Tuesday, May 28, 2013

OCAD U's 98th Annual Graduate Exhibition

It's hereeeee (a couple weeks late). The annual OCAD U Grad Ex roundup. It's become a bit of a tradition hasn't it? This time around, I was finally part of the show. At last.

It felt wonderful to be part of the show - to finally be graduating and not just a spectator (although there's nothing wrong with that either). The downside was that I didn't get a chance to see the Grad Ex in its entirety. I had time to do a quick walk around the 6th floor, briefly pop in to see a couple rooms from Drawing and Painting where my roommate's work was being displayed, and that was it. Yes, that's basically nothing. Yes, this year's round up with be pitifully bereft compared to other years. I hope to make it up in 2014 by documenting the entire show.

I'm probably a bit biased (actually, I know I am), but I think the Illustration section of the OCAD U Grad Ex always looks amazing. Each year gets better and better, and I believe that's partially due to the age of the program. As each year progresses, the students have more and more material to work with, and tips and pointers for putting on an amazing event. This year was no different. The work was great, and everyone put forth their best effort to set up a fantastic show. 

Illustration was the only section I managed to document this year, and even then I missed a lot of people. To see this year's graduate's work, I definitely recommend checking out the OCAD U Illustration website, which not only showcases work from this year's thesis program, but previous years as well.

Some of the goodies, below:

A close up of Erik Kostiuk Williams' thesis.

The Alternative Channels, by Liisa Aaltio

Sleep Mode, by Christina Kong.

Cybergeist, by Stephen Shearer.

A close up of one of the illustrations from Inviting Lightning, by Emily McGratten.

Beautifully Grotesque, by Nikki Yujin Ji.

Read Between The Verses, by Kyumin Han. Probably the most tasteful and respectful examination of different and contrasting religions that I've seen.

Another illustration thesis student (their info wasn't beside their work - if anyone knows who this is, let me know).

Ethnomöbius, by Min Gyo Chung.

The Truth Behind Alien Sightings, by Cat Yang.

A close up of one of the oil paintings from A Journey to the Beginning, by Aurora Kruk.

The Cosmic Serpents, by Kerry Zentner

Life As Death, by Dennis Oba.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Comics Vs. Games and Bit Bazaar 2013

So one of the events connected to TCAF this year (but not held in the same area) was the Comics Vs. Games opening night and Bit Bazaar, hosted by Bento Miso on location at their studio near Trinity Belwoods Park. It was great.

Comics Vs. Games and Bit Bazaar are apparently in their second year. The opening night took the best indie games from around Toronto, and the best game-inspired artwork, and showcased them side by side.

Above, close ups of art and indie games on display at the opening event. I was a fool, and in my excitement forgot to jot down the contact info for the artists and designers. If anyone knows who they are, let me know so I can give credit!

Anyways, it was a great show, and I met a lot of amazing people and saw some pretty cool games. I also got the chance to look at the Bento Miso workspace for the first time. Its a gorgeous building, with the cleanest, neatest little back alley that I've ever seen. 

On the opening night they had a game there called Cumulo Numblers, which was basically a free-for-all pacman-styled smash, where you bounce off clouds and explode in a violent shower of sparkly rainbows while wearing a pixelated crown. I'm not sure if I can sufficiently describe the awesomeness with so few words, but it was neat. 

Above, fellow illustrators Stephanie Singleton and Jenn Liv trying out the game. I think Jenn was losing.

The day after opening night - same day as TCAF - was the Bit Bazaar event. It showcased even more indie games, as well as a few products that companies were selling as marketing or promotional tools. Naturally, I grabbed whatever I could.

I'm still pretty new to the whole format of game expos/events, so I'm not used to having to wait around to play a game and experience the booth. Its different from comics, where you only need to take a brief, cursory glance through the contents to see what you need, then move on. 

My favorite game on display at the Bit Bazaar was Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime: an absolutely gorgeous prototype from indie game company Asteroid Base. The premise is that you and another player - dressed up as 8bit teletubbies in a neon pink death star - work together to defend adorable little people on adorable 8bit worlds being attacked by amorphous lime green robots. They had me sold at the title. 

The game was showcased at the GDC this year, but I'm hoping it won't be a prototype for much longer. The premise is great, the graphics are beautiful, and I loved the foley. The controls could have been tweaked a bit - they weren't as responsive as I like - but other than that, I think it was perfect. I'm just waiting for them to release it. Alongside the poster, I also picked up a button. Because one can never have too many buttons. 

The whole team was there, so I got them to sign the back of the poster too. I was thrilled.

All in all, Comics Vs. Games and Bit Bazaar are smaller than TCAF, but well worth the experience, and I definitely plan to check them out again next year.

Now, if I could only find a way around the aggravation that comes from waiting in line to play a game.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TCAF 2013

So. TCAF happened this month. TCAF happened, and it was absolutely glorious.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of comics. A huge fan of zines. A huge, huge fan of TCAF. It's my absolutely favorite festival in Toronto, and it gets bigger and better every year. It showcases indie and smaller comic publishers from around the world (this year I met a graphic novelist from Australia!), its held in a library, its two days long, and its free to get in. Exactly how a comic festival or convention should be run (Fan Expo and your ridiculously expensive tickets, I'm looking at you).

My haul from TCAF was pretty big. I spent more than I had anticipated. And even though I went on a Saturday - the busiest day of the event - the lines moved quickly, and everything was beautifully organized. Alright, I'll stop gushing now.

Here's this year's TCAF haul. I managed to get 90% of my comics signed. I feel so accomplished!

Bikini Cowboy, by L Frank Weber. The aforementioned Australian! Really nice guy, and his comic is amazing. I even got him to sign the book for me:

He also had the nicest business cards at the show. We're talking double sided, hot-press gloss, super thick. They must have cost a fortune to print  - I was surprised they were available to the public. But damn, they were nice:

My next comic was a graphic novel called Far Arden, by cartoonist Kevin Cannon. His comic is about a man exploring Nunavut - so basically an American writing about the Canadian Artic. Should be fun!

But no, seriously, the book looks amazing. Hardcover, professionally bound. And it has a map! A MAP! Who can say no to a map?

I also got him to sign his graphic novel for me. Because I need doodles from everyone.

And below, his business card. I love collecting them, but I've got so many now that I'm going to need a separate filing box just to put them all in.

My third graphic novel find was from fellow Torontonian Benjamin Rivers, former prof of mine and totally awesome dude. He does comics and games. And teaches web design. Its pretty sweet.

Snow is a graphic novel set in Toronto, about a woman called Dana.

And yes, I got him to sign his comic for me, too.

This next one... oh, this next one. It was just too good to pass up.

Alone Forever, by Liz Prince. The cover reminded me SO much of a good friend of mine, I just had to pick it up. And when I picked it up, I just had to buy it, because its filled with things like this:

Naturally, I got her to sign it. Very entertaining.

Also, I like her business cards. 

One of the things I picked up from TCAF was this absolutely gorgeous zine from Roman Muradov. I'm not sure if I've figured out what's going on in the comic yet, but its utterly beautiful to look at.

I also made a stop by the table of fellow illustrator Selena Wong, and picked up a few things. Like always, her booth is adorable, so naturally I took a couple shots of it.

This year I only picked up a couple pins, but they came in this super cute bunny bag, and her business cards (once again) look amazing.

I was handed this random sheet of paper from an old school press machine run by a pair of Steampunks on the second floor. I'm not really sure what to say about it, or what it is, other than "awesome"?

The final comic that I managed to pick up was another mini zine from another former prof and local illustrator, Chris Kuzma - Top 5 Boardroom Techniques.

The last thing I picked up, and the last item to post about on this ridiculously long review of TCAF, was all the business cards I managed to snag from amazing artists, because I was out of funds and unable to buy their stuff.

You can check out their work here:

Afu Chan
Kyla Vanderklugt
Jess Worby
Josh Tierney
Robyn Ng
Seo Kim

And that's it for this year's TCAF round up. Can't wait for the next!