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Comics Festival!
By Various
Published by Legion of Evil Press; FREE

While Marvel and DC have settled into a predictable reprint rut on Free Comic Book Day, The Toronto Comic Art Festival has chosen to put their best possible foot forward, putting together one of the classiest anthology comics I've ever seen, and at a price that literally cannot be beat.

Comics Festival! kicks off with a wonderous Darwyn Cooke cover, Cooke operating in something of a claire ligne style that serves to both sum up both the joys of comics in general and this one in particular. Note the delight on every face; note the energy and enthusiasm the image conveys. Note the sardonic wall of old posters, revealing the length and breadth of comics from Ghost World to X-Men, and implicitly, everywhere in-between. If a print is ever made of this gorgeous cover, I want one.

The first strip in the issue is a one-pager, Bryan Lee O'Malley giving us a new page of Scott Pilgrim to enjoy while we impatiently await the release of Volume Two of that terrific series. A brief preview of Seth's next graphic novel follows, and then a team-up of Dave Sim and Chester Brown. Cover artist Darwyn Cooke then provides "The Day Big Star Retired," a witty response to the current hack-'n-slash corporate comics approach, with a punchline that could not be more true, or more timely.

We also have two excellent Street Angel one-pagers here (here's one of 'em), many more new strips by other notable cartoonists, and a James Jean back cover that fully demonstrates why Jean has come to be one of the most highly regarded cover artists in comics.

At the low, low price of FREE, I don't feel like I should have to do much arm-twisting to get you to give Comics Festival! a look on Free Comic Book Day. I will say, though, that as an artcomix project dominated by Canadians, chances are most retailers won't stock this as heavily as they will the Batman or Spider-Man reprints that DC and Marvel are tossing out there for FCBD. So make sure you get to your shop early on Saturday, May 7th, and grab a copy of Comics Festival!. It's fresh, it's cool, and it's fun. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane

Comics Festival! will be available at participating comics shops on Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 7th, 2005. Special thanks to Earthworld Comics.



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