The thing about working on great projects is that it leaves little room to talk about the great projects you’re working on. Same goes for great trips, and I have been privy to both, remedied in one blog post, right here, right now. (I will TRY to keep it interesting, but lord knows you will be skimming it anyway. HIDE NOTHING FROM THE LORD. Anyway, let’s get on with it) I recently contributed a comic to a BEAUTIFUL (yes, caps are necessary) private press anthology called Pack Mentality. It’s printed in the most stunning risograph you will ever see (by Toronto’s peerless press, Colour Code). I have it on international authority that riso has never looked this good. International authority? Who thinks they are hot stuff? ME. I DO. I whisked Pack Mentality away to rainy, moderately weathered London, England for the East London Comic Arts Festival (ELCAF), where it was summarily praised. Just look at it! Wouldn’t you? ELCAF was dreamy, by the by. I sat next to Joe Sparrow, and was flanked by some amazing Italians.
Left: The lovely Joe Sparrow. Right: Lovely Italians! Centre: My table, full to the brim. Blow: the ELCAF tote I never saw again. RIP, tote. We had a good one day together.
Hot Tip: The new trend is artist created Tarot decks. I saw at least 3 gorgeous decks from different creators. Stunning, and legitimately great idea. The whole show is hosted by NOBROW, and honestly, the people who put it all together were a DELIGHT. They took a lone Canadian under their wing, and we all drank pints and ate amazing thai food like only the British (and people who now live in Britain) can. Nicest, funniest, most relaxed people. Look at these beauties! Magic. Every one of them.
Marseille. A little blurry, but you get the idea.
After that I went to Marseille! Beautiful everything! (Sky! Buildings! Sea! Vistas!) Terrible people! (Homophobes! Dickheads! Catcallers! Public Urinators!) The difference was insane. How can such rude, leering, mean frat boys exist in this exquisite place? It boggles the mind. Fortunately, I was there with a like minded friend and we foraged our own little way amidst street harassment, heat, and scooters speeding from the sidewalk through red lights into oncoming traffic. Insane.
Not pictured: The smell of urine
Calm now, but in mere moments 5 scooters will rush out and plough you while swearing in french.
The buskers weren’t even good. One dude hitting some drum thing with a stick. All day! Who is paying for this? Where is the showmanship? One juggler, standing next to two of his stoned bros, looking terrifying. Mothers were ushering their children away. Who would ever approach you with money?! Baffling. Poor Marseille. Poor Marseille that also has this, and this and this and this, all just lying around for you to behold. SO PRETTY. The plus side of this loose approach to regulation and law, is being able to go on board a tourist boat to the Chateau D’if: (Real location of the fictional Count of Monte Christo – one of my favourite books!), with your own wine ($4 for an excellent bottle), cheese ($3 for a sublime round), and glasses, and just enjoy them openly. It’s inconceivable that you could do such a thing even on the Toronto Island ferry. The big downside is the garbage and omnipresent smell of urine. OMNIPRESENT. Everyone is peeing in the street and it rarely rains. So you get a sort of piss-seasoned patina on EVERYTHING. And it’s hot everyday. So the whole city becomes an aromatherapy stone soaked with the piss of the ages, released by the heat. Welcome to sunny Marseille! But who can complain when you can swim in THIS water? (Everyone, is the answer.) London and Marseille were the big legs of my trip, but on the homebound portion, I stopped in Barcelona and Lisbon. Quick notes on each: Barcelona Impossible to walk even one block without seeing something amazing. SO BLOODY HOT. I am so intolerant of heat. This was a real problem and impediment to my enjoyment of its obvious beauty. Also the omnipresent message that Barcelona is VERY SAFE… but watch your belongings at all times. Don’t carry your passport or valuables with you. Just keep a wide berth around you and don’t let people brush up against you. Keep your credit cards in your butt crack and then wear a heavy coat to cover your butt. But, really. It’s very safe. I managed to not be robbed or pick pocketed in anyway, so I guess they were right. But my credit cards will never be the same… Lisbon I fell in love. The air is fresh, the colours are so… SO. Old buildings mixed with surprisingly clear and modern graphic design. The metro was so easy to navigate, a child could do it – No – The better acid test: a car-spoiled aging boomer could do it. The airport metro station had some of the most pleasing caricatures I have ever seen. And these are not vinyl transfers, they are TILED INTO THE WALLS. Each one is a notable Portugese figure – writers, economists, play-wrights, artists, scientists, etc. THIS is what well done tourism should look like: a classy, integrated, beautiful immersion into the culture that is interesting for its own sake, not for the social obligation a tourist must feel to stand and read some historical placard. It’s the perfect addition to their clean and amazing subway system – a sublime use of the line up every metro using tourist is forced to stand in to buy their (affordable!) ticket to get into the city. Look at these funny, expressive figures! Notice the subtle names below them! Figure out for yourself that these are famous figures! Ignite your curiosity about a city that asks you in with so bold and yet so quaint an invitation. I fell in love.
This was my room. It was 24 euro a night. I went to a market and ate the nicest lentil daal I’ve ever had, and drank a little cervesa for 1.50. There was a notable police presence, but I’d say the same for everywhere I was, except London. In Lisbon, from what my non-Portuguese speaking ears could tell, the people felt really comfortable giving the police what for. I saw two instances of people ragging out the cops in annoyed tones and receiving measured responses. So that’s something. Then home! I have to thank Jerkface readers for being so cool about the suspended break- as a web comic reader myself, I know it can be annoying to wait but I assure you I am grateful, and used my time to the utmost. Up next for me: I’m helping wunder-curator Mia Neilsen (of the Drake hotel) install her curatorial genius at the WAYHOME festival’s VIP tent. There’s an illustration for real estate agent Linda Mayer to go with the logo I made for her last year. There’s an update of an existing logo for Vancouver theatre company Skinny Walrus. Now, with a podcast! Oh and did I mention the anthology I’ll be doing with MARGARET ATWOOD? Not just her and I, of course. Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press has put together an amazing group of women writers and artists for the anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, and I am delighted to be contributing a comic alongside amazing contributors like… well, have a look at the 200+% funded kickstarter (which ends this week, so get in on it while you can!), and be wowed. I am also going to be drawing another ending for Ryan North’s upcoming choosable path adventure. He did it with Hamlet. He did it with Adventure Time… now it’s Romeo AND/OR Juliet’s turn. Look for that in the foreseeable future.