The C-List: Canadian Comics News Links
by BK Munn
What, is it nearly February already? I’ve really taken a break from the comics blogging this month it seems. There is a lot of great stuff to catch up on and that is what the C-List is all about, Canadian comics news in bitesize little chunks! Let’s get with the items!
Item! Kat Verhoeven has a new webcomic that she is hoping will eventually be follow her Towerkind graphic novel into print. Dubbed Meat and Bone, Verhoeven says it’s “a story about three roommates struggling with body image, disordered eating and uncharted dating territory.” Graphically, it’s quite a departure from her previous book and the addition of some nice colours really adds to the punch of the strongly-designed pages. Well worth a look, especially if you like your comics sprinkled with sexual daydreams about Jane Fonda as Barbarella. (Verhoeven has also launched a Patreon, in part to support the making of the new strip.)
Item! Action cartoonist extraordinaire Darwyn Cooke has illustrated many pulp tales for our enjoyment, but most of them have been in the superhero or crime genre. Now he’s teamed up with all-time great U.S. cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, who is scripting a weird miniseries/graphic novel about UFOs and kids for the Canadian to put his graphic slant on. Twilight Children is published by DC/Vertigo, and Cooke has nothing but good things to say about his writer and their editor, Shelly Bond: “I have been doing this 15 years straight, and “Twilight Children” is the first time I have ever seen an editor as plugged in to what I am doing. She sent me a black and white PDF of the book with just her notes as to what she liked, visually. A lot of the time, when you are working with a larger company, you are lucky if you can get the [editor] to e-mail you to let you know he got the material. With Shelly, it’s very different. She is completely involved. I also find there is a lot of positive reinforcement with her. If she sees some good press or hears something good, she’s right there, passing it on. Any questions she has that help build the story make it more powerful, because she is so involved. When she does come in with a comment that might mean a change or re-eval, you are looking at it as sincere and genuine because she has intimate knowledge of what she is dealing with.”
Item! In a CBC interview, editor and publisher Hope Nicholson reflects on 90s comics as one of spurs behind her Secret Loves of Geek Girls anthology: “In the ’90s when I grew up reading comics was a lot of “bad girl” comics — a bunch of women with these anatomically incorrect figures who were trying to kill things but always in a way that managed to show off both their chest and their butt. It was very strange to read. I liked the adventure of it, I liked the fact that they had these amazing plots, good and evil, but these characters made me feel uncomfortable, and I wasn’t sure why until I saw comics that were better representations of women, and I realized not all comics had to be like that.”
Item! As part of its ongoing 25th anniversary celebrations, D+Q has an exhibition of its artists’ work up this month at Galerie Martel in Paris, just in advance of the Angouleme festival. On display is artwork by Mark Bell, Chester Brown, Genevieve Castree, Julie Doucet, Seth, and several Americans. Bell and Anders Nilsen were the cartoonists on hand for the launch.
Item! Speaking of Angouleme, the recent controversy over the total absence of women on the nominee list for the big lifetime achievement award there led to a spectrum of responses from Canadian creators. The CBC talked to Julie Delporte, Julie Doucet, Lynn Johnston, and Teva Harrison about inherent biases in the old boys’ network of comics. Quoth Delporte, “”Everything in history has been shaped by men,” she says. “If everything is chosen by men, and read by men, of course men’s works will be more appreciated.” Delporte sees inequality in Canada’s comic scene, too. She points to a recent study that shows female visual artists in Canada earn 35 per cent less income than their male counterparts (the overall income gap between men and women, according to the study, is 31 per cent). She also senses resistance within the upper echelons of the comic world. “To me, it seems as easy for a woman to do comics as for a man. But to be confident to be a publisher, it’s not easy,” she says. “It took me a long time to realize that I could learn how to print books and decide what’s good in comics.””
Item! Michel Rabagliati is launching his new book Paul dans le Nord in France and a cafe there has caught Paul mania, with a full Paul-themed menu and cups and bags with images from the comics. What a weird world. (English version will be ready for TCAF.)
Item! Superhero artist, Superman killer, and Saskatoon resident Todd Grummett is profiled by his local paper on his career: “There’s no retirement for guys like me. Cartoonists never retire. They either go blind or drop dead at the board.” Inspiring words!
Item! This National Post article about comics being treated by Canadian academics as serious literature is full of choice quotes. Journalist Douglas Quan talks to Nick Sousanis and Benjamin Woo, one former and one current student of University of Calgary’s Bart Beaty who have already carved out a niche for themselves in comics studies. The best quote, however, goes to a cartoonist: “If there was a generation that resisted comics as literature, that generation is now gone. The battle has been fought, and won,” says Scott Chantler, a Waterloo, Ont., cartoonist who recently wrapped up a three-month appointment as writer-in-residence at the University of Windsor’s English department.
Item! Vancouver’s Johnnie Christmas talks to the Globe and Mail about the West Coast scene, how people rarely make money in comics, and working on Margaret Atwood’s graphic novel project, Angel Catbird: “She’s very professional, as you might imagine, and very open. The collaborations are easy. Things are suggested and she takes everything in and thinks about things. It’s a very easy collaboration, which is really kind of pleasant. It’s not a lot of straight dictating this, that or the other. Everyone is open to toss suggestions in. The editor is tossing in things. I am tossing in things. Margaret is tossing in things. We are finding our way to building this world.[…] She is finding her way through it. She moves quickly and decisively through [the project], which is very nice. There’s not a lot of hand-wringing with the writing.”
Item! Was Chester Brown’s bestselling Louis Riel “a game-changer for Canadian cartoonists” as this CBC article suggests? Listen to the vintage radio clips of Brown discussing his work and decide for yourself, I guess.
Item! Cartoonist Lynn Johnston has a restrospective (because she doesn’t make new comics that I’m aware of*) exhibit at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery: “The exhibition gives a behind-the-scenes look at Johnston’s creative process, her life, and the many doors that were opened for her along (the strip’s 30-year history),” (*hasn’t she done enough for us? what do we want? blood?!?)