Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Whazamo! The TCAF Artist Series, with Paul Gilligan

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Every May, Open Book celebrates the outstanding graphic novels and comics published here in Ontario and throughout the country with Whazamo! Check out Open Book's Whazamo! page all month long for interviews, news and original comics.

This spring, we teamed up with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) to ask Canadian comic creators about their work. The artists, who were at TCAF earlier this month, were asked to answer one of our three questions: Why should everyone read comics? Who is your audience? What inspired you to start making comics?

Click on Paul Gilligan's hilarious Pooch Cafe comic and then read on to find out why he got into cartooning:

I got into cartooning because of a kid named Marco. He was the best athlete in my grade two class. I was the worst. He would organize soccer games at recess, and even though he and I were friends (my family had a pool) I was always left over at the end of the selection process. It would come down to me and Avi Schwartzman, the only kid in class shorter than me (Avi had a laundry list of medical conditions and a Darth Vader-esque wheeze). If nothing else I could always count on being picked ahead of Avi. Then one day Marco picked Avi before me. The next day I didn’t let Marco swim in my family’s pool, and I started cartooning. I copied Don Martin drawings out of a Mad magazine and the other kids gathered around and cooed. My ego was porous, so it went to my head. I was given the impression that cartoonists had groupies. So I quit my guitar lessons and spent my recesses drawing while the other kids kicked the ball. As years went by no groupies appeared, but it is now my job to envision and chronicle things like giant cat-catapults and canine strike negotiations, and I never think about soccer at all. — Paul Gilligan

Paul studied animation and illustration at Sheridan College before embarking on a career in illustration, first in advertising and then as an on-staff illustrator at The Ottawa Citizen newspaper, winning awards in both fields. He then began freelancing in multiple areas and styles including cartooning, painting, character design, storyboarding, and comics. His comic strip, Pooch Café, is syndicated in 250 newspapers worldwide by Universal Press, was nominated in 2009 for best strip by the National Cartoonist Society, and is currently being developed by Sony Animation for a feature-length CGI movie with himself as screenwriter. He currently resides in Toronto.

Read more about Paul and his comics at

Click on Paul's comic to enlarge. The image can be further enlarged by clicking on the icon with four arrows in the right-hand corner.

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Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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