Call for Artist Applications: Immigration Detention in Canada – Law and Lived Experience

#LeaveNoOneBehind Graffiti by Etienne Girardet

Project description

The Comics Studies Research Cluster at UBC is seeking applications from cartoonists to work on an exciting new graphic novel project. The project seeks to capture the lived experience of Canadian immigration detention through comics.  The project will involve working with 2-3 individuals who arrived in Canada as refugees and were subject to immigration detention. The content of the graphic novels will then explore each individual’s story, based on interviews with the individuals and media produced in collaboration with them.

The goal of the project is to convey the day-to-day life of immigration detention – from the uncertainty and boredom to the trauma and loss. Each graphic narrative will be 20-30 pages long and will focus on different aspects of the experience as told by each individual.


What we are looking for

We are seeking 1-3 experienced artists from across Canada who are keen to engage with this topic and have the necessary background and skills to capture these complex human experiences through comics. Artists should be keen to work collaboratively (in person or via Zoom) with the subjects of their comics to co-produce the material and bring these stories to life. In particular, we seek applications from artists who have the capacity to engage with this difficult material and have the time to commit to the process of relationship-building required to create graphic narratives of roughly 20-30 pages each.


Project Timeline*

The project will begin on February 1, 2024, and will develop by way of the following stages (please note that date ranges are approximate and will be adjusted to account for vacation time and ensure workload balance):

Stage 1 (Feb 15-29, 2024): Meetings with the individuals whose stories we will be telling will be scheduled in person and /or via Zoom.  The goal of these meetings is to allow the artist to learn about and understand immigration detention and its experiences.

Stage 2 (March 1-April 15): The artist will receive a preliminary account of one individual’s story and additional research material. The artist will be asked to produce thumbnails for graphic narratives for review and approval. Thumbnails are due March 31st.

Stage 3 (April 15-July 15): The artist will begin creating the first graphic narrative. Drafts of the first graphic narrative will be due on or around June 30, 2024 (to be determined). The artist will be provided with comments and requested revisions within two weeks. The final version of the first graphic narrative is due on or around September 15, 2024.

Stage 4 (Fall 2024): The artist will be invited to join in various dissemination and launch events.

*this timeline is subject to change depending on the artists’ and participants’ availabilities. Proposed timelines with later start dates are also possible.



Artists will receive compensation that aligns with their experience. We are committed to ensuring meaningful compensation and have the funding to offer a generous honorarium (up to $10,000 per graphic narrative) commensurate with experience.


Application Instructions:

Application materials should include the following in one PDF document:

  • Letter of Interest (maximum 1 page)
  • 3 examples of comic art (maximum 10 pages)
  • OPTIONAL Creative Statement for working with these themes

Please submit your application by email to Dr. Biz Nijdam, Director of the UBC Comics Studies Cluster, at

Applications are due Monday, February 5th, 2024, by 5 pm PST.  Shortlisted candidates will be invited for a brief interview via Zoom at a mutually convenient time. Artists notified of their selection by February 15, 2024.


For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Biz Nijdam, UBC Comics Studies Cluster at