See you soon, and keep an eye out for the December Ramsay newsletter comic - I've got something a bit special coming up.
November's been off to such a busy start, I forgot to post my Ramsay newsletter comic for the month! Here you go! It's in three parts because the text is kind of small, and dividing the image up seems to help with the resolution.
If you'd like to listen to Bochum (you know you want to, now), here's a link to the song on Youtube. Enjoy!
See you soon, and keep an eye out for the December Ramsay newsletter comic - I've got something a bit special coming up.
Hi Ramsay comic readers! This month's comic is about "What's new in Ramsay?" You can see the comic in print in our neighbourhood community association newsletter... which also features a great story about my talented neighbour Allara, of Tangy Lime Dance Projects!
So, what ISN'T new in Ramsay: the Ramsay comic. I wrote the first one at the beginning of 2012, and it's time for a change. I'd love it if some other comics creator in the neighbourhood would like to take over this super fun volunteer project for the newsletter. Any takers??
I'm going to be winding this down, though, at the end of 2017, so that I can (hopefully) turn my comics work in a new direction. Just wanted to let you know. Meanwhile, we still have two more issues until then! Stay tuned!
My Word on the Street Festival story begins with Eric Dyck, Lethbridge-based comics creator and community builder. He makes comics as fast as the good people of Lethbridge can read them. His monthly Drink & Draw with Eric Dyck at Lethbridge's Owl Acoustic Lounge brings out doodlers of all ages.
Eric's historically-inspired comics about local happenings are putting independent comics on the radar of readers who might otherwise never know about this fast-growing field. But Lethbridge is far from a one-comic town. It seems that there are a few other big local comics supporters, such as retailer Kapow! Comics, for example. And apparently the Lethbridge Public Library has a particularly big and wonderful collection of comics. No wonder Eric feels so much at home in this town!
Twenty years ago, even ten years ago, I don't think independent comics had much representation at literary festivals. But in 2017, indie comics have a growing audience, as witnessed by events like last week's CXC Expo in Columbus, Ohio, as well as homegrown festivals like Winnipeg's Prairie Comics Festival and Calgary's Panel One Comic Creator Festival. Readers are interested in this medium!
Still, though, there are probably some old-fashioned folks who think the comics makers and readers should stay at their own designated festivals where they belong. Not so Lethbridge's annual Word on the Street Festival. This year the festival played host to a whole day's worth of comics conversations, featuring Panel One's Erin Millar; Svetlana Chmakova talking publishing illustrated books with Yen Press; Halli Lilburn and Ryan Jason Allen Willert talking colouring books; and of course the Lethbridge-inspired work of Eric Dyck.
I was so excited to be invited to come down and join in the comics conversations at WOTS. Anybody who's seen my work can tell that I like drawing pictures, but here's a little-known fact: I'm much more interested in the words. It's the story that drives everything else. So thanks, WOTS Lethbridge, for including me among your talented writers this year!
My favourite part of this event was the conversation between the writers themselves. Not just comics creator shop talk - although I do love that - but I also had the chance to talk with, and listen to, a few YA fiction writers. Teenager books are one of my favourite subjects, and Tom Ryan's casual E. L. Konigsburg reference was a highlight of my last evening! Where else do I find people who know about this stuff??
Here are some pictures I took. Scroll over them to see the captions. The best picture's at the bottom!
And a highlight from the weekend: watching a couple of iconic Canadian authors, Joy Kogawa and Louise Bernice Halfe, devour a boatload of sushi at Lethbridge's O-Sho Sushi. An amazing end to an amazing weekend!
Well, I haven't had much time for blogging this summer, but I'm back now to post this month's Ramsay newsletter comic, and talk about coffee shops while I'm at it!
Without further ado, here's the Ramsay comic, featuring the story of the 3 Sams and some news about a local event that's happening later TODAY! Read fast, and then head over to Caffe Rosso in Ramsay for the birthday celebration!
Learn more about Sam Mendoza's inspiring small business DITRO here.
So that was coffee shop #1. But just as I was posting this, I realized I have another coffee shop story too. One of the reasons I wasn't posting things online earlier this summer is because I took a trip to Germany, and while I was there, I visited the good old Cafe Extrablatt in Mainz.
For the past 10 years, Caffe Rosso in Calgary has been my neighbourhood go-to place for coffee, comraderie, and the place where I sit and get my work done. But before that, it was Cafe Extrablatt.
I used to be a flight attendant on Air Canada's Calgary-Frankfurt route, and every week for years I'd fly to Frankfurt and spend a day in Mainz (just outside Frankfurt) before heading back. On my layovers, I invariably headed to the Cafe Extrablatt to sit and write and draw and try to scheme up ideas for how I'd ever be able to stop flying and make my living doing something creative and artsy. In fact, the image from my blog header is from this old comic I wrote there.
Well, after a while the manager, Farid, noticed me drawing all the time and asked me if I'd draw a restaurant menu on their chalkboard. This turned into a good arrangement for all: chalk drawings for Extrablatt and a free meal for me!
I haven't been to Mainz for about five years, but when I went to Germany this summer with my son, we stayed in Mainz for one night and strolled past the old coffee shop in the main square. Imagine my amazement when I noticed an old chalk drawing menu was still up on their wall!! Here's a picture (courtesy of my son, who missed the top half of the chalkboard - but you get the idea).
I drew that picture in 2002 -- what's it still doing up there!!??
Anyway, I'm raising my coffee cup to both these good old coffee shops, Extrablatt and Rosso, while I drink my coffee this morning. And if you need another cup of coffee, here's an old blog post about my adventures drawing a picture of "a day in the life" at the Coventry Hills Good Earth Coffeehouse here in Calgary. And here's a page about coffee from my old drawing book, too, from back when I lived in Toronto a really long time ago. That's another story.
I helped to make a colouring book for Calgary Reads! Take a look HERE to find out more about the project and the amazing artists who contributed to the book!
Just for fun (because I had some Crayola markers and 20 minutes), here's the story of how it all happened.
At last, I get to post some news about the 3rd of my Three Things for Canada (see here for Things 1 and 2)! This one's a project I've been working on for a while, with the help of some really great collaborators!
This story starts with local charity Calgary Reads.
In June, Calgary Reads will be launching their Children's Reading Place in Inglewood. I don't need to describe it any further, because there's already a great description of the project here (read on):
So what does this have to do with me? Well, with the help of Calgary Reads and a grant from the Community Fund for Canada's 150th, I've been assembling my 3rd Thing for Canada: a little colouring book celebrating the themes of CANADA and LITERACY. The book will be available to the children who participate in literacy programming at the Children's Reading Place throughout 2017.
Here's the lovely cover of the colouring book, created by Calgary artist Chris Pecora.
I want to give a big shout out to the wonderful artists from around Alberta who have contributed to this project! I'm really grateful to these folks who shared their talents, their book recommendations (yes!) and their thoughts about celebrating literacy on Canada's 150th birthday.
Presenting... the colouring book artists! These are the artist headshots that will be appearing in the book. Hover over the pictures for names, and click on the pictures for links to their own sites.
By the way, not all of these artists had cartoony headshots, so I drew three of these pictures myself (for Laura, Ryan, and Karen), based on photos they sent me.
That's all for now, everybody. I have to get ready for the Panel One Comic Creators' Festival! But stay tuned, pictures of the book, and more about the Children's Reading Place, coming soon!
So, I wrote about what I'd be bringing to this year's Calgary Expo, but I saved my favourite thing for last. Every year the Expo produces a limited edition Artbook filled with work by a whole bunch of awesome contributors. Most people draw (beautiful) splash pages, but you know me, I just can't draw pictures unless there's a story. So I'm the one who always draws those weird autobiographical text-filled strips about my real-life adventures.
Last year, the Artbook theme was "Fairy Tales and Classic Monsters," which inspired me to write a strip about my experience with post-partum depression. I felt like that was going to be a tricky subject to follow up. Imagine my surprise when, this year, the theme was (again!??) ""Fairy Tales and Classic Monters!" (Why, Calgary Expo??) Anyway, this year I took that theme and picked a new focus.
It's Canada's sesquicentennial - our 150th birthday! That's the theme I'm excited about this year! So, I decided to draw some storytellers who are shaping the fairy tales, stories, and legends of this country. This was a random sampling of people I ran into in my neighbourhood, along with a few famous folks and a couple of tall tale tellers into the mix.
- Stuart McLean, revered Canadian storyteller;
- Northrop Frye, revered Canadian unscrambler of what stories are and how they're told;
- Ken Cameron, local storyteller whom I (luckily) ran into at Caffe Rosso just before I wrote this, and who gave me some ideas about what to write! (Another local storyteller, Barb Pederson, was there too, actually. Sorry Barb, I didn't draw you, but I appreciated hearing your ideas!)
- Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, Canadian story-distorters (and yes, Pat really lived 3 doors down from me, long ago)
- The iconic Baba, CKUA's master storyteller, whose friendly voice has been spinning tales for so many Albertans through the radio waves for many years...
- Polarman, a recently-retired real-life superhero whom I met in Iqaluit long ago, and who's the recent subject of SESQUI, another sesquicentennial project.
- I'm honoured that my neighbour Nolene, whose inspiring story I recently wrote about in my Ramsay comic strip, gave me permission to include her on this list of storytellers. It's been a privilege for me to hear from her a little bit about her experience of discovering her Indigenous roots. The stories she's been telling me, and the ancient learnings she's been absorbing from her cultural community, are by no means "fairy tales," or "tall tales," by the way. These are real stories that are a necessary part of the story of Canada's 150th, despite the fact that some of them are sad stories. I wanted to include Nolene in here, because learning about stories like hers has been important to me in understanding what Canada really means, and could mean in the future.
Ok, that's all for now - time to go!
I'm going to post this without any links because I'm out of time, but I'll add them in soon! See you at the Expo!
Well, folks, it's time for another Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, that behemoth of pop culture that descends upon Calgary at the end of April every year. You can find me in Artist Alley at table R12!
This will be my sixth year as an exhibitor, but you can't really count last year. A few days before the Expo, I bumped my head and ended up with a concussion. I missed the Expo, but at least I wrote a comic about getting a concussion (which you can get from me at the Expo, this year!)
What else am I bringing to the Expo this year?
I organized a panel on contemporary Canadian indie comics, featuring this amazing lineup of panelists:
Julia Smith & Sean Carleton of the Graphic History Collective (and it's their first time at the Expo, so be nice to them); Eric Dyck from Lethbridge; and Hope Nicholson, all the way from Winnipeg!
This is happening on Saturday, April 29th at 1:15, so please come and talk to us about the local comics scene where you live.
That brings me to my next NEW thing.
I'm working on a little comics strip about the Calgary/Alberta indie comics scene for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (which is pretty darn exciting for me, for a few reasons).
This project is the reason I decided to organize the panel mentioned above. I mean, I could write about my actual experience of the Calgary indie comics scene since I got involved, and this would be it:
I am really looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on this subject. Even if you can't make it to the panel, if you have some great insights about the evolving indie comics scene in this town (or around Alberta), please come and talk to me at the Expo or send me a tweet @calgaryhester! I'd love to hear what you think.
I'm also bringing ONE OTHER new thing to the Calgary Expo, and that's my contribution to this year's Expo Artbook. But I'll have to keep you in suspense just a little bit longer before I post that out. Stay tuned! And if you are coming to the show, remember... wear comfy shoes and bring water!
It's about time for me to post this comic, my April strip for the Ramsay newsletter. April's more than halfway over!
I've been writing about Mayor Nenshi's initiative, 3 Things for Canada. I chose three acts of service that I wanted to do for Canada this year, and of course all of them have something to do with comics. In a previous blog post, I mentioned the first of my 3 Things: I've been working on organizing a panel discussion at the Calgary Comics Expo about Canadian independent comics. That's coming up soon, on April 29th. You can read about it here!
My second thing is something I've been doing for a while already in 2017: writing comics about inspiring things happening in my own community. I'm looking for true stories about people who are helping Canada to be a country to be proud of. This kind of started with my Ramsay comic strip in December 2016 when I wrote about "why we need neighbours," and I'll be looking for opportunities to keep writing about this throughout the year.
When I heard this story from my neighbour Nolene, who works at the Ginger Group, I thought it was just the kind of thing I wanted to write about. She was gracious enough to let me turn it into a comic. Here you go!
A funny thing happened after I started working as a graphic recorder: people started asking me to draw pictures. Of course, I'm always drawing pictures, so that probably sounds weird, but what I mean is, I'm not a trained illustrator or graphic designer and so I really don't have a whole lot of experience working in this capacity. (Luckily, I keep learning as I go!) But when the folks at RedPoint Media asked me if I'd draw some pictures about "A Day in the Life" of a local coffee shop, I had to say yes!
This picture was featured in Brookfield's LiveUp Magazine, which was published recently by RedPoint Media to help promote Brookfield's new neighbourhood, Livingston, up at the northern end of town. And the coffee shop in question was the Good Earth Coffeehouse in Coventry Hills.
Despite being an inner-city dweller, I've actually spent quite a bit of time up in Coventry Hills. I spent a nice day getting reacquainted with the neighbourhood, the locals who came and went during the day, a few of the staff at the Good Earth, and, of course... the coffee!
Here's the sketch I made that day, which turned into the finished picture, below.
I feel like adding this note, to say that I just can't get used to working in colour. For so many years I've worked with black ink on paper because I just never have time to colour things in. These days when I actually have the luxury of drawing a colour image, I feel like I'm wading into dangerous unknown waters where I've never ventured. I have so much to learn about how to incorporate colour into illustration work. Who knows, maybe one day I could even try working wthout those black lines!
And here's a funny footnote to this story. I was just thinking about how I've been going to the Good Earth Coffeehouse for years and years, ever since they opened their first location in the Beltline in 1991. In 2009, when my first son was just a baby, I dropped him off at my in-laws', who lived nearby, and headed to the same Good Earth to catch some moments to write and draw, in an attempt to steer my creative efforts into a "career" of sorts!
When I posted those pictures from LiveUp Magazine, I had a vague recollection that I'd drawn a long-ago comics page that said something about the Good Earth. I dug through the archives and found the page - below. There I am sitting in the Beltline Good Earth in 1998, on March 26th, which just happens to be the same day I'm writing this, 19 years later! Let me end this post with this collection of strange and random quotations that came out of my pen way back then. Thanks Good Earth for being a welcoming place for creativity and comics, for all these years!
Graphic recorder based in Calgary. I like local stories. I write comics when I have free time. And I leave eraser shavings everywhere I go.
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Some nice things people said about my work:
“If Breitkreuz and Foong [founders of the Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo] represent the Type-A side of Calgary's self-publishing community, Hester may be the community's right brain.” – Tom Babin, FFWD Magazine
“…A strong graphic style similar to other autobiographically-inclined Canadian cartoonists like Chester Brown and Julie Doucet.” – Gilbert Bouchard, Edmonton Journal
The 23rd Story: an indie comics creator's tales of life in Calgary