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WORK YOUR CRAFT LIKE A VILLAIN

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PUBLISHER. CREATIVE DIRECTOR. EDITOR IN CHIEF. JOSHUA DUCHESNE joshua@archemag.com

EDITOR. HEATHER PIERCE heather@archemag.com

CONTRIBUTORS. JOSÉ GONZALEZ JULIAN FRID ROBERT IVENIUK

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LITTLE BOXES

LGBT relationships for kids

BLACK HOLE HUNTER’S CLUB

‘sci-fi noir western’

FROM THE CREATOR

THANKS

SAVAGE:

toronto author writes his family and his wrestling hero

EDITORIAL

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STRUGGLING ARTIST STIGMA

debunking the stereotype

Lear n mor e ab ou t u s . arch enemy m a gazi ne .c om

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The idea for Archenemy began as a simple magazine about comics. The name: a reference to a character archetype. the more we discovered in our explorations, the more the idea grea and changed. Soon, the name “Archenemy� began to evoke creativity itself through the concept of a villain with their master plan, imagination and drive.

Beyond this imagery, I see Archenemy as an effore by those whose passion it is to collect, explore, share and contribute creative works from our city of Toronto, the GTA and Canada. We want to encrouage thinking, investigate work, discuss our creative lives and share our experiences of the city. Archenemy gives us something to help us do it.

Joshua Duchesne Founder

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: So you’ve been an animator for a while, how long exactly? JODI SANDLER: Umm, I graduated in 07… So. : From Sheridan? JS: Ya. So it’s been 6 years. : How was the program? JS: Intense. : Ya, I heard that a lot of the animation and illustration programs. JS: Did you go to Sheridan? : Well I went to Sheridan but I went through U of T with the joint Art & Art History Program. So my studio courses weren’t as heavy. I mean we could dabble in whatever and it was a very contemporary art base so it was sometimes a lot more conceptual. So tell me about your time there. JS: I loved it. I had taken art classes in highschool and I applied [to the animation program] but I didn’t get in so I took Art Fundamentals. : Everybody takes Art Fundies JS: Ya. Which was like just the best party. Fun, Laid back but there to work. I took it seriously. I got in through spec admissions which is actually the last year they accepted students through that so I actually got it before they turned it into a ba. So I applied, got in and as long as I kept my gpa up in the next semester- I was in. In that time they said ‘oh btw now it’s a BA’ so you had to make sure you had the credentials which I did. So it was kind of like I waited so long to get there and then I was there. But then 1st year was a bit of a wake up call because I got there and was like whats storyboarding and I didn’t really think or know about how animation was an industry and not just a job. : But that didn’t deter you. JS: No I mean there was- in our year there was 4 classes so it was an intimate group like kindergarten. It’s the same 30 ppl in all ur classes and it was pretty quickly that I realized that I was working hard but other students would get their work shown in class. And I was like my stuff looks nothing like that and I got good marks but I just wasn’t like top caliber. It’s just we all have our own journey right? That put me in check first year and I realized I was probably at the bottom of one of the better classes but I was still at the bottom. You know when you grow up in high school and you’re the artist in the school or your class, you know, everyone thinks of you as this great artist and you kind of thing ya I will be great one day. Then you get into an elite program and by second year everything gets elevated because you think I’m not gonna get where I want to be.

NEXT ON 18


EXAMINING THE STRUGGLING-ARTIST STIGMA

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T

he empty fridge, the leaky

These numbers may seem like a deterrent from pursuing

faucet, and the soiled mattress that form

a profession in the arts, but it hasn’t stopped young

the stereotype of the artist’s studio has all

people from picking up a brush (or anything else for that

the glamour of malnourishment, poor hygiene, and not

matter). The first step for most young artists seeking

having enough friends to help dump out a dingy piece

to build their artistic career is a large blow to their

of furniture. In spite of the cruel romantic image of

finances: enrolling in a university or college program.

the suffering artist, the reality for most contemporary

The Waging Culture report describes most visual artists

visual artists involve living conditions more conducive

as “extremely well educated”, almost twice as educated

to actually living, and a social life that extends

as the national average. Whereas many young people enrol

outside

of

their

own

personal

in higher education with the hope

demons.

of building a financially secure career, most artists don’t go to

Yet the stereotype of the starving

school with the same intent.

artist isn’t based on romanticism alone. There are some stark facts

Aside from theory and a space to

backing it up: according to “Waging

practice, an education in the arts

Culture”,

socio-economic

offers young artists access to new

status report of Canadian visual

people and ideas. “You have the

artists by Michael Maranda of York

opportunity to be pushed outside

a

2007

University, visual artists earn a far worse living than

your normal boundaries. And that’s what school can do

the average Canadian. The typical artist earns $20,000

for you, if you let it,” says Jessica Vallentin, a

a year; compare this to the average Canadian’s earning

student of the joint program with the University of

of $26,850. Even more startling was that only 43.6 per

Toronto and Sheridan College. “The whole community that

cent of artists earned a profit from studio practice,

I was able to work with are still... huge connections

which means most artists lost money from their artistic

for me.”

endeavours. The report strikingly highlights the real financial challenges of becoming an artist.

Sebastian Koever, a visual artist, had a similar result meeting artists at the beginning of his career. “You’ll

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meet someone who is just as crazy as you are, or way

or make things, you’re meeting people...and then you’re

off the deep end, so you can gauge what level you want

thinking about this person’s practice as you’re putting

to dive into.”

it up and coming to your own realizations.”

The value in meeting new people and broadening one’s

It’s also worth noting that a gallery position is not to

perspective can offer a wealth of new inspiration and

be confused with an unpaid internship, so an artist is

opportunities, ones that hold true once students step

still volunteering their time for free. And while there

outside the classroom and into the world of surviving as

isn’t much money involved and it isn’t as demanding

an artist. It’s here that most young artists fall into

as a full time job, the contacts a young artist can

the familiar stereotype: working a

make through the gallery can be

job you hate to support a passion.

incredibly valuable.

The numbers certainly back this up with the majority of the average

Aside from continuing to evolve your

artist’s

a

craft, the most challenging part

non-arts job. Spending your days

of transitioning from a student to

serving

nights

a professional artist is learning

support

the business side of the equation.

a career related to your passion

While it would be nice to imagine

is the route most young people in

an artist free from concerns of

taking

income

coffee drink

coming

and

orders

your to

from

today’s economy are faced with, and young artists are

material necessities, most artists throughout history

no exception.

have dealt with the pesky need for food, clothing, and other essentials that need a liveable wage to support.

After leaving school, Vallentin described how she would spend the week doing odd jobs to pay the bills while

Brad Dicks, marketing and communications manager for

making time for creating her own artwork. She also

Work In Culture, a web platform dedicated to helping

took the chance to volunteer at galleries helping set

artists start their career, identified weak spots in

up installations. “You’re learning about the artists

an artist’s skill set. These include how to market

you’re working with, you’re learning about how to build

themselves, engage in social/digital media, and manage

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themselves as a business. He explains: “These are the

in other words living on the better end of that typical

types of skills that typically artists know that they

wage of $20,000 a year—is that those artists who enter

need, but [they] have a hard time finding them in terms

the field at a younger age are more successful.Beginning

that are artist friendly or that speak to their...

your career in the visual arts around the age of 25 is

talents specifically.”

associated with greater success and a more realistic chance at living off your passion. Perhaps the optimism

In spite of these challenges, or perhaps because of

of young artists like Vallentin and Koever reflect this

them, artist support networks have become far more

fact best. The confidence of beginning your career at a

common. The mutual difficulties facing artists binds

young age, coupled with the sense of community fostered

them as a community rather than

in the art world, can make the

turning them against one another.

harrowing road of an artist much

There’s

easier to walk.

certainly

bound

to

be

some competition for grant money, but camaraderie is a more common

An artist might scoff at the idea

feeling, especially amongst young

of pursuing a vacuous career for

artists today.

a

six-figure

to “The

whole

point

of

art

is

survive

income;

as

a

being

working

able

artist

to

is the ideal many strive towards.

encourage each other,” said Koever

Ultimately the real challenge for

of his experience with the art community. “Whenever

an artist is finding an audience. The resources are there

somebody makes it I think to myself, ‘Oh, he figured

so long as you’re willing to embrace the challenges that

it out!’ and I become positive...so I do my best to

come along with them and look for the friendly artists

encourage people.”

who will help you along.

There

is

a

slight

silver

lining

for

young

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visual

artists who might be scared off from plunging into the JOSÉ GONZALEZ

hazardous world of a career in the arts. One of the better predictors for successfully living as an artist—

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: So you finished school and when did you start little boxes. JODI SANDLER: Oh that’s recent! That was in the last few months. I mean I’ve been drawing it for a while but maybe six months. It just kinda happened because originally I did- I thought it was nice- I don’t celebrate Christmas, my family’s jewish, my girlfriend is a smily so she muslim, so none of us are really celebrating anything but I have a mixed family now with my sisiter and her family so celebrate Christmas. So we get presents and I thought it would be nice if I got my girlfriend a sketchbook because she’s kind of artistic and she’ll doodle in mine but I didn’t get the response I wanted. She was just like “Oh… thanks…” So she said she’d give it a try but I had to draw something on the first page. And I get that because the first page is always… : It’s daunting. JS: Very. So I did one of us with our cat. It wasn’t quite what you see the characters doing now but they were simplilfied. I got a lot of good responses from that and people saying it was cute. I do a lot of corporate stuff and I kinda like doing cute. If you’ve seen my sapphic sketches they’re not cute. The thing about animation is that to be able to do something simple is a really tough task. You have to be able to understand and really break things down into their simplest forms. To be able to do it simply but still get personality and emotion across. It was more of an exercise where I thought I’d try and take that drawing and break it down and try and make the simplest form. : And It just turned into something. JS: Ya! You know, it’s weird because normally you draw small comics and then develop shorts but they kind of were shorts before they were comics. : What I think Is great about [Little Boxes] is that it’s taking a kind of, almost a mundane thing that is a relationship but you’re giving this view into a lesbian relationship that a lot of people don’t realize. I mean, I don’t really know anything about lesbian relationships- I didn’t even get some of the jokes until you explained them to me! So it’s interesting that you’re breaking down these dumb stereotypical ideas and jokes and making them funny. JS: Well, ya. Its just basically about two girls, two young girls. Too young to actually be sexual but they’re best friends that are soulmates and they just experience life. Really the aim is to debunk the clichés that are portrayed in our media. But it’s really just to kind of immortalize our relationship in a childlike manner. We met in our 20s and we always talk about how we would have been best friends as kids because we both have this weird, odd sense of hunor that really makes us best friends. So it’s really just about taking the spirit of our relationship and putting it into these two characters in the most innocent way. : That’s really what the idea of what a relationship should be once you remove sex. It’s just two best friends. JS: Exactly.

NEXT ON 30


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“Archie”

archenemymagazine.com

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JODI SANDLER: The LBGT community didn’t take that well to Little Boxes. (Unlike Jodi’s Sapphic sketches) I sometimes do these contests where I give free prints away and nobody really wants Little Boxes. I think it’s more- it seems to get a better response from my friends and family because I guess [The LBGT community] isn’t looking for cute stuff so much. Which is strange because there’s not a lot of visibility when it comes to ‘regular’ characters. ‘Regular’ lesbians. I wanted to get it out there because you don’t see a lot of kids- I mean if gorwing up I had seen a short haired little girl whos not afaraid to just be herself- It’s got a good message. : I think the idea to have something that’s lgbt oriented but geared toward kids is a good one. I’m speaking from ignorance here but I don’t imagine there is a lot of support for young people, in the media or elsewhere, of their own sexuality and trying to understand it. JS: To me it was really for young kids and I think if I had seen a book like that I may not have really understood it but I would have remembered it and come to appreciate that something like that was out there. When I was a kid there was nothing like it. My nephew is 9 now but since he was born I was just like “He’s going to know. There’s no hiding.” I was out at 23 which was kind of late but once I came out I was thought “I am not going back in.” I remember my sister being so mad at me one day because [my nephew] was telling everyone at school his aunt was a lesbian. All of the kids went home and were asking their parents what a lesbian was. So she got so angry with me and I said “You’re welcome,” because her kid knows what’s up and he understands it the same way as he understands that his mother has a boyfriend. You don’t have to explain the sexual part- it’s a relationship.

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adspace_1.pdf

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top me if you’ve heard this one: a gun-slinging

“You see that?” Heron pointed at a small stain on one of

spider and a shape-shifting slug walk into a bar.

the original BHHC pages. “Ricky poured water all over

Rather, the slug, disguised as a human, walks into

this. Ruined it forever.”

S

a bar, and the spider—who is also his brother—bursts in through the window and when his cover’s blown shoots

Lima laughed at the accusation. “It’s not a lot!”

into the crowd, just as the actual human they’re trying

Heron shook his head. “See what I have to deal with?

to capture turns an electro-sceptre weapon on them.

He’s a monster.”

I forget where I was going with that.

Black Hole Hunters Club changed significantly since its creation, I learned. Originally planned by Heron as a

Actually, what I’ve just described is a scene from

sci-fi action story, it featured the main characters as

the first issue of Ricky Lima and Shane Heron’s Black

visitors from another world helping Earth prepare for

Hole Hunters Club. Born out of characters from Heron’s

an alien invasion. While collaborating with Heron on

sketchbook and brought to life by Lima’s equally mad

a contribution to the Twelve-Hour Comic Jam, Lima saw

mind, this new indie gem is a sci-fi noir western and

Heron’s original ideas for BHHC and developed them into

has been slowly gaining critical acclaim.

what it is today.

I met with the creators one stormy afternoon in Shane

Black Hole Hunters Club focuses on a pair of down-on-

Heron’s apartment in midtown Toronto. Original pages

their-luck intergalactic bounty hunters struggling to

and unfinished sketches for the next issue lined a

make a name for themselves and follow in the footsteps

table adjacent to Heron’s large glass drawing board.

of their father. As Lars and Hector, the aforementioned

As tempting as it was to take a peak, however, I found

slug and spider-like aliens, complete their mission

myself focusing more on the men themselves. Far taller

in the inaugural issue, they get wrapped up in a web

than his colleague, the soft-spoken, full-bearded Lima

of intrigue involving a merciless gun-for-hire, their

is the picture of a gentle giant. Heron, meanwhile, has

missing patriarch, and a map to a black hole. Possessing

a perpetual, mischievous leer, and is chattier and far

a

surlier.

rife with detail, and imaginative characters, BBHC is

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gritty

cartoon

aesthetic,

creatively

inked

pages


heralded as a fast-paced and gleefully sardonic romp that is well worth the time to read.

“I’m not at coming up with a lot of ideas, myself,” Lima admitted, “I tend to expand on other people’s ideas. In this case, it’s great, because Shane has a lot of ideas.”

“There’s a lot of stories that I want to tell,” Heron added,

“Unfortunately,

I’m

not

good

at

things

like

plotting or structure, so that’s where we find our balance.”

Many partnerships have their tensions, but thankfully Heron and Lima only seem to disagree over characters’ names. The most recent debate involved the naming of the Hunters Club’s antagonist, Ne’flav. “Ricky wanted to name him Nigel,” Heron scoffed. “And I said, ‘No, no, Nigel is the name of a crappy Die Hard villain. He’s Ne’flav.”

Lima waved off his colleague’s complaint, “Naming is interesting in this case, because we want to really focus on that fine line between bizarre and relatable, alien and human. We create this disconnect when we have all these non-human characters with names like Hector or Trevor.”

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“I just want them to be as alien as possible,” Heron explained, “We’re always talking about life on other worlds, and how it won’t be the same as it is here, because different planets have different atmospheres and gravities. Even then, who knows what we’d find? Species with more than two sexes, or societies where no one has a name?”

It is that desire to mix the strange with the normal that drives BHHC, particularly with the juxtaposition between aliens and a western. Showdowns in saloons, hijackings, and daring rescues are all familiar tropes to us, but not in this sort of setting. Lima, however, finds this marriage of sci-fi and westerns to be more than fitting: “Space is, in fact, the final frontier. Any time you set a story in space, it becomes a western, because there is a certain lawlessness to the idea of being out there in the cosmos.”

“There’s something beautiful about westerns, anyway,” Heron added, “You can get away with so much. Like, you could shoot a guy and not get arrested, because all you’d have to say is ‘Ah, he stole my beer!’ In the end, though, it’s not about the genre. It’s about the characters. Space is just the backdrop.”

As for keeping the science in science fiction, something that many creators come under scrutiny for ignoring,

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they’re unnecessary. Worry about the diagrams later. Better yet, let someone else do that.”

However, BHHC isn’t all about hover bikes and monsters. Beneath

the

comic’s

mad

exterior

is

a

far-deeper

quandary: the dilemma of living up to the standards of your parents. Time and again, the main characters lament the disappearance of their father and wonder how they would ever live up to his legacy. This plagues the characters all the way up to the current issue, where recent events reveal their father in a different light. It is a motif as old as the stories it’s featured in, and certainly no less compelling—particularly with how BHHC tells it.

“It’s a universal feeling, I think,” Heron mused, “That idea of wanting a father’s love, or at least that need Heron remains critical. “Look at the original Star Wars

for a parent. With boys, when you’re young, you tend

and the Force. Star Wars has that right mix of alien and

to idealize your dad. He’s the strongest, his car’s

relatable, but the Force is straight up magic. When you

the coolest, all that. Then you become a teenager and

give it an explanation, then you end up bogged down with

suddenly you hate him. Once you’re an adult, a lot of

so many arbitrary rules that you have to follow.”

us learn to embrace what we like about our fathers and fight against what we don’t, because one way or another,

With a knowing nod, Lima related his own experiences

you turn into your dad.”

with up-and-coming sci-fi writers, “Details can hinder the creative process. I’ve met so many people who come

“You always want to live up to those standards,” Lima

up with ideas for stories but get snagged on all these

explained “I mean, I do, absolutely, but part of growing

little

up is also learning to break away from them.”

mechanics.

It’s

a

shame,

because

most

times

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“Your

life

colleague,

is

too

“Ricky’s

normal,

though,”

weird.

His

Heron

parents

told are

his

still

together, his dad didn’t beat him, and yet he can write all this dark, emotional stuff.”

Laughing, Lima shrugged his shoulders. “There’s different kinds of pain out there, man.”

Three of six issues of the BHHC miniseries has been published and can be found online at blackholecomics.storenvy.com

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ROBERT IVENIUK

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: Hello! JS: Hi! : How are you? JS: Good Good. : I guess we’ll just start talking about your work. Let’s just get into it! JS: Ya!

Jodi Sandler is a Toronto-based freelance animator and artist.  Since completing a BAA-Animation at Sheridan College in 2007, Jodi has independently produced short films, corporate promos and music videos for bands such as Uh Huh Her, Sixpence None the Richer, Sick of Sarah, and the legendary Heart.

JODISANDLER.COM


THANKS, TORONTO and Jodi Sandler Ricky Lima Shane Heron

special thanks Nathaniel G. Moore

VISI T ARC HENEMYMAGA ZINE.C OM FOR MORE AR TICLES, EVENTS, REVIEWS, A N D O T H E R I N T E R E S T I N G T H I N G S A B O U T T O R O N T O ’ S C R E AT I V E S I D E .

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