Tag Archives: toronto

If You Could See a Comic About Any Social Issue, What Would it Be?

This past May, at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (or TCAF), we joined 20,000 other comic and art fans at the Toronto Public Library. Dozens of publishers traded, hundreds of artists talked, and literally thousands of books changed hands… but how many of them were about social issues? Very few. And if that was the case, why? Do people not care about social issues? If they do, which ones to they care about?

What people told us, and how they responded revealed some interesting answers…

Continue reading If You Could See a Comic About Any Social Issue, What Would it Be?

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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!

SecretIdentity

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.

Complete Up-To-Date Stock List

Last Updated: August 19, 2013.

America Gone Wild!
Creator: Ted Rall
Published: 2006 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Details: Softcover


Bayou (I, II)
Creator: Jeremy Love
Published: 2010 by DC Comics
Details: Softcover. Parts 1 and 2 of a 3-part series (last book is yet to be released). Review available.


The Bush Junta: 25 Cartoonists on the Mayberry Machiavelli and the Abuse of Power
Creator: (Various – Anthology)
Edited by: Mach White and Gary Groth
Published: 2004 Fantagraphics Books
Details: Softcover. Includes work by Seth Tobocman, Ted Rall, Peter Kuper, Spain Rodriguez, Steve Brodman, Lloyd Dangle, Carol Swain, Ted Jouflas, and Ethan Persoff


Che: A Graphic Biography
Creator: Spain Rodriguez
Edited: Paul Buhle
Published: 2008 by Verso Books
Details: Softcover. Review available.


Che: A Graphic Biography
Writing: Sid Jacobson
Art: Ernie Colon
Published: 2009 by Hill and Wang
Details: Hardcover. Review Available.


Che: A Manga Biography
Writer: Kiyoshi Konno
Artist: Chie Shimano
Published: 2010 by Penguin U.S.A. (Originally published in Japan
Details: Softcover English translation.Review available.


Comic Art Propaganda
Writing: Fredrik Stromberg
Art: Various
Published: 2010 by Ilex Press Limited.
Details: Softcover. Forward by Peter Kuper.


Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story
Writing: Mat Johnson
Art: Simon Gane
Published: 2010 by Vertigo Comics
Details: Hardcover. Review available.


SOLD OUT –Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America
Writing: David Talbot
Art: Spain Rodriguez
Published: 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Details: Hardcover. Review Available.


Edible Secrets: A Food Tour of Classified U.S. History
Writing: Michael Hoerger and Mia Partlow
Art: Nate Powell
Published: 2010 by Microcosm Publishing
Details: Softcover. Review available.


Extraction! Comix Reportage
Creator: Various
Published: Cumulous Press
Details: Softcover. No longer in print. Review available.


FLOOD! by Eric Drooker
Creator: Eric Drooker
Published:
Details: Softcover. No longer in print. Review available.


SOLD OUT —Footnotes in Gaza
Creator: Joe Sacco
Published: 2009 by Joe Sacco
Details: Softcover. Review available.


The Hammer& The Anvil: Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery in America
Writing: Dwight Jon Zimmerman
Art: Wayne Vansant
Published: 2012 Hill and Wang
Details: Hardcover. Forward by James M. McPherson


Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung
Creator: Willow Dawson
Published: 2011 by Puffin Canada
Details: Softcover.Review Available.


J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography
Creator: Rick Geary
Published: 2008 by Hill and Wang
Details: Hardcover


Liberator: Issues 1 – 4
Creator: Matt Miner and Joel Gomez
Published: 2013 (Black Mask Studies)
Details: Single issues available with protective board/bag. Review available.


Life Begins at Incorporation
Creator: Matt Bors
Published: 2013 (self-published)
Details: Softcover. Review available. Author website here: http://www.mattbors.com


Louis Riel
Creator: Chester Brown
Published:
Details: Review available.


Mayday: A Graphic History
Creator: The Graphic History Collective
Published:
Details: Interview with comic makers available.


Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me
Words: Harvey Pekar
Art: JT Waldman
Published: 2012 by Hill and Wang
Details: Hardcover. Review available.


Notes for a War Story
Creator: Gipi
Published: 2007 by First Second
Details: Hardcover. Collector’s Edition.


SOLD OUT—-A People’s History of American Empire: The Graphic Adaptation
Creator: Howard Zinn, Paul Buhle
Published: 2010
Details: Softcover. Review Available.


Trotsky: A Graphic Biography
Creator: Rick Geary
Published: 2009 by Hill and Wang
Details: Hardcover. Part of Geary’s Hill and Wang Graphic Biography series.


The Silence of Our Friends
Creator: Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell
Published:2012 by First Second
Details: Softcover. Review available.


Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History
Writer: Harvey Pekar
Art: Gary Dumm
Editing: Paul Buhle
Published: 2008 by Hill and Wang
Details: Additional text by SDS Members; additional art by Josh Brown, James Cennamo, and others. Hardcover.


Take What You Can Carry
Creator: Kevin C. Pyle
Published: 2012 by Henry Holt
Details: Softcover.


SOLD OUT—UNeducation Volume 1: A Residential School Graphic Novel
Creator: Jason Eaglespeaker
Published: 2012 (self-published)
Details: Author website here: http://www.eaglespeaker.com. Review available.


V for Vendetta
Writer: Alan Moore
Art: David Lloyd, Steve Whitaker, Shiobhan Dodds
Published: 1988 by Vertigo Publishing
Details: Softcover. Definitely not a first edition. Review available.


The Vietnam War: A Graphic History
Writing: Dwight Jon Zimmerman
Art: Wayne Vansant
Published: 2009 by Hill and Wang
Details: Hardcover.


Who is Ana Mandieta?
Creator: Christine Redfern and Caro Caron
Published: 2011 by The Feminist Press
Details: Hardcover. Review available.


World War 3 Illustrated
Creator: Various (Anthology)
Details:  America’s longest-running anthology of radical comics. Published quarterly in New York City. Currently on #44 – “The Other Issue”. Review available.

Matt Bors Event Press Release

AA leaflet image

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

Political Comics Review ~ Willow Dawson’s "Hyena in Petticoats"

I first picked up H.I.P. at the 2011 Toronto Comic Arts Festival, but I didn’t buy it. However wrongful it is to judge a book by its cover, I quickly surmised that “Hyena in Petticoats” was A) a comic for kids and therefore not for adults, and B) an ‘historical’ as opposed to ‘political’ comic, and within that, just another entry in the Canadian corner of the fad that is historical graphic novels… All  pop, no substance… ‘meh’ was my initial response….

Title: Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung
Author + Illustrator: Willow Dawson
Published by: Puffin Canada, 2011
Got my copy through: Online Order

…And here I am over a year later, having read the comic and feeling a little humbled, thinking back on that initial assessment. But before any more of that, an introduction:

“It is the writer’s place to bring romance to people, to turn the commonplace into the adventurous and the amusing, to bring out the pathos in a situation … Words are our tools and must be kept bright … I refuse to be carried through the sewers of life just for the ride … I write if I have something to say that will amuse, entertain, instruct, inform, comfort, or guide the reader”.
– Nellie McClung, Canadian Suffragette

Nellie McClung was one of Canada’s foremost women’s rights suffragettes in the 1910’s and 20’s. As a Christian woman who witnessed how naughty Christian men became after getting tanked on whiskey, she first felt mobilized by the campaign for prohibition–which, across the English-speaking world, was the issue that really begat the 20th Century women’s suffrage movement.

The essential logic was that if the ladies shared the vote and elected offices with men, then the benchwarmer issues condemned to women’s church groups could begin to get some much-needed air for discussion—surely, there was the issue of temperance, but also the working conditions of women and children (especially inner-city immigrants), as well as a woman’s right to protection and refuge against abuse and assault (formerly totally OK if that dude was your husband or father.)

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She doesn’t have the iconography dedicated to her like some other women of the time—Emma Goldman comes to mind—but Nellie McClung was a pretty profound woman. She led marches, organized political campaigns in several provinces, and fought with former Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin on a few occasions.
The book title, “Hyena in Petticoats” can be attributed to Premier Roblin’s declaration of McClung’s doggedness. It was his insistence that “nice women don’t want the vote.” (How nice of him to speak for them since they don’t want to!)

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She also helped to write, produce, and act in a play called “Women’s Parliament”, which not only showed what women could bring to the table in politics, but took the behavior of male politicians at the time and turned it on its head. According to the comic, it looked like offensive satire at its finest. I would LOVE to see someone re-create this play.

The simple, smooth paint-brush strokes of the pages were what initially gave me the impression that H.I.P. was just for a younger audience. In the past I’ve found comic books with this kind of art to be difficult to dive into, feel submerged by (Chester Brown’s Louis Riel is another [sad]  example for me, despite its incredible narrative). I guess I just have an aversion to minimalism. Comics, to me, is all about conjuring—reaching into the very essence of the creator’s idea, and trying to mimic that headspace on the page. But I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I slipped into the world of Nell. There is a charm in the day-to-day interactions that Dawson chose to include in the storytelling, and the little drawings that decorate the page numbers, that puts one at ease—the same charm that draws us to, say, entries in a young artists’ journal. It was enough to help me reassess my bias… minimalism is, after all, a style that superficially implies effortlessness, and yet there is a perfectionism that is needed for that to be realized.

I also appreciate the political context that Willow Dawson adds to this inherently historical comic. This is, again, where I thought I would have beef with H.I.P.—mainstream histories that are simplified (as a kids’ book, a comic book, an article in a high school history book) generally neglect a movement or individual’s shortcomings, for the betterment of an ‘idealistic’ story. Dawson doesn’t do that. In fact, she goes out of her way to point out a few truths that, to some, may seem like unnecessary details, but to someone like me, give me a better-rounded picture of Nellie McClung: her fight was that of a white, middle-class Christian women’s movement. The gains of this movement did not extend to Asian-Canadians or Native women, who would not get the vote for another staggering four decades.

I am grateful for Willow Dawson including this information, which is provided in a way that is informative and intriguing to me, but would also be totally up the alley of my 8-year-old niece (who will surely inherit this copy, come Winter Solstice.) In fact, I feel more comfortable giving her a book that points out a prejudice that was/is more deeply-seeded in the Canadian power structure than sexism: the question of Indigenous rights.

This obviously isn’t a review that everyone would write about Hyena in Petticoats. But coming from the perspective of a political comic book collector, these are the points that matter to me. And maybe this is a kid’s comic…but not only a kid’s comic, and it is secondary to the fact that it is a great little book.

Day One

I have so little time to put down thoughts on TCAF at this exact moment. What I will say is CONGRATULATIONS: this year’s festival has some amazing political comic offerings compared to last year. I have already read one book and will definitely be doing some reviews in the coming days. Until then, a few snaps, subtly edited but not as well as they would have been with Instagram:

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