Samantha's Secret Room
When I read Calgary Is Awesome
's post about fiction set in Calgary
, I thought: Oh, I love this subject!!!CIA
's Amy Jo Espetveidt
writes about her experience reading a novel while literally immersed in its local (Ontario) setting. I had a kind of similar experience. When I was a voraciously-reading kid of about eight or ten, my grandmother gave me this YA novel: Lyn Cook's "Samantha's Secret Room
" (because of the name. Back then there weren't as many girls named Sam, so it was cool to read this one). The setting of the story didn't register with me back then - I just remember loving the twisty plot, the romantic older cousin, and other important details like that alluring turquoise hairband.
Later (when I was sixteen), my grandparents built a family cottage near to the Ontario town of Penetanguishene
(a name that confounded all my German friends). My grandparents were Toronto people - they didn't really know the Penetang area at all. Why do I mention this? Because about ten years after that (when I was about twenty-six) and I had started to pay a lot of attention to YA fiction, I realized that everywhere in Penetang you'd come across that same old book: Samantha's Secret Room
So I read it again and I realized it was set in Penetang
(in the 1950's). Reading the book as a grown-up, I realized that it was 1) still a great read, and 2) it was a fabulous example of a YA novel making brave, bold, unapologetic use of a local Canadian setting! And doing so in the 1950's, no less! Reading that story after I'd actually been to all of those places, was delightful. And it was even more delightful to think that my grandmother, who, to my knowledge, had never been to Penetang and knew nothing about its local stories, had just happened to give that book to me so long ago, without knowing that it held the story of a place she'd later come to call home herself.
Here are some Penetang pics. But now back to Calgary Is Awesome's call for Calgary-based fiction.
Local Settings in Canadian Teen Fiction
I pretty much only read teenager books ("Young Adult Fiction" so-called), but I read them a lot. And I have some pretty strong feelings about the importance of placing stories in real, local settings. So I thought it would be fun - and easy - to come up with some Calgary-based YA story suggestions to send over to CIA
But it turned out that this was really hard to do.
Let me give you some context. I know a bit about Canadian YA fiction. From Farley Mowat's The Black Joke
to the contemporary fiction of Canadian writers like Tim Wynne-Jones
, I love finding Canadian places referenced in YA novels (If you haven't read anything by Tim Wynne-Jones, rush out and do so right away. The Maestro
, his compelling tale of a unlikely comraderie that is born in the northern Ontario wilderness, would be one good place to start).
But the settings don't have to be overt. When Monica Hughes
writes about a nameless futuristic city in a YA sci-fi novel, it's close enough to Edmonton for me. When the amazing (amazing!!!) Beth Goobie
describes her characters strolling along a well-described riverbank, I cheer for the unnamed, but implied, Saskatoon. But don't get me wrong - I also love it when authors place their Canadian settings front and centre (yes, that's centre
with a -tre
!), from Ethel Wilson's back-to-the-land classic Swamp Angel
, to Cora Taylor
's evocative prairie tale Julie
, to Nan Gregory
's Vancouver-based I'll Sing You One-O
. (Swamp Angel
isn't exactly a teenager book, but it's close enough for me.)
Calgary is Awesome
did track down a few titles
for its blog, which is more than I was able to do.
So, there's local author Shirlee Smith Matheson
. I've only read her non-fiction books - which certainly tell tales of local history - but I know she has a collection of YA books
too, which I'm pretty sure are packed with Alberta - and probably Calgary - places and people. If this is the case, she's my one and only bona fide Calgary-setting YA author.And
there's longtime Calgary author Judd Palmer
(who no longer resides here, I've heard) - who brought some cachet to the metier of being a Calgary author with his really beautiful-looking "Preposterous Fables for Unusual Children
," (but didn't actually set any of his books in Calgary, as far as I know). These books are original and lovely, but I've always felt they might have missed the mark - supposedly for youngsters, I think they're actually enjoyed more by grown-ups. It makes them hard to categorize. But I digress, as usual.
I thought of Ted Stenhouse's Across the Steel River
. I loved this book about the friendship between a native and a Caucasian boy, not least because I had to wonder if there was a gay subtext in there (maybe I was reading into that - gay-themed YA fiction is a favourite subject of mine - and another genre of books which, though growing, isn't big enough for me. More on that another time). The novel is set in a 1950's Canadian prairie town which - I can't remember - may or may not be somewhere around Calgary. I might just associate it with Calgary because I bought it at the Calgary Children's Book Fair and Conference
. This event, which was held at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association
for a few years, doesn't seem to be scheduled for this year (the person to ask would be Simon Rose
, an enthusiastic Calgary children's author - but another one whose works may or may not actually be set in Calgary, as far as I know). Is this event no more? It was a great collaboration of local readers and writers!
And there's Vance Neudorf, whose impressively self-published first novel The Hammer
(2008), as I recall, is set in a prairie town not far from Calgary (could be Three Hills
- I'm pretty sure Neudorf hails from there himself).
I really liked The Hammer
. I read it back in 2008 and really wanted to write about it, but got distracted by having a baby. I had been reading another new Canadian YA author - Ontario author James Bow
- whose novel The Unwritten Girl
was a bit of a sly homage to Madeleine L'Engle
. Bow's novel incorporated a whole lot of references to her work. However, intentionally or not, it was Neudorf whom I felt was actually channelling L'Engle in his novel. Maybe it's the fact that both Neudorf and L'Engle seem to be fuelled by a strong spiritual Christianity, which inspires, rather than detracts from, their excellent storytelling skills. I thought The Hammer
- at least, the early copy I read - needed some editing. But other than that, it was one of the strongest new local novels I'd read in a long time. That was in 2008. What's Vance Neudorf doing now, I wonder? Writing, I hope!
Why I Care About All This
Part of the reason I've thought so much about the importance of local settings is because of my own roundabout process of coming to terms with being a Calgary person.
As I wrote in this comic strip
, I used to feel ashamed of coming from such a cultureless hick town. Then, inspired by New Zealand's brilliant children's writer Margaret Mahy
, I started to feel that it actually behooves "hick town" residents to write about their towns, thereby transforming them into places worthy of culture and art.
A while ago, I wrote an essay
that's partly about how Margaret Mahy overcame her inability to envision her hometown - and her home country - as places worthy of setting stories in. Here's a bit about that:
Mahy writes, "For a variety of reasons, partly because my own childhood reading was so predominantly British, my first stories were set in nowhere – or rather, in that place where all stories co-exist, where story is nothing but itself." However, Mahy's settings began increasingly to incorporate elements of a New Zealand setting, although initially, these elements were not necessarily apparent to readers. Mahy has said of her 1982 novel The Haunting: "In my mind the characters... lived in New Zealand, though there is no real clue to this in the story..."
"You'd think," says Mahy, interviewed in a 2005 article, "[that] you'd automatically be able to write about the place you've lived in all your life – but the stories I'd had read to me as a child [set predominantly in the United Kingdom] somehow disinherited me." Elsewhere, she has explained: "the landscape in which I had grown up and the idiom I heard every day seemed somehow unnatural to me..." Mahy's changeover from a writer labouring under what she has called an "imaginative displacement" from her native New Zealand, to a writer who, decades later, was able to say that she "felt quite triumphant over writing a story set in [her] own country," has been well documented, in numerous interviews, as well as in her own book of essays and criticism, A Dissolving Ghost, and Tessa Duder's 2005 biography, Margaret Mahy: A Writer's Life.
The conclusion to the essay was written as a comic strip, and this is part of it. You can read the rest of it here.
But you know what - I don't think this is the reason I can't find contemporary YA novels set in Calgary. It's not a case of that Canadian humility that makes us feel our hometowns aren't worth writing about. Most Canadian authors have gotten past that. It's something about Calgary.
Why Not Calgary?
OK, here's my theory.
I think there's a critical mass thing that happens - when enough people live somewhere, or at least know about that place, authors feel like they can write about it. So we have novels set in Paris and songs about Sunset Boulevard (or maybe that's a movie. But you know what I mean.) American authors always seem curiously unafraid to place their fiction in unapologetic local settings (even naming their stories after those place names - even when those places are fictional - from Centerburg Tales
to Winesburg, Ohio
) - but I think there's a different culture of place down there. As far as Canada goes, Ontario might be history/population-heavy enough that writers aren't afraid to throw down those weighty place names. At least, there are certainly a lot (a lot!!!) of YA novels set in Ontario.
On the other hand, there's also a strong precedent for nameless, placeless and/or fictional "Canadian" settings. From Margaret Laurence
(based on Neepawa) to Stephen Leacock
's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
(set in the fictional town of Mariposa, modelled after Orillia), to James Bow's aforementioned The Unwritten Girl
(set somewhere on the Bruce Peninsula, if I remember right). And there are countless stories that are just set "somewhere" - all specific references to location omitted - presumably (it always seems to me), so that the stories will be more "accessible" to American markets.
So here's what I think. Maybe Calgary falls into an awkward spot between a really well-known place (say, Paris) and that ambiguous, nameless "somewhere". Authors, or publishers, or somebody
, must have the feeling that placing a story in Calgary places it somewhere in a reader's mind: somewhere limiting enough that it will distract from the universality of the story, or worse, dissuade the buyer.
Setting a story in some unnamed ambiguous prairie town gives the enormous markets - I mean, readers - in Ontario/the USA/etc the freedom to imagine the story in a prairie town of their choice. But saying it's in Calgary will immediately bring up an image in the minds of those buyers - er, readers - which might not appeal. Like... you name it... cowboys? Engineers? Right-wingers? Oil barons? Whatever it is, it's presumably not as "universal" as, say, an imagined character who lives in Toronto. That could be ANYBODY!But ANYBODY could live here, too... and does. Are we letting Canadian readers know?
So What Can We Do?
We just have to keep telling stories about Calgary. We have to set stories in Calgary until it's as common to find stories set in Calgary, as it is to find stories set in Paris, or London, or New York. Or at least until "Calgary" doesn't read synonymously with "limited appeal" to publishers.
Am I totally wrong about this theory? Please let me know if that's the case! After all, I'm just making this up in my living room at 2 AM. Someday it would be fun to go listen in on what some real scholars have to say about all this.
Meanwhile, if you want your city to be known for the arts, you have to make the art yourself, and let people know where it's happening. That's why I'm writing comic strips about my neighbourhood
. And I actually chose @calgaryhester
as my Twitter handle (something I would never have dreamed of doing ten years ago... even if I could have imagined something like Twitter). (By the way, I realized afterwards that this handle might be awkward if I actually do ever leave Calgary, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.)
OK, I'm waiting for a bunch of indignant local authors who have set their novels in Calgary to set me straight. And I hope they've written to tell Calgary is Awesome
that they're out there, too!
Notes... because I haven't said enough about all this
A few random related/unrelated things crossed my mind while I was writing all that...
1. Brooke's Blog
Back in university I made a friend who liked books, just like me (maybe even more). It seems we still have a few interests in common, because these days he's blogging about stories from around the world that refer to Canada. Not Canadian books - not books entirely set in Canada - but places in which Canada gets a mention from a non-Canadian point of view. This is a fun and actually pretty enlightening subject to read about. Brooke's blog about "Canada through the eyes of World Literature" is called Wow - Canada!
And you should check it out. Even though he lives in Toronto (ha, ha).There are quite a few pictures of Brooke in the Drawing Book
, but here's the only one I can find right at the moment - from a very short comic strip called "Eulogy for a Scarf
When I first saw Brooke's blog, I thought right away of this one tantalizing, seemingly throwaway reference to a Canadian setting in a non-Canadian book: it's from Faulkner
's Absalom, Absalom
(Faulkner is one of the few "grown up" authors I really love), and shows up in the last line of the last page of the book, at the end of a list of the characters' brief biographies:
After wading through this gigantic long novel about the Deep South, we find out that one of the main characters is from Edmonton, of all places! In fact, since he seems to have outlived all the other characters in the story, it looks like this one guy in Edmonton is the sole surviving keeper of the whole epic tale. Why Edmonton??? We never find out any more about it, despite the fact that this is a book that's all about finding out the reasons behind things. So you know there's got to be a reason. Just not what the reason is. That's one heck of an enigmatic Canadian reference.Luckily, I'm not the only one who's been wondering. It looks as though a scholar by the name of Kayoko Shimanuki, apparently a doctoral student at Kyoto University sometime after 2006, wrote a paper called Absalom, Absalom! Reconsidered: A Story of Canadian Shreve
. It doesn't explain why Faulkner picked Edmonton, but it does talk about how Shreve's Canadian-ness influences his perspective on this American story. I hope Shimanuki got that PhD.2. More about Margaret MahyHere's some more from that essay about how Mahy struggled to overcome a whole nation's history of literaturelessness... and how Canada has suffered from the same trouble. But not anymore, right?
Mahy's "displacement" is accredited (in a 2004 interview) in part to "the default assumption then, [when Mahy was a child] and for a long time afterwards, ...that New Zealand experiences were less interesting and valuable than British or European ones" (Ridge 2004). Contributing to this kind of assumption was the absence of a solid oeuvre of New Zealand writing. Mahy explains elsewhere: "Other contemporary New Zealand writers also had difficulty in writing about New Zealand at that time, partly because there was so little to draw on. The indigenous writing of the 1930s and 1940s was very self-conscious" (Eccleshare). As Mahy says of her reaction to this literary climate: "I didn't imaginatively believe my own New Zealand stories in the ways I believed in the fantasies and such things that I'd been writing" (Larsen).
Some aspects of New Zealand's developing literary climate could be said to have had their parallels in Canada. Jennifer Andrews has written that the respected Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock "may have believed that Canadian humour... was better positioned to compete on the world stage when it was not overtly defined as Canadian" ("Humouring"). A traditional view of Canada's cultural output was expressed by British children's literature critic John Rowe Townsend in 1976: "Canada, in children's books as in much else [including, presumably, comics], remains in the American shadow" (210).
3. Proof that I'm insane
Once, I recorded... and graphed (!!??)
... all the references to Canada that were made in over 20 years of "For Better of For Worse.
" (Actually, I think my multi-talented friend Andrew
helped me make the graph.) I'm too sleepy to say any more about this now, for which I'm sure you will be truly grateful.
This morning I had a pretty fun and unusual experience - contributing a graphic recording to a meeting of the City of Calgary's Priorities & Finance Committee
down at City Hall.
But before I tell you about that, I just have to reminisce about another time I drew pictures at a political gathering. I think it must have been in 1996, I had occasion to attend a session of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
in Edmonton. I was sitting up high in some gallery or other and... because it's what I always do... I drew a picture. Of the Speaker of the House. I think the Speaker at the time was Stanley Schumacher
. Here it is.
Well, I don't remember all the details, but suffice to say, someone looked up and noticed me doing this dastardly deed, and pretty soon some security guards came up to ask me to stop drawing. The sketch was confiscated! I was (politely) asked to leave! Pages were passing notes all around the floor as MLAs shook their heads in dismay (and surprise). Apparently, it was against the law to draw in the "Leg" (that's short for Legislature, and it's pronounced "Lej").
Except, as it turned out, it wasn't against the law - not quite. As I learned later, every provincial government in Canada had such a rule: no drawing during sessions. So the Alberta Legislature was quick to put the sketching to a stop. However, when someone checked later, it was discovered that this wasn't actually law in Alberta. Apparently this had never come up before (hadn't any gallery-sitter like myself ever gotten bored and started doodling??), and the law had never officially been passed. I was told that, after this, the law would be passed forthwith. So, thanks to this picture, a nice new Albertan law. I wonder if that actually did happen. I didn't stick around to find out. But I did get my sketch back (along with some gracious apologies when everyone realized I was just a bored art student and not some sneaky reporter trying to capture the hidden details of the Assembly's inner workings).
That was a far cry from today's committee meeting at the Calgary City Hall, during which anyone and everyone in attendance was free to tweet, photograph, message, and otherwise create artistic recordings of the proceedings.
Which brings me to the graphic recording stuff.
The Priorities and Finance Committee is chaired by the Mayor and includes six Aldermen (although any aldermen can sit in). The public and the media can attend the meetings, but aren't allotted time to speak or ask questions (although they can be invited to speak).
To find out the official list of functions performed by the committee, you can take a look here
. Today, however, I was there to help out a City Administration team called the Engage Resource Unit
. These folks have been working for quite a long time on the issue of civic engagement: in other words (theirs), they’ve been asking how they can make it easier for Calgarians to provide input into City decisions
. Their project was up for review, and so they were among the people presenting their reports to the Committee today. My job was to draw pictures during their presentation and the subsequent Q & A. Why would the Engage Review team think of doing something like this? Partly just to illustrate the fact that there are multiple ways to present information, and that sometimes a creative approach can make information more accessible to a wider audience.
(I did some graphic recording for them at their recent event Continue the Conversation
, of which you can see a very nice little video here
.)Good, in theory. I'm not sure how well I was able to illustrate the lightning-paced presentation and discussion that ensued - with a lot of content to capture, there wasn't as much time to draw. I think I recorded the question-and-answer part well enough, but I'm not sure how clearly I was able to convey the content of the presentation. My other challenge was not knowing how to pace myself - was this going to be a ten-minute rubber stamp, or a day-long debate?
I'm actually not sure how long I drew - over half an hour, but under an hour, I think. Here's the picture that was there when the discussion ceased (and the initiative approved - congrats, Engage Review!):
I didn't stay for the whole meeting, but did enjoy getting to be there for the approval of a few other awesome-sounding agenda items, such as the Plain Language Policy, summed up here by the Herald's Jason Markusoff (who was also present, taking more organized notes than mine); and
the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative
, which happily enjoyed the Committee's overwhelming support, and which Mr. Markusoff wrote about here
Luckily, I had the chance afterwards to colour things in, tidy things up, and try to make the whole mad scramble a bit more visually appealing. Here are some details:
Well, it was an experiment, and I'm honoured that the City administrators and Council invited me to contribute to their process. It might turn out that civic committee meetings don't make for the ideal graphic recording conditions, but I do feel pretty excited about the possibilities of merging a traditionally dry, bureaucratic organization like a civic administration with an emerging and essentially weird practice like graphic recording. I guess that might say something about this administration. I think the fact that Mayor Nenshi conducted the entire meeting while wearing a St. John's, NB team jersey just speaks to that. (And by the way... what team was it? What sport??? I was too busy writing everything down, to even notice!)
Last week, I walked from the East Village over to Bridgeland on the other side of the river. Before I crossed the bridge, I noticed this (I later stole this photo, which was posted here on Twitter
Thousands of people drive under it every day, and numerous Calgarians also walk, jog, bike, wait for the lights to change, stop at Starbucks, and fill up their cars... UNDER IT.
I used to live in Bridgeland, and I still have the same whimsical thought I had then: THIS is the spot that's crying out for a mural!!!
Just take a look at the flyover, and then imagine all that grey concrete covered with something like Dean Stanton
's fabulous colourful Sunalta School mural (right).I'm looking forward to the new RiverWalk public art. But if I can ever figure out a safe way to do it, I'd love to propose a colourful facelift to the underside of the flyover.
And this has nothing to do with the flyover, but it's just something else I noticed as I walked along McDougall Road in Bridgeland. A house with a lovely frosted-glass pattern on its window... and a garden-implement-inspired gargoyle keeping watch. Whatever happens along the RiverWalk, I think public art... of one variety or another... is alive and well in Calgary's inner city.
Third time's the charm: Finally got that latte fix from Ramsay
's Caffe Rosso
that I'd been dreaming of.
I met Damian long, long ago when it seemed like we were among the tiny handful of Calgarians who were creating indie comics. I've been out of the scene for a few years (see Alec's Year Book
for details) but I knew Damian's Dorkboy Comics
was still out there. Now we finally met again at the Calgary Expo and confirmed our apparently mutually long-held suspicion... that we're still among the tiny handful of Calgarians who are creating indie comics.
Is there anybody else doing this? I mean, Damian has been doing it for more than a decade (so have I, on and off)... but are there any other folks writing and drawing print comics in this town? Is this a dead art? Does Calgary have - or want - an indie scene? It's the element of the Calgary Expo - despite its amazingly all-encompassing embrace of all things geeky, nerdy, and comic-booky - that I've found lacking. Maybe because there just isn't an indie scene. Or is there?
A sign you'd never see anywhere else.
Why I need to get a bit more high-tech if I want to do this kind of thing at next year's Expo.
Ashley's dinosaur met all the stars it had hoped to meet, including Gillian Anderson - who apparently rode the dinosaur. That t-rex will remember this weekend forever. Let's hope Ashley will be able to live vicariously through its adventures. And that she's grateful to her dinosaur-lugging friends.
And here's one more note for the end of the Expo: It was really a fitting day for me to be surrounded by crazy obsessed star-struck fans, because it also happened to be the 17th-year anniversary
of a star-struck day of my own: the anniversary of my first Bob Dylan concert. By now you might have figured out that, much as I love the Calgary Expo, I'm not really in tune with the Expo scene - I don't have any costumes, and I hadn't actually heard of most of the celebrities who were coming (which may have something to do with the fact that I don't have... and never have had... a TV). But that's not to say I can't relate to people who are wildly, madly passionate about the ingenious work of a celebrity icon. I saw Bob Dylan perform for the first time on April 28th, 1996. I don't know how many times I've seen him since - I stopped counting after about 40 shows. Bob Dylan still rocks my world (even though I don't follow his tour around the way I used to). You can read some comics about my touring adventures here.
Suffice to say - all you Expo fans who are right now coming down from your Expo high - I know how it feels. Just hang in there till the next show comes to town.
Welcome to another day of live-tweeted Calgary Expo
comics. I have to give an enormous shout out to the Calgary Herald
's Features Editor Tom Babin
for linking my updates to the Herald's Expo blog
. Hooray for creative local collaborations - and for newspaper comics!
Here's Saturday's batch. One more coming up after this!
I really enjoyed talking with my table neighbour Sho Uehara
(and his "booth babe" Sebastian) about life, art, work, and the ongoing challenge of finding a balance between all three. Having friendly neighbours made the Expo even more fun. I like finding out what other Calgary artists are up to - especially when they incorporate local scenes into their work, the way Sho did with this recent cover for "Adventure Time
I feel pretty strongly that artists (and writers) should feel that it's ok to set their work in the real places they know - not just in famous locations or in nebulous nowhere-lands. Otherwise, how will audiences learn that these real places even exist? And how will those real places gain enough confidence in their own art-worthiness? Anyway, I say thumbs up to anybody who puts the Calgary Tower on their cover. Now if you really want to read a long, boring comic strip I wrote about my own path to discovering the courage to make my hometown part of my art - you can find it here
Now that's a good friend.
That previous one is a guest post by my 4-year-old son Alec who is a fan of drawing train tracks.
This was just weird.
"The 11th Doctor," a helpful twitterer informed me.
As I made my way through the crowds I saw a lovely display of artists' materials - a booth run by Calgary's Sketch Art Supplies
. I was really just drawn in by the sight of all these Micron pens
- which are the only ones I use (I'm addicted) - but later I found out a bit more about this cool-sounding shop from their website:
"Sketch Art Supplies is a unique artist supplies store and gallery located in the Mount Pleasant area of Calgary’s Northwest. Our business is literally housed in a 1910 starter home. We feature fresh work by emerging artists, artist supplies, custom picture framing and adult art classes. The owner is resident artist Ljubica Todorovic
, a recent Alberta College of Art & Design graduate (BFA Drawing 2006)."
A business in a house. A new business in an old house. A start-up in a starter home. I like everything about this (I've always liked the idea of combining a home/work/client/customer space). I am glad to hear that something like this is happening in Calgary! I will have to check this out... the next time I need to get my Micron pen
fix (I mostly go through the 01's, but I drew most of these Expo comics with 1's because I wanted a good, thick, visible line that I wouldn't have to go over.
I never found out what that thing was.
There's Rik, and here
's where you can find out more about what he's up to. I met Rik about ten years ago and I will always remember how impressed I was by the fact that he knew how to use Photoshop. I didn't even have a computer.
Thank goodness I have joined the 21st century.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow!And... for those of you who've been following my InvestYYC campaign to raise the money to print this little comics series: here it is, Alec's Year Book. You can find out more about the books - and the campaign, which was a lot of fun - here. If you're at the Expo, come and take a look! Here are all four books wrapped up in a cute little package.
And now - good night!
Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up. If you've been reading this, you know by now that I've been putting together some little comic books about the exploits of my son Alec
. Today, I picked up the final copies of Alec's 4th Year Book
(from the wonderful - despite their lack of apostrophe - Rileys
). So I have all the books. I'm ready for this weekend's Calgary Comics Expo
. And to make everything even better, my last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants InvestYYC campaign to raise the money to have my books printed
, has taken off like a rocket - thanks to some amazingly generous donors (some of whom I'm lucky to have as friends too!). So that's it! Happy ending to this tale!
But no! I have a confession to make. There's something I didn't tell you.
The Alec's Year Book
stories are made up of daily entries in a series of sketchbooks that I've been keeping since Alec was born. For the first couple of years I kept them in green sketchbooks like this one. But then those sketchbooks were discontinued (don't you hate it when that happens!?) and I had to find something new (see below). So there was a period of a few months in which I didn't have any steady place to keep track of my comics. And somewhere in there... some comics were LOST.
I was sure I'd drawn a few pictures at the beginning of 2012, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Ever since I decided to compile the last two years' sketchbooks into two new installments of Alec's Year Book - which was this January - I've been hunting for those lost comics. But to no avail. So finally - deadlines being deadlines - I just decided to go ahead and have the final book printed without the missing pages.
This afternoon I was getting some stuff ready to take to the Expo and I opened up an old portfolio. You've already guessed what was inside.. yes. The lost sketchbook. Did I mention I'd been looking for this, for almost four months??? Did I mention I just picked up the book from the printers', about two hours before this??? There's a rule about this kind of thing, right?
Well, it's too late to print them now, but I'm going to put them all up here - for posterity!
Thanks to everyone who's been so supportive of my Alec's Year Book campaign
(and at the time of writing, there's still ONE DAY
in which to do so!) - not just the awesome donors but all sorts of others such as my colleagues on the Ramsay community newsletter
editing team, who right this minute are proofing our monthly intake of content so that I'll have free time to get ready for the Expo (of course, here I am frittering away that valuable time on this blog...) - thanks everyone! I couldn't do it without you!
I think this page from Alec's Year Book
pretty much sums up what it's like to be a freelance comics person/full-time parent. At least, the full-time parent of this particular precocious kid.
Only three more days to help me raise the money to publish this little book series! $10 will get me to the halfway mark! Here's
where to find out more about that. Please check it out... and thanks!By the way - did I mention that Rileys
(awesome local business and supporter of the arts) is doing the printing? They've printed just about everything I've done in the past ten years or so, and
I wouldn't go anywhere else. You should check them out, too!
Here's a tease for those of you gearing up for the weekend of geeky mayhem that's about to descend upon Calgary... the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo
. This is the title of an alphabet/comic strip I drew for the event program guide: Check out the guide this weekend to read the rest! I've also posted a couple of other panels from the alphabet which you can see here
. And - here's another newsflash - you can follow me on Twitter at @calgaryhester to read live comic-strip updates from the Expo! It's never been done before, folks, but in the bold, innovative, groundbreaking
spirit of the Calgary Expo, we're going to try it now! I'll be doing this with the help of a great local partner, but you'll have to wait a few more days to find out who.Is there anything you'll be wanting to hear about this weekend? Let me know!
And you know who Edward Gorey
is, right? Ok - just checking.