Most creative ComiCon costumes

Walking around ComiCon is like stepping foot into every fantastical universe imaginable at the same time. They come alive through cosplay, where fans dress up as their favourite characters. Some people even create their cosplays from scratch. The creation of these costumes are an art in itself, taking hours of creativity and craft to bring fiction to life. 


I headed to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to check out some of these cosplayers. As someone who regularly goes to nerd conventions, this year’s ComiCon had some of the best costumes I’ve seen yet. And one thing’s for sure - there’s something so satisfying about watching Batman get a hot dog.


“The entire costume took about a month to finish. My favourite part of it is the Lekku, which is the head piece. I made it out of stretched fabric, leggings to be specific, and stuffed them with cotton. It took a couple tries to get it right.”

Darth Talon, Star Wars comics


Yazawa Nico, Love Life

“It didn’t take long to assemble this, but finding the right material and pieces to put together took some time. I have been searching off and on for a while. Even now, this isn’t completely finished, but I’m such a perfectionist that I’ll always see improvement areas. My boots are definitely the highlight. I made sure the details were almost exactly like Nico’s.”


Lara Croft, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

“I’ve been doing this for a while, and I find that the more you get into this stuff and get better, the more time you tend to spend on completing a piece. This probably took about 100 hours to complete. But, this is also what I’m trying to do professionally too. I want to make cosplay pieces for people. My favourite component is my holsters. They were very simple to construct, and the placement is just right.”


Madara Uchiha, Naruto

“I really like cosplay because it lets me not be in the normal world for a bit, you know? Like I get to pretend I’m a badass ninja this weekend, and not just another student. It’s like Halloween but way better. This all took about a week to do, but most of it was my armour. I got some foam, made it smooth, and painted it red. Then I strung it together, which was such an ordeal.”


Sally, The Nightmare Before Christmas

“My makeup took ages to do, like a couple hours, but I’m super happy with it. All in all, getting into this took over 5 hours. I woke up super early because I wanted to get here right when it opened today. My leggings are a highlight for me. I literally took a needle and thread to it.”


Harley Quinn, Batman Series

“I’m so thrilled about my hammer! It took a whole night to do. Everyone has been asking for a video or picture of me hitting them with it, but it’s less sturdy than it looks! But I guess that’s a good thing. Oh, also I’m happy that the shade of red in the ribbon I used to decorate the hammer is actually the same shade as my outfit. That’s important!”


Batman, Batman Series

“Oh yeah I have like a million variations of my set. I pretty much only do Batman. Sometimes, I just don the Bat-Gear and make random appearances. People love it. I’ll admit, I spent a fair amount since I started seriously doing this. See these shin guards? These are actual hockey guards. Those aren’t cheap! My helmet has got to be my favourite, hands down. I had it custom molded by a specialty shop.”



Katie Liang
Standard Template

Illustrator Fiona Smyth's CHEEZ 2 art show

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 5:00pm to Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 9:00pm


Opening Wed. March 16 6:00 to 9:00pm

Running March 15- April 3, 2016

Fiona Smyth’s CHEEZ was originally a monthly comic/drawing published in Canada's Exclaim Magazine over a ten year period from 1992 to 2002. There were no editorial restrictions on the work apart from the monthly deadline and the colour restrictions of the paper (the art work had to be black and white). Each strip was created shortly before the deadline and numbered in chronological order. The second incarnation of CHEEZ, running online since 2009 to currently, is a weekly offering continuing with the same numbering sequence and restrictive palette. 

Visual artist Smyth’s creative process is unrestrained in the CHEEZ series. Recurring motifs and icons inform a non-linear narrative that spans nearly twenty-four years. Feminist imaginings of female bodies are central to this drawing world. Smyth’s stream of conscious approach connects to a long lineage of drawers, cartoonists, and imaginers like Moebius, Giles, Gary Panter, Saul Steinberg, George Grosz, John Scott, Frida Kahlo, and Louise Bourgeois. 

A collection of the first one hundred strips was published as CHEEZ 100 by Pedlar Press in 2001

Gallery 50 is offering the sale of individual inkjet prints of the exhibited CHEEZ drawings upon request.

Venue & Address: 
Gallery 50 50 Gladstone Avenue

OCAD U Zine Fair

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - 4:00pm to Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 11:00pm

The OCAD U Zine Fair is back for its 8th year! Come meet creators from the OCAD U zine community and check out zines, prints, comics and more for sale. This year, for the first time, the Zine Fair will be on for two days and include more vendors than ever before. 

March 9th & 10th
11am - 6pm 

The Zine Library will be hosting button making at the event. Make your first button for free! After that you can make four for $1. All proceeds from button making will go to growing the OCAD Zine Library collection, particularly in under-represented areas.

The OCAD U Zine Collective's Self Care for Artists & Deigners zine, featuring submissions from the OCAD U community and funded by the Student Union, will debut at the fair.

Poster design by Alexander Bailey.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Street, First Floor Lobby
8th Annual Zine Fair 2016 poster with event info

Five trends in comics and graphic novels

In recent years, the media have rung the death knell of publishing but, surprisingly, there is a wealth of graphic novels being published.

The biggest trends in comics

  • Digital platforms are looking for creators of compelling content.
  • Comics are being used as an accessible and engaging literacy tool.
  • Universities are finally recognizing the merits of the comics medium as literature, and as research and educational tool.

How to start your own comic or graphic novel

An emerging cartoonist doesn’t have to rely on a large publisher to have their work printed these days.

  • You can begin a blog and use social media to create an audience.  
  • Crowd funding can be used to publish your work (e.g., Kickstarter, Indiegogo).

The comics medium is flourishing because of self-publishing, smaller publishers, and an insatiable reading audience’s search for stories told by creators outside the mainstream media.


Fiona Smyth teaches a Comics and Graphic Novels course at OCAD U's Continuing Studies. She is also a Toronto-based painter, illustrator and cartoonist. Smyth's first graphic novel, The Never Weres, was published by Annick Press in 2011. A collection of her Exclaim comics, Cheez 100, was published by Pedlar Press in 2001. She illustrated Cory Silverberg's Kickstarter-funded picture book What Makes A Baby in 2012, re-released by Seven Stories Press in 2013.

Graphic Narratives

Magazine covers against a black background
Friday, September 11, 2015 - 9:30pm to Friday, November 13, 2015 - 10:00pm

The Office of Continuing Studies occupies the space that once housed the OCAD U Student Gallery at 285 Dundas Street West. In keeping with the spirit of the building’s past we host an ongoing series of exhibitions showcasing the work of students from Continuing Studies courses.

This series continues with Graphic Narrative: An exhibition featuring work by artists from the Comics and Graphic Novels course in Continuing Studies at OCAD University.

Fiona Smyth has been teaching the Comics and Graphic Novels course in Continuing Studies for over 4 years. Each term Fiona works with a dedicated group of students to explore this diverse and engaging medium. This is the first exhibition in Continuing Studies featuring the artists from her classes, and includes students from this year as well as past years. In another first, this exhibition will also feature Fiona’s recent work along with her students.

The exhibition will be held in our store front office at 228 Dundas St. West.
Exhibition Dates: September 11 – November 13
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Opening Reception: Friday, September 11 | 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Venue & Address: 
Office of Continuing Studies, 285 Dundas Street West
416.977.6000 ex 2321
Magazine covers against a black background

Five biggest trends in comics and graphic novels (and how to start your own)

Graphic depiction of trip into city's belly
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 4:00am

By Fiona Smyth, painter, illustrator, and cartoonist

In the Comics and Graphic Novels course in OCAD U's Continuing Studies, I explore and share information about the exciting contemporary comics scene. In recent years the media has rung the death knell of publishing but surprisingly there is a wealth of graphic novels being published.

The biggest trends in comics:

An emerging cartoonist doesn’t have to rely on a large publisher to have their work printed these days:

The comics medium is currently flourishing through self-publishing, smaller publishers, and an insatiable reading audience’s search for stories told by creators outside the mainstream media.

You can learn more by registering for Fiona Smyth’s Comics and Graphic Novels course this summer at OCAD University.

Fiona Smyth is a Toronto based painter, illustrator, and cartoonist. Smyth's first graphic novel, The Never Weres, was published by Annick Press in 2011. A collection of her Exclaim comics, Cheez 100, was published by Pedlar Press in 2001. She illustrated writer Cory Silverberg's Kickstarter funded picture book What Makes A Baby in 2012, re-released by Seven Stories Press in 2013.

The Graphic Life Writing of Marta Chudolinska – An Exhibition

Exhibition poster with woodcut of woman's head on left side. Right side contains exhibition information on this webpage.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 10:00pm to Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 8:00pm

Marta Chudolinska’s bold autobiographical comics are the subject of The Graphic Life Writing of Marta Chudolinska-An Exhibition. This exhibition of the artist’s work takes place at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre Gallery from May 7-13, 2015, coinciding with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which brings legions of comics fans to the city each year (last year’s event had 20,000 plus visitors).

Born in Poland in 1984, Chudolinska is a super-powered comics artist. Her woodcut novel Back + Forth, which was published by the Porcupine’s Quill in 2009, was nominated for a Doug Wright Award for Canadian Cartooning Best Book, and her autobiographical comics work has appeared in magazines. In all of her work, Chudolinska uses physically demanding techniques to create her graphic narratives – she has literally spilt blood over her art after accidentally gouging herself with a chisel – and this physicality is part and parcel of her aesthetic.

“The exhibition builds on a branch of research that is at the forefront of current comics studies, namely, the thriving feminist practice of graphic life writing,” explains Dr. Barbara Postema, the curator of the exhibition. As an innovative comics artist, Chudolinska raises questions of self-representation by artistically translating her personal experiences using artisanal techniques such as papercutting and linocuts. Visitors will be able to see that “there is a tactile quality to her work, which is also deeply personal,” Postema explains.

The exhibition is part of Ryerson’s Advancing Comics Studies Series and organized and hosted by the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre. It is sponsored by Ryerson’s Faculty of Arts through a Special Events Grant. Other sponsors include the Department of English and Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.

Exhibition Opening:
Wednesday, May 6, 6-8 PM.
Refreshments will be served. Chudolinska’s works are for sale at the opening event.

Exhibition Hours:
May 7 - 13, 12:00-4:00 PM
Closed Monday, May 11


Venue & Address: 
MLC Gallery , 111 Gerrard Street East

AGO First Thursdays

Friday, March 6, 2015 - 12:00am to 4:30am

Guest-curated by OCAD U MFA Criticism and Curatorial Practice Students

Excerpt from AGO News Release:

OCAD U teaches AGO how to party with an Art Spiegelman–inspired First Thursday

Toronto electro-pop artist Lowell headlines March art party dedicated to comics, zines and illustration

TORONTO — March comes in like a lion at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) as First Thursdays returns on March 5, 2015, with a fierce lineup of artist projects, live music and pop-up talks, all inspired by the work of groundbreaking comics artist Art Spiegelman. Party-goers at this 19+ event will see the AGO transform into an after-hours artistic and cultural hub from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Guest-curated by OCAD U MFA Criticism and Curatorial Practice students, this special edition of AGO First Thursdays promises an exciting lineup of young and emerging talent, including a performance by Toronto’s own electro-pop lioness Lowell. Praised by the CBC for releasing one of the top 20 albums of 2014, her first album, We Loved Her Dearly, debuted in September to rave reviews on and off the dance floor. Lowell takes the stage in the AGO’s Walker Court at 10 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now at Regular-priced tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Admission for AGO members is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. Party-goers can purchase $22 advance combo-ticket packages to see Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. The exhibition will be open until 10 p.m., with the last entry at 9 p.m. AGO members enter the exhibition for free but are encouraged to book tickets early. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended as First Thursdays consistently sell out and tickets are not held back for at-the-door sales.

The March First Thursday lineup also includes:

Art Spiegleman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective
Visitors are invited to explore the work of Pulitzer Prize–winning New York artist Art Spiegelman on view on the second floor of the AGO. A tireless innovator, Spiegelman creates work that references politics, the Holocaust, Cubism and hard-boiled detective fiction among other subjects. Representing the breadth of Spiegelman's career, the exhibition features 300 works on paper ranging from trading cards to magazine covers, including rarely seen works from Spiegelman's teens and 20s, original drawings for In the Shadow of No Towers (2004), illustrations for a 1994 edition of the Flapper Age epic poem The Wild Party and original manuscripts of his award-winning graphic novel Maus, rarely exhibited due to their fragility. The exhibition will close March 15.

Pop-Up Talks
Join AGO curator of Canadian Art Andrew Hunter, curator and critic Dr. Matthew Ryan Smith and Toronto artist Nina Bunjevac for a trio of pop-up talks beginning at 8 p.m. in the McLean Centre for Canadian Art. Hunter will discuss Speigelman’s influences, while Dr. Smith will explore autobiography in art and literature and Bunjevac will speak about her installation Out of the Fatherland, currently on view.

Artist Projects
Toronto artists Fiona Smyth and Alexandra Mackenzie (a.k.a Petra Glynt) will bring the AGO’s Fleck Gallery to life with a series of large-scale projections celebrating Toronto female artists. Entitled The Walk, Smyth’s silent six-minute film tells the of story of woman’s life from birth to death, while Mackenzie’s drawings come to life in the video Propaganda, a video work inspired by her song of the same title from her 2014 album Petra Glynt. In the Edmond G. Odette Family Gallery on the first floor illustrator Ness Lee surprises with a series of life-sized figures and scenes, entitled Head in the Hole. In Walker Court, from 7 to 10 p.m., En Masse, a live drawing collective with members from Toronto and Montreal, will gather to create art.

Zine Lounge
Brooklyn-based Canadian artist Jason McLean invites visitors to pull up a chair and explore Soapbox Pillow, an installation of more than 20 zines, culled from his own extensive collection. Featuring collaborative publications from the 1990s to the present, this temporary library will be on display in the Reuben Wells Leonard Memorial Gallery on the first floor. As part of the project, McLean invites visitors to submit a title for his new book.

Fake Injury Party
Merging performance, comedy and improvisation, Derrick Guerin, Scott Leeming and Paul Tjepkema are Fake Injury Party, a three-man artist collective. Join them at 8 p.m. and again at 9 p.m. on the fifth Floor of the AGO’s contemporary tower as they present Men of the Rose, an interactive performance.

Art Making
Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in three different art-making projects during First Thursday. Button-making stations will be set up in Galleria Italia, and on the fifth floor of the contemporary tower, visitors can take inspiration from Spiegelman’s Garbage Pail Kids trading cards and make their own. In the shadow of the Group of Seven, visitors are also invited to participate in illustrated storytime, as they draw to the sounds of live storytellers. Art-making activities run all evening.

DJ Donna Lovejoy will be spinning tunes all night long in Galleria Italia and DJ Barbi will get the crowd going in Walker Court from 7 to 10 p.m.

Additional local artists, speakers and interactive projects will be announced in the coming weeks at The evening will also feature an Out of the Vaults exhibition of rarely seen works from the AGO collection, as well as delicious food and drinks (cash bar; ID required).

For all the latest details on First Thursdays programming, visit and follow #AGO1st on Twitter and Instagram.

Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Ontario 317 Dundas Street W, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1G4 Canada
Tickets are on sale now at Regular-priced tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Admission for AGO members is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. Party-goers can purchase $22 advance combo-ticket packages to see Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time.