In the first part of 2015, I read through the first 5 issues of the dystopian comic Bitch Planet, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by Valentine DeLandro. Each of the single issues was a stark story about a prison planet where women are sent for being “non-compliant” to the patriarchal standards of the dystopian society of the setting. Be thin, be beautiful, be feminine, be what men want – or be sent to Bitch Planet.
In the back of all these issues, past the fantastic faux vintage advertisements, there was always a short word from Kelly Sue, then a fantastic essay on feminism from a new writer each issue. Every issue, plus these essays, were like a giant feminist slap reminding me to stay aware, to fight inequality and strive to be intersectional. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, you should read this comic series.)
In addition to the essays, there were letters pages and a little section dedicated to showing the photographs people had Tweeted out of their NC tattoos. For the first time in my life, I saw a simple image that I would be proud to have on my body permanently, that would remind me every day that I am non-compliant just by being me, and that I won’t stop. So I got that tattoo, 3 months ago now.
Almost every day I see Kelly Sue on Twitter sharing someone else’s tattoo. Each one is its own little fuck you to the world. Even though there’s been some criticism (mostly from men) who think getting the tattoos isn’t wise, there’s still a tonne of us out there getting them. And Kelly Sue had this to say in her remarks at the end of issue #4:
I cannot say it any better than that. Kelly Sue and Valentine have created this incredible focal point for us all, and every morning I look at it in the mirror and try to hold my head high. I remind myself that it’s very okay to be non-compliant, and it’s the only way the world will change.
See as I’ve been traveling/living abroad since 2007, there’s a few things I miss not just about home, but also my first ‘home away from home’, London. Getting a bit nostalgic today for things & places that I can’t have with me here in Toronto.
Beaches. Not that there’s no beaches in the UK or here in Canada. But I miss those beautiful sandy Pacific beaches! This is Avalon Beach in North Sydney, where I spent many summers as a kid. Things only get better as you go north up the coast into Northern NSW and Queensland, too!
I miss the stuff I packed up & left in boxes with my mum. Books, records and comics. And awesome art like this gorgeous museum sketch by artist Phil Jimenez.
There’s tasty things I miss. I seriously was so in love with these tofu bites, it’s like they were laced with something addictive. Last time I was in London I ate a whole package riding transit back to my friend’s place.
And wonderful Australian vegan treats like these cruelty-free versions of Tim Tams and Mint Slices! omg.
And never mind all of the sweet, tart, amazing ciders that I used to have access to living in England. And drinking my fair share at the Green Man pub in Central London!
But I don’t have to be far away from some things I love to miss them. While I still bake for fun and treats, I do sometimes miss the fun of making delicious vegan (and some gluten free) treats like I used to at a certain board game cafe. I was proud of my work, even when I was undervalued for my contributions. Like, c’mon. Check out these donuts, man!!
Digital dozen – 12 ways to distract yourself with shiny internet things this hump day.
I think if I were to get married, this would be 100% the wedding ring I want. Yep. Adulting!! (via)
Though I’m not a fan of their coffee (it’s my last resort when there’s nothing else coffee..) I do love this Tumblr of Starbucks sleeves sketched on to transform them into awesome portraits.
This design is fantastic!! My keyring’s pretty slim these days but if I had more, I’d be into this.
These tiny creations are so delicate and wonderful. I don’t think I could ever have the patience for them.
I’m constantly amazed at how creative people can be when given a restricted set of materials to use to create something. Design Within Reach have a ‘champagne chair’ contest each year, and these are this year’s winners. Super!
Air safety is no joke.. but these are pretty funny, c’mon.
Pixar artists turns R-rated movies into kid’s book illustrations. GOLDEN.
While we’re in the Disney realm.. here’s some lovely Baymax cosplaying as other Disney characters. The best.
Rain-activated sidewalk art! Of course someone in Seattle made this.
New wave rock stars as Marvel heroes was built for my brain.
Old to new – discarded books carved into art.
This past weekend was the 11th Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)! Held for free at the Toronto Reference Library (with some off-site events), it’s a veritable cornucopia of incredible talent. In addition to artists and publishers having stalls in the Reference Library, there’s also a buttload of workshops, panels & events to attend if you feel so inclined. I always try to get to some of the events each year just to hear people talk about the awesome stuff they create.
Opening night was “Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton, In Conversation”, a discussion moderated by Raina Telgemeier. Lynn Johnson created For Better or For Worse – I don’t know if this was ever syndicated in Australia, because I don’t recall reading it growing up. It was interesting to hear Lynn speak about her work, being in newspapers, and of her place in the industry when it was far more male-dominated than now, and the way she just kinda trucked through it dealing with it in a kind of “give as good as you get” mentality. This was in contrast to Kate Beaton’s career now, which is very internet-centric, instant gratification, and not without issues surrounding sexism being a female creator. I really enjoyed hearing the both of them talk about their creative process, their influences, and in particular what from their own lives influences their comics (be it in a roundabout way for Johnson, or a direct autobio way for Beaton). A fantastic and entertaining way to spend an evening listening to two fantastic Canadian creators!
Saturday morning I decided to hit up some panels, as most of the rest of the day’s lineup didn’t interest me so much. First thing was a ‘draw-off’ between comic artists Jeremy Sorese (Little Heart), Liz Prince (Alone Forever), Britt Wilson (The Greatest Book On Earth), Joey Weiser (Mermin), plus two audience volunteers. Pictionary-style, one member of a team drew from a prompt (some kind of movie genre) and their team had to guess what it was. There was a lot of awesome creativity on show considering the 3-minute sketching limit! It’s really fun to watch people sketch on the fly like this. Here’s Britt Wilson & Liz Prince during their rounds (road trip and tearjerker were their prompts):
Next panel (in the same room which became inexplicably hot) was “What Do Women Want? Writing Comics for a Female Audience” – moderated by Chromatic Press’ Editor Lianne Sentar, and with creators Laura Lee Gulledge (Page by Paige), Kate Leth (Adventure Time), Joan Reilly (The Big Feminist BUT), and Noelle Stevenson (LumberJanes) in the spotlight. This panel was full to bursting with amazing ladies from the industry with excellent perspectives. I liked a lot of the input the moderator Lianne had to the conversation, but unfortunately her moderation wasn’t too structured – the discussion flowed naturally, but much of what could have been discussed was covered only briefly or not at all. That’s not to say that the discussion wasn’t interesting, however! Lots of talk about male versus female gaze, females as consumers and a demographic, the portrayal of women characters in comics, and the like. Kate Leth is so smart, and dang articulate and knowledgeable, about this stuff!
There was a bit of discussion towards the end about what drove the people on the panel to create the titles they have, and it was great to hear the varied perspectives, because that means that there’s an enriched diversity of comics out there for female-identified audiences (especially younger ones!). I liked what Noelle Stevenson had to say about content – basically, not to shy away from things that have been typically portrayed as masculine (violence, for instance), but include those as well as more emotive stuff; this came up in a discussion of characters as well, that we need more female characters of all persuasions to balance out the inequity currently in comics. I’m really glad I sat in on this panel – while I haven’t done a great job at recapping it, there was a lot of inspiring stuff being discussed. It made me go in search of The Big Feminist BUT, too! I already read the Adventure Time and Lumberjanes titles & love them to bits. The panelists:
After the panels, I went into the Reference Library to browse. It was overwhelmingly crowded. And, I know how busy it gets, but it was a big mass of people to walk through, gosh… Downstairs it was really tough to get close to a lot of tables (like, three people deep). Luckily in the upstairs section there was a capacity limit, so once you lined up to get into that room it was much more manageable to browse.
Despite the hard work of browsing, I ended up picking up some totally rad stuff, primarily from female creators. I can’t wait to dig into the books! I had a quick flip through the Pugs Guide to Etiquette already and have read Cat People and I LOVE THEM. PS. I also flipped out when I realized the creator of Perry Bible Fellowship was there and had this strip (Unicorn Power) for sale, which is Adam’s most favourite. He even has the shirt.
In the evening was a screening of the Killing, prefaced by a discussion between Ed Brubaker (Criminal, Fatale) and Darwyn Cooke (Parker, Selina’s Big Score), hosted by guest interviewer Cameron Ashley (Crime Factor). They (mostly) discussed the noir genre & their interest in it, especially from a professional standpoint. They went off on tangents an awful lot, but at least it was entertaining. And the movie was really good! A little dated, but an excellent heist movie, and tense. I’d have never guessed it was a Kubrick.
I had to get on with weekend-y stuff on Sunday mostly, but I did meet up with my sweetie to sit in on the Adventure Time panel at the end of the day. Michael DeForge, Becky Driesdadt, Kate Leth, Jesse Moynihan, and Ryan North were all on the panel, a mix of folks who work on the comics and on the show, moderated by Frank Gibson. First of all they had a Pictionary-style draw-off:
Then it was time for audience questions. The perspective between the comics and show folks was an interesting one, especially when talking about creative control, and how much stories are planned out / tie into the other formats. What a lovely bunch of folks, and a nice way to end the festival!
See you again next year, TCAF – may I have more savings to spend, and more energy to navigate crowds/go to all the panels!
Toronto has no shortage of delicious vegan eateries. And although there’s awesome bakeries, they’re not super near me. I can get baked goods, but there’s no dedicated bakery. That’s about to change. I am going to BLOODY LOVE having a vegan bakery in walking distance! (Although I am moving this year most likely, so it may not be long term, I’m gonna make the most of it now). Can’t wait to stuff my face at the APieCalypse opening this weekend.
I’ve probably mentioned how great the Toronto Public Library is and how I love the stuff they do and how well they serve Toronto. They’re stepping up their game, and I love that they’re doing something this innovative! Digital Innovation Hubs, where you can get your modern nerd on. They have a 3D printer!!! Oh gosh. I’m thinking of taking the 3D printer certification just so I can wander in and use the 3D printer to my heart’s content.
Although I can find Buzzfeed and other listicle sites dull & kinda reaching for it most of the time, I quite enjoyed their list of celebrities you just know you’d be BFFs with. I’ve wanted to be BFFs with Simon Pegg since forever.
BFFs with smooching. I’d be cool with anyone here really. Lucy Liu seems surprisingly rad, perhaps I should get around to watching Elementary!
I love creative folks who channel their awesome skills into making wonderful things. Like this ‘Friendzoner’ comic. So spot on. Just the best. I want to print this out and give it to every teenager.
Last of all, let’s bookend with some more food love. I love the crispy tofu cubes at Fresh. I could eat just a whole goddamned bowl of them. I want to right now. Oh man.
I realised as I stood in line outside the Toronto Reference Library this past Saturday morning that this year is the fourth TCAF i’ve attended! I thought i’d done my math wrong, but no. (I even checked and discovered I have photos from back in 2010 (among others), when the crowds were oh so less overwhelming.)
But even though I’m still enthusiastic about the amazingness of this (free!) event – the calibre of exhibitors, the awesome programming, the wonderful panels – I spent less time at TCAF this year than any year before. It really boiled down to personal reasons – lack of spending money & anxiety due to crowds. I missed one of the two panels I wanted to see (the Machine of Death Pictionary one) too, which bummed me out. I did see the other, the Adventure Time panel, which was great. Very neat to see some of the webcomics folks i’ve been reading for a few years talking about working on these projects that aren’t their own creations but having a great time with it anyhow.
Lack of disposable income for me meant a much smaller haul this year, pictured below (i’ve watched my TCAF purchases diminish constantly over these four years, alas), but I am ultra happy with what I got. I also got to wander with my good friend Candice, which was great as she’s a terrific artist who was in awe of all the shiny things and amazingness. I did a quick circle with Adam on Sunday morning too, and we got a chance to check out some of the neat “Comics vs Games” projects on offer (he’s playing “Framed” below).
I’m going to find an empty jar & start putting in spare change so next year I can go to town and get some really cool stuff. (Mostly i’m saving up in anticipation of the next Beartato book. Holy moly I love those books!)