It's always nice to to see the a community come together for a good cause - this is no different with comics.
This past Sunday numerous artists, writers and affiliated talent came out to support the Toronto leg of the Artists Help Japan series of fundraisers. Creators donated both artwork and their time at sketch tables to raise money for the Canadian Red Cross.
After a silent auction, the pieces went up on stage for a live bidding session which would then determine the final donation and who would take the piece home. Bidding was fast and furious, especially when the event's poster (pictured above) jumped from a $300 starting bid to almost $700.
This roster included famous faces, such as Marvel's Stuart Immonen (Fear Itself, Nextwave), Vertigo's Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex County) and DC's Francis Manapul (Flash, Legion of Super-Heroes); they were both on hand to sign autographs and produce original art for donations. == TEASER ==
"I think it's great seeing the same people at conventions who would be buying art are here buying more art," Manapul said, as he worked on a geisha watercolor. Behind him sat a Michael Cho print, which he had bid on furiously a few minutes prior.
"I love the fact I can hang it on my wall and it's not too comic-y," he said of the piece. "After travelling all over the world, Toronto's still my favourite city to live in."
Along with Manapul, numerous independent creators and students also had tables set up; in essence, it was a bit of a mini-convention that just happened to be going towards a good cause. Most of these people know each other from either working together or similar social circles, so there was a very large sense of comraderie in the room.
Kalman Andrasofszky is also a Toronto-ite who's been working at making a name for himself; Kalman's done a fair share of artwork for both Marvel and DC, including covers for X-23's solo series. I had a chance to talk to him in the corner of Revival's donated space.
"The thing is, almost everyone in this room, I know," Andrasofsky said. "Toronto has a fairly large roster of working comics professionals for a city its size." In front of him, there are some sketches of Wolverine, Cable and Cyclops. He's been working on these as local artist Maya Nord looks on.
A lot of people are people I knew when we were nobodies," he continues. "There's nobody here that surprises me with their presence."
That sense of community works in the auction's favour; bids fly generously. Even Chip Zdasrky, newspaper cartoonist for Toronto's National Post has donated a self-portrait of himself as Astro Boy. Even that print fetched over half a grand at the auction block.
Back at Manapul's table, he reminisced about how it took him ten years to get to where he is in comics; his time here is donated, but sees the experience as valuable."
"I'd like to think I'm a humble person," Manapul starts. "That slow climb has made me appreciate what I've had to go through [to get here.]"
"We're really happy with the total raised tonight," said Chris Butcher, organizer of the event. Chris is a manager of Toronto's The Beguiling, which serves as a hub for comic and art fans alike to get their fix. Their two-story story is packed ceiling-to-carpet with any type of book you could want, and their clientele appreciates the variety. Butcher also organizes the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a free convention which happens later this month.
"I think Toronto is one of the cartooning cities in the world," Butcher said. He compares the Toronto comics scene to the city's large graffiti community. "People are aware of it at a ground level."
"It's great for underground art fans, like comics."