Category Archives: Events

Heroes in a Halfpipe! #TMNT Skate Night and Film Screening

It’s pretty simple, kids. We threw an amazing skate party and screened the 1990  version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

If you feel like you missed out (and you’re right!), here are the next THREE events we have scheduled:

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Ad Astra Comix Hosts NYC Protest Artist Seth Tobocman for #TCAF2014

Please share widely!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

World-Renowned Protest Artist Seth Tobocman Speaking in Toronto

Cartoonist to Discuss New Book and 35 Years of Grassroots Comic Activism at Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF 2014)

Press Contact: Nicole Marie Burton
Phone: (647) 863-4994
E-mail: adastracomix@gmail.com
RSVP via Facebook: Saturday May 10, 6PM-10PM (city-wide event social & fundraiser), Sunday May 11, 1:30PM-2:30PM (TCAF workshop)
Purchase tickets online: HERE.

WeAreTheCity2As comic lovers gear up for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (May 10 & 11, 2014), it has been announced that world-renowned protest artist and cartoonist Seth Tobocman will be in town. Seth will speak on over 35 years of experience making political comics, presenting his new upcoming book and sharing his experience on comics as a tool for social change. Tobocman will be giving one talk during the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and a city-wide talk outside of the comics community between May 7th and 10th.

Tobocman is most well-known for his role as a founding editor of World War 3 Illustrated, a quarterly self-published journal of political comics, based out of New York City. Since the magazine’s inception in 1979, World War 3 Illustrated has served as a launch pad for both emerging artists and radical ideas. The artist’s work appears regularly in its pages.

Seth Tobocman posing in front of his original graffiti art, which served as the cover for World War 3 Illustrated's Issue #40: "What We Want"
Seth Tobocman posing in front of his original graffiti art, which served as the cover for World War 3 Illustrated’s Issue #40: “What We Want”

Tobocman is also notable for his comic documentations of a number of political struggles in New York City. His book, War in the Neighborhood, details the affordable housing movement of the late 1980s which led to a series of occupations of abandoned buildings at a time of intense gentrification.

Cover of Seth's book "War in the Neighborhood," a graphic novel about the struggles over homelessness, gentrification, police brutality and human rights that raged in NYC during the 1980s and 90s. Published by Autonomedia.
Cover of Seth’s book “War in the Neighborhood,” a graphic novel about the struggles over homelessness, gentrification, police brutality and human rights that raged in NYC during the 1980s and 90s. Published by Autonomedia.

“There were events that made big impressions, and effected the direction of my art,” Seth explained in a recent interview with the Toronto-based political comics website, Ad Astra Comix. “The invasion of Grenada (1983) led me to do my first stencil graffiti… The housing movement in my neighborhood offered me a vast area of subject material to explore. More recently, the Occupy movement showed up to confirm that we had been on the right track all along.”

Tobocman has explored some of the larger contextual issues communicated by the Occupy Movement in two recent full-length graphic books: Disaster and Resistance: Comics and Landscapes for the 21st Century (AK PRESS, 2008); and Understanding the Crash with Eric Larsen and Jessica Wehrle (Soft Skull Press, 2010). A collection of his earlier graffiti and stencil art is compiled in You Don’t Have to Fuck People Over to Survive (Soft Skull Press, 1999).

City-wide tickets are now on sale for $5 each to cover the costs of Seth’s visit. Interviews with media can be arranged by appointment. More information available shortly!

For more in-depth on Seth and his work, check out our interview we did for the 35th Anniversary of World War 3:

Books by Seth Tobocman available for sale at the event:

DisasterAndResistance2 UnderstandingTheCrash

World War 3
Publishing Date: May 14, 2014. Pre-ordering will be made available if we cannot secure an advanced shipment.

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#ISA2014 Mixer and Launch of Journal for Narrative Politics

For the second time in a week, Ad Astra Comix was out and about meeting and discussing the power of political comics.

Here in Toronto the International Studies Association is wrapping up there annual convention, with hundreds of academics visiting internationally to deliver talks and share ideas on everything from global economic migration to the homogenization of Indigenous cultures and practices worldwide.  And we’re here to hell you… #TheresAComic4That .
Continue reading #ISA2014 Mixer and Launch of Journal for Narrative Politics

Event Report: The Ad Astra EQUINOX of COMIX

Friday, March 21
Ad Astra Comix / Soybomb HQ – Toronto

Amidst the clinking of glasses and the honking of Mario Karts, Ad Astra had its second seasonal shindig, aimed at building the radical comics community in Toronto.  The spread of comics available for acquisition was second only to the one on the kitchen island – a delicious selection of vegan and vegetarian delights made with love by Erica Podlowski (of Podlowski’s Traveling Emporium) and Emma Palumbo, author of the zine “CAN IT: A Collection of Stories, Recipes, and DIY Food Politics“)  Other vendors plying their exciting wares included Ohhh Canada, the JustSeeds Art Collective, and the poster campaign “Imaging Apartheid“.
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The literary fortune telling booth was a a true highlight of the evening, with all kinds of people packing in behind a screen of diaphanous silk to hear Melina and Yasmine prophesize their book-loving prospects with tomes and tarot alike! Some eager fortune-seekers were so taken by the proceedings that they sat in on additional tellings just to take it all in.
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Ad Astra Comix contributor and Comic Book Embassy ambassador Sam Noir made an appearance with his newly-crafted “Crack Smokin'” Mayoral action figure! Also to be available in a PG “Publically Inebriated” model… We hope he will be making many more, as it was incredibly popular!
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If Mario Kart came to a crashing close when someone stumbled over the controller cords and sent the whole thing into scattered disarray, the circles of conversation that formed in the half-pipe were an ample substitute.  Several attendees discovered to their delight that the slick surface of the half-pipe is perfect for group sliding…
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All in all it was an exciting night – food was served, perspectives were exchanged and a good time was had by all.  If we sold a few comics along the way, well, it’s in the service of expanding the city’s political horizons through the medium of the graphic narrative.  A big thank you to the 70+ people that came out to make the event a truly memorable one, and an extra special cheer of appreciation to everyone who poured their energy into putting it all together.
See you at the solstice!
With love,
The Ad Astra gang.
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SAT, Dec 21st: Open House & Solstice Party

Hey Folks!

If you’re in the Toronto area you are cordially invited to Ad Astra Comix’ Open House and Solstice Party taking place Downtown on Saturday, December 21st. We think it’s probably the best way you could spend the darkest night of the year.

As many readers already know, Ad Astra doesn’t actually have a storefront, but we do have access to a local community space called Soybomb – which has, for the past decade, been a home for independent music and culture in Toronto. Food and drink will be available by donation – and all Ad Astra stock (comics, books, posters, etc.) will be 10%-20% off. So if you’re in the city, you probably shouldn’t miss it!

Here’s our poster. Please feel free to post and share with your social networks. A Facebook RSVP Page has been set up here.

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SEX: A Graphic History

Comics, cartoons, and sex in art & literature carry a special kinship. Both have historically been taboo, “low” in status as genres of art; both have been avenues by which to mock and satirize the powerful… and underneath, despite it all, both have an almost universally popular appeal.

Presenter Nicole Marie Guiniling on the history of comic erotica - Toronto, 2013
Presenter Nicole Marie Guiniling on the history of comic erotica – Toronto, 2013

 

On November 24, we had a series of back-to-back workshops at Ohhh Canada’s new storefront on Queen West on the history of comic book erotica, exploring the long-standing relationship of sex in comics and the related struggle of freedom of expression that has come along with it.

For anyone who joined us for the workshop, we’re providing a list of links and references for further reading, along with a showcase of some of the books we’re carrying as a part of this section of our work. Enjoy!

FURTHER READING

Erotic Comics:
A Graphic History from Tijuana Bibles to Underground
Tim Pilcher (Author), Gene Kannenberg (Author),
AlineKominsky-Crumb (Foreword)

Erotic Comics 2:
A Graphic History from the Liberated 70s to the Internet
Tim Pilcher (Author), Gene Kannenberg (Author), Alan Moore(Foreword)

“What is Erotica and What is Pornography?”
http://h2g2.com/approved_entry/A2163070

Lost Girls, by Alan Moore (author) and Melinda Gebbie (illustrator). Top Shelf Press, 2002.

25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom, by Alan Moore (author), 2009. Harry N Abrams Books.

Eight sexy webcomics to read with the door locked
http://io9.com/5886302/eight-sexy-webcomics-to-read-with-the-door-locked

Slipshine: Cute, Fun, Sex-Positive Erotic Comics –
Small fee for subscribing.
www.orgymania.com
Oh Joy Sex Toy! Reviews and Sexual Health by Erika Moen
www.ohjoysextoy.com


Zizki –Webcomic Erotica Galleries (Free)
http://zizki.com/comics/

This INCREDIBLE 2x3 ft poster is "Sexy Times" by Erika Moen and Lucy Knisley will be available, in limited supply during the workshop!

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Title: SECRET IDENTITY:
The Fetish Art of Superman`s Co-creator Joe Shuster

Author: Craig Yoe, with an introduction by Stan Lee
Artwork: Joe Shuster
Published:  Abrams Comic Arts, New York (2009)

It is a well-known fact in the comic world that the original artist and co-creator of Superman died having earned only pennies on the dollar for his contribution to the world`s most famous superhero—the rights to the character were won by D.C. Comics in the 1940s. So what to make of this work in later years? He never signed his name to it, but the Nights of Horror illustrations that depicted lusty ladies, titillating torture, and all manner of mild S&M scenarios were in fact Shuster. What`s more?! The characters of these filthy booklets all look, at great deal, like one Clark Kent and Lois Lane… Find out more in this curious twist in the history of comics and erotic art.


LostGirls Title: LOST GIRLS (Combined 3 Volume Hardcover)
Author: Alan Moore
Artwork: Melinda Gebbie Published:  Top Shelf Productions (2006)

Writer Alan Moore and his partner Melinda Gebbie, both legends in their respective fields, teamed up for years in the early 1990s to produce a kind of comic and a kind of erotica that the world had never seen: sophisticated, politically and historically conscious, yet honest, human, and sensual.

From back of book: “For more than a century, Alice, Wendy and Dorothy have been our guides through the Wonderland, Neverland, and Land of Oz of our childhoods. Now like us, these three lost girls have grown up and are ready to guide us again, this time through the realms of our sexual awakening and fulfilment. Through their familiar fairytales they share with us their most intimate revelations of desire in its many forms, revelations that shine out radiantly through the dark clouds of war gathering around a luxury Austrian hotel. Drawing on the rich heritage of erotica, Lost Girls is the rediscovery of the power of ecstatic writing and art in a sublime union that only the medium of comics can achieve. Exquisite, thoughtful, and human, Lost Girls is a work of breathtaking scope that challenges the very notion of art fettered by convention. This is erotic fiction at its finest.”


EroticHistory
Title: 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom

Author: Alan Moore
Artwork: Various
Published:  Abrams, New York (2009)

If there`s anyone who can put 25,000 years of erotic art into perspective, it`s Alan Moore. Infamous author of graphic novel classics like Watchmen and V for Vandetta, Moore is a fan of uplifting both comics and erotica into more highly respectable realms. Much as he has shown us the ability of a comic to be a work of literature, so too in this volume does he show us the long legacy of pornography being a part of our most meaningful and cherished works of human expression.  A moving read!

Book is hardcover with a gorgeous Art Nouveau decal, spotted inside with dozens of colour illustrations and photographs.


pro-comic-1 Title: The Pro Author: Garth Ennis Artwork: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotty, Paul Mounts Published:  Image Comics (May 2012) For those of us looking for the lighter side of sex in comics, meet the world`s first prostitute superhero. Superhero prostitute… whatever she is, she`s one hilarious, street-smart, trash-talking tough cookie. This is not only pushing the boundaries of what could legally be sold in an Image Comics title; it also playfully mocks the image of the superhero in the collective imagination—from the spandex,…on down.  As mainstream comics legend Gail Simone says, “This is the comic that Garth, Amanda and Jimmy will be apologizing for in Heaven minutes before being sent directly to Hell. But hey, if their eternal damnation is the only downside, then I demand a sequel.”


SexInc
Title: Sex Inc.
Creators
: Nico and Richard Gallo
Story: Stephanie Halley
Edited: Ezra Mark
Published:  Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, Eros Comix (April, 1998)

From the book: “In the year 2117, the prostitutes of Sex, Inc. attempt to make their living in the urban decay of a collapsed world. Confronted with the limitless fetishes and fantasies of a desperate and enslaved public, the girls attempt to fulfill every while pursuing Sex, Inc.`s personal goals.”

An incredible work of sci-fi erotica, published by two very big names in the comic world, Gary Groth and the late Kim Thompson.


  HeavyMetalTitle: Heavy Metal Magazine
Authors: Various
Artwork: Various
Published:  1977-Present

Celebrated for over 35 years as a publication that welcomed new,  unique sci-fi / fantasy comics, Heavy Metal also welcomed a fair share of erotica, and was cherished as a space where artists could freely express something of a “no holds barred” attitude toward their creativity. Select back issue magazines are available.

Matt Bors Event Press Release

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Political Cartoonist Matt Bors in Toronto to Talk Up New Book,  Afghanistan Trip,
Comics Journalism & Activism

Event Spokesperson: Nicole M. Guiniling (Ad Astra Comix)
Phone(647) 863-4994
E-mailnicolemarieguiniling@gmail.com
URLwww.AdAstraComix.com

Between May 9 – 11, political cartoonist Matt Bors will be in Toronto showcasing his new book, Life Begins At Incorporation: Cartoons and Essays. In addition to exhibiting his work at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) May 10 – 11 at the Toronto Reference Library, Bors will be presenting his work on Friday evening, May 10 at 7:30PM at the Toronto Comic Book Lounge.

Matt Bors is a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist, editor, and writer based in Portland, Oregon. In 2007 at the age of 23, he was the youngest nationally-syndicated cartoonist in the United States. Since then his work has graced the pages of WIRED Magazine, The Los Angeles TimesVillage Voice, and The Nation.

Life Begins at Incorporation is Matt Bors’ second book. It received 170% funding on the website Kickstarter in 2012, and was released to funding backers and pre-orders in April 2013. It features cartoons and essays on a variety of topics, from gun control, women’s rights, and the environment to the Global War on Terror (a segment of Bors’ talk is devoted to his trip as a comics journalist to Afghanistan in 2010).

In 2012, Bors was both a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Editorial Cartooning and the first alternative-weekly cartoonist to win the Herblock Prize for Excellence in Cartooning. At a time when political cartooning is widely considered to be a ‘dying art’ by the journalism industry, Bors’ cartoons have received significant mainstream political traction. In 2012, one of his works was presented by U.S. Congressman John Larson during a house floor debate on the Affordable Care Act, while another piece about Osama Bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamden, was smuggled to him while he served as a detainee of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

Bors is available to interview in-person during his stay in Toronto May 9-11, or by phone at the interviewer’s convenience.

Interested parties can find examples of his work and more information on his website, www.MattBors.com. A .PDF copy of Life Begins At Incorporation is available for review upon request.

“The Political Comics of Matt Bors,” is organized by the website Ad Astra Comix, which reviews, researches, promotes and distributes political and historical comic art.

What People Have Said of Bors’ Work
(Quotes From the Back Cover of Life Begins):

Life Begins at Incorporation is equal parts maddening and hilarious. Matt Bors reminds us that in an unjust world, laughter is an absolute necessity. The only disappointment in this book is that despite my wishes to the contrary, ‘The Avenging Uterus’ is not in fact real.” – Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing.com & author of The Purity Myth

Bors embodies the highest virtues of political cartoonists: fearless, provocative satire and cutting, acerbic insights. He’s also unfailingly funny.” – Glenn Greenwald, columnist for The Guardian

Able to eviscerate a target with a single panel. You never want to end up on the wrong side of his pen 
and ink!” – Markos Moulitsas, Publisher, Daily Kos

Bors has the right stuff and then some.” – Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great

A bunch of cunty liberal garbage.” – Person on the Internet

Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels, Revolution: The Life of SPAIN!

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A couple of weeks ago, some good friends of mine in Toronto, also Americans, invited me to join them in a trip over the border to New York to check out the exhibit of Buffalo native, Spain Rodriguez: “Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels, Revolution”.

On Sept 2012 - January 2013 at the Burchfield Penney Gallery in Buffalo, NY.
The Exhibit contains some 50 hanging pieces, in addition to original comic book copies of Spain’s work, and runs from Sept 2012 – January 2013 at the Burchfield Penney Gallery in Buffalo, NY.

Both my friends Nick and Tanya are themselves bikers, rebels, and surviving witnesses to that mythological time, the 60’s and 70’s (not to mention their occasional run-ins with Spain and folks he knew back in the days he rode with the Road Vultures and drew for now-legendary underground comic publications like Zap!). Going to the exhibit with them was as close as I would get to having Spain there to explain some of the nuances and timely political/cultural references.

Sadly, only a few days before we visited the exhibit, Spain passed away. He was 72, and had been battling prostate cancer for about six years. It became especially poignant to understand the legacy of this artist, who was a pioneer of indie comics, a pioneer of comics journalism before the term was even coined, and a pioneer for political comics and historical comics. What’s more, his career wasn’t 3 or 4 ‘golden years’ nestled in a lifetime of mediocrity. His cutting edge work ranges from the early days in underground comics, unbridled by still-McCarthy-Era censorship rules, to just before he died.

Comic book eccentric, Art school nerd, Tough-ass biker, leftist shit-disturber | Spain was an in-betweener, and these are always the folks who make incredible art. Their creativity isn’t confined to one genre, one subculture, one ideological viewpoint of the world. As a biker, Spain scared his comics compatriots and offended some of his lefty comrades: after all, these were three typically segregated subcultures within a man’s world of the 1960’s (none would even begin to include women as anything more than decoration for a few more years…a sidenote). For this overlap, we have some incredibly enlightening artwork depicting the era’s biker culture, general drug and counter-culture, and, more crucial for me and this blog, political happenings of the day.

DNC Chicago 1968Before drawing for Zap! with Crumb in San Francisco, Spain covered the Democratic National Convention in Chicago for the East Village Other (a publication described by the New York Times as being so left-wing it made the Village Voice look like a church circular). This was the home of his other early work, Zodiac Mindwarp.

Above, we see some of the spirit of what went down.


There’s no argument that Spain was an expert brawl-drawer. From his days with the Road Vultures to his activist scuffles, the man had a talent for laying out scenes that generally pass most of us by in blurs if and when we experience them.

These illustrations, when compared to photographs or even video of the protests and police repression, give you more of the feel of the surroundings, and vividly so.  I’ve postulated that he had a tendency to compile several visual records in one large frame. Taking these many single instances he saw–he not only depicts what was in front of him, but he describes the scene and tells a story with it.

tumblr_m0vpq38z071qzhoqfo1_1280Spain went on with his occasional comics journalism, and much to my liking, even delved into historical comics. The book “Devil Dog” illustrates the life of one of my favourite American military figures, Smedley Butler. My friend Nick also told me of a piece he did on the Chaco War fought by mercenary pilots in Bolivia in the 1930s that I’ve yet to see, but I can’t wait to inspect. Untold American history is the bloodstream of my own comic series, so, needless to say, this interests me. His most notable political work is probably Che: A Graphic Biography, published in 2009, which he wrote with the editorial assistance of Paul Buhle, a radical history and comic book expert (best combination–ever).

Young comic lovers should appreciate the fact that, in addition to all his other work that had given him a legendary status in indie comics, Spain never stopped paying attention to political causes around him. The exhibit even included some work depicting the Occupy Movement, that he drew mere months ago.

On November 29, comix artist Def Backderf tweeted, “On the day he died, Spain Rodriguez was inking a poster. Died with a pen in his hand. Hell yeah, amigo! You’re a legend.

Everything else that he so wonderfully was–all aside, this fact alone commands my respect.

spain portrait

Good night, Spain. Your work will forever have a place in my heart.

NMG


Review of Penney Art exhibit:
http://artvoice.com/issues/...

Good informative video about Spain and his political work:
http://www.revelinnewyork.com/videos/spain-rodriguez

Great article from his good friends over at Salon.com:
http://www.salon.com/2012/12/01/death_of...

Pulp History trailer (Devil Dog part of this series)
http://pages.simonandschuster.com/pulp...