Last week I drove down to Toronto for the third annual Comics and Medicine Conference. The first conference took place in London and last year it was held in Chicago. I’ve been enjoying the Graphic Medicine podcasts so it was a stroke of luck that the event was held right in my own backyard this year. I’ve started work on my own graphic novel and the opportunity to meet and listen to others working in the area was invaluable.
Once inside with the AC I eventually stopped dripping. I half joked with the women selling t-shirts that I only bought one to use as a towel. (I think they just wanted me to move away from the merchandise)
The conference was well attended with folks coming from across the US and Canada, as well as the UK and Australia. It’s a weird mix of academics, people in the various fields of medicine and artists…but in a strange way it works. One presentation featured a Japanese manga book written by a woman about her husband’s depression. It was fascinating to see how the subject was handled and how the author used the visual language of manga. Other great presentations looked at the parallels between comics and therapeutic hypnosis and the iconography of illness in graphic novels and comics. Unfortunately there were many talks I missed because they were scheduled at the same time (being only two days long you have to fit as much in as possible…but hopefully some might show up as future podcasts) Everyone got a little sketchbook in their conference bag so I was busy doodling most of the time…which was kind of a trip back to my university days (my lecture notes were always heavy on comics and light on the note part)
We had nice long lunch breaks, so it was great to take advantage of the tons of little restaurants around the university. The waitress talked me into this pint of apricot wheat ale from Quebec and I have to say it was very good. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try the other craft beers on tap…Train Wreck and Naughty Otter (next time)
The first day also featured a talk on the cancer storyline of Funky Winkerbean and my cartooning friend Sandra Bell-Lundy talked about her great comic strip Between Friends. I actually got to spend some time talking shop with Sandra and it was one of the highlights of the whole trip.
To close off the conference there was a conversation with Joyce Farmer who did the incredible graphic novel Special Exits. Paul Gravett led the questions and it was a great way to finish a fun couple of days.
Another highlight was getting to meet and have lunch with Brian Fies. Brian has several books to his name but Mom’s Cancer is probably his best known graphic novel. It’s always great meeting other cartoonists but Brian is one of those guys who just inspires you to keep drawing!
The following day Sandra and I were treated to lunch by the Torstar Syndication team of Robin Graham, Joanne MacDonald and Ted Cowan (he left before I remembered to get a group picture) They are a really fun group and it’s always terrific to get a chance to touch base with them (if you live in Canada and want your paper to carry Bleeker, these are the folks to call!)
The last stop of my Summer Comics Tour was the Laydeez Do Comics event at the historic Arts & Letters Club Wednesday night. I’d never stepped inside the building before but hard to believe this place has been hanging around downtown Toronto for all these years.
It was another fun evening of hanging out with cartoonists and forgetting about deadlines for awhile (…gulp…not sure if you can ever totally forget about them…) Hanging around the bar were… Patricia Storms, Rina Piccolo, Paul Gilligan, Katie Shanahan, Adriana Blake and Mike Cope.
I’d like to congratulate all the organizers of the Comics and Medicine Conference for a job well done! ( Shelly Wall, Michael Green, Ian Williams, Susan Squier, MK Czerwiec and Brian Fies) It was a very successful event and I can only imagine the work it involves pulling something like that together. Looking forward to next year!
Finally, I headed home from the city heat and traffic. The next day I looked out my window to see this guy trotting across the driveway…