tcaf-poster-set.jpgI just wanted to send a quick thanks to Karen Whaley and the Staff of Torontoist.com for naming The Toronto Comic Arts Festival one of their Heroes of 2007. According to Torontoist “In a city of endless comicons, the behemoths battled it out while the little guy emerged a winner. This year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival (August 18–19) was a huge success…” I’m happy to share the praise for our event with all of the staff, volunteers, cartoonists and publishers (and especially our sponsors!) who helped make the event the success it was.

Special shout-outs to Ryan North for being so gosh-darned handsome that he appeared in every single con report on the internet. Can I get an “aw-shucks”? :)

- Christopher

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Thanks to everyone for the compliments on this photo-journal. The response has been pretty phenomenal, and I hope the Japanese government sees fit to throw a few kickbacks my way… I wake up every morning and I’m kind of angry that I’m not still in Japan. :-/

This time out, I gotta thank a friend of mine who helped me out of a fairly major blunder on my trip to Japan. Several of the photos this time out (including the one above) are by my friend Eric Kim, a budding amateur photographer and the artist of Oni Press’ Love As a Foreign Language. All of the photos from the Tezuka display come courtesy of Eric, and you can check out the photos from his trip to Japan at his flickr page, http://flickr.com/photos/inkskratch/ .

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We arrived at Kyoto train station and it was really, really hot. Unfortunately there’s no Relax Time for us, we’ve got a packed day of temples and shrines to see, plus the Kyoto Manga Museum and the Tezuka Museum and… Yeah. The Best Laid Plans are completely shot to hell by the presence of this:

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Continue Reading After The Cut:

Keep reading…


I really like the art of Tomer Hanuka, probably best-known to comics fans for his comic series Bi-Polar and his graphic novel Placebo Man, both published by the indomitable Jeff Mason and Alternative Comics. Tomer is also a much-demanded illustrator, frequently contributing illustrations to The New York Times, and I wouldn’t normally be surprised if one of his editorial illos were e-mailed my way. But usually they don’t come in the body of a piece of spam…?

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In a triumph of post-moderism, an illustration by Tomer Hanuka about “Love Muscles” showed up in my inbox under a subject heading with “love muscle” in it.

THE FUTURE!

- Christopher
P.S.: You can buy Tomer Hanuka originals at my employer’s website.


So due to the Christmas rush, I never really got to report back from The Beguiling’s signing with Svetlana Chmakova, creator of Dramacon, and Faith Erin Hicks, creator of Zombies Calling. It was held on Wednesday December 19th from 4pm-6pm, and it went great! The event marked a Toronto home-coming for Faith, and so friends from across her school and professional career came out to say hi (and apologise for pulling her pigtails in school), but a number of eager fans came by to get their complete runs of Dramacon signed as well. In this battle, I’d have to say that it was a double-K.O.! Both cartoonists are wonderful and incredibly talented, and it was a busy (and fun) day at the store.

And there are pictures!

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The Sunday before the signing, Toronto was buried under a pretty impressive snowfall. In the window that’s an original painting from Jeff Lemire’s Tales From Essex County: Ghost Stories. I was a bit worried about the roads and the parking for our out-of-town guests, but everyone ended up arriving safe and sound.
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The signing was really well attended, with maybe 40 people filing through over the course of 2 hours or so. Here Faith inscribes a copy of her book for a fan, and Svetlana checks out the newest volume of her work.

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Svetlana signs and sketches for a young dude who loves The Dramacon.

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So much talent sits at this table…

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After the signing, we invited Svetlana and Faith out for a bite to eat and a meet-and-greet with some local Toronto creators and friends. Svetlana got Shanghaied on the way in and ended up doing a 30 minute interview for a documentary on comics airing on The Independent Film Channel next year, so we had to start drinking without her. Here we see one of Faith’s very tired friends, Faith Erin Hicks, Eric Kim (Love As A Foreign Language), and Beguiling employee Derek.

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Svetlana finally made her entrance, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

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Several martinis later the gang gets together for a group shot before heading home. In addition to our previous photos are Ray Fawkes (Apocalipstix, Mnemovore), Jim Zubkavich (Makeshift Miracle), Kayla from The Beguiling, and Svet’s friend K.

Thanks again to the totally-awesome Svetlana Chmakova and Faith Erin Hicks for doing a signing at the store! We had a great time, sold a ton of books, and made it very difficult for folks to do their Christmas shopping for a few hours, which is kind of hilarious. You can check out another report on the signing at Jason Truong’s Blog.

You can buy Dramacon Vol 1-3 and Zombies Calling from The Beguiling’s website, as well as better book and comic stores everywhere, and check out Faith’s Homepage and Svetlana’s Homepage, as well as the Slave Labor Graphics and Tokyopop websites.

- Christopher


I decided I wanted to linkblog to the last three weeks of interesting posts I pulled out of my feed reader… You know, just cuz. Merry Boxing Day, everyone!

[INDUSTRY]

At The Quill & Quire (like PW for Canadians) they have the results of a survey on reviewing ethics. Apparently only 76.5% of reviewers think it’s unethical to review a book without having read it. I just got into a fight over this very point, but it still depresses me that this number is so low… Actually, there’s a bit on there about how 20 percent of reviewers feel it’s okay to lie in a review and not write what they actually thought… I generally just abstain from reviewing in those situations where impropriety makes me feel as though I might need to be less-than-honest. I mean, what if I ran into that Time.com blogger at a party one day and he found out how terrible I thought his Best of 2007 list was? And running into Doug Wolk sure would be awkward if I’d gone on a rant about how any Best of 2007 list that was missing both Shortcomings and any of the 3 comics by Chris Ware that were released this year could only ever be described as “woefully inaccurate at best.” See? Awkward. I will say that the two top-fives released by Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen and Ken Tucker are both focussed, consistent lists that at least make sense, although Jensen’s taste is pretty questionable… Buffy and The Killer and Y, oh my…

[CULTURE]

It turns out “Nice Guys” are really just passive-agressive assholes who will never get laid because women see right through them. Duh. Ldragoon sets it up with an amazing illustration, and the MightyGodKing spikes it right into the sand.

[SUPERHEROES]

Marvel is doing alternate-universe manga versions of their characters, and it’s a big deal! Just like when BLAME! and NOISE creator Tsutomu Nihei did… an alternate-universe Wolverine story a few years back. I guess it ruins the ‘thread’ of the news item if these sorts of things are brought up… Anyway, I’m very, very happy for writers Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, who are excellent comics creators and friends of mine whom, I hope, are having fun and cashing cheques for this endeavour. Big, big cheques.

[FREE COMICS]

Zombies Calling creator Faith Erin Hicks did a full-page comic strip for Halifax’s ‘frebie weekly’ The Coast this week. Go check it out, it features characters from Zombies Calling.

[FREE ART]

My friend Zack Soto is the creator of the comic The Secret Voice. Only the first issue has come out, but it’s really good stuff and we’re all really hoping that there’s a second issue soon. In the meantime, Zack has been kicking out some pretty damned awesome silkscreen posters and previewing them in various LiveJournal communities. I’m sure he’s even selling them in some way if you contact him…

[PHOTO-BLOGGING]

Meanwhile, Kean Soo is the co-editor of the Flight anthologies and has been contributing adorable little comic strips to them featuring his character Jellaby for nigh-on four years now. This winter (February 5th, to be precise) will see the release of his first full length graphic novel, Jellaby Volume One, published by Hyperion. Kean just got his box of comps yesterday, and you can take part in the joy of opening the box to view the freshly printed books!

[IT'S PROBABLY TOO LATE FOR THIS ONE]

This last-minute Holiday Shopping Guide by one of my favourite comics creators is sure to make all of the shopping I have to do a breeze this Saturday and Sunday! A BREEZE. Weep.

[GOTTERDAMMERUNG? DON'T MIND IF I DO]

Alex Cox, a Certified Dark Horse Hero (which one? I bet he could pull off a great “Don’t Call Me Babe!”) and retailer at the Brooklyn-based ROCKETSHIP COMICS has completed his comic adaptation of part of Wagner’s Ring cycle, in considerably fewer pages than P. Craig Russell! Check out The Legend Of Brunhilde.

[ANGRY HOMOSEXUALS]

Dorian took the time to point out a particularly jarring bit of homophobia and queer-baiting, and the general consensus from comics fans? You’re clearly imagining things, you Angry Homosexual! I for one am glad that folks like Dorian are around to point out things like this, but I can’t imagine why he puts up with the inevitable angry-nerd backlash. That man is a saint, up on a cross. Meanwhile, if you’d like to point out the repetitive, reductionist nature of the critics that pop up whenever a homosexuality becomes an issue in comics, check out the Queer Comics Controversy Bingo!

[WACHOWSKI]

I really liked the trailer for the new Speed Racer movie, which would explain why the Newsarama comments section hated it.

[WEBCOMICS]

So I saw a promo for a fun new webcomic called FCHS which has started running at webcomics portal The Chemistry Set, and I’ve been checking it out and apparently it’s only going to be updating 3 panels? Per week? Of a continuous story where no three panel strip has any payoff at all? Attractive art, my buddy Vito is writing it, but even with all of that said, there is no way I’m gonna read this every week, that’s completely insane. It’s like watching one minute of Ferris Bueller every day for half a year. Sure, it’s a good movie, but fuck that nonsense–I’ll buy the DVD. If you’re MUCH more patient than I am, check out http://www.chemsetcomics.com/category/fchs/

[VIDEO GAMES]

Dude they turned Oregon Trail into a web-based game… and they updated it for Hipsters! Check it out as you get to the big concert in California on time.

[THE END]

Man this shit takes forever… How does Dirk do this every morning?

- Christopher


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See ya there…!

- Christopher


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Thanks for continuing to read my Japan Photo Recap. I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but these photos were taken between September 3rd and 17th in various areas of Japan; I’ve been safely back in Toronto for months now.

So, after we left the Ghibli Museum in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka, we actually took the train over to Tokyo Station and hopped on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Himeji, near Kyoto. Himeji is one of the old Capitals of Japan, and is famous for Himeji Castle, one of the oldest and the most authentic castle in all of Japan. This is the “culture” portion of the trip, which is to say not pop culture. As such, and considering the aims of this blog, I bring you a short photo tour of our day in Himeji largely without comment. At this point in the trip, my illustrious husband started taking photos as well, so some of the credit should go to him. And now, without further ado, the first alcohol vending machine I found in Japan:
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Two kinds of beer and two kinds of scotch!

Keep reading…


I was in the malls on the first day of December. I knew what to expect so I’m not going to pretend to be surprised by the slow-ass-walking not-looking-where-they’re-going congregating-in-hallways stupid-asshole-consumers, not even for dramatic effect, but yeah. Forget that noise. (Seriously, these people were posing for photographs in the middle of busy mall thoroughfares. What is this shit, Anime North?). But it isn’t the first of December anymore, December’s half way done and you’ve got less than 9 days of shopping left. Are you gonna fight for parking? For elbow room? For the last whatsits on the shelf? I didn’t think so.

Now, more than ever? Comics For Christmas. Listen, you and me? Let’s be honest with ourselves. And Each Other. We’re going to the comic store every week ANYWAY. Sure, we’re broke and we’ve got gifts to buy, but Christmas be damned, we’re going to drop 15 or 20 bucks on funnybooks. For ourselves. Because we earned it.

So, and I say this with full knowledge that I am a comics pusher and probably not to be trusted, why not just give comics for Christmas this year? Graphic novels, manga, ‘artbooks’, even stuffing stockings with floppy little reads? Comics for Christmas. 2007 is a year where comics have legitimacy, whether you take the highbrow route and claim them as important works of literature, or the lowbrow route and demand that the Super Friends are our collective Modern Mythology, you’ve never been more entitled to share your hobby/addiction/choice of literate reading material with your friends and loved ones!

Tom Spurgeon put together a 200-item list of awesome comics and related items that make great gift ideas, and you should totally go check that out. But if you’re running in and out of the comic book store this week and you’re double-parked and you need 5 easy gift ideas for folks on your list that any well-stocked comic shop is guaranteed to have, I’ve got you covered. Here goes:

Male or Female, Adult, literary gift idea, a book:

1. The Acme Novelty Library 18 and a Half, $32.00
This issue of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library is anything but, instead it’s a collection of his covers for the Thanksgiving issue of 2006’s New Yorker magazine. Featuring 5 beautiful prints on heavy stock and narratively inclined, these are gorgeous and not terribly well-known outside of comics circles; the tens of thousands of civilians who’ve read and enjoyed Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Boy On Earth will likely enjoy and appreciate and even hang this fantastic, economical art collection. Recommended for: Men or Women, Adults, Literary gift idea, Not a book.

2. The Petit Livres, by Drawn & Quarterly, $10-$12 each
Drawn & Quarterly have been releasing a fabulous collection of little art books by comics creators for the past few years, called “Petit Livres” or “Little Books”. Weighing in between 80 and 120 pages, these little books feature comics and art in a beautiful presentation. Collections are available from well-known artists including Julie Doucet (Lady Pep), Guy Delisle (Alene and the Others, Albert and the Others), and Marc Bell (The Stacks), but the collections by young and cutting-edge cartoonists including Chris Von Szombathy (Fire Away) and Julie Morstad (Milk Teeth) are beautiful as well, and will impress any art lover on your list. Recommended for: Men or Women, Late Teens/Adults, Inexpensive but cool/’cool’.

3. The Dark Tower HC, by Stephen King/Marvel Comics, $25 or Buffy: The Long Road Home, by Joss Whedon/DH, $15
Don’t underestimate the power of either of these two graphic novels. Stephen King fans tend to read literally anything by Stephen King, right down to his book ABOUT writing books. The readers of the Dark Tower series tend to be the choosiest King readers as well, with Dark Tower being “The only Stephen King I read…!” While the Dark Tower graphic novel does cover ground that the novels have gone over, the perspective is fresh and beautifully illustrated, making this a solid gift for the billion-or-so Stephen King fans on the planet. Meanwhile, anyone who watched Buffy right up to the end of the last season will want to know what happens next, and with series creator Joss Whedon writing The Long Road Home chances are it’ll be a well received Christmas gift. Recommended for: Men or Women who are already fans of this author or character but don’t have everything… yet.

4. Owly Volume 4, by Andy Runton/Top Shelf, $10 or Amulet Volume 1, by Kazu Kibuishi/Scholastic, $10.
We know that the kids on your list have already read bone. Either they’re bang-up-to-date on the Scholastic series (which just dropped volume 7) or they’ve already tackled the massive 1300 page all-in-one edition. But what’s next? Scholastic is hoping that it’s Amulet, the new full-colour fantasy adventure series by FLIGHT ANTHOLOGY co-editor Kazu Kibuishi. It’s a rollicking good read with plenty of action and gravitas, the hallmarks of any good adventure story. Meanwhile, younger Bone fans should definitely be treated to the Owly series… Runton’s nearly-wordless graphic novel adventures are gentle, humourous, and affirming tales. While their wordless nature may make you think “under 5″, you’d be surprised to find how many 12 and 13 year olds enjoy the series too. Recommended for: Any kid under 14, and a few over 14 too.

5. Original Art
This is a pretty specific-to-The-Beguiling thing, but we’ve got tons of original art for sale, from $50 to $3000, and a variety of artists working in a plethora of styles. We can get it wrapped up for you in under 30 minutes, or have it waiting for you at the front cash register if you call ahead and give us an hour’s notice. Even if you don’t live near the store, we can have it shipped to you next day FedEx if you like. Check it out, here are 5 of my favs that are still available:

Kim Pine Painting, $300, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5296

King III P10-11 Panel 5, $100, Ho Che Anderson.
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5310

The Black Diamond Detective Agency Page 11, $220, by Eddie Campbell.
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5532

Somersaulting pg 49 panels 3, 4, & 5, $300, Sammy Harkham
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5100

L.A. Times: Graphic Novel Readers, $1500, by Maurice Vellekoop
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5175

There’s five (and a bit) quick gift suggestions that should cover more-or-less everyone on your list. Sure, there are amazing titles like Acme Novelty Library 18, Scott Pilgrim, Black Dossier, Exit Wounds, American Born Chinese, We Are On Our Own, Runaways, or I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets as well, but those sorts of things require thought, and searching. This? Just run in, pick it up, no fuss no muss and you’re all done until the bills come in January.

If you live near The Beguiling. If not? Well I’m sure your local comic store will have something to sell you, because even that’s probably a lot better than trying to fight through the crowds for the next few days…

- Christopher