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Calgary comic creators leap off page and into Panel One Creator Festival

From pros to up-and-comers, the festival focuses entirely on local talent

A panel from Chelsea Crutchley’s Stray Sod, which will be featured at the Panel One Comic Creator Festival in Calgary.

Courtesy Chelsea Crutchley

A panel from Chelsea Crutchley’s Stray Sod, which will be featured at the Panel One Comic Creator Festival in Calgary.

From panels to, uh, panels, Panel One is back with a second bigger, badder and much improved Comic Creator Festival.

The Panel One Festival is like Calgary Expo, except stripped of the celebrities and focused exclusively on unique and locally created comic projects. The idea is to celebrate homegrown talent – and that’s from the guys and gals producing web comics in their basement to creators like Fiona Staples and Ryan Ferrier, who have produced best sellers for the likes of Marvel and DC.

One of the featured artists this year is Chelsea Crutchley, who runs the web comic Stray Sod. Crutchley will be hosting a panel on making a book – like a physical book. She’ll help go through the pitching, printing and self-publishing process.

She’ll also be on a panel about history and culture in comics.

Crutchley has been working on Stray Sod since 2013. The story follows an insecure teen looking for her missing sister in Ireland.

“She’s aided by a flirtatious elf with a hidden agenda,” Crutchley explained. “It draws on Irish folklore and it was an idea I had back in art school. It started as a film concept, and the idea stuck with me after graduation.”

For her, comic making is the way to go – it lets her control every detail, from design and words to sets and lighting.

Other panels this year include a workshop by famed Saga artist Fiona Staples, who will cover her drawing style and journey through the comic book industry.

Ashley Hartley, marketing manager for the festival, promised this year’s event will be about 20 tables bigger than the last one.

In 2016, when Panel One launched their first festival, it was a dip in the water, seeing if the community would come out and support local artists. Calgarians quickly embraced the idea.

“The more diversity we get within any arts and culture movement is really important, and makes it accessible,” Hartley said. “When you know something is local, as a fan, you stand behind it more, because you can say, ‘well, they’re from my hometown.’ It really does build this sense of community between fans and the creators.”

This year’s Panel One Festival takes place June 3 at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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