Item! Over at the Toronto-based Comic Book Daily website, collector and researcher Ivan Kokmarek has started a regular column on the subject of 1940s Canadian comic books and so far they have been excellent, chock-full of scans of ancient Canadian superheroes, comic books about hockey, and profiles of forgotten artists and publishers. There’s posts about the great cartoonist George M. Rae, the adventure hero Brok Windsor (drawn by John Stables), the mystery of a lost title brought to light through correspondence with Dave Sim, a portrait by Tedd Steele of himself and fellow artists Leo Bachle and Ross Saakelele as hockey players, and an attempt to put together a superhero team from Bell Comics’ stable. Worth checking out.
Item! Happy 90th birthday to Saskatoon cartoonist Margaret Vavra who drew cartoons about a cat named Sassy for the Star-Phoenix newspaper from 1948 to 1968! The cartoon character was a fixture of the paper’s weather report and was later adopted as the mascot of a local bomber squadron: “Saskatoon’s No. 406 auxiliary squadron christened seven Mitchell bombers” in 1952, including one with a decal featuring “a high-stepping Sassy holding a bomb above its head with the left arm.”
Item! In a short interview with Frederik Byrn Køhlert for the Lemonhound blog, former cartoonist Julie Doucet talks about her recent zines and collages and rebuffs some questions about making comics: “there is a progression and a thread uniting all of it, the starting point being comics… It’s words into pictures, or words used in a visual form one way or another. Most of the time as a narrative. Some would insist that it is all so close to comics that I am obviously Still into it… but no, I sure don’t feel like that’s what I’m doing. I would say that what I’m doing is closer to poetry, if you have to put a word on it. I don’t really like the word poetry, but I think that’s what it is.” (thanks to Brad Mackay for the link!)
Item! For TdotComics, Adira Rotstein interviews Ty Templeton about Toronto’s Comic Book Embassy, a new school and studio for burgeoning comics pros: “The Comics Embassy was started as a result of some friendships and
 professional associations among people who were working together in my Boot
 Camp courses. At the end of the year we do this self published comic called “Holmes
 Incorporated” and the end of the year about six or seven people decided they 
wanted to keep the energy going after the project was finished, so they wanted to
get a studio space together so they could continue to work together. That’s what this was–
a place for them to get together and retain that energy. The space they found 
to rent had a fairly sizable room in front. I needed a new location for running
 my boot camp and so it just worked out very nicely.”
Item! Julie Doucet shows up in this blog post from the Drawn and Quarterly bookstore blog about the launch for Geneviève Castrée’s Susceptible graphic memoir. There’s a super-awesome photo of Doucet with Castrée and cartoonist Diane ‘Obom’ Obomsawin. (is also curating an art show that includes Doucet at Anchor Art Space in Anacortes, near Seattle.
Item! New on the Inkstuds podcast: an interview with Michel Rabagliati, whose The Song of Roland was one of the big graphic novels published in Canada last year.
Item! The collected edition of Daniel Shelton’s long-running comic strip Ben has landed at La Pasteque after a period being published by Editions 400 Coups. Kubert-school-grad Shelton has placed the strip, about a senior citizen couple and their family relations, in a ton of papers and has recently landed a gig creating strips for a yogurt company’s packaging –kind of like the old Bazooka Joe except instead of a one-eyed kid the mascot is a zombie named Freddie.
Item! Julie Doucet and Simon Bossé have started a Tumblr blog to share the crazy mail art they have received over the years. Here’s one Bossé got from Marc Bell: