Just for fun (because I had some Crayola markers and 20 minutes), here's the story of how it all happened.
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!
So here's the 1st of my 3 Things for Canada: I pitched a panel about independent Canadian comics to the Calgary Comics Expo, and it's happening!
I'm really interested in comics that are being created and published right here in Canada, and even more if they're about Canadian stories. Right here in Calgary, there's a growing independent scene, ranging from old-timers like Damian Willcox (sorry, Damian! Guess I should probably say "creators of long-standing status" or something more dignified...) to new movements like Panel One, an independent creators' collective established in 2016.
I've been thinking a lot about contemporary comics in Canada (and in Calgary in particular), since I read back in 2016 that the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics had put out a call for papers on "The Young Canadians." They were asking, "What's happened in Canadian comics in recent years?"
I'm definitely not an expert on this subject, but I'm interested in how my own local scene has been evolving. And I thought the Calgary Expo seemed like the perfect place to have a discussion about this. So, that's part of the reason why I thought this panel might be a good idea. I am looking forward to listening and learning!
If you're coming to the Expo this year, I really hope you'll come out to hear this conversation. Right now, the Expo website still hasn't posted its programming info, but when it does, this is where you'll be able to find it. In the meantime, here's some information about our panel!
When: Saturday, April 29th, 1:15 PM - 2 PM
Julia Smith & Sean Carleton
Founded in 2008, the Graphic History Collective (GHC) is a group of activists, artists, writers, and researchers passionate about comics, history and social change.
We produce alternative histories - people's histories - in an accessible format to help people understand the historical roots of contemporary social issues.
Our comics show that you don't need a cape and a pair of tights to change the world.
Adding a splash of colour to our panel (and I'm not only referring to this lovely Twitter avatar picture by Jenn St. Onge that I lifted from Hope's Twitter account), Hope Nicholson will be joining us at the Calgary Expo!
Hope publishes Bedside Press out of Winnipeg and she's also putting together a pretty amazing independent comics event in Winnipeg this year, the Prairie Comics Festival on May 6 - 7, which I've been wishing I could attend! Maybe next year!
I am so pleased that Eric Dyck from Lethbridge is coming up to join in this conversation. His comics about history and real life in Lethbridge (and elsewhere in Canada) are beautiful, funny, and informative. I think that I'd call what Eric is doing, "comics journalism." Does he think that's what he's doing??? This is one of the things I want to talk about in the panel. Come and find out!
Geek Girl Gathering organizer, techie, artist, and wearer of many hats, Stephanie Chan will be moderating our panel!
And if you’re in the category of folks who had no idea that this was even a thing, well, then clearly this is the place you need to be, to find out more! Either way, we hope you’ll come!
You know what, I really thought I was going to be able to fit these all into one blog post, but I just couldn't do it. So after all that, I'm still not going to tell you the whole story.
Instead, here are three pictures to give you three hints.
The first one is something that'll be happening this year at the Calgary Comics Expo. That's coming up at the end of April!
The second one is something that'll be going on all year.
And the third one is something that'll be happening in May, and which is a collaboration with a whole bunch of other people.
City officials endorse Hockey Canada vision for Northlands Coliseum
So maybe it's the right time to post this video! Read on...
If you know Edmonton at all - or if you happen to be a hockey fan - you probably know the Northlands Coliseum, until recently the oldest NHL stadium in Canada. If it wasn't for my Oiler-loving husband, I wouldn't be too well-informed about the Canadian hockey arena scene. (Let me restate that. I would know ZERO about any hockey scene of any kind.) I've only visited the Coliseum once (to see a Bob Dylan concert).
Well, the venerable old Coliseum has been replaced by Rogers Place, and now the City of Edmonton has been exploring options for the old facility. I was asked to draw some pictures for a video that would be used to communicate the story of how the City's proceeding with their plans. This was a new experience for me!
I'd only worked on a video like this once before, thanks to an invitation from the Calgary Tool Library (here's the video). I was grateful to have had that experience, since I found out that drawing live for a video is actually pretty different than the usual "live drawing" that happens when I'm recording in front of a group. Big thanks to Edmonton's Lindisfarne Productions who shot, edited and produced the video, all the while being extremely supportive, as I tried to learn a whole new process!
Here's the video (below). To find out more about the City of Edmonton's Coliseum Transformation project, take a look here.
Last month, my son's class was lucky enough to participate in a pretty cool program called City Hall School, and I was lucky enough to be a parent volunteer (and take advantage of the opportunity to take some notes)! One of the best parts of our week was our visit with Mayor Nenshi, who talked with the students about a few things, including public art in Calgary's downtown, his plans for Canada Day this year, and his 3 Things for Canada initiative. In honour of the Mayor's Lunch, here are my sketchnotes from the class's meeting with him! Thanks Mayor Nenshi for your support of artists and arts champions in our city!
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.
Looking for a
I also have an (old) website which features a lot of my (old) work. Look out, it's a bit clunky and a few of the links need updating, but there are still a few interesting things there:
3 Things For Canada
Calgary Flood Diary
Calgary Is Awesome
Carra Artist In Residence
City Hall 101
How We Met
Multi Generational Housing
Soul Of The City
The Drawing Book
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