Category Archives: comics

Just When You Think There’s a Nonsequiter

ben-rivers-matt-daley-hyein-lee-frances-lee-jam-comic-2013-09-13-p01From Benjamin Rivers’ tumblr comes this jam comic by Ben, Matt Daley (recent Joe Shuster Award winner – yay!), Hyein Lee and Frances Lee.

Eggs FTW!

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1978 – For Me, the Year It All Began

1978 - I... had... the time of my li-i-ife, & I'd ne-ver felt this way before

1978 – I… had… the time of my li-i-ife,
& I’d ne-ver felt this way before

I love demotivators. Well, the ones that don’t suck. I’ve made a few in my day, but not any more. I was feeling guilty for not pursuing creative projects that have a slightly more selfishly bent.

Then, at random, up pops my very first one. How can I feel this nostalgic for something so recent?

Yes, that’s the Human Fly. Shut up.

Also, I thought the title of the right-hand comic was Green Green Lantern Arrow.

Hey, it’s not my fault the DCU is stupid. Come to think of it, I used to obsess over how the White Dragon mask could shoot napalm out of its schnoz without barbecuing his face.

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Book Launch: Asylum Squad Side Story – The Psychosis Diaries

Asylum Squad Side Story by SarafinWhen: Sunday, July 15, 2012 @ 7:00 PM

Where: The Secret Handshake Clubhouse.

The webcomic Asylum Squad has a collection on the verge of release. Creator Saraƒin is a scary-talented fellow Toronto Comics Jammer. A brief profile:

Saraƒin is a Toronto area artist, writer, and activist. A self-described “psych heretic”, Saraƒin’s art mainly involves themes of madness, spirituality, psychiatry, and drug culture.

This, for me, is highly anticipated. I have significantly less experience with psychiatry than she (though some similar opinions through experience), & I expect it will be a fascinating read.

Further details of the book launch on Saraƒin’s blog, or its Facebook event page.

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Do You Sprint, or Do You Marathon?

Wish I knew the artist, but it’s a generic wallpaper.
And the image from this article would be too ironic.

The running metaphor spontaneously appeared in therapy yesterday.

Amongst my many problems — & they are legion — the one that affects me in terms of cartooning & comics creation is a kind of mental fatigue. It comes on quickly, which I then rationalise by claiming boredom. There are two (technically four) results.

  1. When I’ve begun a long project, I lose momentum. In my experience, it has one of two results:
    a) I rush to finish, with the later pages looking uninspired & merely functional, rather than inspired & with the same grace & expertise as the early pages (comics longer than five or so pages);
    b) I abandon the project in favour of something new & exciting, one in which I’ll receive a sense of ‘completion satisfaction.’ For some reason this psychological reward doesn’t come when simply finishing a page while knowing there’s still much more to do.
  2. I avoid longform storytelling, preferring short comics, even though I have scripts for longer works that I believe are worthy of the time & effort.

Writing, it seems, is pure joy. Six years ago (roughly 2006), I was already writing when it occurred to me that I should relearn how to draw. While illustration is exciting early in a project, it somehow becomes laborious. It was in realising that I enjoy poster art that the running metaphor occurred to me.

I’m a sprinter. Literally, I was a decent sprinter in school, but a poor long-distance runner. I live for the moment,  & pacing for future reward is an alien concept. This explains why I spent 20+ years playing music; even recorded music is a time-based artform, & it is entirely about experiencing the moment.

In yesterday’s session, I’d just come from the library. While conversing with my counsellor, a Clowes hardcover looked up at me. His storytelling technique in The Death-Ray, Wilson & others, as well as that of Seth in George Sprott & Chris Ware in Acme Novelty Library, hit me as an inspired technique. Could I make a longform comic as a series of shorts?

There’s an argument for naïveté on my part. So what? It’s not the destination, but the journey, & this is mine. I had to discover it on my own, & only time will tell if it’s at all meaningful.

As a sprinter, could I be a one-person cartoonist relay race?

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Emerging Sexuality Is like a Box of Chocolates

Like many, I’m on LinkedIn. It’s mostly irritating. Correction: I’m mostly irritating. Such is the way of the opinionated. A thread on the topic of the recent trend of depicting LGBTQ in popular comics, from Archie to Marvel-Disney, inspired this post.

Mainstream comics have been the last bastion of prudery, at least in terms of the male gaze (the censorship of clothed male anatomy in Alex Ross’ paintings comes immediately to mind after fanboys too often cried ‘ew gross!’ at what should be considered natural pants-bulge on spandex-clad men). Despite gay rights activism & awareness proponents in the citizenry, I believe the recent great strides have been thanks largely to the influence of celebrities & fictional characterisations in media, especially television.

It’s not that alternate sexualities haven’t been explored before – they have – but in my limited fandom, they took a heteronormative position. John Byrne created a fuss when he revealed in interviews that Northstar was gay (that depiction in Byrne’s comics was extremely subtle, by rumoured editorial decree). Years ago, I reread his Alpha Flight run & it was easy to infer, if you were looking for it.

I ran into Peter Gillis in a LinkedIn thread, in which he piqued my interest in his run on The (New) Defenders in which he took ethereal alien-cum-corporeal human female Cloud, who was already in a lesbian relationship with (bisexual) Moondragon, & has Cloud realise lesbianism is ‘wrong,’ which triggers ‘her’ shift to male. This fucks up Iceman’s crush on ‘former-she’ Cloud. (NOTE: I have not yet read it, but will soon; Internet summaries seem to gloss the details, & I am trusting my interpretation of Gillis’ comment.)

Another example of heteronormativity is what I will refer to as the Langowski Horniness Problem.

Walter Langowski (Sasquatch) became Wanda Langowski through a consciousness transfer (after trying several other hosts) to goddess  shapeshifter Snowbird’s abandoned body. Wanda, with her male consciousness, urged the team to hurry in their efforts to return ‘him’ to male form, b/c s/he had begun to feel straight female sexual drive. It was a passing reference,  but blew my small-town teenaged mind in the mid-80s.

In hindsight, I think it was a cop-out. Sexuality isn’t decreed by one’s physicality (as homo-attraction & transgenderedness clearly illustrate), but by the psychology of what one finds sexually stimulating. Wanda should have kept Walter’s attraction to women, yet didn’t b/c the prevailing attitude of the time was that comics characters must be straight – hence Peter Gillis’ Defenders storyline (based on how he described it here), & the extreme subtlety of John Byrne’s creation/depiction of Northstar’s sexuality.

It isn’t just LGBTs who spend so-called ‘pink dollars.’

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Most touching comic book/comic book scene.

*This entire post is a spoiler.*

I get emotionally invested in stories very easily, whether a song, movie, essay or comic, & with a variety of subject matter. There are scenes & stories that have great universal appeal. This isn’t one of those.

I was coming to the end of Seth’s George Sprott 1894-1975. It had been a sentimental read, from fictional Sprott’s youthful arrogance to his pensive & ever-sleepy elder years. I had just turned from the Epilogue, where a devoted fan & memorabiliaist lamented:

“I googled George the other day & got only one hit. Nobody under 40 even knows his name any longer.”

…& was met with a spread announcing ‘The End’ as a graphic design element that seemed more glamorous than anything that had come before, as is common, IMO, with old films.

I don’t know what I had expected with one more page-turn, but the penultimate spread of the book was a comic strip version of the end of broadcast day footage, called Sign Off; every Canadian TV station had their own. From the opening “This concludes…” to the first line of O, Canada, I heard that fatherly, gently authoritarian voice read to me. Powerful stuff.

I skipped right past the final credits spread & was again blown away when met with the interior back cover – SMPTE colour bars!

The sign off & colour bars together took me right back to being a kid in pre-cable small town Ontario. It was an incredible comics moment that I’ll never forget.

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Favourite comic couple.

Children of the Atom - Franklin-Boy and Jim-Jam GirlThis is easy – the wonderfully child-like Franklin-Boy and Jim-Jam Girl by Dave Lapp.

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