Tag Archives: CanCon


Over the past several months I’ve noticed that comics and graphic novels are becoming a significant part of my reading list. Part of me wants to argue that it’s not really reading at all, since it’s fun and I can get through a whole book in just a few hours. However that part of me usually gets stuffed into a dark closet by the other part, which is having a lot of fun discovering all this great work that only takes a few hours to read.

One of my favorite recent reads has been Hark! A Vagrant, a compilation of the best web comics by Kate Beaton. One of my favorite comics looks at the Brontë sisters. Brainy, witty, and starring many historical figures, I feel like if I was a comic, it would be this one. Dani, one of my MPub classmates, turned me on to the series. And then she went on to intern for Drawn and Quarterly, the book’s publisher!

Since 2004 I’ve been reading The Complete Peanuts, an ambitious series released by Fantagraphics in Seattle. They’re publishing two volumes a year (in May and November), each of which contains two years worth of Peanuts strips by Charles Schulz. I fell behind in reading the series for a couple of years while I had a stressful job and no downtime, but just a couple days ago I finished the most recent release, 1983-1984. One of the things I enjoy about reading the series is to see how the strip evolved over time—how characters were drawn differently in the early years, reading the first appearance of things closely associated with the strip (football, anyone?), and encountering really obscure characters like the kid named  555 95472 (“5” for short) or tennis rivals Molly Volley and Crybaby Boobie. Now and again the books also give just a glimmer of the immense amount of historical research that has gone into producing the series, and of course that fans the flames of my heart almost as much as Snoopy does.

Another delightful read recommended to me by my friend Dana was Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. This is another Drawn and Quarterly title, of course, it is exponentially easier for Canadians to get into North Korea than any American. In the book, Delisle offers up a travelogue that communicates his alienation while in North Korea, while he was almost never alone. He mediates on North Korean culture, pointing out amazing things—some that strike awe in the reader, some that leave us to chuckle. Reading this book showed me what I’d like to do with the Canada zine I’ve been quietly percolating about the last year—but given how poorly I draw, I suspect there will be no wildly popular Bookish Comics in my future. (Although I suppose if I could draw one thing and just recycle it, I’d be in business, like Dinosaur Comics.)

Here are a couple more random comics I’ve enjoyed quite a bit as of late. Today’s Sheldon Comics features an infographic about why novels are the size they are. An older comic that I’ve seen circulating around the internet quite a bit this week about lesser-known editing and proofreading marks was drawn by someone I know. And of course I love Roz Chast, who had a piece in The New Yorker this week about life before the internet.

Given all these great discoveries, I’ve also put Persepolis on hold at the library, and hope to do the same with The Zen of Steve Jobs, which I noticed earlier this week when inside a comic book shop.

It seems that many of my discoveries have been through recommendations by other people. So, reader, tell me: which comic do you think is worth a read?

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CanCon Review: The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

CanCon is the idea in Canada that a certain percentage of television/radio content needs to be Canadian in nature: either created by Canadian artists or about Canadian topics. Providing a few CanCon posts while I’m here seems only natural.

One message has been pounded into my head, daily, in my MPub classes: Canadians produce a lot of great artistic and cultural work. The irony is, now that I’m here and the deadlines are flying, I don’t get much of a chance to take it in.

An exception was last semester when we had a children’s book editor visit our editing class. She brought a bag full of children’s books to use on an exercise, and I was introduced to The Red Tree by Shaun Tan.

As soon as I laid eyes on the cover, I was sucked in and spent the next several minutes absorbing the book cover to cover. It’s surprisingly marketed as a children’s book, but it seemed to me to cut across boundaries of age. Both the art and typography are used in complex ways to tell the inner story of a little girl struggling with depression. She finds herself navigating a world that doesn’t make sense to her, feeling like she can’t communicate. (Fret not though, there is hope at the end!)

This is a fine example of Canadian literature that we rarely get exposed to in the US. But you don’t have to take my word for it!


Filed under books, Uncategorized

A Canadian’s View of US Involvement in Vietnam

Reading a book for one of my classes—a book about the Canadian publishing industry, incidentally—I came across this gem:

“The impact of the United States’ imperial bullying in its war in Vietnam must also be taken into account. For a country that claimed the moral upper hand, not only was the claim of protecting the free world from Communism in Vietnam highly tenuous, but the televised carnage and clearly desperate and vicious actions of the US Army also led many Canadians to thank fate or their preferred deity that they were born in or had immigrated to Canada. The determination throughout Canada to carve out a separate national identity was palpable.” (Source intentionally not named!)

These are probably the most scathing words I’ve heard about the US since I’ve been here. Except perhaps when the writer was discussing the US in class…and as the only US citizen in the room, I was a little uncomfortable in my seat.

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