No, seriously. How neat is this?
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
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.
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 :).
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 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…!)
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.
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…
So fight on, Urasawa-san! You’re carrying the torch for all of us.
Hey folks! If you’re in Toronto this Sunday, September 27th, might I humbly suggest you mosey on over to Queen’s Park to enjoy THE WORD ON THE STREET literary festival? It’s an annual literary event, held simultaneously across 5 cities in Canada, and it puts books of all kinds—including comics and graphic novels–in giant tents on major city streets, to engage the populace. It’s a great idea, with a solid execution, and myself and The Toronto Comic Arts Festival are proud to be back for a third year sponsoring the Comics and Graphic Novels tent. We’ve got a full day of comics programming ready to go, including signings, panels, readings, and more.
Here’s a brief outline of this year’s programming, and I hope we see you out this weekend (oh and please feel free to repost):
11:00am-11:15am: All about Comics & Graphic Novels: A brief introduction.
Hosted by Christopher Butcher.
11:15am-12:00pm: Creating comics with Owlkids!
Featuring CTON (Clayton Hanmer) and Brian McLachlan.
Bonus: The first 200 kids 12 and under that attend this panel will receive a gift bag filled with great comics!
12:00-13:00: Creating Comics and Raising a Family: Finding Balance.
Featuring Jim Munroe (Sword of My Mouth), Tara Tallan (Galaxion), and Claudia Davilla (Luz: The Girl of Knowing).
13:00-14:00: No Rules, No Budget, All Fun! How and why you should make comics!
Featuring Georgia Webber (gangLion), Ruth Tait, and steflenk (The Haircut)
14:00-15:00: Graphic Memoirs – 3 New Works.
Featuring Tory Woolcott (Mirror Mind), Lesley Fairfield (Tyranny), and Adam Bourret (I’m Crazy)
15:00-16:00: Sequential Presents: Oh, Canada. Surveying The Landscape of Canadian Comics.
Featuring Bryan Munn, Salgood Sam, Brad Mackay, and Kevin Boyd.
16:00-17:00: Sequential Presents: Three New Comics set in Canada
Featuring readings by Willow Dawson (100 Mile House), Jeff Lemire (Essex County), and Evan Munday (Quarter-Life Crisis).
Featuring Andy Belanger (Bottle of Awesome), Faith Erin Hicks (War At Ellsmere), Emily Horne (A Softer World), Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics), Kean Soo (Jellaby).
For full programming descriptions and stuff, check out The Word On The Street website at http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/wots/toronto/whatson/comics.