Jim Munroe & Shannon Gerard present...
Sword of My Mouth #1
If Ella didn’t have her baby, she’d go crazy from the loneliness. But she might still go crazy from the guilt, because the baby isn’t quite right. The world was simpler before the righteous floated away into the sky, and magic started working. An all-new 6 issue story continuing on from the acclaimed graphic novel Therefore Repent!
Sword of My Mouth is set in the urban prairie of Detroit, where a different kind of struggle is faced. Folks in the D have banded together to turn land with burned out crackhouses into farming tracts, and seem to be on a road to self-sufficiency -- until Famine rides into town. Written by Jim Munroe (“a pop culture provocateur” - Austin Chronicle) nomediakings.org Drawn by Shannon Gerard. shannongerard.org B&W - 32 pages - $3.99 - See PREVIEWS page 266. Diamond Previews code: MAR09 4308
Comics - page 1 Fiona Smyth - page 2 Robot Johnny
- page 6 Mahendra Singh - page 10 Willow Dawson
- page 11 Danny Zabbal & Sean Ward - page 14 Salgood Sam
Articles - page 2 A Million Mouths to Read: The Jesse Jacobs Interview By Bryan Munn - page 4 The Wright Stuff By Brad Mackay - page 5 Jimmy Frise (1891-1948) By Bryan Munn
- page 10 10 Ways to Get Your Writing Out There By Jim Munroe - page 12 Mr. Trembles: Artist, Exhibitionist, Enigma By Robin Fisher
- page 6 The end of a love story in three parts By Robin Fisher
- page 14 Two-Way Street: Quebec Graphic Novels Struggle for Acceptance in France By Bryan Munn
- page 8 Web Comic Reviews & Panels and Pixels of the North. By Jamie Coville
- page 20 You are about to become a Master of Time. By Robert Pincombe
Creative Commons Attribution-NoncommercialNo Derivative Works 2.5
Foreword Welcome to the fist print edition of Sequential, the Canadian Comics and Culture Blog. When Bryan suggested we do something for TCAF it was one of those ‘yes of course, that’s what this moment is for’ moments. As an artist working on my own graphic novel projects and attempts to pay the bills, I was a bit bummed that I would not have a new book at this year’s Toronto Comic Art Festival. My next book is slated for October, so it’ll be another two years before I can present some fresh pulp at the festival! I’ve a long history as a n’er-do-well zine & web publisher: really the most fun in the world sometimes is herding the cats and getting a publication out there, comic or otherwise. At first we thought maybe just a little zine - but events confluenced and I did the lets see what we can pull off dance, and thanks to my friends at Guerilla printing and a few advertisers, I’m extremely pleased to present 24 free pages of cool comics and articles drawn from the ranks of people we talk about and link to on Sequential.spiltink.org. As I write this it’s two thirds done, all the major art is in, and I have to just say, WOW, thanks to EVERYONE, amazing job guys. I’ve got a few of my own pages
in the back here but this thing is what it is because some very talented people trusted me and my crazy ideas with their babies. These pages contain a small selection from some of the best Northern Panelologists going. And yes, you can tell your anti-comics friends [I use the term loosely] that you are in it for the articles. Our blog is dedicated to supporting Canadian creators and publishers, as is this publication. There wasn’t much of a plan here beyond that. But while we didn’t go chasing too much after the most well known A-list creators, this edition of Sequential still contains nothing but firstrate comics and comics reportage. I like to ponder that - we have a lot to offer the world and each other these days, the talent we have all around us. - I’m pleased to say we’ve managed to cover just a little of it in these pages. And it is good. Also please to present some comic pages of my own in the back, they and the cover art belong to Dream Life, one of the stories you’ll find in RevolveR this fall from IDW. So hup, hoorah, and how do you do? Have a seat, we hope you enjoy the view! Max aka Salgood Sam Publisher/editor/artist/writer/etc sequential.spiltink.org www.salgoodsam.com
A Million Mouths to Read: The Jesse Jacobs Interview By Bryan Munn
Jesse Jacobs produces beautiful comics that combine playful doodle art, poetry, and stream-of-consciousness into a unique graphic worldview. His One Million Mouths comic strip, regularly published in Halifax’s The Coast newspaper, is a witch’s brew of cuddly robots, pop culture reflections, personal insight, and nature studies. In 2008, Jacobs produced two delightful minicomics that drew the attention of the Doug Wright Awards: Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow and Small Victories. BM Sequential: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to do comics? Jesse Jacobs: I studied, primarily printmaking, drawing, and illustration, at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design). My final year there I spent drawing comics and reading lots of them and skateboarding. I had a very understanding advisor who allowed me a lot of freedom with my work and I ended up drawing lots of comics that, at the time, I thought were really great but it turns out they weren’t. Making comics is fun. You can draw anything as long as you put squares around them and sometimes you don’t even have to do that and they’re still comics. Also, I’ve learned to always write the text first and then draw the speech balloon or else you will run out of room and have to squish thelastwordstightlytogether. You can’t learn those kinds of tricks in any fancy college. S: What kind of comics scene is there in Halifax?
JJ:I lived in Halifax for many years, it’s a great city with a lot of comic talent. While I was still studying I put out some issues of a comics anthology called Lucky comics (this was before we had heard of Gabrielle Bell’s stellar work) with my friends Peter Diamond and Chris Lockerbie. I remember reading someplace that the average life span of a zine is three issues, but we managed to make four of those books so I guess we did all right. I’m living in London Ontario now, which is still new to me, and I don’t know many people so I have a lot of time to draw. My friend Laura Kenins puts out a great book called “Birch Control” and the previously mentioned Chris Lockerbie publishes a hilarious comic with his brother called “Culprit”. Those are pretty good comics. S: How did One Million Mouths get its start? JJ: The Coast has always been very supportive of my drawings. I started doing drawings to accompany stories and I drew some covers and then began drawing One Million Mouths. One Million Mouths actually started as a minicomic I made, a real emo style thing that I kind of shudder when I read now. I have a hard time looking at stuff I made a few years ago. I can almost hear my future self while I’m working now,
protesting in disgust. I think the title one million mouths came from the nature of the comic, the lack of consistent themes, and I counted all the mouths drawn in all my comics and there was one million of them but that was a few years ago there are probably like two million now. I was working as a graphic designer at a printshop for a while, doing colour separations and cad cutting and things like that. It was a great job; the owners let me use their shop for my own work, which was a fantastic benefit. Right now I’m squeaking by on money I’m making from illustrating. My lifestyle is cheap and I steal all my groceries. S: Sometimes your comics feel very expressive and spiritual and sometimes they feel very jokey. Is it a struggle to balance art and entertainment? Is this an effect you are consciously trying for? JJ: I approach comic making as openly as possible, as I tend to get bored with the work if I put too many restrictions on it. I pretty much draw or write what I’m thinking about at the time, especially with One Million Mouths and Small Victories. A lot of that stuff is drawn at bars or friend’s houses without any planning or preparations, just ink. Hopefully the work acts as a sort of extension of what’s around me and how I’m feeling. With the longer stories I map out the plot and am conscious of where the story is going, but I usually write the dialogue as I go along, editing and reworking the words in a final review. I guess above all I want the process to be enjoyable. That way I do lots of drawings. S: What is it about the natural world that appeals to you as a subject for comics? JJ: I love drawing trees and animals and that kind of stuff. There is a park by my house with a river and I have a spot where I hang out and draw and smoke sometimes. It’s my favorite place right now, but it’s disappointing to see houses in the distance, a reminder of my suburban living. I was walking around there when all the ice was melting and it was so stunning, the way the light was refracting, and then I noticed that quite a bit of the ice hanging on the trees was actually plastic washed up from the river. I just pretended it wasn’t though. Above all I like how nature looks, it’s all really well done. It’s worth trying to draw it. S: The protagonist of Blue Winter is a bird who can change into a human boy --there are alot of birds in your comics. Can you talk about the creation of the book?
and spending a lot of time feeding the birds and squirrels and this one handsome rabbit and I remember feeling the trepidation in the air as winter approached. They all knew it was coming and the desperation shot from their eyes like laser beams. The winter always kicks my ass and I live in a house, while the animals are out there in the forest, freezing. I invited them home but I guess it was too bourgeoisie for them because they wouldn’t come inside. So instead I started drawing that comic, and as I drew it I made the storyline coincide with the actual weather outside. I remember drawing that part with the spring robin right after spotting the first one. It was a good way to get through the winter. That was a terrible winter in NB. Lots of shoveling. I like drawing snow and I like how white and clean it looks but near the end of February it’s just all dirty and depressing. I often curse my ancestors for settling in such an absurd region of the world. As for the birds, I guess I just like their shapes and the freedom that goes along with drawing them. Blue jays have always been my favorite. They are so sharp and well formed and they don’t let anyone push them around. They’re like the Clint Eastwoods of the sky. Heroic profiles. S: Small Victories includes several short strips and a longer narrative about circus animals on the run from a cruel ringmaster --sort of a fable about how humankind contaminates everything it touches. Is this a reflection of your philosophy or politics? Is it possible to reconcile this with your obvious fascination with technology (robots, aliens, elaborate science-fictional constructs)? I’ve never thought about it like that. I tend to think small, not looking at the big picture. I’m certainly aware of our plight, but it’s like these terrifying global issues are too big for me to wrap my head around, so I focus on the little things, someone kicking a dog or teasing a monkey at the zoo. Small injustices. I think the fascination of drawing technology is on a superficial level. I love the aesthetics of science fiction. Huge towers on distant planets, moon-sized spacecrafts, crazy colours that haven’t even been invented yet. But I would hate to see what we would do if we actually had star ships flying around the alpha quadrant. There is nothing like the silent vacuum of outer space to preserve a handsome corpse, I think a Cardassian said that. I think we’d be more like Cardassians than the Federation. Jesse Jacobs onemillionmouths.blogspot.com
JJ: I drew that book throughout last winter, and it really helped take the sting out of those harsh months. I was living in New Brunswick
In the early hours of Jan. 3, 1983, Douglas Austin Wright passed away in a hospital room in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and three sons at his side. His death, which happened less than 12 hours after a major stroke, was mercifully quick and came some three years after a debilitating stroke that deprived him of his peripheral vision—a condition that effectively obliterated the cartoonist’s towering talent overnight.
The Wright Stuff
By Brad Mackay
Wright’s death at the age of 65 was noted by the
newspapers of the day (including a generous multi-day tribute by the Hamilton Spectator, the last remaining paper to carry his work), but the truth is that in the minds of most Canadians his time had long passed. With his legendary draftsmen skills gone and his beloved bald-headed boys rendered anachronistic by the march of time, a good part of Wright’s legacy died with him on that third day of 1983. Which is a shame, since he was arguably the most important Canadian cartoonist of his generation. ily’s new heir apparent A British-born artist who relocated to Canada in the who was still in diapers at the time. Though Wright’s late 1930s, Doug Wright’s strip stopped appearing big break came in 1949 in the UK sometime in on the cusp of the modthe early 1950s Wright’s ern era—his work being fame continued to climb in emblematic of his time. Canada. His most popular strip, Nipper (later eponymously Over the next three derenamed Doug Wright’s cades, he became CanFamily) was an expertly ada’s de facto answer to executed snapshot of the Charles Schulz; both solid transforming Canadian talents who would earn family in the 1950s and the appreciation of fans 60s. Each week, Wright and critics alike. Their managed to convey the similarities even extended joys and accompanying to their lead characters; agonies of raising chilThe view from Wright’s Window 2005 Mansfild street both Charlie Brown and dren; without the benefit apt 10 - Montreal circa 1938-40 Wright’s titular young of words or panels. (His boys sported bald heads decision to draw a pantomime strip—one of the most difficult tasks (a peculiar tradition that stretches back to in comics—was born of necessity. His first The Yellow Kid, R.F. Outcault’s original comic Nipper strip was quickly dashed off in strip childstar). Also, Wright—like Schulz, response to an editor’s request for more who used a cute strip about little kids to pass comics about “the contrariness of kids.” There existential commentary on life and love— Wright wasn’t one to obey the rules. was no time to bother with words.) Though Wright was never as popular outside his adopted country as he was within it, his little Nipper did reach varying degrees of success internationally including in the U.S., Australia, Finland and England. As a matter of fact, the strip was a bonafide sensation in his birth country where it was read by some seven million people in the funny pages of The Sunday Pictorial. Wright’s strip debuted in the paper (then the weekly incarnation of the popular Daily Mirror) in early 1949 under a different marquee, Charlie Boy. This was a savvy attempt on behalf of the editors to capitalize on the popularity of Prince Charles, the Royal Fam-
Ignoring decades of comic strip convention, Wright used the cozy milieu of the domestic strip as a platform to lay bare the realities of family life. Yes, his fictional family is loving and nurturing, but it’s also shot through with anger, frustration and bouts of unhinged parental fury. His mischievous boys predictably wreak havoc on their parents, but unlike other beloved family strips of the era (like Family Circus or Dennis the Menace) Wright’s parents didn’t simply shrug their shoulders. In Doug Wright’s Family their reaction is surprisingly—and occasionally bracingly— real. His put-upon cartoon Dad combusts in an endless variety of entertaining ways, exploding in spates of Technicolor rage that
But unlike Schulz, Wright’s work did not live on in syndication following his death. The years went by and little by little people simply stopped thinking about him. By 2000, when I was reintroduced to his work by Guelph-Ontario cartoonist Seth, Wright had become part of an extinct universe, one inhabited by his former cartoonist colleagues like George Feyer, Peter Whalley and James Simpkins. If there were any traces of him left, it was only in a footnote in an obscure article about Canadian cartooning or in the Humour sections of used bookstores, where bargain-minded bibliophiles might happen across one of his strip collections crammed between the rows of Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry books.
Self Portriat of the artist
often end up in shouting and spanking (though he typically incurs the disapproval of his wife as a result). In addition to his own brand of cartoon verité, Wright was also a formal virtuoso. Restricted by his strip’s pantomime limitations, he came to rely on the clever use of colour to tell his stories. After some experimenting with a number of different hues, Wright quickly settled on his trademark use of red, which acted as a narrative magnet for the reader, subtly directing them to critical elements in his tiny, intricate domestic tales. This combination of technical superiority and artistic honesty furnished Wright with a dedicated fan base made up of both adults and children (he can also likely thank the strip’s lack of words for this broad fan base). As a result, Doug Wright’s Family was essentially the artist’s weekly opportunity to commune with families across his geographically and historically disparate country. His mark lives on in the likes of For Better or for Worse’s Lynn Johnston, who fastidiously studied his strips as a child, and Louis Riel’s Chester Brown who’s first published work was a young attempt at a Doug Wright’s Family strip.
Sadly, by the late 1970s Doug Wright’s influence was slipping. In part due to shrinking newspaper space and his own ailing health, Wright’s once indispensable strip was gradually becoming a thing of the past. He tried to contemporize, adding wide-leg jeans to his cartoon boys and even mulling giving them modern long haircuts, but it didn’t amount to much. The end for the two bald boys came in March 1980, when his strip appeared in the Star Weekly for the last time. The next day, Wright suffered his career-ending stroke—another (cruel) coincidence he and Schulz shared. The Peanuts creator died of cancer in 2000; the same day his final original strip appeared.
Thankfully, Seth was one of those bibliophiles. After years of scrounging and searching, he had amassed a cache of Canadian cartooning history that included multiple copies of every Doug Wright collection published as well as copious amounts of related ephemera. In the summer of 2000 he proposed we work on a book together, “The Gang of Seven,” that would trace the history of Canadian cartooning in the 20th century. One of the books he put in my hands immediately jumpstarted my appreciation of Wright’s work. Published in the mid-1970s, the economically sized Doug Wright’s Family collection unleashed a flood—no, a typhoon—of memories. The strips in the book were culled from the late 1960s and early 70s, serving as a time capsule of my youth, a period when Canada was still uncertain of its identity in an increasingly modern world. The details were all there, like snapshots of my childhood: station wagons and street hockey, charcoal barbecues, aluminum screen doors and wool curling sweaters. Decades later, I realized Wright’s enduring legacy. His ability to transform the most mundane modern landscapes, whether it was a shopping mall or a ranch home, into works of beauty. It was almost as if he had unintentionally created his own version of American Pastoral, which I’ve come to call “Canadian Suburban.” While the planned book has not yet come to fruition, Seth did manage to convince a to publisher put out a book about Doug Wright. Two books actually, the first of which, The Collected Doug Wright: Canada’s Master Cartoonist Vol. One, is on store shelves as we speak. Designed by Seth, with a contextual biographical essay on Wright by me, the book is a love letter to a forgotten Canadian artist and the country he portrayed. Now, more than 25 years after Wright’s premature death, thousands of new readers will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Wright’s work for the first time. I am incredibly envious.
The Collected Doug Wright Vol 1 Drawn & Quarterly ISBN: 9781897299524
Jimmy Frise (1891-1948)
By Bryan Munn
This year the Wright Awards are inducting Jimmy Frise into the Giants of the North. In a year that sees the first volume of the collected Doug Wright published, Frise is a fitting candidate for the Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame, since he essentially paved the way for Wright’s own career and created the template for much of the great Canadian strips that followed. Born James Llewellyn Frise on Scugog Island, Ontario, Jimmy Frise was perhaps the pre-eminent English language cartoonist in Canada before the Second World War. A self-taught artist, Frise landed a job at the Toronto Star after sending in a cartoon lampooning the paper’s editor. While at the Star, Frise began a lifelong friendship and artistic collaboration with the journalist and popular humourist Greg Clarke, illustrating Clarke’s folksy columns and sharing his misadventures (including the time a young Ernest Hemingway joined the staff of the Star). In 1921 Frise began Life’s Little Comedies, an observational humour strip with no permanent cast of characters that evolved into Birdseye Center, the strip that Frise was to ride to fame and continue for the rest of his life. A weekly strip, Birdseye Center found a berth in the newly launched Star Weekly, a magazine supplement that was syndicated across Canada. Loosely based on Frise’s rural roots, the strip concerned the rustic adventures of the residents of the remote island town of Birdseye Center. Frise’s gentle laconic humour and stylized cartooning lent themselves to a portrayal of Canadians that emphasized seasonal obsessions and small-town wisdom --and its lack. The widespread appeal of his style led to advertising work and eventually to Frise and Clarke being poached by the Montreal Standard in 1947, where the strip was retitled Juniper Junction. When Frise died suddenly a year later, Juniper Junction was handed to a young cartoonist named Doug Wright, who would use Frise’s creation to launch his own famous career. At the same time, Frise’s old spot in the Star was taken over by cartoonist Walter Ball, whose Rural Route strip cemented the weekly Canadian strip as a viable genre for an entire generation to come.
The end of a love story in three parts
By Robin Fisher
Host of the onomatopoeia show
It was a sunny beautiful day years ago, when I walked into a used bookstore looking for something to read. While browsing through the aisles I bumped into him. “Sorry,” I mumbled, ready to pass him by. “S’alright,” he said cheerily. When I looked at him, he stared right back at me and it felt like the window of my soul was thrown open to let the fresh air in. “You should take me home,” he said. “What’s your name?” said I. “Autobio,” was his reply, as he brushed his hair out of his face. He looked like he might have some answers. Or at least understand this ever present loneliness I couldn’t seem to shake. From that night on we were inseparable. His passion stirred me. His tenderness filled me with longing even though he was close enough to touch. I couldn’t stop pawing him; like my favourite novel, dog-eared and worn. Sometimes he would make me laugh with his bare honesty. Other times he would make me cry with his rawness. This dude got me, he really, really got me. And depending on what he wore and how he wore it, I would become smitten with him, time and time again. When I fell for my boyfriend, autobiographical comics, I thought it would last forever. His stories were easy to relate to, rarely repetitive and barely boring. But time ebbs and flows. We age, evolve, mature and while I can still relate to him, the 10 year malaise has set in. I’m thinking about breaking up with him. I find he’s still dealing with the same stuff, the same way, only now he likes to take pictures of it all first. I want to work it out. There are still things I love about him. Every once and awhile he manages to surprise me with his innovative way of moving and talking and he still has that winning way of wooing me with words. I don’t feel like I’m ready to move on, even though the evidence is mounting.
Hung #2-3 Shannon Gerard www.shannongerard.org
When I went to Expozine this past year, my eyes yearned to consume all the great new comics available. One of them was a series called ‘Hung’ by Shannon Gerard. The covers were simple, to the point and alluring, written in her own charming handwriting. They were some beautiful, pencil illustrated, photo referenced, autobiographical comics. But what sets these autobio comics apart from the average is that ‘Hung’ seemed to be a forum for Gerard’s poetry/prose. ‘Hung’ #2 started off cleverly with a bit about Gerard’s invented game for artistic events. Got nothing to do while you sit, trying not to have starving artist eyes while others casually peruse your blood, sweat and tears? Play ‘Hipster Bingo’! (TM) Comes with accurate drawn descriptions, for easy identification! (I’m fond of the ‘Corduroy Intellectual’ myself.) Best of all issue #2 came with a removable paper game board so you could play anywhere, at anytime. The rest of ‘Hung’
Nicolas Pascal Girard
When I first moved to Montreal I wanted to find some French comics to supplement my learning of the language.
was two short pieces on After the Relationship and one at the Beginning of the Relationship. They juxtaposed each other nicely, written sparsely and hitting you in the emotional gut. We’ve all been there and it’s comforting to know you’re not the only one. The comics medium is a great forum for both Ms. Gerard’s art and text. She makes it look like a very natural amalgam. Because the writing was poetry/prose, it allowed for more freedom of panel structure as there were no word balloons or even traditional boxed narrative. Sometimes the words were free falling in the middle of a page or scrunched up on the top. All in Gerard’s own handwriting, it maked the reading experience intimate. I found the layouts aesthetically pleasing and creative. Every page was nicely spaced out, with oodles of white space, that brought about a soothing, zen pace. Hung’ #3 had a not pleasant story about the infallibility of our lover’s body. Thought provoking and easy to emphasize with, Gerard even managed to imbue the story with an undercurrent of lust, through her words and art. Her pencils, light and dark as the light requires, were dense, clean, sharp, smooth and glossy. I understand that she is the artist on the new Jim Munroe series, ‘Sword of my Mouth’ published by IDW. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for that in May. I’m trying to come up with some reasons to stay with my boyfriend, but all I can think of is all the reasons not to. It’s been a long time since I really paid attention to anything he’s said. I mean, I’ll look at him when he’s talking.........but really, I’ve heard it all before. Now when he tells me his tales of great tragedy, I feel like I’m being lied to, like it’s some kind of performance to impress me. And, and, and, he’s starting to sound and look like other people. You know, becoming like those he admires. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it has become tiresome. He used to be way more individualistic.
I found an adorable little book called “Paresse’ by Pascal Girard. The format was simple; a couple of pages, autobio, and a gag at the end. Everyman foibles. Black and white, and sparsely illustrated, yet it conveyed quite a bit. Girard turns himself (and those around him), into a cartoon character that blunders into one awkward situation after another. Because there was so few words and much was shown with its imagery, I found I could pretty much understand what was happening. I particularly enjoyed the one where he avoids a land mine field of cigarette butts, only to get a job sweeping at the place, cleaning up afore mentioned cigarette butts. The timing and the layouts of these sweet, funny little vignettes were cute and accomplished. I was curious to see his next work. A few months ago Girard’s new book ‘nicolas’, was published in English by Drawn & Quarterly. Initially published in French in 2006 and eloquently illustrated in Girard’s ‘less is more’ style, this book unfortunately dealt with the untimely death of Girard’s younger brother. I say unfortunate because there seems to be a dearth of these autobiographical comics that exist to wallow in tragedy. Like the story of their lives isn’t good enough unless something really horrible happens. I don’t mean to devalue Girard’s brothers death, it was a terrible thing to have happen to anyone, I’m just tired of feeling a little manipulated by all this angst. As well, a fair amount of Pascal’s actions/ reactions after his brothers death were crass. I realize these are all the standard stages/meditations on dealing with grief, but it’s odd to see what he chose to portray about himself. At his brothers funeral; Pascal is sooooooo bored. His godfather takes him to the store and buys him a batch of comics. Off panel someone feels Girard is spoiled. You’re left to wonder why Pascal looks so smug. Why did his godfather think going to get comics was a good idea? I mean it was his brothers funeral. Lastly, did we see this so we now know, this was how he got into comics? In other instances; we see Pascal use his brothers death to fit in. Also, unlike the first book, the humour was all but non-existent. Death isn’t funny, I know, but I expected more. Honestly... it did hold my interest.
continued on pg 18
The Abominable Charles Christopher Karl Kerschl
www.sintitulocomic.com Suggested for Mature Readers. By Jamie Coville www.thecomicbooks.com Cameron Stewart’s web comic is a Noir tale about a seemingly regular guy (Alex Mackay) who comes across a photograph involving his father and a mysterious woman after his father’s death. Curiosity about the woman leads to strange behaviour, and Alex begins to investigate. It’s a mystery with a mix of serious head trips and violence. Along the way we get many flashbacks about Alex’s family, his father in particular. Cameron’s solid lines beam the story straight at you. Everything is very easy to understand and well drawn. It’s easy to read fast and forget to admire it or notice any artistic shortcuts for the wrong reasons. Each page/episode is drawn in 4 equal panels across, two rows per page. Black, white and easy on the eyes beige are the only colours used and lend to a quick, effortless reading. 74 pages long at the time of this review Sin Titulo continues to get more interesting as it goes along. The choices Alex and others around him make are often surprising, and draw you in. I found the storie’s pacing and dialogue well written and moves the story forward confidently. At this point I’m not sure what is going to happen next, and I’m in for the ride. Cameron’s webcomic has been rightly I think nominated for a Joe Shuster Award [‘09]. Those familiar with Cameron’s print work (Seaguy, The Other Side, The Apocalipstix) will recognize his style. Stewart is at the top of his game here.
By Jamie Coville www.thecomicbooks.com Set in a forest, with talking animals and supernatural events, this comic appears to be a coming of age tale about a silent, childlike Abominable Snowman. A new strip has been posted every Wednesday since June 2007 on very regular basis, but it’s still early in the story - The pacing is very relaxed with multiple subplots that meander and range from serious to humorous. The animals and scenery are drawn realistically, and has the effect I found of putting you at ease, making you want to stay awhile. The animals throw parties, strange dark forces threaten the forest. One of the sub plots is about a pair of bares held captive at a circus. The story is full of mystery but it’s not dark over all. Sometimes the humor contains a reference other webcomics you would need to read to get a laugh out of. But in general the dialogue between characters is well done and engaging, keeps you interested. Every page is either a strip or two with panel sizes changing as the story requires. The art is rendered in a gray scale style which I personally found disappointing, I really hope this strip is collected and coloured in print when it is finished. Nominated for The Joe Shuster webcomic award in both ‘08 and ‘09, this strip marks another style of art that Kerschl excels at. Once again he proves himself as an excellent all around creator. While the story is far from finished I give it top marks for what’s online now.
Panels and Pixels of the North. By Jamie Coville www.thecomicbooks.com
no longer read the crap my local newspaper gives me. Instead I sit down with Google Reader and read webcomics while eating my bowl of cereal. One of my favorites is Dinosaur Comics [Qwantz.com] by Ryan North. In 2003 Ryan started creating his clip art style comic and published them online, and has grown to be one of the more popular webcomics strips out there. It’s unique, even for a clip art strip. The pictures never change, only the script. It stars talking Dinosaurs, the main lead always the T-Rex, who is always trying to find new ways to be awesome. Despite that tight constraint, the strip manages to still be very fresh and funny. It would have never gotten through a newspaper syndicate due to it’s unique format. There are many other creators out there
The North Sea Epoch Karl Kerschl
www.transmission-x.com By Jamie Coville www.thecomicbooks.com Drawn in an unusual stark line and shaded with a wash like texture, this 22 page short story is about an old man lost at sea. A classic literary setting, the tale was inspired by the debut album of Ragni, an indie-band that commissioned Kerschl to create the CD packaging. What resulted is a quick wordless sirens tale about temptation, the struggle for survival, and the choices that get made in the process. The old man here is drawn with a lot of lines which helps to contrast him with everything around him. I found it drew your eye well while other characters & animals blended in more. The
like Ryan, doing webcomics that are too off kilter for the newspaper syndicates. Often web strips have super niche themes, or just don’t fit standard print formats. Many would just never find a home in print outside of zines. But online, the clever and consistent have acquired audiences of millions and some creators make a living doing them. A Softer World [asofterworld.com] by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau is one of the more original webcomics out there. Like Dinosaur comics, they also began in 2003. It’s drawn via a series of photos, or 1 photo broken into panels. Captioned within poignant thoughts that can be barbed and funny at the same time. When contacted about their readership Emily said “Our audience growth has been fairly steady for the past 6 years, with any large bumps coming from high-profile links. At this point, the internet is so huge that our audience could grow and grow within the current population and still only be a tiny fraction of the whole.” continued on pg 16
animals also have something about them that gives them greater meaning. It’s very atmospheric. This comic gives you a glimpse of Kerschl’s depth as a creator. Those that are familiar with his print work will see a completely different style. It’s a very different style from his current web comic as well, The Abominable Charles Christopher. The pages of the webcomic are no larger than the average computer monitor, so reading the ‘page’ is easy. But I still needed to scroll down from the logo and bank up to click to the next page. My only significant criticism would be for a couple of pages towards the end that I feel didn’t convey their message very well. I’d recommend The North Sea Epoch to anyone interested in an easy, complete story that doesn’t take very long to enjoy.
10 Ways to Get Your Writing Out There By Jim Munroe
nomediakings.org Originally given as a live talk at Word on the Street 2008, tailored to a general audience. Live sketches by Ramón Pérez - scant minutes were allowed for each.
Other than actually writing, the most important thing to do as a writer is get your writing out to readers. You get feedback from readers, connect with fellow writers who share your sensibility, & you get a sense of closure that allows you to move on to your next project. Some people think that getting published by a traditional book publisher is the only way to get your writing out to readers. There’s a real bottleneck here — even though there’s some benefit to the publishers in this circumstance, I would argue that writers don’t benefit from it, readers don’t benefit from it, and neither does our writing culture. This perception of the editor-gatekeepers just creates a tense and risk-averse climate. So, I’m going to detour around the bottleneck and focus on the diversity of methods writers can use to get their writing out there. The ten things I list are often considered different mediums and require collaboration and/or different skillsets, but writing can be central to them. 1. ZINES I started publishing my work almost 20 years ago, when I was 17. I photocopied my stories and rants in an independent magazine or zine and sold them at punk shows and through the mail. I moved from that to publishing short story collections and a novella, digest and saddlestitched (folded and stapled 8.5×11). It’s cheap, it’s immediate, and it’s tangible. Quick Tips:
-there’s a vibrant, fun community: hundreds of zinemakers and zine readers meet at the annual fall Canzine. -print still rules: you can give a copy of your zine to someone at a party or on a bus and they can read it right away
2. BLOGS Everybody knows about blogs at this point, and probably a lot of people who would have started zines ten years ago are blogging these days. Quick Tips:
-the great thing is that they’re easy to start and easy to find; but almost because of that they almost have less weight. Because you have to seek zines out, and people have had to put a lot of work into them, they engender a more loyal and more responsive readership. Hypothetically, it should be much easier to get thoughtful feedback via online comments, but you’re more likely to get it in an actual postal letter. -there’s a neat project by a local called Monster, Monkey or Spaceman? that allowed people to choose what kind of story he wrote via an online poll, which is obviously easier to do on the web.
3. WEB COMICS While not that many people read prose fiction on the web, comics are entirely a different story. While in my opinion it’s just as good to photocopy your writing as it is to post it online, I wouldn’t say the same for comics — going online with your comic allows you to do something that’s still too costly for most indie publishers: full colour. Quick Tips:
-you get an inkling of Ramon’s talent here in b&w but if you check out the colourful lush dreamworlds of his online comic Kukuburi you’ll be in awe -obviously this is an easier option for you if you can draw, but there’s many examples of really popular comics that get by without drawing talent — XKCD and Dinosaur Comics are two that have cultivated huge readership on the strength of their writing, the latter by local Ryan North
4. AUDIO DRAMA So did you ever listen to Theatre of the Mind on CHUM FM? Audio drama was really big in the ’40s and ’50s when radio was king and beyond its retro appeal has developed into an art unto itself . Quick Tips:
-they’re easy to distribute nowadays via podcast — there’s
some folks nearby that keep the oldtime spirit alive at Decoder Ring Theatre, which alternates new serials on the Red Panda, Canada’s Greatest Superhero, and Black Jack Justice, private eye -audio drama is a great way to bring your writing to a different audiences and work with actors in a less complicated way than with…
Renee North and David Findlay formed the Science Friction Action Heroes. We put one page stories on poles - Kensington Market 2020, Queen St. W 2020 and U of T 2020. It was a way to directly become a part of the city in a very tangible way. 8. MUSIC
5. LITTLE MOVIES Making little movies is really fun — get Celtx, a free open source script writing application, pound out a five or ten minute screenplay, borrow a camera and make it happen. There’s tons of online and indie festivals that are running all the time. Quick Tips: -notice I say little movies — start small and make it something you can produce. I wrote and produced a lo-fi sci-fi feature last year but it was seven interconnecting shorts, so it only depended on each of the directors for 12 minutes -writing scripts that never get made sucks, so make them scripts you can make -having stuff online is fun, but seeing people watch your movie at a screening is even funner — try both -but don’t go spending money on upgrading/ gadgets/”enabling tech” — that’s a mug’s game. Borrow until you wear out your karma, and then barter. Every dollar you save translates into time to make stuff.
6. TEXT ADVENTURE VIDEOGAMES Anyone out there play Zork as a kid? Or any text adventure games? Go west, Take sword? They were a type of videogame that was entirely text, and is also known as interactive fiction. IF is an amazing thing: a videogame you can make without programming or graphics skills. Quick Tips:
-there’s a community of people who write and play these games, and they have a competition each year that often attracts more than 50 new games -and thanks to this community, there are now tools that make it possible for non-programmers to write these games, one in particular is called Inform 7 -the audience for text games is small but intense -it’s kind of like poetry in that there’s no money in it, and the audience for it is small, but if you were affected by it in your youth you keep coming back to it — some people had a slim volume of poetry and I had The Lurking Horror
7. STREET POSTERING I did a talk at Active Resistance, an anarchist gathering that happened in ‘98, about whether it was possible to combine a political activism with science fiction writing. From that, Nalo Hopkinson, Emily Pohl-Weary, me,
Talking about poetry, I’m not much of a fan of it except when it’s sung. My favourite poet is John K. Sampson of Winnipeg’s the Weakerthans. It’s a little extra effort, to learn how to rhyme and get an instrument, but it definitely makes poetry more accessible. 9. INDEPENDENT BOOK PUBLISHING But at this point, you might be saying to yourself, putting stories up on poles? That’s what crazy people do. Jim, I want a book. I want to hold a book in my hands that I wrote. I totally understand, I have five books myself so obviously I think it’s a good way to get your writing out there. Quick Tips:
-I have a ton of information on every aspect of doit-yourself publishing here and here -My one piece of general advice to everyone publishing for the first time is to do a print run of 500 books. It’ll be tempting to do 1000 because it won’t be that much more expensive, but it’s better for your ego and the environment and your storage space not to have ten extra boxes lying around. It took me a few years to sell my first book’s print run of 500
10. CORPORATE BOOK PUBLISHING Obviously this is an option, but I wanted to put it in is proper context among one of many way to get your writing out there. For many writers it really is a good fit — so long as you don’t feel like it’s your only option. Getting a book deal with a big publisher is like Las Vegas. For some people, Vegas is heaven. I found that although it had a few surreal charms, the legendary free food and drinks were nowhere to be found, and I don’t get excited about gambling, so I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon… but it was good to see what it was like for myself. Illustrations by Ramón Pérez ramonperez.com Text by Jim Munroe More DIY wisdom @ nomediakings.org
Mr.Trembles artist exhibitionist enigma
By Robin Fisher
Host of the onomatopoeia show
Rick Trembles has written and drawn some excruciatingly honest comics in the last 30 years. He’s constantly putting himself out there, warts and all, in every medium he can penetrate, making him a very unusual entity in the comics world. To date, he is an Animator, Illustrator, Writer, Musician, Song Writer, Radio DJ, Make up and Special Effects Artist, Movie Reviewer, Actor, Sculptor, Designer, and Photographer. His band, The American Devices, has lasted for 3 decades and is still going strong today with new shows and songs every year. Yet, he somehow manages to have his finger in all those pies without any formal training. Mostly known for his movie/comic reviews ‘Motion Picture Purgatory’, the second collection of said strip is due out this summer at Fantasia. His work is not for children and his two favourite movies of all time are ‘King Kong’ and ‘Videodrome’. “My father was a cartoonist” Rick says, and that was his first exposure to the medium that would become most of his career. “Growing up in Verdun, Quebec, he did WWII airplane dog-fight comics and Canadian war comics.” His father, J. Tremblay, tried to encourage young Trembles through osmosis. Besides his father, other major influences were old British comics, newspaper strips of the 30’s and 40’s and Ray Harryhausen. “That’s what I wanted to be, before anything, I wanted to be Ray Harryhausen.” Once out of high school, Rick put together ‘Sugar Diet’ #1. Published in ‘84, it was full of interviews of local bands, comics, and reviews. And in the true spirit of punk, it was printed and paid for by funds stolen from a CGEP one of his friends went to. Unbeknownst to Rick until later, because of complete student apathy his friend was
able to funnel money intended for school projects into his ‘zine without notice or recrimination. In ‘93 he sent an issue of ‘SD’ to Robert Crumb and got published in ‘Weirdo’ #11. “He liked it. He said my stuff reminded him of Gary Panter. He gave me a few tips, on a postcard, handwritten. He said, “You should do more shading.” Which I didn’t, I never used shading again. But it was only because I was being reprinted in ‘zines, and the more details you have, it’s harder to reprint. So I decided to keep everything clean.” ‘SD’ #2 came out in ‘92. Gone were all the band interviews and reviews, it was all comics, all the time. It’s here that his art style begins to appear almost OCD in its detailing. ‘God’s Cocksuckers’ alone can make you stare for hours at the writhing mass of Lilliput people, in various sexual positions. “I like to cram it full of details.” ‘SD’ #3 has a retelling of the original ‘MPP’ debacle, complete with offensive comic strip and transcript of a phone conversation with one of the ‘Montreal Mirror’ (a free weekly) shills, attempting to explain why they got rid of the strip. Padded out with random comic bits, the variety is endless, interesting and innovative. “That’s my
problem, I’m always biting off more than I can chew. Cause you gotta keep yourself challenged, you know?” ‘Motion Picture Purgatory’s’ initial incarnation started with the advent of the Mirror in ‘85. After 3 years of horror movie comic reviews, Rick found himself unceremoniously dumped when he was accused of being a misogynist. (He had the nerve to draw feminist Lydia Lunch’s all time dream special-effects sequence.) “They thought a lot of the stuff I was doing was misogynistic and the problem was, I was reviewing slasher movies. Anyone who can sit through that crap must have a problem, right?” Then in ‘98 the ‘Mirror’ got a new editor and it was a whole different ball game. “He was a pop culture journalist and one of his first articles was about my band in the early 80’s. He was always a fan of my stuff and my band and I think it was Rupert Bottenberg that suggested bringing ‘Motion Picture Purgatory’ back.” I’m continually amazed by what he gets away with in ‘MPP’. The censorship under the new regime is virtually non existent. “The only time I’ve ever been censored, I was talking about Tom Cruise. They actually put black bars over his name. It was a strip about Kenneth Anger’s gossiping and they censored it because of a possible lawsuit, not because of the content.” Trembles seems born to do ‘MPP’, as it encompasses the majority of his favourite things. He’s certainly created a niche unto himself. “I figure I’m under the radar somehow. Because it’s a comic strip, reviewing films. And it cancels out comics and it cancels out film reviews at the same time. It’s just this odd duck. It’s a comic strip and that’s just too low brow for some people. But for people that are completely into comics, it’s just too much text and you have to be into film. Also it’s possible, a lot of film nerds don’t want to be told by some smirking cartoonist what’s what in film.” ‘MPP’ is all splash page and few panels. It’s rare when there are more than 6 panels, unless he’s making a point about repetition. Like in his ‘Irreversible’ and ‘Friday the 2 Millionth’ review. He has clever art ideas. The review of ‘House of 1,000 Corpses’ was a Möbius strip of opinions and information. His characters, while simple, also can become distorted and surreal. Even something innocuous like a background has so much more going on. While the men and women do look the same, there is a reason. “It’s a pack of work. I’ve got to put all this text together, so I’m not going to bother with likenesses. They’re icons, they might all look the same but they don’t all
act the same.” His art is easy to dismiss due to its simplicity. But if you spend the time, it’s intricate, experimental and educational. I also enjoy the way he writes. Alliteration abounds and he has a neato’ slang movie review shorthand, it’s almost poetry. You also get way more information in an ‘MPP’ review, than in your average movie magazine column. “The reviews are usually 3 times as long. I heavily self-edit. I’ve got to have room for the drawings, the little icons.” I find his absurdity fun too. His ‘Men in Black’ review was just the stars spouting non sequiturs. The first ‘MPP’ book was released in 2004 by FAB Press. When the publisher came to Fantasia the year before, Rick proceeded to stalk him, pitch the book and ‘An incomparable collection of comic strip concoctions configured to critique film’ was born. 188 pages of movie reviews, a short history of ‘MPP’ scandals past as well as a bibliography and an index. It’s a well laid out book that gives one good bang for the buck. “I’m dying to see obscure B movie grindhouse stuff in the film format, you know? I would jump on that like crazy. I’d do strips like that non-stop if I could. I’m sick of that Hollywood dreck, I want to learn more about film history.” He may be sick of the dreck but they spawn some of his best comic reviews. I adore his scratch and sniff review of ‘Twilight’. And while he feels the state of horror movies today has regressed since the 70’s, at least we’ve got his reviews to make them more interesting. For the new ‘MPP’ book, he plans on throwing in some current and first run movie reviews, so they aren’t all entirely impossible to find obscure movies. The new cover will be in beautiful glossy colour, and there will be way more content than the last book. “The thing is MASSIVE. People are sure gonna’ be getting their moneys worth.” He plans on launching the book at as many festivals, time and money will allow him to attend. So if you’re in Montreal during Fantasia, come check out Rick’s Rock and Roll, Comic Movie Extravaganza Launch. “The way I see it, I haven’t been able to get work in so long, I may as well enjoy myself. Just do whatever the fuck I want, you know?” Rick Trembles www.snubdom.com
Quebec Graphic Novels Struggle for Acceptance in By Bryan Munn France sequential.spiltink.org
Jimmy Beaulieu : Projet domiciliaire
Many Sequential readers are familiar with the huge influx of comics from France that have found their way into Canadian comic shops and bookstores over the last decade, in French or translated into English. Recently it seems that along with the work of 70s stalwarts like Moebius and Tardi, newer lights like Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar, and Marjane Satrapi have become almost household names here on the strength of funny, literate, and artful graphic novels. Likewise, certain Anglo-Canadian cartoonists, including Chester Brown, Dave Cooper, and Seth, have long been available in translated form in France, courtesy of major publishers like Seuil and Delcourt. But what about the work of francophone creators from Canada? Has the French-language output of Quebecois cartoonists made a similar impact across the Atlantic? Thanks largely to the efforts of Montreal’s D+Q, translated versions of comics by the likes of Julie Doucet, Guy Delisle, and Michel Rabagliati, originally published by smaller Quebec firms like La Pasteque, l’Oie de Cravan and Mecanique Generale, have become favourites of readers in Canada and the U.S. Consequently, there is some knowledge of a Quebec scene among comics fans here. The situation in France is another story altogether, however. There, Quebec comics often struggle to gain acceptance on their own terms and Quebec publishers have had a hard time finding a foothold in the larger European market.
According to Xavier Guilbert, who writes about comics for France’s du9 website, Quebec comics “face the same issues that French alternative publishers face on the market: (lack of) visibility, and distribu-
tion. I think that the perception of Quebec comics is very peculiar, from a French point of view. In fact, it comes down to the usual interaction with people from Quebec: on the surface, we’re supposed to speak the same language, but in fact it’s not really the case. (The Quebec movie Crazy was released in France with subtitles -- and I needed them on many occasions to be able to understand what was being told) And this comes out in some Quebec artists, and in a way I could see it making those books a little more difficult to approach than the translations from English. We’re very much exposed to the North American, Anglo-Saxon culture in general, but Quebec culture is more of an unidentified object.” One artist who has made the leap from “unidentified object” to modest success is Jimmy Beaulieu, cartoonist and former
publisher of Mecanique Generale. Beau- Since that time, others have followed lieu’s efforts to promote Quebec comics in his footsteps. Zviane, who’s La plus eventually landed him a stint as Cartoon- jolie fin du monde graphic novel was a ist in Residence in Angouleme, France. surprise hit for Mecanique Generale, “It was amazing !” says Beaulieu about currently has the same gig. “She’s livhis experience. “Five years ago, there ing in my old apartment, and even workweren’t many authors in Quebec that ing in the same space at La Maison took their comics work seriously. I’m not des auteurs. Which is profoundly cool. talking about taking one’s self seriously, Other than that, I know that Francis Debut just wanting to do good work. Most sharnais did something similar, but with of the time, for my animation. And VoRo colleagues, comics studied in St-Luc, if was either something I’m not mistaken. Oh to make a living, or a ! And Pierre Bouchard hobby. [In Angouleme] & pascal girard also I found people for spent several months whom the desire to in Bordeaux. I do recdo ambitious work in ommend this to everycomics form was just one, if they have the a normal attitude to chance.” have. I could have a lenghty conversation Guy Delisle : Chroniques Birmanes For Xavier Guilbert, with a colleague about however, this invastorytelling, rhythm, the fragileness of sion of Quebecers hasn’t exactly lead a line, and in the conversation, nobody to them bumping Persepolis off the bestever brought up that it was a pathetic seller list: “I think that Guy Delisle (with and shameful thing to talk about com- his Chroniques Birmanes in particular) is ics for hours. It was pretty soothing. I most likely to be one of the best-selling felt less marginal, there. But of course, Quebec artists. Strangely, Delisle seems in Montreal, things have changed since more of an European, from the fact that then. I recognize this drive in a lot of he’s been published mainly by European young authors, like Vincent Giard.” outfits. I’d also say that Delisle is the one who does not show his Quebec origins Jimmy Beaulieu : Les Monstres Sacrés continued on pg 17
Panels and Pixels of the North continued from pg 9
Established print comic creators are making a mark in webcomics too. A few better known Canadians are Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Cameron Stewart, & Karl Kerschl. All are established creators in the traditional print comics world. Asked about his experience in going from print to web Karl Kerschl [www.abominable.cc] responded “I’d hoped that I could transition comfortably into the world of webcomics by coaxing over some of my already-established print audience, but the content of my online strip is very different from the print work I’m known for. Most of my online readers aren’t - aware that I do work for Marvel and DC - if they are, they don’t really care. I quite like it this way - it’s like starting a whole new career!” Ramón Pérez and Rob Coughler worked on role playing games for years. He’s done some work for hire comics in the main stream but his web strip Butternut Squash [www.butternutsquash.net] is hugely popular. The story follows 3 guys living in Toronto, Ramón, Rob and their dog loving friend Vince. The strip details their dating exploits and sitcom style antics. Some Webcomics have been getting collected by traditional publishers, but not all strips are intended to go that way. Pérez says “I feel [animation] would better translate the feel of the comic.” He also reveals the strip “has been optioned by local production company Radical Sheep and is being shopped around for development into a cartoon series.“ Ramón still thinks that “a collection of the work would be great” and is considering doing “short digest style books, which would allow us to tell longer more involved stories.” Web comics are helping let creators try out more approaches to their work than often is seen in print. Pérez also publishes a new strip, Kukuburi online. A series of short finite stories, Kukuburi is about a delivery girl named Nadine who lives in a strange surreal and beautiful fantasy world. There are roughly 50 more pages to go on Kukuburi, when Pérez plans to collect it and start a second volume. For some working in webcomics is also leading to print work. Pérez - “Yes, I would say that my webcomics work did lead to print work. Not necessarily traditional comics work though, that was built up using my portfolio targeted for that market. My webcomics work did however lead to work in children’s books and advertising.”
Pérez is currently drawing for Dark Horse Comics, a traditional comic book publisher. Recently announced is a 200 page nonfiction Graphic Novel about the Green River serial killer written by Jeff Jensen, son of the Police Officer Tom Jensen who apprehended murderer Gary Ridgeway after a 20 year investigation. Despite the traditional allure of being in print, working online has it’s own benefits. Arthur Dela Cruz tells us about putting his print comic Kissing Chaos [kissingchaos.com] online - “The creation of the comic is a more immediate process now. Kind of like writing in a diary. There is no editor, or publisher, and I don’t have the desire to maintain sales or the company’s market share looming over me as I draw. I just create. It’s liberating, and I think this will definitely carry over to future print projects.” Karl Kerschel agrees “I started the webcomic as an outlet for my creativity - a project with no restrictions... the freedom of it has spoiled me so that I’m no longer interested in working on anything that isn’t completely my own. Life’s too short to invest all of your creative energy into other people’s properties.” Going further he says “Getting something in print is easy. It’s expensive, but it’s not difficult.” With regards to his Abominable Charles Christopher he says “I’ll collect it in print eventually, as a means of exposure and sales, but if it never came out in book form, I’d like to think that it would be just as effective an experience on the web.” By Jamie Coville www.thecomicbooks.com Joe Shuster Awards nominated webcomics: A Softer World: www.aaofterworld.com The Abominable Charles Christopher: www.abominable.cc Butternut Squash: www.butternutsquash.net Kuluburi: www.kukuburi.com Ménage à 3: www.menagea3.net Sin Titulo: www.sintitulocomic.com Papercut: www.transmission-x.com/_papercut/ Least I Could Do: www.leasticoulddo.com Looking For Group: www.lfgcomic.com Moving Pictures: www.immonen.ca/ comics/2007/02/28/moving-pictures Hark! A Vagrant: harkavagrant.com Other popular comic strips Earthsong: www.earthsongsaga.com Kissing Chaos: kissingchaos.com VG Cats: www.vgcats.com Dinosaur Comics: www.qwantz.com User Friendly: www.userfriendly.org Transmission-X: www.txcomics.com
Two-Way Street: Quebec Graphic Novels Struggle for Acceptance in France continued from pg 14
-- there are no traces of the Quebec French expressions in his works. I have the impression that [he] would be the most media-exposed, but again not as a Quebec author.” Guilbert says that success for Quebec cartoonists comes on very specific terms. “I wouldn’t say there is more of an openness to Quebec comics per se. I think the corpus of alternative authors, be they from the US or Anglo-Canadians (Fantagraphics vs. Drawn & Quarterly, in a way) is perceived as a whole. In fact, they are published in French in the same imprints (see the recent Outsider label by Delcourt, with productions by Los Bros Hernandez, Seth, Joe Matt et al.) which further complicates the perception of things for the casual observer.” For Beaulieu, “keeping our language and references to Quebec culture is always something of a fight with our distributors. They’re usually pretty scared to defend this stuff and always want to change our books, or make different versions of them, adapted to the «french market» (I’m gonna puke!). Some drone didn’t want my -22 degrees book to be available in France because, among the 4 or 5 words used in the near-mute book, there was «chocolatine», wich is slightly uncommon in France, where they mostly use «Pain au chocolat». And there was a bloody drawing of the pastry underneath the word. The guy was adamant that the book would fail because of that word on page 43.” This reticence isn’t universal, however.
Thierry Labrosse : cover art from Moréa, T.1 : Le sang des anges
Henriette Valium : Valium Ab Bedex Compilato
Beaulieu cites the mainstream success of Thierry Labrosse and Jacques Lamontagne, as well as Les nombrils by Quebec artists Delaf & Dubuc, a bestseller published by the folks behind the Smurfs, Lucky Luke and Spirou. As well, Michel Rabagliati’s Paul books are “a phenomenon.” “I think that for [the French market], a certain Quebec mood is beginning to be expected from our productions. Something to do with winter, melancholy and absurd, poetic, at times zany humor. That’s a general tendency that make our books appreciated as a whole, as a movement.” If there is a Quebec comics movement, spearheaded by the earlier critical acceptance of Julie Doucet and Henriette Valium (both published by l’Association), and nurtured by ambassadors like Beaulieu, its success abroad may be threatened by the current recession. “We can’t expect to make enough sales in Quebec to sustain a publishing house in this crumbling eonomy,” says Beaulieu. “France is quite far away. Just getting the books there is murderously expensive. There’s only so much you can achieve with word of mouth in a bookstores’ pitiless arena. We attend only a few festivals per year when we’re very lucky. Our books live there without commercial work of any kind to compete with the very powerful promotional machines of other well-established publishers, but still, we did get to fare very, very, very well, considering. Just based on good reputation.” Sales remain “pretty much the same on both sides of the Atlantic. Which is good, considering that there’s an overproduction crisis spreading carnage in the small press right now in France. Two or three years ago, selling 500 copies in France was a failure, now it’s something you can consider yourself very lucky with.”
The end of The Luxury a love story of Living in three parts Mic Noonan continued from pg 7
Like Harmony Korine’s movie, ‘Gummo’. You know it was orchestrated but it was such a train-wreak waiting to happen, you couldn’t look away. There was this one truly heart-wrenching bit, where Pascal’s parents tell him his brothers last thoughts were of Pascal. But not only do I questions why Girard chose these bits to dredge up, draw and put in print, but I also wonder at the motives of the adults in this story. This story made me feel weird, which wasn’t really a good thing. In regards to the art, Girard used the vignette format again, to get across his feelings of love and loss for Nicolas. The style was exactly the same as ‘Paresse’, simple, cartoony characters. It should be mentioned, and I know he probably hears this all the time, but his style is very similar to Jeffery Browns. Though I like Girard’s better. I find it graceful and less cluttered. He manages to say a lot with very little with his accomplished, yet ginger line. Lastly it was a little hard to figure out the time period in the book. He jumped around a lot from Little Pascal and Big Pascal. There were visual clues, but not always. I guess the bottom line here is that it is worth buying. If only so you can decide if it “Deftly sidesteps the cloying sentimentality and abject self-pity.......” like it says in the write up on the back. Either way, I’m sure Pascal Girard’s next foray into the comic medium will be worth looking at. Sigh. I look at my boyfriend now and it seems like we’re locked in the same plot. I want to grow, and want him to grow with me but he seems to be happy in his stagnation. I want to go out. He’s happy staying at home, examining minutia. I want to experience new things, something different, he has no desire to deviate from the tried and true. “It ain’t broke, why fix it?” says he. It seems like he’s focusing on all the wrong things.
Mr. Noonan has been publishing his semi-autobiographical comics for 8 years now. His first book ‘Fancy Pants’ (‘01) was a great mini-comic. Broken into three stories, it revolved around love, relationships and most importantly, sex in a humorous fashion. The way
Noonan handled the three different relationships gave ‘Fancy Pants’ a wide appeal. His style slick, he definitely had his own distinctive visual vocabulary. I was impressed. There were very few comics out there like it at the time. In the last couple of years Mic has been focusing on a series called ‘The Luxury of Living’ With only two issues of this black and white comic out, it was an interesting work in progress. I found ‘LOL’ to be very different from ‘Fancy Pants.’ Gone is the silly humour, the fun sex and the easy going affableness in regards to relationships. This series is a serious autobio examination of Noonan’s struggle to be a good father and maintain a presence is his daughters life, despite the many roadblocks his baby’s mamma keeps throwing up. On the whole I found the new series frustrating. The second issue was an extended rehash of one of the stories in the first one. As well, the second one is devoid of the dark humour shorts the first one had, which was unfortunate as it brought a little levity to the subject matter. And bizarrely Mic seems to have given up on that wonderful invention called “Spell Check”. It be spells a certain shoddiness that I thought Noonan would be beyond at this point. Also I can understand that he’s gone through some heavy shit and the comic book medium is the ideal place to sort those things out. He’s definitely not
the first, but did it have to be so emo? Why does growing up and maturing in comics equate to losing your sense of humour? Issues, you wanna talk issues? I got issues with Noonan’s art style. His earlier art work was polished, fun, sharp, gritty and most certainly his. I found his new style lacking. Technically accomplished, beautiful even, it felt soulless. It was like a lesser talented Craig Thompson or Matt Madden. Some of the faces, hands.....Is this what results when one graduates to brush or was he just in a big hurry? I miss his tight inks. But it does bear repeating the man can draw, the backgrounds especially were beautiful. The second part of issue two takes place in the country. It’s my favourite part of the book as Noonan is quite graceful with that brush. Which makes this series sooooo frustrating. He’s got the skillz to pay the billz, I know the best is yet to come. I will stay tuned to his ‘Luxury of Living’, if only to see an excellent example of a good artist evolving. (www.theluxuryofliving.blogspot.com)
more than angst. Also, I used to get this vague feeling of being played whenever we would spend time together. It was always, “This horrible thing happened, pay attention to me.” I got tired of holding his hand and supporting him. These days I’m finding the older men fascinating. I met Terry in the park. He’s from a time when men were men and women were treated with respect. He tells the most amazing tales of a dragon lady, an American daredevil and a war. He’s got a traditional style that is utterly impeccable. The way he brush-strokes me, I get shivers. He exudes confidence, maturity and strength in crisp black and white. I can’t wait for the adventures he’s going to take me on.
So it’s over. It was kind of mutual. When I told him, he was pretty blasé about the whole thing. Like it had happened to him a million times before. When I look back on the affair, I feel I’ve grown up a little. Maybe now that I am older, I’m demanding more of my comics. I need
You are about to become a Master of Time By Robert Pincombe www.comicanuck.com
I kid you not. A master. Of time.
Comics screw with time, man. And they give you the power to do it too. moment in time, freezing it for endless That’s right. For a brief, shining moment that lasts as long as you choose, comics allow you to control and manipulate time to enjoy a story on your terms. As you process the comics’ special alchemy of words (or symbols) and art you find your subjective view of time changes from panel to panel and page to page. Picture it. Comics are the only medium in which you can be subjectively in the past, present and future all at the same time. While borders may separate the actions found within panels, each drawing divided into an individual moment, you still see the whole page or the entire screen. You see the action you’re reading now, you see the action preceding it, and you see what’s coming. And you get to decide to how long it takes to get there, or whether to go there at all. You may stop or even reverse time, flipping ahead or back at will. Even a single panel carton can accomplish this effect. Picture one of many brilliant Gary Larson Far Side panels. Two bears stand over a fallen birdwatcher and thumb through his wallet like a pair of gangbanging thugs. In one image Larson conveys the past (the bears mugging the tourist), captures the present (they look over their booty while gazing around warily for potential witnesses) and invites the viewer into possible futures (any number of ways the bears might use their stolen money and credit cards). These three concurrent facets of time combine to form one complete, hilarious narrative. A comic artist can try to slow down or speed up time and guide you through a story, but in the end you are the decisionmaker. A photograph captures a single
study and enjoyment. A film may play tricks with time, but you are always propelled forward through it, following a course laid out for you without deviation. Even when the narrative plays with chronology you are still guided on a predetermined path. But you and a comic must work together. When people argue about what comics are, more often than not they are actually defending their preferred medium for viewing comics: web comics, monthly magazine-style comics, graphic novels, newspaper strips, etc. Or they may praise their ideal subject matter: muscle-bound superheroes, animated carton animals, fantasy quests or even the twisted obsessions of a favoured, underground cartoonist. Years ago, Pierre Fournier, a Quebec grandmaster of comics, expressed confusion to me over all the subcategories ascribed to comics in North America. “In Quebec, comics are comics. They are one thing. It doesn’t matter if they are in a book or on the Internet or in a graphic novel.” Take the time to really look around TCAF today and you cannot help but learn that comics are, indeed, many things. Some are painted, some are drawn, some are hand-stapled and coloured with pencil crayons, others are slick, glossy pieces of high-entertainment, some are even therapy. They all combine elements of the visual and literary arts in an utterly unique form. A million different approaches united by one thing… They make you an all-powerful Master of time! Use your power wisely or frivolously. But do use it.
To Be Continued... see salgoodsam.com for more!
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