Celebrating local comic creators is the best thing to do today

From Eisner winning heavyweight Fiona Staples to industry newbie H.C. Gislason, Panel One’s Comic Creator Festival spotlights local talent.

In the age of Hollywood-driven mega-cons, the Panel One Comic Creator Festival promises to bring the spotlight of comic conventions back to (gasp!) comics! Now in its third year, the Festival, which is held in Calgary, seems small and humble, but truly packs a punch for local creators, that feel lost and forgotten at the big shows. In its short life, the Panel One Comic Creator Festival has been renowned as “THE” place for creators to sell comics, some noting they have larger sales at this tiny festival as opposed to the 100,000 people attended monolith cons. This isn’t Artist Alley, so you won’t find fanart here, but this is the perfect market for the curious and the diehard comic fan to discover and buy new comic books.

It is a very passionate and niche community. I feel like everyone in Calgary seems to kinda know each other and know what’s up. – Hayley Gislason

Hayley Gislason with her first graphic novel, The Demons of Angels. Photo: Stephanie Chan

Hayley Gislason, also known as H.C. Gislason, is a first-time comic creator of the graphic novel The Demons of Angels, described as “Dexter meets Sin City“, is the dark story of a vigilante that murders a city’s most notorious sexual predators. Having no prior experience in comic book making, Gislason completely self-published her book, which will make its con debut at the Festival. She originally released The Demons of Angels only as a digital Amazon/Kindle graphic novel, but she found that the demand for a print-version high enough to warrant a hardcopy graphic novel.  Due to prior commitments, she missed attending the giant Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo three weeks ago, but she can now test the waters at a smaller scale show.“I will see how this one goes; feel it out. It seems to be the way you get noticed in this community. It is a very passionate and niche community. I feel like everyone in Calgary seems to kinda know each other and know what’s up.”

Artwork by Fiona Staples

A definite treat for up and coming creators are the workshops on comic creating. Headlining the workshops is the multiple-award-winning artist Fiona Staples, best known for her work on Saga and Archie Mystery Society. She will be running a workshop on using photo references in art. She will also be fielding a Q&A later that day.

Ben Rankel’s Frank

And what are local comics without the local stories? Renegade Arts Entertainment will be on hand promoting the new graphic novel FRANK, a historical mystery that takes place in amidst one of Canada’s deadliest natural disasters, where 90 million tons of limestone obliterated part of the town in 1903. Festival-goers are encouraged to meet Ben Rankel, who tells a tale of love and murder in the town of Frank, Alberta, located two hours south of Calgary.

There will be over 50 comic creators in attendance.

The Panel One Comic Creator Festival will take place at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Hall (1320 5th Ave. N.W.) from 11am to 7pm today. Admission is $5 and children 12 and under get in free. The price of admission includes workshops.

You can follow the Panel One events on various social media with the hashtag #P1CCF.


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