Ken Steacy

Ken Steacy

Superheroes on display as Camosun College hosts comic conference

Talent from first class of Comics & Graphic Novels program, working comic artists demonstrate work

While superheroes and Archie have dominated the comic book world, the flexibility of the medium allows writers to tell deep, substantive and moving stories.

With a 40-year career as a writer and illustrator, Ken Steacy knows firsthand the storytelling potential of comics and graphic novels. That’s why he and his wife, Joan, launched a Comics & Graphic Novels certificate program last fall at Camosun College.

“We teach comics and graphic novels as a language – the language of visual storytelling; this wonderful synergy that is created when words and pictures collide,” he said. “Visual storytelling is now starting to be used to educate, to inform and to empower.”

Steacy’s talents have been used to tell the stories of some of the comic book world’s most famous characters, including Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men and Astro Boy. He’s currently working on revamping the province’s FoodSafe training manual, using visual storytelling techniques to improve that learning experience.

Sunday marks the culmination of the first year of offering the program at Camosun. To celebrate graduation, the 16 students will show off their works as part of a one-day Comics Conference at the school’s Lansdowne campus.

“Our students have shown a strong desire to create more substantive stories, more personal and of a dramatic nature,” Steacy said. “I think we’re all hardwired as storytellers, it’s what kind of binds us together as human beings. We communicate through stories and this is a wonderful medium for our stories.”

Comics & Graphic Novels provides students training on the art (both traditional and digital), fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting and marketing. It’s the only program of its kind in Canada.

The free Comic Conference runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 7 on the third floor of the Lansdowne campus’ Young building.

Event will include displays and presentations from working artists, including Paul Chadwick (Concrete), Anne Marie Fleming (The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam) and Sam Logan (Sam & Fuzzy).

Steacy says plans currently are in the works to expand the program to a two-year diploma.

In the meantime, however, registration for the 2013 fall program is currently open. For information, contact Steacy at steacyk@camosun.bc.ca.

kslavin@saanichnews.com