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Drawn to Dartmouth: Comic book festival taking place next weekend

Hundreds of people will be at Alderney Landing on August 17 and 18 for the eighth annual Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival
Bestseller Ta-Nehisi Coates writing comic book series inspired by Black Panthers
(File photo)

If you take the ferry across to Halifax's sister city next weekend, you should be prepared for crowds.

Hundreds of people will be at Alderney Landing on August 17 and 18 for the eighth annual Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival.

"It's great to see people as they come off the ferry who didn't know about the event, and they just come in and all of a sudden they're faced with thousands of people and tons of comic books," says Cal Johnston, who organized this year's event.

Johnston is also owner of Strange Adventures comic book store, located on Prince St. in downtown Dartmouth.

"There's a lot of things to see, really just wandering around and checking it out is really worth while," he tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

The festival began as a way to bring the arts community of Dartmouth together.

"We started it eight years ago, just by finding a good venue and contacting all the folks we know who love making comics and selling comics," Johnston explains.

On the Saturday, the festival takes place in the form of panels and presentations at the Alderney Gate Public Library. 

"It's free, it runs from 11 till 5, and that's presentations on new books that are coming out by people who made them," says Johnston.

There are comic creators from all over who come to the event, including some big names.

This includes cartoon duo Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg from Pittsburgh, creators of Cartoonist Kayfabe, as well as Jay Roy, owner of Cape and Cowl comics presenting a book with an LGBT theme.

Then on Sunday, from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., a market with over 100 vendors will be set up at Alderney Landing.

Johnston says at the market you can purchase comics of all genres, from horror to science fiction to romance and everything in between.

"There's folks like Troy Little who works on Rick and Morty and Dungeons and Dragons. Brenda Hickey who works on My Little Pony," says Johnston. "And then you'll probably discover some that no one's even heard of, a new person who just wanted to try and show their work."

The comic proprietor wants people to know that comics are much more than just super heroes -- although there will be some of that too.

"Certainly there's going to be folks there with super hero comics that they've made themselves, but there's also folks who do comics about slice of life stories, things that are auto-biographical," says Johnston.

For those who love comics, the day is a way to come together to support each other's work. For those who are new to the genre, it's a great way to take the plunge into the world of cartoons.

"The story telling in comics is different from novels or television, it's very similar to storyboards in movies," adds Johnston. "It's another way of telling a story."

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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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