Panel One Comic Creator’s Festival showcases local talent in the ink and art realm

A one-day gathering of local comic book creators celebrating their craft and community takes place this Saturday.

There is a little-known community here in Calgary, comprised of comic book creators of all manner.

Well, it’s little-known to the general public, but widely-known amongst their ranks.

In an effort to support and promote these talented local creators, a group decided to form Panel One Comics Society.

Panel One board member, Ashley Hartley, sat down with theYYSCENE recently to discuss the collective, as well as their upcoming Panel One Comic Creator’s Festival happening this weekend.

Q: So, what is Panel One?

A: Panel One is a collective of comic creators that basically came together because there seemed to be a gap. The community already existed, and it only took a couple of people to say, “We should come together and provide resources for one another, create a sense of community that’s really strong so that we have a network.” Panel One tries to keep the conversation going all of the time by building the community and by keeping people up to date on what’s coming out from these creators.

Q: Are Panel One members full-time creators?

A: For a lot of members, creating comics is their passion outside of their day job. However, we have several creators who have made a full-time career out it. These creators enjoy being able to develop these comics and showcase their talents.

It’s also neat to hear stories about creators who were not sure where to start but decided to venture out into making comics after hearing advice and encouragement from other local creators.

Q: How did the festival come about, and what distinguishes this comic festival from others that we see here in Calgary?

A: The people at Panel One felt that there needed to be a creator-focussed festival in Calgary because Calgary is a hotbed for creators. (Unlike the other festivals), it’s a one-day festival, that’s only focussed on local, Canadian comic creators.

Q: This is the second year for the festival – how was it received last year?

A: (The organizers) pulled it together last year, with 36 creators coming out — we were trending on Twitter, and we had just over 200 people show up. Creators do better at this show because the people who come aren’t there for everything else, they are there specifically to see the creators and their work. The festival was really trying to get away from the non-trademarked, non-licensed work that people are creating and focus on the original work. It’s very much so about making sure that your work is on display at Panel One. People show up and they want to know about your comic, what you’re doing, what the next thing is, the workshops that are featured … it’s fantastic.

It’s a good place for people who are interested in comics to come and learn about who is creating amazing work in their community, and it makes it super accessible because you are able to have a whole conversation with those creators, get to know them, reach out to them, and these creators love that experience too.

Q: I had no idea that there was such a community of comic book creators in Calgary!

A: It’s huge! And it’s a really good group who’s really into supporting one another.

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Q: Workshops and panels: If I wanted to attend an panel or a workshop, who should I be looking out for?

A: Fiona Staples is one of Calgary’s success stories, (she’s) the artist behind Saga and Archie – she is a huge deal. Saga is one of Image’s top comics and it is brilliant. She is the bomb!

Ryan Ferrier is a writer and letterer who is behind D4VE and Kennel Block Blues. He has written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, IDW, and many more!

Richard Harrison is the raddest academic in yyc, Chelsea Crutchley, Alexander Finbow and Stephanie Chan.

Q: What else can we expect at the festival?

A: We’ll have a kid’s area where they can make their own comic, we’ll have an artist live jam so throughout the day all of the artists will go over and freehand draw whatever they feel like. There’s a lot to see.

Q: Sounds like it’s growing – are you being inundated with people wanting to be a part of it?

A: Yes! We have over 50 creators confirmed for this year. We sold out of tables months ago. People have fun at it.

Q: If someone were interested in joining Panel One, how would that work?

A: Anyone can join – all they have to do is contact Panel One through, and say, “Hey, I’m interested in becoming a Panel One member,” and the only stipulation is that you have to be making comics! We just ask a couple of questions, we want to profile you, we put you up on our website.

Panel One Comic Creator’s Festival is happening Saturday, June 3, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Hall, $5. #PICCF.

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her website, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at