Inspiring Creators

Jan 072007

Helen at her book launchOn the day I met Helen and Paul, we had just made the long train trip from Montreal to Halifax and I was trying to decide between showering and eating before my book launch — I figured it might be hard to find vegan food in a new city and I didn’t have time for both. Paul, who’d picked us up, ushered us into a cosy kitchen to meet Helen. She offered me some stew, and regretfully — both because I was hungry and because I always felt bad rejecting people’s hospitality — I told her that I was hard to feed: I was vegan.

“We’re vegan too!” Helen exclaimed.

This was a lovely introduction to the delightful paradox of Helen and Paul. Continue reading »

Dec 202006

Susan as collaged by Margaux Williamson.Susan’s birthday is today, and last night she finished off the last academic assignment for her doctorate. That’s only one of the many things she’s pulled off this year — being her husband I might be biased, but I think her 33rd year was pretty amazing.

As a biochem grad student, Susan has pretty much a full-time job at a lab where she’s been publishing papers, training students and doing real science type stuff with gels and microscopes and a labcoat of her own. Last year she started a group on campus and a zine (LadyScientist) to talk about the issue of women in science. (Interesting fact that we just discovered this week: University of Toronto has the widest wage discrepancy between male and female professors in Canada.) This year she’s been dealing with the same issues, just in a fantastic variety of ways… Continue reading »

Sep 142006

The lion one was clearly cooler.I’ve finished a first draft for our lo-fi sci-fi movie script Infest Wisely (UPDATE: Check it out!). It’s got a Voltron-inspired story structure, with seven segments that stand alone but come together to form a feature length piece. Since we’re planning to shoot it next month, I’d rather just release it than talk a bunch about it, but if you’re curious you can peek behind-the-scenes — it’s our unofficial “whiteboard” website where we’ve been amassing ideas/considerations.

Talking about unusual shorts, McSweeney’s has put out a “DVD magazine of unseen films”, Wholphin, and were nice enough to trade it for my DVDzine Novel Amusements. I did a phone interview with the editor Brent Hoff where we discuss subtitling foreign sitcoms, trailblazing with distributors, cepholopods, films about beards, not wasting people’s time, and the world’s most illegal game of volleyball — press play to hear it.

No Flash? Get the MP3 here.

Aug 172006

T-Rex looking totally awesome.Ryan North does a daily webcomic which features the same six panels with three talkative dinosaurs and a tiny woman about to be crushed. 70,000 people a day check out Dinosaur Comics, for good reason — it’s hilarious and inventive and occasionally thought-provoking, which is a lot to wring out of T-Rex clipart and MS Paint.

I was on a panel with him at Ad Astra and discovered he lived in Toronto, too, and so we got together last month to chat about being an adult who still wears pajamas, funding free comics with t-shirt sales, the positive sum game of webcomic linking, his programming side-projects, and his beautifully designed new book Your Whole Family is Made Out of Meat.

No Flash? Get the MP3 here.

Jun 212006

cele-bration time!One of the gems I received in response to my offer to trade books was a thin volume named The Giant Squid in… Holiday Hijinx. It preyed on my love of underwater creatures, the antiquated absurd, and needlessly cruel narrators. I’d enjoyed the Ask the Giant Squid columns online for their uppercrust tone and sharp-beaked attacks on monkeymen, but it wasn’t until I read them collected that I began to appreciate the characterization and narrative tentacles twined through. I interviewed the writers(s) via the interweb mail service, mostly with Dave Nelson, about their “3-pronged writing attack” and publishing experience.
Continue reading »

Mar 182006

lockpick-thumb.jpgJoey Comeau’s Lockpick Pornography isn’t just a title tease: it puts out plenty of sleaze and theft in a smart and funny queer adventure story. The narrator puts his foot through a television, pulls together a genderfucked super hero team and launches a figurative and literal attack on the straight man’s world. Starting life as an online novel, it’s become a beautifully designed physical object courtesy of Vancouver’s Loose Teeth Press. Joey is launching it with a reading with Derek McCormack at Toronto’s This Ain’t The Rosedale Library Bookstore (481-A Church St) on Tuesday, March 21, 7 p.m. Free.

I asked him a few questions over email about the book.

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Feb 282006

quantal-thumb.jpgIt’s a rare time that I like an art show so much that I’ll buy a catalogue — I find the writing in them does nothing for me. They’re as bad as artist’s statements, usually, which (along with the obligatory reading for authors) I consider to be a cultural convention that is deeply broken. But despite the fact that A Beginner’s Guide to Quantal Strife is a catalogue for a show that I hadn’t even seen yet, I read it cover to cover. It’s a thought-provoking and breezy read.

Sally McKay, past editor of arts magazine Lola and an artist herself, is responsible for bringing together Quantal Strife. I know her and two of the three artists personally but I was still left with lots of questions as to how she managed to pull this off.
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Jan 112006

missy-thumb.jpgI met Missy Kulik at an indie media conference where I was doing a DIY Books seminar. I picked up a couple of her comics and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Her first book, Personal Charm, was self-published in June: or as the copyright page more originally puts it, “First Pressing June 2005.” We chatted by email about her book, which has its roots in ten years of zine making.
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Dec 292005

The World is a Heartbreaker cover artSherwin Tjia is a Montreal artist who makes everything from Scrabble-tile lapel pins to schoolgirl comics to mini-CDs inviting us to listen to his friends masturbate. His latest book of poetry, The World is a Heartbreaker, is a collection of three liners: “i don’t want to say/ payback, but you know it’s/ pretty much payback”. It renewed my faith in the power and relevance of poetry the way that the best song lyrics do. I asked him a few questions over e-mail about the book’s development.

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Oct 132005

Ninj designed the best zine logo ever.Almost ten years ago, at the Imperial Pub at Dundas and Yonge, Jeff told me about his plans for a new zine. Quite different than Yip, his humor zine, it would be about exploring off-limits places. I was concerned about having such a narrow focus for a whole zine. I suggested he give it a broader theme, relegating the exploring to a column or subsection. “You could call it Sneak,” I said, brainstorming other sections for scams and other naughtiness.

Out of spite, Jeff (AKA Ninjalicious) published twenty-five issues of Infiltration, a zine about going places you weren’t supposed to go. And next week, his definitive book on the subject — Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration — is being launched in Toronto, to the dismay of lazy security guards everywhere.
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