Canadian comic creator festival returns today with new vigor

Canadian-made comics are celebrated at the Panel One Comic Creator Festival.

In an era of Hollywood-infested comic cons, the Panel One Comic Creator Festival in Calgary, Alberta offers a show that puts all the attention on comic creators in Canada. I spoke with Joey Gruszecki, President of Panel One.

What is Panel One?

Panel One is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and advancement of Canadian comic book creators and artists at all stages of professional development, from hobbyists to professionals. In addition to our various programming and community building activities throughout the year, our primary focus is on the annual Panel One Comic Creator Festival. 

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What makes Panel One different from the usual comic conventions and expos?

The biggest difference between our festival and many other comic shows and expos is our focus on original comics. Any creator producing comics can attend. We have rules precluding the sale of unlicensed fan art (unless they were commissioned by the rights holder to produce it) and the like. Also rules about table displays to prevent the arms race of ever-growing towers of Deadpool prints and 10 foot spires of precariously balanced nic nacs dwarfing all nearby creators. By keeping everyone’s displays to a maximum height, we prevent that whole scene, and everyone is visible and on an equal footing. Our show is both a showcase and a celebration of the comics created by our members. 

Panel One was on hiatus because of the pandemic.  

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The effect of the pandemic on Panel One was largely to force us into hiatus. We are a very small team and, like everyone else, we were forced into isolation. While we were not idle in the lost years, our efforts were largely relegated to scheming and plotting for an eventual return. This weekend’s event is only the first in a skate of plans that have been percolating for a few years that I hope our members will be as excited for as we are. 

How does it feel to be back?

Thrilling and invigorating! Nothing is more creatively inspiring than sticking 50+ comic creators in a room together. We’re so excited to finally be able to put the show on once more. I personally missed seeing all these faces and the incredible works they have produced so much and can’t wait to see everything that they’ve been working on since last we were able to gather. 

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Is there anything different this year from other years?

The primary difference this year is that we haven’t scheduled any panels or workshops. We put our entire focus on just getting the show back up and running, and doing so with half as much time to plan and organize. The show has normally taken place in June, but we decided not to wait and just get back up on our feet as early as we could. When we return to our regular time in June of 2023, we plan to come back bigger than ever with a full slate of programming. 

The Panel One Comic Creator Festival
Saturday, October 1, 2022 | 11 am – 6 pm 
Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association
Entry by cash donation.

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