TX at Word on the Street 2009

This past Sunday, some major cities across Canada celebrated literature with Word on the Street. In Toronto, I (The Princess Planet and Alex & Charlie) and Andy B (Raising Hell and Bottle of Awesome) spoke in the Comics and Graphic Novels tent (programmed by The Beguiling). In Kitchener, Ontario, Eric Kim (Steta and Love is Foreign Language) was in Victoria Park at the Comic and Graphic Novels tent (programmed by The Dragon).

The home to Ontario’s parliament is in the centre of Queen’s Park Circle. Locals call it the Pink Palace because of it’s pinkish toned stone. Across the top of the tree-filled park and along the surrounding roads there were many tents of booksellers, a handful of tents for presenations and thousands of people into reading. The Comics and Graphic Novel tent started the day off with a lesson for kids on how to make comic by me and fellow Owl Magazine contributer, CTON. The tent was packed and the kids seemed even more engaged when I did this last year. I’ve done several of these talks for school and libraries and it’s always the awesomes.

Clayton began with a slideshow presentation and then he and I drew comics with the kids, teaching them word balloons, brainstorming and especially confidence. I like to show kids if they can print the alphabet and numbers, they can make cartoons (using 0s for heads, upside down 7s for noses etc). We even got by when another tent came and claimed our easel, with CTON and I being living easel for each other (hence why there’s no photos of me here). Hmmm. Living Easel sounds like the lamest Dungeons and Dragons monster or an art rock band. We made some great comics with the suggestions from the audience including a fast food hot dog in a hot rod with ketchup trying to catch up. After the 45 minute talk, we did sketches for the kids. Clayton signed copies of his shuster-nominated kid’s book, CTON’s Book of Crazy Comics. It’s great that the Shusters added a new catagory to acknowledge the joy of all ages books that are so important to get kids interested in comics.


Later in the day I bumped into Kean Soo, who actually won the aforementioned Shuster award for his book Jellaby, at the free food and drinks area for presenters. After I heartily congratulated him and supped on Gardiner Museum’s finest finger foods I got a great preview of his talk. He, his lady and Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics) were rehearsing their presentation for the Children’s Reading Tent, where Ryan acted out the role of the purple dragon with such skill I suggested he should also be starring in a fumetti comic (photo comic) about himself.

 Kean and Ryan were on a panel later with TX’s Andy B where there was lively debate on webcomics which I was absent for, since my presentation opened the tent and Andy B was closing it down.

 Meanwhile, in Kitchener, Eric Kim moderated a panel with himself, Rob Walton (Ragmop, Chocolate-Face Grace) and Lar deSouza (Looking For Group, Least I Could Do) on webcomics. They all had different takes on the situation. Eric was the rookie coming in from print, Rob was coming from self-publishing and making a foray into web, and Lar has done web professionally for the past seven years. This made for lively discussion regarding webcomics, how they related to print, merchandising, advertising, color vs. black and white, market penetration, and notes on professionalism within webcomics. The audience was highly involved specifically in the marketing and promotion discussion.

 Eric says “Overall, I’d have to say that it was a good discussion. My thanks go to our hosts, the Dragon, and most especially to Robert Haines (the co-ordinator for the panel) and also Jenn Stewart. See you again next year!”


Word on the Street is a great event and I always have a good time whether it’s in Toronto or Halifax. The crowds are plentiful and friendly. While I love the comic conventions where comics mingle with horror makeup fanatics, science fiction tv star stalkers and video game cosplayers it’s also nice to see comics mingling with regular ol’ fashioned books at a different kind of event. It’s good to be flexible that way. Hopefully next year I’ll be back with a slightly different talk for kids with more of the TX guys.