Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dupuy & Berberian at IFOA
Originally uploaded by bigdaddyhame.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, you don't have to take a camera anywhere anymore, because if other people are there, then someone else has photographed it and posted it to the web (specifically, Flickr). This photo was taken from someone else's Flickr set, but it was from the event I attended yesterday.

The really funny thing was the fact that all three of these very established artists still say that their families have no idea of what they do.

"You draw comic books?"
"Yes, but not children's books, for adults."
"Oh (winking) pornographic books..."

Which I guess is a problem when you call comics "Graphic Novels" - I mean, are they novels that are 'graphic' - sexually or violently explicit? By that meaning, "American Psycho" is a "graphic" novel. While the debate rages on, I thought it was great that Phillippe Dupuy said at one point, the next time someone asks me "what are you doing these days?" he would respond that he was a dentist.

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Yesterday, we saw/heard Jaime Hernandez at IFOA - one half of Los Bros Hernandez, creators of one of the most important comic book series in the last 25 years. What can you say really? You get to hear an author and artist whose work you've admired for years and that person becomes sort of unreal in a way. He certainly wasn't what I expected. Quiet, gracious and even a little reserved. I suppose I really expected someone who looked more like a member of Los Lobos than an author. Based on his Love and Rockets stories, you might think Jaime Hernandez might be brash, loud or just a touch more punk. Maybe he was that way 20 years ago. Perhaps time soothes youthful noise. When looking at his artwork, the one thing that really comes across is confidence. Those big, bold, black lines scream confidence. He has every right to be arrogant but thankfully he wasn't.

Despite a terrible cold, I'm still glad we went and I'm glad that the International Festival of Authors has, for the last three years, included at least 2 or 3 comic book artists in their line-ups of interviews and readings.

Earlier in the day, I attended another great interview. Seth interviewed two distinguished artists from France, Phillipe Dupuy & Charles Berberian whose successful series "Mr. Jean" has just been compiled into a new book published in English by Drawn & Quarterly. Needless to say, I ended up dropping $60 on books yesterday. At least there was free Starbucks coffee.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Fear of Phones - part 1

I was just listening to a song just now when through it's modulated robotic voice I realized the lyrics were, "I'm working on your project - it won't be done on time - please don't call me anymore.." a more apt musical interlude could not possibly exist for me right now. It can be heard here. The song, "Nobody Calls Me Unless..." by Shout Out Out Out Out, sounds as though it could have been written by a designer working to a deadline.

Lately, I've felt unusually busy and pressed for time. I think too many freebie projects in a row will do that to you. What I can't figure out is why I let a low priority favour become so stressful. I really feel like saying, "I'm working on it - stop calling me." If I knew how, I'd install this song as my hold music. It takes a lot of energy trying not to let someone else's projects take over my life, or even ruin my day.

When I'm especially busy, I find the sound of the phone ringing like fingernails on a chalkboard. I don't want to talk to someone wondering where their project is. Man, I've got paying customers to bug me about that crap - I don't need it when I volunteer. It only worsens the expectation that on the other end of the line will be a request for a market survey, donation to worthy causes, discussions of life insurance or battle hardened sales agents (sheesh, it's even creepier when a Toronto cop calls wanting to sell tickets to some crazed charity event - talk about your pressure tactics). It's bad enough making calls. To me there is absolutely nothing harden than picking up the phone and asking somebody for something. I have no idea what it is but I'd rather choke on suspicious spinach downed with rancid carrot juice than make a call to someone to ask for a favour.

I think this all began when I was kid. Using the phone in our house was a difficult proposition. Mom and Dad would always be listening and giving you the eye if they felt you were on too long. Their excuse for such telephonic vigilance? Somebody might be trying to call! Pardon me, but we didn't exactly have a red phone with a direct connection to the Kremlin sitting in the kitchen. It created a fervor in the house whenever the phone rang. That must be it! The call that we've been keeping the line open for! Inevitably it would just be a neighbour asking about some church function. How did my parents end the call? "Well, I should go, I want to keep the line free." Again, with keeping the line free? Free for what? Who was going to call? The Queen, the Prime Minister? Joey Smallwood?

Needless to say, it was from this environment of phone totalitarianism that I ran, nay - raced into e-mail's lovin' embrace. Predictably, until I'm finished these next couple of projects, you will find me hiding behind voice mail, e-mail and any other modern obstacle to communication, without fear of tying up the line or missing that all important call I'm expecting.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nuit Blanche_2006_15
Originally uploaded by geimov.

We ventured out last night to wander with a few thousand other people to check out Toronto's Nuit Blanche (art installations open from sunset to sunrise). We lasted until a bit after midnight on a sojourn that began from our Western Edge HQ on Fern, along Queen St. W. from Gladstone, past re-contextualized car washes, up through Trinity-Bellwoods then over to Philosopher's Walk and the rooftop patio at the Gardiner Museum. The highlights were an installation of 19th century military style tents in the bowl of Trinity-Bellwoods by Tom Sokoloski and the 'Microclimate' at Philosopher's Walk at U of T (basically a kick-ass fog machine). Searching the Web to see other 'Nuit Blanche' nights in Europe, it's clear that Toronto couldn't match Paris or where ever, yet, despite the less than great weather, there was a festive mood on the streets and every coffee shop and restaurant was over flowing with people who'd ventured out. It was 'Culture as Economic Engine' in action. Too bad Stephen Harper doesn't know that (can you tell he's getting advice from Mulroney et al?)
It was a fun time and like Ang said, it felt like we were going out on Halloween or something. The surprising part was the variety of people taking it all in. From families to twenty-something hiptsers, to hip-replacement recipients, everyone was having a good time, even though a good many of them pronounced the evening "Newy Blank".

We had plans to meet up with a few people and eventually we did, but Toronto does not lend itself to 'meeting up'. Too much terrain, too much to do, too little 'Nuit'.

By the way, if you're finding yourself procrastinating (of this-I know of what I speak) and you need some musical motivation to "Git 'er done" - I recommend a little Wolf Parade action.

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