Canadian Cartooning News Round-up

by BK Munn
The weather is turning chilly (they even had snow in Vancouver this week!) and that means it’s time for a December cross-country comix newz update:
Item! International groups of cartoonists are calling for the release of Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart, one of many journalists and creative types swept into jail in the latest round of reactionary  moves on the part of Turkey’s Erdogan government. A joint statement released this week , the Cartoonists Rights Network International, “We wish to draw special attention to Cumhuriyet cartoonist Musa Kart’s case in particular because this represents the third attempt by President Recep Erdoğan to silence him after suing for libel in 2005 and slander in 2014. On this occasion a punitive fine or jail sentence is not the worst possible outcome, as objectionable as it would be. If granted his stated ambition Erdoğan will reintroduce the death penalty specifically for those said to be involved in organising the coup. Clearly there is a real threat to Musa’s life should his trial proceed and he is found guilty of the charges given. We are witnessing an effort by the president to exact revenge on someone he has long considered an enemy.”
Item! The University of Guelph’s inhouse academic news organ has an article up about cartoonist Walter Scott, creator of the hilarious Wendy and this year’s excellent sequel Wendy’s Revenge (Koyama Press). Scott is pursuing an MFA at Guelph and also has a big interactive exhibit up at the AGO: ““A lot of the first Wendy comics were inspired by the punk scene,” says Scott, whose artistic influences include Kathy Acker, Dodie Bellamy, Matt Groening and Tanya Linklater.
They also drew on his experience of what he calls loss and yearning, as well as issues of identity that stemmed from the push and pull of hiding and exposing his aboriginal roots.
“I wanted to create a character enough like me but different enough — to talk about my experiences but not have to be me. That difference allowed me to open to other people,” he says.
That door opened both ways, he found, as readers told him about their reactions to the character and her story. “Other people can enter the character,” he says. “Other people have said Wendy is them, which I appreciate.
“I wanted to create a project that showed how confused and messed-up I felt. Having other people feel the same way I do — it’s a really good thing.”
Wendy has appeared in public art projects in Toronto, Vancouver and Japan, where Scott spent a residency in Yokohama in 2014. This past spring, he did a month-long residency on Fogo Island in Newfoundland. This year’s Best American Comics anthology includes an excerpt from his inaugural volume.”

Item! The show and sale of Expozine Prize comic art continues in Montreal through December 10. A rare chance to look at and maybe even own art for underground legends like Rick Trembles. Facebook event page
Item! Diana Tamblyn is represented in the Fall issue of Carte Blanche magazine with part of new series of comics documenting some the highlights of time spent with her daughter, dubbed “Rosie’s Stories.”
Item! An audio interview with Toronto cartooning legend and comics educator Fiona Smyth, as part of the OCADU Illustration podcast. Smyth had a hit this year with her book, Sex is a Funny Word (7 Stories Press) which won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. Smyth is also one of those affected by the giant Honest Ed’s real-estate sale that will see Mirvish Village transformed into a condo thing. Not only do the Beguiling and Little Island comic shops have to find new homes, but Smyth’s studio is also slated to fall under the wrecking ball. She is having a moving sale every weekend this month.
Item! Eric Kostiuk Williams has just launched his new comic, Babybel Wax Bodysuit (Koyama Press): “a collection of short stories delving into self-worth, Internet culture, and the fascinating grotesqueries offered up by our science-fiction present, all rendered in what curator Luis Jacob (“Form Follows Fiction: Art and Artists in Toronto”) has referred to as a “unique visual style, narrated in a fabulous spirit of liquid intelligence.”
In this issue: our author, as a closeted teen, navigates comic book message boards and befriends a Pentecostal Christian! Keith Haring fights off gentrification in the 1980’s East Village! A familiar pop star breaks free of her Las Vegas promoters, one hundred years in the future! And more…”

Item! Calgary’s Jillin Fleck is profiled by the CBC on the publication of her Lake Jehovah graphic novel (Conundrum Press) and the pronoun trouble she encountered during its creation: “Fleck began creating Lake Jehovah — a story of a genderqueer individual in a small northern Alberta town facing crises after a series of apocalypses — about four years ago.
“When I first began Lake Jehovah I was searching for a definition, even the word asexuality,” Fleck told Daybreak Alberta this week.
“I came to Jay as a character as this very ungendered character. I was drawing them in many different outfits, enjoying them in both masculine and feminine expressions of themself. I realized that they were an agender character when a friend was talking about this character and didn’t actually ever gender them because he didn’t know what their gender was,” the author explained.
“And I really liked that.”
Over the course of developing the book, her first graphic novel, Fleck said her understanding of pronoun usage shifted.
“I started doing more research on agender identity and searching for a concrete definition, concrete words to use, and finding it shifting all of the time,” she said.

Item! One of the big Kickstarter success stories lately has been a funding push for Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz’s Die Kitty Die series. The book was one of the highlights of Chapterhouse Comics entry into the comics market and now the creators are looking to fund the publication of trade collections and Christmas special issues. The series is an Archie-styled parody of the comics industry starring a glamorous Sabrina-type witch character. The team recently passed the $50,000 mark, guaranteeing a full publishing slate for 2017.
Item! I don’t know if ever linked to this Vice interview with Robin Bougie and Maxine Frank about their porn comics collaborations in Sleazy Slice and other places. If you are looking for a great Christmas gift, you could do worse than Bougie’s (very) adult colouring book, Sugar Spread.
“Robin Bougie: I’m kind of proud to be a pornographer, I don’t have any sort of shame about it. I think it’s just another genre—if you work within the confines of the genre of porn you’re still expected to come up with something that’s fun to read aside from the sex part. When I’m describing the work I almost take on a carnival barker voice: “Step right up for the most outrageous sights!” That’s how I want it to come across—like a circus midway sideshow.
Maxine Frank: To give people an idea, I like to start with a premise. The one that sells best is Sleazy Slice #5, with the comic “Big Girls, Big Battle.” It’s basically giant naked girls battling each other in Vancouver. You just show the panel of one of them holding the Skytrain like it’s nun-chucks and people say, “OK here’s my money please.”
Robin: That was a fun comic to do when we were getting inspiration. We just walked around the city, got reference pictures of the various buildings and streets and part of our hood, and got home and started working it into the comic. So you have these two women fighting naked in the streets of Vancouver and they’re 20 storeys tall. I think people like to see that. They like to have a comic that reminds them of home, even if it’s something outrageous and crazy like that.”