Introducing the Prairie Comics Festival!

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If it seems like there are more zine fairs, salons du livres and comics festivals than ever now, it’s because there are! If you haven’t checked out our newly updated list of zine fairs and festivals, take a look, because the list is only getting longer.

This week we’re excited to chat with Hope Nicholson about the very first incarnation of a new comics festival, the Prairie Comics Festival! Taking up the tradition of older and bigger comic arts festivals s in Toronto, the UK and elsewhere, PCF debuts this Saturday at the Millenium Public Library in Winnipeg.  Hope is the organizer of PCAF and also a comics editor ad owner of Winnipeg-based Bedside Press.

What’s special about the comics scene in Winnipeg and the prairies?

The arts scene in Winnipeg is both very extensive and very secret. At least to me, where I’ve been used to in Toronto having large promoted events, it’s much more driven in Winnipeg by word of mouth than mass Facebook invites. That can make it a very intimate and supportive crowd.

How will this be different or similar to comic arts festivals elsewhere?

Well, it’s different for one in that we don’t charge for tables! I wanted it to be as accessible to the creators as possible, and the support of the library meant that I was able to arrange this. I want to carry this forward to future festivals as long as I am able to. Another thing is the size – it’s much smaller! Because it’s being run by myself and not a committee, organization, or retailer, it’s the size that I can handle, but again the hopes are that it will grow.

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Where did this project come about, and how has it been received in the months leading up to it?

I moved back to Winnipeg in December, after having lived on and off in Toronto for about ten years. I was heavily involved in the comics community in Toronto and missed having some of that access. With a city of Winnipeg’s size, I knew that there must be a lot of comic creators, and hoped that they would welcome the opportunity to connect and build a community of artists and writers working in different fields. Through twitter and Facebook, I was able to expand my network of people who work as comic book publishers, artists, writers, webcomic creators, zine makers, and community enthusiasts. The event has been well received, though I wish I had been able to get more press. Winnipeg has a bit of a ‘wait and see’ attitude, which I can’t blame them for. It’s not easy to be excited about something before you know if it will actually work out.

What programming are you especially excited about?

I’m very excited for the programming panels I’ve arranged! Some are on comic colourists – and Winnipeg has a rich history of comic colourists so I actually had more applicants for this panel than I had seats! I was also able to bring together a variety of local comic publishers, and I think that isn’t a particularly touched on part at most comic events, but we do have a lot of people working quietly and diligently to promote, distribute, and sell comics in the city.

I’ve been to many cons across North America, and always had the best time at events that were geared towards the creators, I’m hoping that the fans of the city come out and support our talent!

Prairie Comics Festival will run July 30, 2016 at the Millenium Public Library, 251 Donald St, Winnipeg from 10:30am – 5pm and is totally free!

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