New York Times best-selling author and manga creator Aya Kanno is scheduled to make her first North American appearance at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), which runs from May 9 through May 10, 2015, courtesy of VIZ Media.
According to the official festival website, Kanno is going to have book signing sessions in addition to appearing in a panel and feature interview. Although VIZ Media itself is not listed among the exhibitors for the convention, Aya Kanno is listed as having her own table.
Kanno is perhaps most well-known through her best-selling 18-volume series, Otomen. The title combines the English term, “men” with the Japanese term, “otome”, which means “young girl.” As the title roughly implies, the series explores traditional Japanese gender roles through its characters, the protagonist being a manly man who has girly interests.
Currently in publication is Kanno’s newest series, Requiem of the Rose King, a re-telling Shakespeare’s Richard III and Henry VI with her own spin on the story and its characters. According to VIZ Media Editor Joel Enos, Rose King is quite a bit darker than Otomen, which is a romantic comedy.
“Aya Kanno returns to a darker, gothic inspired aesthetic, reworking Shakespeare’s classic tragedy about poisonous Machiavellian ambition into a ruthless and beautiful new series. Her Richard is a cunning, flawed prince determined to secure the throne for his family!”
However, what both titles have in common is their exploration of gender and the roles of men and women in society. Her ability to tackle poignant, relevant topics with her storytelling is one of the reasons TCAF Director Christopher Butcher has noted for Kanno’s appearance at the festival.
“We’re so happy to be able to welcome Aya Kanno to North America for the first time. To my mind Kanno’s work really reinforces what TCAF is all about: unique, diverse voices and great comics! Shoujo manga, or ‘girls’ manga, doesn’t really get the respect it deserves in general, and Kanno’s work is specifically great, smartly interrogating the medium and its approach to gender, sexuality, and storytelling.”
Other manga creators attending the festival include Gurihiru, Gengoroh Tagame, and Ken Niimura. Unlike big comics-related conventions like the San Diego Comic-Con or New York Comic Con, TCAF is a literary festival held at the Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, Canada. As a small festival that celebrates comics in a similar fashion as the Small Press Expo, it is an opportunity for comic creators to interact with comic readers. Convention activities like dressing up in costume, or cosplay, is not encouraged. Admission is free and open to the public.
[Image source: Twitter]