingly, self-deprecatingly autobiographical (though sometimes they're more historical than personal; Upton is a history buff and has various comics devoted to topics in Canadian history. He's also a wargamer and a tea snob, apparently - and a member of the Haters. Interesting cat...). Upton is going to be among the exhibitors at the Vancouver Comic Art Festival at the Roundhouse this weekend (events start on Friday the 21st, though the main event will be taking place over the 22nd and 23rd). Cinema Sewer's Robin Bougie will also be there, as well as a staggeringly large host of artists whom I do not know, including a cadre of special guests and small-press publishers, and various events and panels, including a discussion on Saturday of the fate of editorial cartoons after the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Admission is free; how can one not want to check this out?

A brief interaction with Colin Upton follows. I commented via Facebook that my girlfriend and I both really enjoyed his Self-Indulgent Comics #37, dedicated to the restorative powers of kitten farts ("who doesn't love kitten farts?!?" he replied). Then I asked what he does during the fest, what he's excited about during the weekend, and so forth. He pointed out that he'd be at table I-2, in the gym, and then continued:

"What I do is stand behind my table hoping people will come by and give me money!  It's hard as I am shy but I try to draw people in and make some connection. Sometimes I'll be asked to do a panel or once I was a guest at the Sneaky Dragon live podcast from Vancaf.  I sketch on comic backing boards and tape the drawings to the wall... it's a good way to monitor my progress during the weekend, from cheery optimism to weary resignation... I also check out the other tables and the afterparties are important! Meeting artists.  I need a full table as I bring virtually everything I've ever done, certainly most of the small press stuff.  I'll have 6 new mini-comics!"

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