Our first newsletter comic artist-in-residence is the talented cartoonist Eric Dyck, based in Lethbridge. He doesn't live anywhere near Ramsay, but I thought his work would fit perfectly into our little local newsletter, since he writes comics about real-life stories happening in his own neighbourhood. Take a look at his website to find comics filled with humour, vegetables (kohlrabi, anyone?), history, local awesomeness, farting dogs, and beautiful lettering. And did I mention he recently designed a local beer label - which just confirms to me that he'd be right at home in Ramsay.
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.
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.
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!
The latest comic strip about life in my quiet Calgary neighbourhood appears here, against the backdrop of a rising tide of world events that I'm struggling to keep up with. When I started writing comics about Ramsay, I didn't imagine that politics - local, to say nothing of global - would really ever be a big part of the story. But once again, I'm finding the line between the events on my own street, and the events "out there" in what my dad used to call the Great World, to be indistinguishable. It's all part of the same story.
When I drew this comic a week or two ago, I decided to write about an initiative launched recently by our Mayor Naheed Nenshi as part of Canada's 150th anniversary celebration (otherwise known as our sesquicentennial). You can read about "3 Things for Canada" in the comic strip below (and click on the link to see the website for this project. This is something you'll want to be part of!).
But right now "3 Things for Canada" feels like a small contribution to make, to a country that needs much more. Last night,six people were killed in a terrorist attack at a mosque in Quebec City.
Just prior to this tragic event, I had been heartened to see Canada's politicians, almost without exception, asserting Canada's commitment to a diverse and inclusive society, one that welcomes refugees regardless of faith or ethnicity, in contrast to Donald Trump's recent Executive Order. Here are just a couple of statements I was proud to see:
Today, after the tragic events in Quebec, the work of Canada's leaders becomes even more difficult. And this brings me back to Mayor Nenshi, whose response to the Quebec shootings can be read in full here:
My heart doesn’t break because I am Muslim.
And that brings us to 3 Things for Canada - three acts of service to our nation that can build bridges, heal, celebrate, and reaffirm what it means to be a Canadian today.
First, a little history about how this got started - with 3 Things for Calgary.
One thing you find out really fast by getting involved in your neighbourhood, is that there are lots of different opinions about everything. I love how, despite this, people can co-exist peacefully and respectfully, right next door to each other.
I've been proud to be part of this group of diverse and respectful people. And so I've really tried to keep my own two cents out of the Ramsay newsletter comic. Far be it from me, to foist my opinion on the neighbours, in a volunteer-run publication that is meant to keep us connected!
A couple of times, I couldn't resist raising issues that I felt were important, both to me personally, as well as to our community. Once, I wrote about how I couldn't find a house for sale that could accommodate a multigenerational living arrangement (this strip received more comments than any other I've written); and another time, I wrote about the importance of volunteering with our local School Council.
That's still what I want. But this month, I had to write about my fear of what's happening in the United States as the world watches the unprecedented period of "transition" following Donald Trump's presidential victory on November 8th , 2016.
I hope it might spark some conversations - maybe even motivate people to reach out, in their own networks, for answers to the questions they have. And if people think I'm absolutely wrong about my take on this - I hope those people will talk about it, think about it, do something about it, too! If neighbours are getting connected, my art is doing its job.
By the way, independent comics creators all over the world are using their medium to share stories about what's happening in America right now. Take a look at what Alison Bechdel is doing; Francoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman are putting together an important project too. (If you know about any other comics that are being written about this, I'd love to hear - especially if they're Canadian!)
"If you cannot be brave... be kind."
"You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind."
I have a few more thoughts about this, so look for another post very soon, with some ideas about what neighbours can do next. Until then: be kind, to yourself and to your neighbours, too.
For once, this wasn't a comic strip, but a sketch which I did with my son, as part of a school project with his Grade 3/4 class at Ramsay School. It made me think about how I used to sit and sketch all the time, and the fact that I never do that kind of thing anymore. I should! And maybe you'd like to give it a try, too - it sure teaches you to see things in your own neighbourhood that you might never notice, otherwise.
And as for our mystery location in the neighbourhood - I couldn't quite get the red marker on our spot, since we weren't located at a street address. Instead, we were in the park just to the west of Bellevue Avenue. Scroll in and find #1102 Bellevue Avenue - that's the house in my sketch.
I just finished a week of graphic recording with an amazing team of people working with Calgary communities to create a vision for the city's new Green Line - so, I've spent a whole week thinking about transit. So maybe that's why I had buses on my mind when writing this comic strip!
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