Category Archives: Yakkety Yak

ELCAF & Beyond

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) IMG_9913-2 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? 11012517_10155633272705577_3899087376958630850_n 11351278_10155633272040577_638209227342712607_n 11227923_10155633271545577_4674968222645264913_n   ELCAF was dreamy, by the by. I sat next to Joe Sparrow, and was flanked by some amazing Italians.

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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.

IMG_9889Hot 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. IMG_9951 Look at these beauties!  Magic. Every one of them.

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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.

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Not pictured: The smell of urine

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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, IMG_0016 and this IMG_0064 and this and this, IMG_0152 IMG_0148all 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: IMG_0107(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? IMG_0169 (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 IMG_0266 IMG_0296 IMG_0219 IMG_0194 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 IMG_0357 I fell in love. The air is fresh, the colours are so… SO. IMG_0349 IMG_0343 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. IMG_0325And 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.IMG_0328 IMG_0329 IMG_0326 IMG_0327

IMG_0335This 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! IMG_9883I 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!   Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 5.27.09 PMOh 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.

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The internet wins again.

Janeswalk_Combination_WEB Another piece I did for Normative! (click to enlarge) Technically there were about 9 different drawings, but this is a little combo platter I made for my portfolio site. Oh, did I not mention my portfolio site?  Well, it exists. It exists BIG TIME.  Have a click why don’t you. On it you will find many things you may have seen on here where they are inconveniently located several clicks away.  On my portfolio site, you can take it all in at a glance by clicking the little grid icon.  The internet makes difficult things (like looking at the internet) so easy. Enough about the internet!  It gets all the attention!  Pay attention instead to my character design above!  Isn’t that woman’s cape stylish? She sure is using her smart phone to navigate a city! And that gentleman isn’t looking at lude photographs – he too is interested in the culture of a metropolitan area!  Or in purchasing more striped sweaters. Technology wins again (the internet laughed)!

Super Computer

I did a sample piece for Normative, one of Toronto’s loveliest design agencies (firms? gangs? What’s the word here for a group of designers in a big office with a glass conference room that I once, without thinking, flipped the double bird through to two OCAD pals who were inside in a professional meeting. That’s the type of classy behaviour you can expect from Gillian Effing Gee). ANYWAY my sample piece (click to enlarge a bit):

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It’s a bit rough, since it was (as mentioned) a sample. The client (who remains unspecified) didn’t use it, and I like parts of it, so here it lays. It’s meant to explain the use of a new computer, and if you can’t glean that perhaps we already know why it wasn’t chosen.

Dress Code Cracker: The Podcast

The hilarious (seriously- so funny), smart and sparkling Sarah Innis has a thoughtful, funny and interesting PODCAST! Not only have I been interviewed for it (ahem) but I made her some print materials.

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It’s about style and clothing – but in a SMART way, you guys: “far outside the confines of mainstream consumer fashion culture, we consider pop culture, politics, modern art, and feminism in discussing style as a means of personal expression.”

See photos of interviewees and pictures of their inspiration, as well as sound files HERE:  dresscodecracker.com

Here’s the square version that you’ll find on itunes (and libsyn), where you’ll no doubt subscribe and share with all of your fashionable friends:

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Memoirs of Someone You’ve Never Met

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This a book cover for a book I haven’t written yet. But they say you have to start with a good title (no one says that).

Feminism Is Totes My Bag

It really is.

PinkTotes.tight crop.WEBWith the collaborative powers of myself (on brush pen),  Amy Wood (copywriter), Steph Guthrie (closer), and Shaunna (scholar), this little beauty was born. In both pink and black (…but we are out of black. One day we will be back in black).

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It’s a joke and a graphic and a message and a tote bag.  Like Feminism, it’s a lot to unpack because it contains multitudes.  You can have your own for a measly $10 via the Drunk Feminist Films Shop.   There are also posters, but you need to come to a live event to get one.

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Lady & Macbeth

A while back after I illustrated an interactive Romeo & Juliet iBook, there was talk of doing Macbeth next. The project was put on hold, but not before I made a sample sketch. Can you tell I used Charles Manson as inspiration for Old MacB? It’s true. MacBTrial_1.WEB

 

MACBETH:  Is this a dagger I see before me?

LADY MACBETH:  No, it’s a crown, stupid.  (aside) He’s blind as well as homicidally ambitious.

(pause for laughter)

Exuent Macbeth and lady Macbeth.

Illustrators Sending Postcard Promo Mailers

I am preparing to send out postcard mailers and in my efforts I used my internet research skills to find other illustrators and glean wisdom from their advice. I thought I might post the links to their various blogs on the topic (with a screen shot of their posting), to inform others and for my own reference later.

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Some of the most pertinent information I got from these posts was covered in both Trade Secrets and Jeff Szuc’s postings:  that the US postal service will potentially reject and return postcards with graphics darker that 7% greyscale in the bottom right portion of the card where the address goes. That’s a big one, considering that if your cards are sent back, both your print and postage costs are up in flames.  There are other printing details of that nature that they both mention.

I am sure there are many more great posts on this topic and if so, I’d love to hear about them.  Happy mailing!

An Unsavoury Review of Bunheads

Let me start of by saying that I HATED the Gilmore Girls. The quippy, rapid-fire dialogue, the theatrical, low-stakes relationships between everyone and everyone else, the adorable real-problem-free town that they all exist in (where never shall be heard, “Oh no! Another homeless man froze to death!” but are often shall be heard, “Oh no! We lost the venue for our bake sale-slash-judgement-free community event!”), I hated it all. I was raised by a single mother and actually had (and have) a great relationship with her, AND YET the Gilmore Girls dynamic with a mother who acts like a college student and a 12 year old that acts like a college student, where both of them just GET ALONG like it ain’t no thaaaaang! Pop culture reference! High five! is BULLSHIT. It rankles me and I hate it.  So if you like the Gilmore Girls (and many, many do), you will probably think Bunheads is juuuuust fiiiiiine.

I don’t.

Firstly, the name. If you don’t know, “bun heads” is a name reserved for ballerinas… because they wear their hair in buns on their heads. Bun-heads.

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From such a name I expected a show that got into the world of dance. Dance! I am very interested in that world. I would love to see a program about a choreographer training new dancers, and the back-stage machinations that must work together to bring the production to stage, with a backdrop of eating disorders, body dysmorphia, stage fright, divas, fame whores, politics, and personality. That sounds great.  I understand it wouldn’t sound great to everyone, but considering the MARGINAL connection that Bunheads has to ballet, it is astonishing that they should chose such a title, since it will surely turn away or confuse those who AREN’T interested in dance, which is probably the majority. Those who do get it will be disappointed because the show  isn’t really about ballerinas.

So what is the show about?  Plucky, unlikeable Michelle- she is gunning with all of the guns towards the newly coveted “aDORKable” moniker and achieves merely dippy and not even able – is a dancer. In Las Vegas. The pilot opens with a line of identical, feathered show girls high kicking and it is not even close to immediately discernible which one we are intended to be noticing.  They start to talk, and even then it takes a second for our protagonist to assert herself. And the feeling then is, “Oh. Her?”

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Michelle is a quippy, rapid-fire talker (uh-oh) who has an admirer. It’s Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!  His character is played like a low-IQ, high income, possible pervert that inexplicably has zeroed in on Michelle as the object of his gifts, dinners and affection. She blows him off as often as is polite – and with that, let me break off here for just a minute.

Here the show traipses over something of fairly serious importance. Michelle has an unwanted admirer. She doesn’t tell him officially to go away or stop calling on her, but it’s known his affections are not welcome. He is allowed (by whom?) into the group dressing room backstage (!!!!) where Michelle lies and puts him off. He returns the next night, plying her with more gifts and offers for dinner. After a crushing audition, her spirits and defences are down and she accepts his dinner offer.  WHAT THE HELL, GUYS!?  The executive producer of this show is a woman, which is actually shocking considering that an emerging theme that will continue to the three-quarter mark of the pilot is that “your stalker might actually be prince charming” and “at no time should you be clear or direct about what you want in terms of your relationship with said stalker, since gifts and dinners are nice” and “if someone gets you incredibly drunk and then convinces you to MARRY THEM IN VEGAS” this is in no way a violation.

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That is the premise, since this is exactly what happens.  The sober Cameron gets the narcissist Michelle black out drunk, she confides in him her malaise, dashed hopes, bent dreams, he promises to FIX EVERYTHING and she – while drunk – agrees to marry him.Consent!_WEB

He has no problems taking her up on this. She wakes up – or comes to – in a moving car driving on an ocean road and notices a wedding band on her finger.  This is what creator and producer Amy Sherman-Palladino is positing as a reasonable premise for a show targeting a female audience. Baffling, insulting and even harmful, this is the foundation upon which Bunheads is built. Pasty, much older man lands resistant much younger Las Vegas dancer because he is wealthy and persistent and easy with the bottle.

I had the same issue with the movie Crazy, Stupid Love in which the 14 year old son of Steve Carrell learns the important lesson that even if a woman (or girl) says no to your advances, persistence will wear her down and in the end she’ll give you naked pictures of her with which to masturbate until your age gap is less significant and then you can have the sex you have earned and deserve after such a tireless campaign of attrition.

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PITY.  Women are supposed to PITY the foolish desire of men they don’t desire in return.  POOR GUYS.  Never mind your own desires, ladies!  These poor, poor men WANT you! And you said no?  How could you?!  I am sickened and ashamed! What if they try again and again? What if they try a whole bunch even after you said nicely, then petulantly, then angrily, that you weren’t interested?  Don’t you owe it to them to allow their desire for you to direct your actions? I think you do. I think you do!  Yes you do!  Oh Yes! GOOD GIRL.  Those poor little puppies should get what they want and what they want is YOU! And probably – most likely in fact – your stubborn refusal to acknowledge their desire was just you getting in your own way!  They’ll make you happy if you just LET THEM.  Because happiness is something you get from men who are willing to dole it out to you.  That’s where your power lies, ladies: with the men who are rich, or persistent, or willing to get you too drunk to resist, or all of the above!  It’s your choice to make, women. Choose wisely.

So Michelle comes to in a car cruising along an ocean-side highway with the irritating admirer she has been avoiding who is now her husband.  Fortunately for him, she is too hung over and apathetic (with or without the “a”) to make any decisions for herself, and with one mugged “yeesh” by way of reaction, she continues to hang her head out of the car as they drive towards her new life: his.

Here we really delve into the Gilmore Gulch of television worlds.  His home is a town called Paradise, where he has a beautiful house (shared with his mother), an ocean front view from his bedroom (in the house shared with his mother), an ex-girlfriend who is still in love with him (and is the favourite of his mother, who he lives with), and a mother who runs a ballet studio that is on the lot of the home he SHARES WITH HIS MOTHER.

Mommy_Dearest_WEBAt this news, Michelle gets a lil’ P.O.’d and really, that is the extent of her anguish at this overturning of her entire world that has been peppered with omissions and without consent. The stakes are low – so low you wouldn’t trip over them in the dark. No one is taking this life seriously: not the producers, not the writers, not the characters and certainly not Michelle.  So when Cameron dies in a car accident by the end of the pilot, it’s a hiccup not a gasp even for those that love him the most: his Mother (WHO HE LIVES WITH) and the new bride he wed when she was drunk. What? Oh, yes, because Cameron and Michelle quickly had sex in there somewhere after he promised again to give her exactly the life she didn’t even realize she always wanted – and yet it’s what she always needed! –  and Michelle’s rubbery heart began to melt and ooze towards the realization that maybe getting black out drunk on someone else’s dime was the best decision she ever made.  But no, because he died.

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Now Sherman-Paladino was also the producer of Gilmore Girls so the similarity isn’t a coincidence. On these grounds you could argue that the style of this show is just that: a style. It’s a little bit farce, a lot vaudeville, and it’s “smart” – in that the characters, instead of speaking, spew a stream of references to everything from pop culture to classic literature. (Remember the Gilmore Girls episode where they won’t stop mentioning Daughter’s copy of Franny and Zooey? Because she’s SMART, you guys.) And it’s chock full of women just like you wanted, FEMINISTS!  My beef with this style (in addition to the very subjective fact that I DO NOT LIKE IT) comes up when the plot glazes over the gross and abusive nature of Michelle and Cameron’s relationship in order to push plot.  She’s a flawed character, the plot tells us, that is why she made such a foolish decision!  But isn’t it just a part of her loveable goofiness?  The style is happy to let Michelle absorb all of the blame for this decision with those same adorable flaws, leaving Cameron (his character has a name, but who cares) to die a near martyr; the frog, now semi-transformed into Prince Charming with one furtive fuck, croaks. POOR GUY.

AND NOW MICHELLE LIVES WITH HIS MOTHER.  Was ever an couple more odd? Mismatched? Were ever zanier circumstances contrived?  NO!  Everyone is delighted with the mess of conflict and coincidence and cosmic crapola that our hapless heroine is entrenched in!  Watch her mug and pose and natter non-stop to an audience of no-one as she inexplicably STAYS AT THE HOUSE and begins her new life with her mother-in-law of 24 hours.  Hilarious_WEB

Oh yes, and did I mention – I believe I did – that the mother runs a ballet studio full of 12 year old girls (and a few lean lads) who will now be the sometime focus of the show? It’s true.  So let’s call it Bunheads. And never watch it again.

VOTE on Idle No More Bumper Stickers

So I’ve had a few requests for the Idle No More bumper stickers – not just the print files (available free by request) but for printed stickers for purchase. I am looking into printing, but in the interests of my own poverty I think I can at this time only print one design. WHICH SHOULD IT BE? Note: It doesn’t seem to be any cheaper to print black and white, so choose freely. I left the b/w option in case it’s your aesthetic choice.


I’m going to close the poll on Jan. 15th in the interests of supporting IdleNoMore NOW while the iron is hot. If I get a lot of decisive response, I’ll close and print even sooner, so please spread the word! I will be selling the bumper stickers either at cost or donating any profit to Idle No More. Please feel free to elaborate on your vote in the comments and if you have a price you’d like to see the stickers, or an amount you plan on buying, throw that in there too. More on IdleNoMore: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/01/01/idle-no-more-movement-international.html http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/01/idle-no-more-founders-distance-themselves-from-chiefs/ http://idlenomore.ca/ I love that this movement is gaining ground outside of Canada. Colonialism has destroyed so many beautiful ways of life that we may never see again in this world. I think it is high time for indigenous people to be the teachers, leaders and guides on what “civilization” can really look like.