Tingfest honours regional comic artists of yesterday, today and tomorrow

An annual celebration of southwestern Ontario’s past, present and future comic and graphic artists has returned to downtown London. Located at the TAP Centre for Creativity, Tingfest features an art exhibit and events from April 16 to May 11. It’s named for the late Merle (Ting) Tingley, an editorial cartoonist for the London Free Press who died in 2017. He published cartoons from 1948 to 1986 and inspired a generation of artists, including Diana Tamblyn, who founded the festival a decade ago. “I became aware that he was alive and well and living in London over 10 years ago and I thought, ‘You know what? I think that it would be nice to celebrate him, to let him know that people still love him and also to show people that there is a wealth of talent in this area,'” said Tamblyn. Tingley drew a comic a day throughout his 40-year career. His work was so influential, said Tamblyn, that he drew his signature character Luke Worm to prove his identity at a bank one time while travelling out west. The walls of the TAP Centre for Creativity on Dundas Street are covered with work from artists with connections to London, Ont. (Michelle Both/ CBC News)This year’s Tingfest has the work of 12 artists on display. Aside from Tingley, they include creations from Kevin Hearn from the band Barenaked Ladies and Polaris Prize winner Lido Pimienta, along with Governor General Award-winning children’s illustrator Matt James.  “It’s a showcase,” said Tamblyn. “I think if you can see something, you can be something. So when people see Bryan Lee O’Malley [author of] Scott Pilgrim is from London, Ont. — he went to school here, he loves comic books — when kids see that, it’s like, ‘Hey, I could do that or you could do that.'” Events and workshops accompany the exhibit, which runs for more than three weeks, and are open to anyone. A reading and creation zone for children encourages youngsters to add their own work to a comic wall.The festival of comics and graphic art is named after Tingley, who drew political cartoons for the London Free Press for 40 years. (Michelle Both/ CBC News)The Ting Zine Expo highlights local zine creators and self-publishers, and a Ting Edition Comic Jam will have participants illustrating what they feel is the Heart of London. The festival is now on at TAP. To learn more and register for some workshops, go to the gallery’s website.

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