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Archie Comics to kill off Archie

Riverdale’s most famous redhead, Archie Andrews, will meet his demise in an upcoming issue this July.

According to CNN, Archie Comics plans a bloody conclusion to its Life with Archie series, which imagines possible future scenarios for the eternal teenager, including marriages to Betty and Veronica.

In a statement, Archive Comics publisher and co-chief executive Jon Goldwater says, “Archie dies as he lived – honorably, and saving the life of a friend. It’s a fitting end to our flagship title, ‘Life with Archie,’ and truly showcases what Archie’s meant to fans for over 70 years. He’s the best of us, and a hugely important part of pop culture. This is comic book history.”

The death doesn’t affect the original Archie series, which has been running since 1941.



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Q&A: Chester Brown on the 10th anniversary of Louis Riel

Louis Riel portrait by Chester Brown

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Chester Brown’s graphic novel Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography (Drawn & Quarterly). In celebration of the award-winning book, which helped popularize historical biographies in graphica form, D&Q has released a special anniversary edition featuring additional artwork and notes.

Tomorrow night, Brown will present the Art Gallery of Ontario’s McCready Lecture on Canadian Art and launch the book’s anniversary edition. The lecture happens in tandem with an AGO “intervention” by curator Andrew Hunter, featuring a series of original drawings from Louis Riel exhibited alongside painted works from 1867 to 1917.

Q&Q spoke to Brown ahead of the sold-out event.

How does it feel to have your work represented in the AGO? I don’t consider myself a gallery artist, but I love it. I would have never expected to have my work end up in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

I was a huge Bowie fan when I was a teenager so it’s a thrill to have my work here the same time as his work. Down in the bookstore, they’ve got a display with my books on one side and a whole bunch of Bowie books on the other.

How did the anniversary edition of Louis Riel come to be? It was my publisher Chris Oliveros’ idea. I wasn’t sure if a new edition was justified, although the book has been selling well for the last 10 years. I think I was trying to discourage it because I didn’t want to do the work of preparing for a new edition.

I did shove some work off on the good people at D&Q. There is a section in the back with some pencil drawings and I sent a whole bunch off to D&Q to get their feedback. Really though, it was a matter of digging through old files and artwork.

Do you keep an extensive archive? I tend to keep more now than I used to. There was a time when I used to throw away my preparation drawings. Even for Riel I don’t have all the pencil roughs.

Do you start a project with dialogue or art? For Riel, I’d do six panels for each page and write the dialogue first, or maybe do some sketchy drawings of what I thought should go in there. I wouldn’t necessarily do a drawing for each panel.

Why did you include such meticulous footnotes in the book? Because I didn’t stick to all the facts, I thought it was incumbent on me to admit where I deviated from historical truth, or maybe invented a thing or two, or combined characters. I felt that should be admitted to the reader in some way, and the notes seemed to be the best way to do so.

I like reading notes in other people’s books. Not too many graphic novelists use that device, although Peter Bagge’s new book, Woman Rebel does, and Alan Moore’s From Hell, about Jack the Ripper, has extensive notes.

It’s not that different from a DVD where you have a director’s commentary.

Why did you decide to hand-letter the footnotes? As much as possible, I want my books to feel handcrafted. I drew almost every individual letter. Although it would feel weird hand-lettering the praise at the back of the book.

Does Riel still occupy a place in your imagination? For the most part, my mind is settled about Riel. He was very interesting to me at the time, so I read all these books about him. I still think he’s a fascinating character, but he doesn’t obsess me the way he once did.

Do you become obsessive about your subjects? If you have that drive, it’s going to help you through a project like this. Riel took me five years. You want a project that’s going to sustain your interest for a long time.

Did the book’s success change your process? I think it’s the same for every artist who puts things out into the world for popular consumption. If you have success, you get more freedom to do stuff. If you fail, your publisher is less likely to give you leeway on your next project. It’s a continual process of earning your freedom. I’ve been blessed to have this much creative freedom in my career – a lot of cartoonists don’t.

Do you keep notebooks or diaries? I have a notebook and a weird diary. It’s not a real diary, it’s a journal where I log every phone call I make or receive. I heard an interview with someone once who said they did this and I thought it made sense. I don’t know why I like it but it helps keep my life organized.

Do you pay much attention to trends in cartooning? I don’t pay that much attention to trends, but I’m generally aware of what’s going on in the business. The major trend when I started in comics – and it still dominates – is superheroes, which I’ve ignored all my career.

What are you working on now? At the end of my last book, Paying for It: A Contemporary Defense of the World’s Oldest Profession, I end up in a monogamous relationship with a woman who used to be a prostitute. We’re talking about doing a sequel that would be entirely from her point of view: how she got into the business and our relationship, all from her perspective.

What will you discuss at the McCready lecture? My friendships with other cartoonists and how they’ve influenced how I do things – in particular, my friendship with Seth [who will introduce Brown at the event] and Joe Matt. I’ll talk about why I wanted to get into cartooning and show some teenage stuff no one has ever seen before.

This interview has been edited and condensed.







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Koyama, Drawn & Quarterly score Eisner Award nominations

Comic-Con International has announced the shortlists for the 2013 Eisner Awards, with Toronto’s Koyama Press and Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly each receiving multiple nominations.

The fourth instalment of Koyama artist Michael DeForge’s comic series Lose is nominated for best single issue. Julia Wertz’s collection of graphic novellas, The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, is nominated for best reality-based work.

D&Q received three nominations this year, including best graphic album for Tom Gauld’s graphic novel, Goliath. Originally published in 1989 by the defunct Vortex Comics, Chester Brown’s Ed the Happy Clown is up for best graphic album reprint. Brecht Evens’ The Making of is shortlisted for best U.S. edition of international material.

Other Canadian nominees include Nova Scotia–based artist Darwyn Cooke, whose work on Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score (IDW) is up for best adaptation from another medium. Comics Versus Art (University of Toronto Press), an essay collection by University of Calgary professor Bart Beaty, is nominated for best educational/academic work.

The 25-year-old Eisner Awards celebrate the best in comics production and artistry. The shortlists are selected by a committee of judges, with winners (announced July 19 at San Diego Comic-Con) chosen by industry professionals.


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Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Random House debut postponed until 2014

(illustration: Bryan Lee O’Malley; coloured by Kristen Faber)

Seconds, the follow-up to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular Scott Pilgrim series, has been delayed until 2014.

The graphic novel, which follows the staff of a restaurant named Seconds, is the first of O’Malley’s books to appear this summer with Random House Canada, which licensed Canadian rights to the title from Villard Books, an imprint of Random House U.S.

According to a note on O’Malley’s website, the artist was halfway through writing and pencilling the book last summer when he hurt his shoulder. “I had to take a frustratingly long break in order to repair my body,” he writes. “When I found out the book would have to be delayed into 2014 it was maybe the saddest day of my life.”

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Canadian booksellers pick the top graphic novels of 2012

According to booksellers contacted by Q&Q, graphic novels continue their move into the mainstream.

Jason Grimmer, manager of Montreal’s Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, says, “People are starting to look at graphic novels as literature.”

Calum Johnston, owner of Halifax’s Strange Adventures, observes: “Libraries, bookstores, schools, and universities keep adding comics to their curriculum and shelves. So the chance of people coming into contact with graphic novels is improving.”

Click on the thumbnails below to explore booksellers’ picks for best graphic novels of the year.

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This weekend in Canadian literary events: Aug. 24-26

Canadians have the chance to meet and see some of their favourite writers, artists, and poets up close and personal at this weekend’s readings and festivals, featured on Q&Q’s events calendar.

The August Sonata on Aug. 25 offers readings galore from the likes of Ken Chisholm, Julie Curwin, Russell Colman, Sandra Dunn, and several others. The event takes place in Boularderie Island, Cape Breton. Attendees are encouraged reserve seating, and bring four books for the annual book exchange.

The annual Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival kicks off in Vancouver on Aug. 25. The celebration fuses dance, theatre, and music with literary events, including storytelling, panel discussions on writing, and poetry readings.

Dan Parent, creator of Archie Comics’ first gay character Kevin Keller, will appear at Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop on Aug. 26. The free event includes an interview, question period, and book signing.

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Some of Alberta’s finest poets and writers will gather in Calgary on Aug. 26 for Get Literary: Prose and Poetry. Local poet laureate Kris Demeanor will lead an afternoon of readings from Alberta’s literary magazines. Shannon Lee Bennett, Marcello Di Cintio, Jon R. Flieger, Barb Howard, Naomi K. Lewis, and Fred Stenson are set to attend.

Patrick Lane hosts a poetry reading that includes works spanning his half-century career. The event takes place on Aug. 24 in South Frontenac, Ontario. Admission is $40.

Who knows how much longer summer’s warmth will hang over us, so get outside and enjoy it at the Summer When it Sizzles Festival in Ottawa on Aug. 26. The free event invites the public to hear poets share their work over an afternoon of book launches, readings and open mics.

On the other side of the country, Vancouverites can head over to Comix & Stories for Vancouver ComicCon at Heritage Hall. The event puts the spotlight on alternative and small press comics, zines, and artwork; featuring Simon Roy, Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, and Marley Zarcone.

Be sure to check out Q&Q‘s events calendar for more of this weekend’s literary happenings.

Want to add an event to Q&Q‘s calendar? Send your literary event listings to Quill & Quire. Please include the event name, date, time, location, cost, and a brief description.

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Book links roundup: Emily Schultz on The Blondes, Ontario illustrator featured on Batman comic cover, and more

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Strange Adventures hosts first Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival

Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival

Dartmouth has joined the ranks of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver with the launch of the first Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival, thanks to local comic bookstore Strange Adventures, which will host the event on Aug. 19 at Alderney Landing in Nova Scotia.

Halifax independent weekly The Coast quotes Strange Adventures owner Calum Johnston:

It’s essentially a craft fair focused on comics. We’re not looking at programming but certainly we’d like to encourage anyone looking to get into cartooning and comics to come out … it’s an opportunity to ask questions.

The free one-day event gives locals a chance to shop, meet cartoonists and rare comic dealers, and have portfolios reviewed by artists like Steve McNiven, who has done work on Wolverine, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Avengers. Artists Mike Holmes, Faith Erin Hicks, and Nick Bradshaw are also set to appear.

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Q&A: Shelley Wall talks comics and medicine at the University of Toronto

Shelley Wall, assistant professor at U of T's biomedical communications graduate program, co-organized the fourth annual Comics and Medicine conference in Toronto next week

While comics artists have tackled all manner of sex, drugs, and violence in their work, medicine – an area in which all these issues (and more) intersect – still seems to carry the stink of stigma. But if an upcoming conference at the University of Toronto is any indication, times are changing.

Comics and Medicine: Navigating the Margins, the third conference of its kind, will take place from July 22 to 24. Monday night, the conference will host a discussion with Joyce Farmer, author of 2010’s Special Exits (Fantagraphics Books), a graphic novel about caring for elderly parents, and Joyce Brabner, who wrote the graphic memoir Our Cancer Year (Running Press, 1994) with her late husband, Harvey Pekar. The talk, moderated by Paul Gravett and co-presented by the Beguiling bookshop, is free and open to non-delegates.

Shelley Wall, the driving force behind bringing the conference to U of T, spoke with Q&Q about the many relationships between comics and medicine, the depiction of health care and illness in Canadian graphic arts, and why the graphic medical memoir genre has gained momentum.

How did you develop an interest in comics and medicine?
I’m a medical illustrator and teach in the biomedical communications program at U of T, where we train professional medical illustrators. I came to comics and medicine when I was teaching an undergraduate course in written health care communication and became interested in different modes and combinations of modes to communicate about health.

It was through reading about this that I found Mom’s Cancer by cartoonist Brian Fies [also a conference organizer]. It’s the story of his mother’s diagnosis with metastatic lung cancer and the effect that it had on their family. That’s when I realized there was this whole world of people who were doing graphic novels about illness, and I started a comic of my own about someone very close to me who has early-onset Parkinson’s.

What relationships between medicine and comics will be explored at the conference?
Some people will be presenting on their own work dealing with illness, or the experience of someone they’ve known. Others will look at the use of comics in medical schools. Comics are a way of marrying the emphasis on evidence-based medicine – statistics, epidemiology, biological science – with the human element – what it’s like to experience sickness – to encourage empathy in medical students.

Some people are also encouraging medical students to create their own comics as an alternative way of thinking through experiences such as encountering ethical dilemmas, or their first dissection of a cadaver, to get at the sort of unquantifiable aspects of practicing medicine.

There’s also a look at using comics for public education and health promotion. They can be an alternative way to engage in patient education, and help overcome literacy and language barriers. Comics can bring in elements of playfulness, visual metaphor, or storytelling that can really help to get a message across in a clear way.

What are some of the challenges involved in putting these experiences on the page?
Ian Williams, another conference organizer who is a physician and an artist in Wales, tells stories about his interactions with patients. But these stories bring up the issue of confidentiality, so he fictionalizes the stories and publishes them under a pseudonym.

Also, we don’t often hear people speaking of medicine from stigmatized positions, like people who are inmates in mental hospitals. The title of the conference, Navigating the Margins, refers to the fact that a lot of these stories give perspective to people who don’t necessarily get their voices heard over the voice of medical authority.

What are some of your favourite examples of this genre?
One of the conference presenters, Sarafin, is writing a book called Asylum Squad: The Psychosis Diaries. The book is based on her webcomic series about her time as a patient at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They’re very powerful stories because there are so many more stigmas and taboos associated with mental illness than with a lot of other health conditions. I think it takes a lot of bravery and clear-sightedness to deal with that issue.

Toronto’s Suley Fattah, who’s made and edited comics about being a cancer patient in the self-published book Drawing the Line, will give a workshop at the conference. And Sandra Bell-Lundy, who appears on a panel, has a hugely successful syndicated strip in Between Friends. Although the strip is not about health necessarily, there are a number of storylines about infertility, domestic abuse, and breast cancer. Her stories on mammograms are even used by the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Cartoonists petition Canada Council for grant eligibility

Kate Beaton (photo: Justin Tobin)

Yesterday at San Diego’s international Comic-Con convention, two generations of Canadian cartoonists, Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) and Lynn Johnston (For Better or for Worse), shared the stage for a discussion about the craft of serialized comics.

Back at home, the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists is hoping to put some cash and prizes in the pockets of artists like Beaton and Johnston. The group is petitioning the Canada Council for the Arts to make cartoonists and cartoon publishers eligible for its grants and the Governor General’s Literary Awards (graphic novels are eligible for funds but are excluded from the GG awards).

The petition states:

Given the artistic quality of Canadian cartooning, it’s cultural importance, its centrality to an understanding of Canadian society and history, and its appeal to readers of all ages, a strong argument can and should be made that the Canada Council should support the work of cartoonists and that of publishers interested in publishing their work. The Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists is ideally positioned to lobby for such a change in Canada Council policy. And we do know that ACEC members are good at getting their point across.

UPDATE: According to Tara Lapointe, head of marketing communications for the Canada Council: “There are no barriers for editorial cartoonists or other artists who bridge editorial and visual art to apply for support from the Canada Council. In fact, they are eligible in two different programs. Under our Publishing program, publications need to demonstrate editorial oversight and/or commentary as part of the collection of works. In our Visual Art program, all professional visual artists, regardless of medium, are eligible if they meet two criteria: firstly, they have produced an independent body of work (e.g. not commissioned) and have had their work presented in a professional context such as a curated exhibition.”

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

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Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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