We'll start with the May 2018 comic, which was really an image from a drawing/brainstorming session at Of the Wild Preschool in Bridgeland.
This year, a few wonderful artists-in-residence contributed comics to the Ramsay Community newsletter, along with a few of my usual newsletter comics. I posted some of the 2018 comics on this blog, but I didn't get around to posting the rest. So, I'm hoping to amend that now, by putting up the last few missing 2018 comics here. Of course, you can also see them on the Ramsay Community Association website.
We'll start with the May 2018 comic, which was really an image from a drawing/brainstorming session at Of the Wild Preschool in Bridgeland.
The June comic was created by Aria, a youthful comics-artist-residence who's a student at Ramsay School. You can see her investigative inclinations are placing her on the right track for a career in comics journalism!
The July comic was contributed by Calgary artist Nicole Wolf, who's busy right now being the New Central Library's inaugural artist in residence (wow!!!). When I saw that Nicole had written this comic about a "chicken incident," it just seemed like a story well-suited to Ramsay, a neighbourhood with a long history of strong feelings about chickens. And, I loved Nicole's comic, too. Sorry it is a little bit hard to read in this online blog format.
Here is September's comic on "Ramsay at Night."
For the November newsletter, I compiled a few snippets from past Ramsay comics, over a 2-page spread: here they are!
And the last comic, wrapping up the 2018 newsletter comics artist-in-residence series, is a Christmas card by Calgary artist Al Gerritsen. I can't find much of Al's work online, but I did find a blog written by a visitor to his workshop, who posted some pictures of his wonderful work.
And that is the end of this story. Thanks Ramsay newsletter and Ramsay readers! Happy new year and see you in 2019!
Every month (just about), I write a comic for my community newsletter, and when I remember to do it, I post the comics here. I just took a look at my blog, and realized I've missed posting the past few comics. I'll have to remedy this, soon! Especially because a few of the 2018 Ramsay newsletter comics weren't actually by me, but were submitted by a few wonderful artists-in-residence who shared their own neighbourhood stories with Ramsay readers.
I'll post those missing comics sometime soon, but in the meantime, here's the October comic - featuring my friend Andrew. You can read more about Andrew here. See you in the neighbourhood!
It's time to share this month's Ramsay newsletter comic. This year, I've been inviting different artists to contribute a comic to the Ramsay newsletter, to continue the Ramsay comics series about life in my neighbourhood.
Presenting this month's artist-in-residence, Sharon Barrette!
Sharon is an artist based in Parksville, B.C. And this is her first comic!
I asked Sharon if she could send me something about life in her own community in B.C. Sharon paints pictures of the people, animals, and scenes in her life, and I thought she might send me a painting. I was surprised (and delighted) that she tried her hand at a comic. It doesn't show much about the physical setting of her neighbourhood, but instead takes a look at some characters and their interactions. And I love that it has a punchline - in a classic comics style that reminds me of Lynn Johnston's beloved Canadian comic For Better or For Worse.
Maybe you've seen Tom Wujec's talk on How to Make Toast. When people are asked to draw the steps involved in making toast, they come up with many different versions of the story: everything from sowing the wheat, baking the bread, fixing the toaster, smearing the jam, to eating the toast! The way they tell the story, and what they choose to tell about it, gives us some insight into the storyteller's perspective. I'm having fun seeing the different ways my Ramsay newsletter artists-in-residence tell their versions of a one-page neighbourhood story. I'm not surprised that Sharon's comic focuses on the people: she's a sociable person who's sincerely interested in what makes people tick. One of the original founders of the Inglewood Night Market back in 2013 (when she lived in Calgary), she's also a tireless volunteer who's passionate about helping people and enriching her community.
To see her work, you have to go to Parksville - there isn't much to be found online. But here's an article featuring her work for Nanaimo's 2016 Festival of Banners, as seen in the photo above!
Here's her Ramsay comic, "In My Hood."
It's the middle of March, and this month's Ramsay newsletter was delivered to Ramsay neighbourhood mailboxes a while back! I haven't had a chance until now, to post this month's newsletter comic here. This is the second in 2018's newsletter artist in residence series, introduced in last month's blog.
I met Phil at a Bob Dylan concert WAY back in the 1990's. It was only my third show, but he'd already seen Dylan dozens of times! Dylan was at the height of his "Neverending Tour." Fans came from all over the world to see Dylan, but a secondary benefit of coming out to a show was the opportunity to meet other people who shared the passion for the music. It was early internet days, and you couldn't make these kinds of connections online. You'd travel out to the concert venue and hang around early and late in hopes of running into those friends you'd seen before. You got to know the seasons and the hemispheres in which you'd be likely to find certain fans. And you'd have conversations you couldn't have anywhere else.
Ok, so I'm waxing all nostalgic about my days as a Bob Dylan groupie. Suffice to say, one of the friends I made on the road, was Phil, and although a love of Dylan's music was the initial connection between us, we quickly discovered we also shared a love of comics.
Comics Collectors vs. Comics Makers
And as Phil gently nudged me towards some comics education, others (myself included) were nudging Phil to make the shift from a comics reader to a comics maker. One of my favourites among Phil's self-published works is Drawing Crazy Patterns, a narrative about the so-called BobCats - the Dylan fans who met on the road, their paths crossing and diverging again, until the next show. I've been digging through boxes of comics and I couldn't find that particular one (argh, I know I have it somewhere) - but if you really want to see some comics about the Dylan fan scene, you could take a look at this old blog post of mine.
Hi everyone! As you know, if you've ever taken a look at this blog, I've been writing comics about life in my neighbourhood for a while. This year, I'm stepping away to work on a few other things. But I hated to leave the Ramsay newsletter readers without their monthly comic. So I thought I'd ask some creative people to contribute their own comics this year, instead. Hence, the Ramsay Newsletter Artist in Residence Series! (A fancy way of saying you'll be getting some surprise artworks in your monthly newsletter - which may or may not have anything to do with Ramsay!)
Here's the comic Eric kindly contributed to the newsletter, to start off 2018. What will be next? Wait and see! (Or, if you have a great suggestion - send it my way!)
Check out the whole Ramsay Community Newsletter, in all its volunteer-run glory! This month's issue features a story about creative Ramsayite Caitlynn Cummings! (Alas, the online version has not been posted at the time of writing, but stay tuned, it'll get there one of these days. Did I mention volunteer-run?)
Well, it's halfway through December, so I guess I'd better post my monthly Ramsay newsletter comic.
For those who don't know, I've been writing a comic strip for my community newsletter, for most of the last five years. This month's strip tells the story of how the whole thing got started. It's also the LAST ONE in the series. Yes, Wayne (neighbour who always teases me about my idle threats to stop writing the Ramsay comic), it's really the end. After such a long time, the Ramsay newsletter could use a change from my old stories, and I need a change, too. I'm hoping 2018 will be see some new creative projects. Stay tuned!
The comic may be done, but don't stop reading the Ramsay newsletter (which you can find online here, if you're not one of the lucky neighbours who gets this monthly publication in your mailbox). It has been, and continues to be, a cool collection of volunteer contributions, stories about life in the community, and announcements about awesome local businesses, services, and events. At a time when I keep hearing people talking about the failing state of local journalism, the Ramsay newsletter is an example of a local publication that's going strong! Thanks to the volunteers who work to put this together every month!
See you around, everybody!
love from sam
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.
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.
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!
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