Who to see at this year’s annual free comics convention VanCAF

An image of Shade the Changing Girl (Young Animal/DC) by Vancouver artist (and VanCAF 2019 guest) Marley Zarcone

Each year, Vancouver’s only free comics convention brings creators and fans together for two days at the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews, near Yaletown). Many of the artists and writers are local, while others come from across Canada or over the border from Oregon and Washington.

This year, the convention takes place May 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dozens of guests will have exhibition booths, and it’s fun to just show up and go from table to table. (Entry is free; find out more at vancaf.com.) But here are a few notable guests.

Marley Zarcone—One of the more interesting series to come out of DC Comics was a title called Shade the Changing Man. It was created and drawn first by Spider-Man and Dr. Strange artist (and co-creator) Steve Ditko. In the ’80s, writer Peter Milligan revamped the title for DC’s adult imprint Vertigo. More recently, the series was resurrected as Shade the Changing Girl (and then Shade the Changing Woman) by writer Cecil Castellucci and artist Marley Zarcone. Zarcone’s psychedelic images helped make the distaff Shade title one of the most acclaimed on a new DC imprint, Young Animal. She is currently drawing the ’80s-set series Marilyn Manor.

Johnnie Christmas—Johnnie Christmas is the Miami-raised, Vancouver-based artist who illustrates the adventures of Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood’s graphic novel series Angel Catbird. Another recent project was illustrating Vancouver-based SF author William Gibson’s original screenplay for Alien 3. He’s also co-creator and illustrator on original titles like Firebug and Sheltered.

Emily Carroll—Writer artist Emily Carroll’s horror collection Through the Woods won both an Eisner and British Fantasy Award for 2014. Her most recent work includes a graphic novel adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak, and the surreal, gothic horror comic “When I Arrived at the Castle”? from Koyama Press. She lives in Stratford, Ontario.

Art by Emily Carrolll promoting her book When I Arrived at the Castle.

Ryan North—The Toronto-based writer has worked on the award-winning Adventure Time comics, the bestselling anthology series Machine of Death, and the New York Times bestselling and Eisner-award winning Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series for Marvel. He’s also the author of the nonfiction book How to Invent Everything, described as “nothing less than a complete cheat sheet for civilization.”

Nate Powell—Powell’s work includes the new graphic novel Come Again and civil rights icon John Lewis’ graphic memoir trilogy March. He is the first cartoonist ever to win the National Book Award, and he has also received a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and three Eisner Awards.

Mariko Tamaki—Mariko Tamaki is a New York Times bestselling writer of both comics and prose. Her graphic novels include Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass with Steve Pugh and Skim and This One Summer with Jillian Tamaki. Mariko has received numerous awards and worked for publishers such as Marvel, DC Comics, Abrams, Dark Horse and Boom Studios.

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