Toronto Comics Art Festival 2022: Word Balloon Academy

by Koom Kankesan


Panelists speaking at Word Balloon Academy during TCAF 2022.

Friday, June 17th (before the Toronto Comics Art Festival kickoff panel in the Toronto Reference Library) saw a number of daytime panels focusing on both the creative and business sides of producing comics. I saw a few of the panels in the afternoon that were held in the Bluma Appel Salon, focusing on the business side of producing comics.

Here we have Jack Illingworth from the Ontario Arts Council discussing the ins and outs of applying for provincial grant funding. Illingworth comes across as quite passionate about comics, wanting to nurture the publishing and creating forces bringing about work in the medium, and instructed attendees how to present their work for smaller as well as larger grants. A couple of things that I found interesting were that comics funding is listed under the writing section and that they have recently removed barriers for new publishers of comics looking for funding in Ontario.

A panel of Canadian Indie publishers consisting of Alexander Finbow (Renegade Arts Entertainment), Andy Brown (Conundrum Press), and Peggy Burns (Drawn & Quarterly) talked of the difficulties challenging publishers as they move through the process of staying afloat so they can publish the graphic works they love. Grant money, promotion and production, and how small their operations truly are dominated the conversation. Dealing with their artists and the art of pricing books and keeping financial records, not to mention dealing with audits, also came up. Andy Brown is a purely one man operation. Renegade Arts Entertainment is not much bigger, more of a family affair. Drawn and Quarterly has grown from a two person operation (Burns and founder Chris Oliveros) into a staff of about thirty.

I caught a fraction of Kat Simmers‘ talk “Don’t Pass Me By: Funding Indie Comics” – here, we see Kat and some Kat’s work.

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