Hello readership! A book that we put out in conjunction with this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Key Moments from the History of Comics, is in the SEP09 Previews Catalogue, for items shipping in November. Today is the very last day that retailers can adjust their initial orders on books from the back of the catalog. If you might want a copy, this is the only time it’ll show up through Diamond, so I humbly suggest you speak with your local comic book shopkeeper today. Thanks! – Chris

key_moments_cover_500pxKey Moments from the History of Comics
By Francois Ayroles
48 pages, CDN$10.00
Published by The Beguiling Books

Available in Previews from Drawn & Quarterly Books
September 2009 Catalogue (for items shipping in November)
Item code SEP09 0805, Page 255.

Published in conjunction with the 2009 Toronto Comic Arts Festival, The Beguiling has published it’s first book ever: Key Moments from the History of Comics! This witty chapbook collection of French cartoonist Francois Ayroles’ humour cartoons is a fantastic and funny read for alternative and literary comics fans. The book imagines–to humourous effect–the most poigniant and important moments in the lives of great cartoonists and comics institutions from around the world.

It’s funny stuff–the gag book collection is something that has largely disappeared from the shelves and racks of comic book stores, and this brings back the idea with a vengence. Admittedly it’s a little pricey for a 48 page book, but it’s… unlikely to be collected otherwise, given the nature of the material. I bought a copy and quite enjoyed it, particularly having met M. Ayroles and found him to be just as warm and funny in person.

key_moments_gagsThe cartooning is lovely, chunky and filled with deep blacks but with a grace that’s appealing. And it’s sad and funny. My absolute favourite is the Chris Ware one, but I’ve left that out so you have something to discover for yourself.

Best,

- Christopher


But as it is, the movie is unsure of which audience it’s aiming for – an adult audience who wants references to Power Girl’s breast size and gets the weird quasi-Jon Stewart gag at the start of the movie (bleeped out, because… Well, I’m not entirely sure why, really?), or a kid audience for whom the idea of Hawkman, Captains Marvel and Atom, Katana, Power Girl, Black Lightning and Major Force going up against Superman and Batman is genuinely new and exciting. - Graeme McMillan, io9.com

C’mon Graeme. Read what you wrote a couple of times and come to the obvious conclusion. If it’s childish retread pablum that has boob jokes and swearing making it inappropriate for actual children, then it must be for…

I can appreciate as a reviewer not wanting to come out and say that only emotionally stunted man-children could enjoy something—it’s a difficult trick to pull off, deliberately insulting your core readership like that. But if you’re gonna lead the horse to water like that buddy, you may as well go ahead and let it take a drink.

- Christopher


From Atwood to Polkaroo: Highlights of Word on the Street events
The stars of CanLit mingle with comics geeks, dub poets, the TVO Kids gang and many other fans of the written word

I suppose all press is good press?

Still, it is a nice little nod in The Toronto Star about tomorrow’s Word On The Street fest. Second in line behind only the stars of CanLit…!

Hope we’ll see you out at the event tomorrow!

- Chris


karl-scoop

“I love Karl Lagerfeld, and [PETA] hate him because he showed fur in his collection, and they protested his fashion show. People were chanting outside, “KARL LAGERFELD IS A MURDERER! KARL LAGERFELD IS A MURDERER!” And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fabulous if Karl Lagerfeld actually was a murderer?” Like, what if he just fuckin’ lost it one day…backstage at a show in Milan…and bludgeoned Elsa Klensch to death with a platform shoe. “I HATE THAT BLOUSE!” “

“The best part of any fashion show is Karl Lagerfeld with his white hair, and the big glasses, and a fuckin’ fan. Like he’s some kind of Spanish lady or something. And I look at the fan and I’m like, “Bitch, it’s not that hot, what’choo doin’?”"

- Margaret Cho, I’m The One That I Want

More on the ridiculous fan-less Karl Lagerfeld figure at WWD.com. Edit: Apparently Karl stopped carrying a fan after he lost all the weight. Why does no one tell me these things?

- Christopher



No, seriously. How neat is this?

Click for larger.

Click for larger.

Niagara Welcomes the Wine King of Dominion City!

Wine King Float in the Niagara Wine Festival Parade
Saturday 26 September

Wine King Float and Dominion on display in The Show Room Wed 30 Sept – Sat 21 Nov
Opening Reception Fri 16 Oct at 8pm

This year’s Niagara Wine Festival Parade will have twice the royalty. Since 1952, the Grape King has ruled over the festival, but in 2009 the Wine King of Dominion City will join the parade on a float of his own. The Grape King needn’t worry about a battle for supremacy, however, the Wine King character and the community of Dominion are fictional creations of renowned Canadian cartoonist Seth.

Artist members of the Niagara Artists Centre, with the support of the Brock Centre for the Arts, have teamed with Seth and RENDER* to create a parade float from far away Dominion City, the fictional setting where Seth’s stories take place. The float features the Wine King, a rotund wine lover about ten feet high, and a gathering of cartoon grape minions. Marching with the Wine King will be members of the Royal Orders of Connoisseurs and Aficionados, costumed performers of the Suitcase In Point theatre company along with students from Brock University. Among the performers will be two human-sized bottles of Megalomaniac and Henry of Pelham winesthe Good Stuff, meeting the expectations of a connoisseurs taste.

After the parade the float will be parked in The Show Room of the Niagara Artists Centre. Exhibited with it will be a scale model of Dominion City as well as historic images of the grandest days of the Grape & Wine Festival Parade. “The three things are a good fit,” says NAC Director Stephen Remus. “Dominion is a throwback to the hay days of fifty years ago. A sense of those times that escapes nostalgia is pervasive in Seth’s world. I think the Wine King offers us an opportunity to celebrate the history of our parade without being sentimental”.

Born in Clinton, Ontario, Seth began work as a cartoonist in the mid 1980s. After over twenty years of artistic output, he’s created a number of graphic novels and strips (including Clyde Fans, Wimbledon Green, and George Sprott), had his work featured three times on the cover of The New Yorker, contributed a twenty-five issue serial for the New York Times Magazine, and exhibited his Dominion City at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibition component of the exhibit at NAC is being toured by RENDER and was curated by Andrew Hunter.

The Wine King Float and Dominion City will be on view in NAC’s newly renovated Show Room from Wednesday 30 September until Saturday 21 November. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Friday 16 October starting at 8pm.

* A program established in 2006 to shift the University of Waterloo Art Gallerys focus to innovation. render.uwaterloo.ca

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More at http://www.nac.org/show-room-gallery/show-room-schedule/199-wine-king-float-and-dominion.html.



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What you see above is a backlit, prominently placed adverisement for the Azumanga Daioh anime DVD Box Set, placed above one of the many escalator banks in JR Akihabara Station. Advertisements like this are literally all over the station, alongside ads for cell-phones and other gadgets, video games, and of course anime and character goods. Basically, if it’s for nerds, it’s being advertised on the walls of Akihabara Station.

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The advertising starts on the billboards that line the walls of the train station, a blur of cute anime girl iconography whizzing by you as the train slows to an eventual stop. But it doesn’t matter, because the cars are so crowded you can never really see the windows anyhow… It’s all about giving you something to look at when you’re back after your shopping trip, reminding you of what you forgot to buy, what to get next time.

Incidentally, sorry for the awful photo up top :).

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I think part of the reason that Akihabara is so popular with Western nerds (otaku) is that, aside from just being a haven for nerd retail stores that contain all of the nerd goods of your dreams (and darkest fantasies…) the experience is incredibly immersive; the anime and manga, the visual culture starts before you even step off the train, or into the street. For someone from The West where the idea of an advertisement for a comic, “grown-up” anime DVD, or anything with big eyes and a small mouth is basically inconceivable, Akihabara feels like validation.

Of course, that’s a bit of a myth: it just seems like validation. Really there are tons of complex levels of social strata involved in being an otaku in a larger society, otaku pride is actually a bit like gay pride: hard-won and presented with an edge… because of the number of people who think you’re a third class citizen or worse (awful pervert).

The sun setting over Akihabara from my 2007 trip.

The sun setting over Akihabara from my 2007 trip.

The streets of Akihabara are paved with the discarded pamphlets advertising maid cafes handed out by cute girls outside of the station. It’s visual culture writ-large, and even with recent… unsavoury… events, a place where nerds can be nerds, and enjoy their nerdish pursuits. Though newer otaku havens may pop up all over Tokyo (the utterly awesome Nakano Broadway being the biggest so far) Akihabara will continue to be the second home for many otaku (or for those who are still in the closet… their first home…!)

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Of course, manga and anime does manage to make it out of the Akihabara ghetto, because really, ‘normal’ folks read manga too… once in a while. A big exception to the Otaku-ghetto rule? Naoki Urasawa, and his (then) just-released new series BILLY BAT, the follow-up to the his incredibly successful PLUTO and 20TH CENTURY BOYS. The last volume of PLUTO (volume 8) was released the week before I got to Japan, and there were huge displays of it everywhere… and tons of advertising for this new series. I only caught this outdoor train-station advertisement once, I think at Harajuku, mixed in amongst the fashion, alcohol, and lifestyle advertisements. It says a lot about who Urasawa’s work is targeted at, who his audience is. And isn’t.

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Hell, Urasawa has so successfully shed the otaku image they even let him on the train, instead of just waiting outside it. Much like Nana creator Ai Yazawa on my last trip…

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So fight on, Urasawa-san! You’re carrying the torch for all of us.

- Chris