by BK Munn
Hey we’re gonna catch up on some cross-Canada comix newz, okay?
Item! University of Western Ontario alumni Eddy Smets continues his generous comics donation program to the library there, with a giant batch of 1940s Canadian comics. These “Canadian Whites” are part of a lifelong collection accumulated by the former professor and comic shop owner. A fitting story for today since these comics were such a huge part of the propaganda effort during World War II; not to mention, many of the creators of these comics were created by young people who were more directly involved in the war effort as members of the Canadian armed forces.
Item! In other Remembrance Day-related events, cartoonist Scott Chantler will be speaking about his graphic novel Two Generals (based on the wartime experience of his grandfather at the Windsor Public Library on Thursday November 12 at pm. Says Chantler, “If you’re in the area and looking for a unique way to mark Remembrance Day, come out to this all-ages event, starting at 7pm. I promise to wear a tie and do my best to be charming.” Full details.
Item! The Vancouver Sun profiles Michael Kluckner and his graphic novel Toshiko, a fictional story of B.C. during World War II: According to Kluckner, a painter and historian, “It just kind of came up on my radar,” Kluckner says of the graphic novel idea, a genre that has taken the publishing world by storm of late and appeals especially to younger readers. Kluckner had been noodling a story idea that lent itself well to the notion of a fictional tale of Japanese Canadian internment in B.C., one that might best be told in 125 pages of drawings and cartoon-style narrative. “The fascinating thing to me was, how much can you tell just with pictures and how little you need to tell with dialogue.”
The result was Toshiko, which took him a year to complete and is set during the Second World War. It tells the story of strong, outspoken 18-year-old Toshiko Yesaki and her cousin Fiko who have been sent with their families from their homes in Vancouver’s “Japtown” to work on a farm in rural Salmon Arm as part of the government-mandated internment of Japanese Canadians in 1942.

Item! Do you like comic strips? Do you like sometimes-inscrutable, sometime-beautiful, artistically avant-garde comics? Do you like the latter mixed with the former? Check out the past month’s worth of strips at 4PANEL: “9 new strips! We introduced you to two new voices at the site — Georgia Webber (Toronto) and Richard Kraft (Los Angeles); meanwhile, regular strippers Alexei Vella, Erik Nebel, Mark Laliberte, Mark Connery, Anuj Shrestha and Jesse Jacobs gave you the goods, a new strip from each … “
Item! Comics critic and historian Michel Viau is preparing another one of his annual reports on the state of comics in Quebec and needs your help, according to a recent Facebook post. Know of any small press or self-published Quebec comics (French or English) that were published during the past year and might have slipped through the cracks? Let the man know!
Item! The Montreal Gazette profiles Louis Rastelli, the driving force behind Expozine (coming up this weekend!) and Archive Montreal: “In truth, what Rastelli collects is mostly stuff people hoard in their basements for a while and then throw away. Ephemera, he calls it, which is defined as ‘things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.’
They are things that are not, for the most part, gathered by more conventional institutions like the Archives nationales du Québec or the Notman Archives, perhaps because they seem too inconsequential or, well, ephemeral. But these artifacts do matter, Rastelli says. As an example, he cites a request from the Centre d’histoire de Montréal to display some of the archive’s rock concert posters from the 1960s and ’70s as part of an exhibition the Old Montreal museum will be mounting to commemorate the city’s 375th anniversary in 2017. Archive Montreal’s clientele also includes writers who haven’t saved their own material. When they become better known, they might need to access their early work for an anthology or retrospective, and typically they come to Rastelli in a panic, asking, ‘Do you have that old zine I did?’ He probably does, he says, showing off a 1954 chapbook illustrated by soon-to-be architect Melvin Charney and featuring poems by Leonard Cohen.”
Full article.
Item! The next issue of Taddle Creek is all-comics and features a typically gorgeous Ryan Heshka cover: “End of the World Dream in Four Colours,” by Ryan Heshka (Vol. XIX, No. 1, Whole Number 36, Winter, 2015–2016). It also features a murderer’s row of great young cartoonists, including Nick Maandag, Noah Van Sciver, Meags Fitzgerald, Dave Lapp, Dakota McFadzean, Philip Street, Jason Kieffer, Michael DeForge, David Collier & James Collier, Nina Bunjevac, Joe Ollmann, and Maurice Vellekoop! Details.
Item! Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton is looking for local artists’ proposals for their ‘Visions of Comics Art Show: To Be Continued’ Dec 31st.: “Three simple words, innocuous enough, until they come in the final panel of the comic you’re reading, then they become engines of frustration, excitement, anxiety, curiosity, or maybe all of the above. What do they mean to you? For Visions of Comics 2016, the sixth edition of Happy Harbor’s annual Gilbert Bouchard Memorial Art Show, artists are asked to explore the nature, associations, meanings, uses, and abuses of the cliff-hanger plot device, “To Be Continued.” Be creative and devise an original work of art, in any format you choose, that interprets this most innervating comics convention!” Hit em up!
Item! The newest issue of upstart Quebec comics anthology Planches is out with a Halloween theme. Issue #5 features comics by Richard Suicide, Cation, Jimmy Beaulieu, Aihnoa, Sophie Bedard, Exaheva, Alexandre Fontaine-Rousseau, Mortis Ghost, Thom, Singeon, Saturnome, Sacha Ravenda, Martin PM, Vincent Partel, Megan Lavey-Heaton, Simon Labelle, and Michel Hellman. Preview.
Item! The Montreal Review of Books interviews Meags Fitzgerald on the occasion of her new book, Long Red Hair: “As a young girl, you first learn to understand your body through the perspective of older, white men. The media plays such a dominant role in the lives of our culture’s youth. I think that as a child, my friends and I were drawn to entertainment related to the occult because witch characters were singular and strong. A lot of other films made in the late 1980s to mid-1990s had very few or no female characters. Think of the first Toy Story film: all of the toys except the porcelain figurine, Bo Peep, are male. That sends a message to girls. I believe we were drawn to the supernatural and macabre because it felt a little forbidden and a little defiant. It’s empowering to break the rules (even if it’s only a perception). At a sleepover, where there are no rule-makers, we were free from the expectations of how little girls ought to behave. We knew we weren’t made of porcelain.”
Item! Former Cerebus background artist Gerhard updates his fans on what’s new, a rare glimpse into his happy “starving artist” lifestyle: “We’ve started doing conventions again thanks to the generosity of Charles Costas who used his frequent flyer miles to fly us out to California to attend the Big Wow show. He is also directly responsible for getting us invited to Baltimore and Motor City. Dean Reeves was instrumental in getting us invited to Calgary. We wouldn’t be able to afford to attend these shows unless invited as a guest. I would like to thank Charles and Dean and the organizers of these shows and the folks at Wizard World for their generosity and support. All of the shows have been great. The St. Louis show in particular was amazing. I had a taste of real comic book stardom signing those Walking Dead books. It reminded me of the good old days when Dave and I would have line-ups at the table. The deal was that Wizard World had me sign 200 of each the colour and b&w for them and I got 200 of each to sell at the table. They gave away unsigned colour copies to the attendees while supplies lasted. The VIP attendees got the b&w as well. I was signing and selling books all weekend long. Wizard bought the original art and Skybound, the publisher, also paid me for using it on the cover. It was a very lucrative and generous offer. Everybody thought it was way cool that I had put St. Louis on the cover. Plus we sold a whole bunch of Cerebus prints…”
Item! Cartoonist, illustrator and nascent graphic novelist Michael Cho is illustrating over 20 variant covers for Marvel Comics this coming February. Cho has a classic/iconic take on these characters and it’s always a joy to see him turn his attention to the House That Jack Built.
Item! Troy Little is on tour behind his comics adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and is keeping a “gonzo” tour diary of his travels.
Item! Fiona Smyth has a kids book in comic form out called Sex is a Funny Word. According to a review on Buzzfeed, “Sex is a Funny Word is nothing short of revolutionary. Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’s newest book is brilliant in its approach to giving caregivers and educators the tools they need to talk to kids about their bodies. Not only is it “the first trans-inclusive book for kids,” but it also uses inclusionary language and diverse representation across race, ability, gender, and sexuality, to hone in on the most important aspects of discussing sex and bodies with kids aged 8-12. It is the second in a trilogy of books – the first, What Makes a Baby, is a beautiful, balanced, and many-gendered explanation of baby-making for kids aged 5-8.”
Item! The great comics critic Chris Mautner interviews Kate Beaton for The Comics Journal on making a living in comics, the emotional impact of sudden success, and still being a comics “outsider”: “I remember people telling me early on before comics was my job, “Man, you’re famous.” And I was working in [the oil sands] in northern Alberta. I couldn’t parse it. Say you got 100 fan mails because of your webcomic. And this is a time when people are like, “What are webcomics?” Nobody knew if they were even legitimate. If you made them you felt that they were, but you still received pushback. I remember there was a lot of articles like “Webcomics have arrived! Finally, they’re a real art form now and they weren’t before.” A lot of weird shit like that around. It was hard to make sense of your position in the world and your position in the world of comics, just because you had a lot of web site readers, that doesn’t mean that you’re a good cartoonist. I don’t know. I still don’t really understand it. Although I have worked hard to build a relationship with an audience because I want to be a real person to them. I think that makes a difference to … it’s a whole learning process. You don’t know who any of these people are.”
Item! I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned the new series of Mr. X comics by creator Dean Motter that have been coming out? The first run of new stories has been collected in a trade paperback from Dark Horse: “The legendary comics creator Dean Motter returns with Mister X: Razed! In the retrofuturistic metropolis of Radiant City, its mysterious creator, Mister X, must protect the city and its residents from themselves, as the architecture of the city itself is a danger to all those within it. Collects Mister X: Razed #1–#4 and “Mister X: Frozen Assets” from DHP #33–#35.”
Item! And finally, a new candidate for “greatest comics photo ever taken” has appeared and features Adrian Tomine and Seth holding Chester Brown in a barber chair while Seth’s wife Tania makes with the razor action. Readers will be happy to learn that Brown managed to overpower his captors and escape unshorn (photo credit: Peter Birkemoe). [Photo is no longer available sadly.]