Colin's Comment

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chester Brown at the Writers and Readers Festival, Vancouver

Welp, I’m back… on Friday I went to the Writers and Readers Festival on Granville Island for “Worth a Thousand Words”, a talk being given by Barbara Reid and Chester Brown. The last time Chester was at the Writers and Readers Festival he was presenting a section of “Yummy Fur” where the head of Ronald Reagan appears on the head of a man’s penis, leading to a walk out by a school group from Abbotsford, B.C.‘s bible belt. I arrived, as usual, way too early, took a stroll… another lovely fall day in Vancouver. I was on the guest list (as “Cecilia Upton”) legitimately as press because I’m on the radio show, Inkstuds, but it still felt like sneaking in! I was shown to the “Reserved” section for the first time in my life, which was kind of creepy as the place filled up and I sat alone, but finally they opened up the “reserve” area for the latecomers. I’m beginning to think that reading is becoming a largely female pastime as I looked around the room and saw perhaps a half dozen men in the audience primarily populated by middle-aged women. Do boys read anymore, or has it become “totally gay”? Barbara Reid is a children’s illustrator and author, her books include “Subway Mouse” and “The Fox Walked Alone. The Illustrations are crafted in plasticine and are quite remarkable.

When Chester started his presentation on “Louis Riel” (with the use of an overhead projector) I figured I should take some notes, at least look like a proper newsman… the notes soon turned to doodles, birds mostly. Chester’s talk was illuminating, particularly how the drawing of Louis Riel changed over the series, under the influence of “Little Orphan Annie” creator Harold Grey the heads shrank and the bodies got bigger, so much so that he later went back and redrew the first third of the series to match the latter drawing style when he collected the series into a graphic novel. In Chester’s first drawings of Riel he had a big nose. He also showed some other work, a story about Huey Long that was to accompany an article in the New Yorker that was never published. He talked about the trouble he had with the art director and estate of Dylan Thomas when doing comic book covers for “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” which will be coming out from Penguin. After being interviewed (it was odd to see Chester being treated like a young readers author, if they could only see his other work I wonder what they’d say… of course Chester didn’t have an age group in mind when he wrote the book) and a question and answer session it was on to the book signing. Chester was generous with his time talking to his readers and sketching in their books. It turns out the woman sitting beside me during the presentation was “Gerbil”, a friend of Chester’s that appears in some of the autobiographical “Yummy Fur” stories! She lives in Vancouver now. We parted ways and I walked on the seawall as far as Spyglass Point but as Olympic construction has closed the seawall at Cambie I took an Aquabus to Science World and then walked home.

At war with the Turks!

I just had enough time for tea before I was picked up by Al and we drove out to Burnaby for the monthly meeting of my Trumpeter wargames club. I had a splendid time playing “Age of Reason“, 18th Centaury Austrians against Turks! The Austrian horse turned tail and withdrew when they saw the elite Turkish heavy cavalry coming at them in full armour (with barding) and lances, leaving my infantry brigade to stop them from rolling up the Austrian army’s flank. This I did rather well, when the cavalry charged I hit them with a thunderous volley from three batteries of artillery and a battalion of grenadiers inflicting over 50% casualties!

"You ain't No Dancer" #2 launch and comic jam

The next day was the book launch of “You Ain’t No Dancer” #2 at R/X Comics, which was packed as usual with the finest from the Vancouver comics scene. The monthly cartoonist jam at the Jolly Alderman afterwards was fun but not as productive as usual, never is after a signing. People just don’t seem to be in a drawing mood, or maybe it’s because they’ve already been drinking… it seemed quieter without Don King who was at a party. Don pissed is always good for a laugh. Anyway, had to get to bed at a reasonable hour (2AM) the Canzine West…

Canzine West #2 report

Ah, the second Canzine West. I didn’t make a great effort for this, only had one new mini-comic, after all those comics I released a month ago at Word Under The Street are still fairly fresh. Another nice day so I walked it carrying an impressive amount of stuff, backpack full of display units & tablecloth, pens & papers in my haversack, a portfolio stuffed with two CD cases I’ve converted to mini-comic display units with foam core and a granny cart full of over 100 comics titles! That’s TITLES, not books! They moved Canzine to the Welsh Hall so I have even further to walk, uphill! I ran into Tim the Poet outside, we went for brunch at a Vietnamese Pho place down the street. It takes me about an hour to set up. Fortunately the new venue is just as cramped and claustrophic as the time before. I was crammed between my table and a staircase in a chair that when I stood up tried to come with me. The tables were wider this time (at the first Canzine West I swear the tables were two feet wide!) and once they saw how much I’d brought they gave me a little more room… normally it 3 exhibitors to an eight foot table! I shared my table with a nice woman, a poet from Victoria, who thought I was funny… she gave me a loaf of bread. Near me was Don King, Phil, and some other cartoonists I know but it was so loud in there I couldn‘t hear them. Sometimes I couldn’t hear the customers, just wish they’d speak up! Nobody has a problem hearing me! It was busy, but for some reason not as busy as the first time and I made less money. The cramped conditions in the room meant that sometimes the customers couldn’t reach my table, I think it‘s a real problem! Now that they’re charging $5 at the door (that may have affected attendance) you’d think they could get a bigger hall. I swapped for some books, mostly with other cartoonists. By the 5th hour it was winding down, I was bored and tossing rolled up bits of green tape at Don… that maniac threw a magazine at me! Good thing he’s a bad shot! Then, all of a sudden, the crappy chair that had been punishing me all afternoon began to sink. Slowly, it buckled and I disappeared from view as I sank gently to the floor with my legs sticking out the front from underneath the tablecloth. When I could stop laughing I called out “I’m alright! Help!” The poet from Victoria pulled the table away so I could scramble to my feet, holding aloft in triumph the chair I had killed by sitting on it! I asked if I could take it home as a trophy, it was beyond repair, but they said no. This seemed to be a message to wrap things up so started slowly putting things away, the place was virtually packed up an hour early. I got a lift home from Jo Cook, I was grateful as I didn’t want to have to make the journey back… it was fun, but my back is still killing me…

6 Comments:

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Flashfink! said...

Wow! You sure have busy weekends!

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Colin's Comments said...

Sometime... for instance, this weekend I havn't got any plans so far, so I should be able to get a lot of work done! In theory... Fall always seems to be a busy time, like the world needs a cold blast to wake up from the torpid summer heat...

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger Flashfink! said...

You say you're going to get a lot of work done. Is that COMIC work? Can you fill us in on what will be coming from Upton Studios in the future? Us googly-eyed red monsters need to know!

 
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At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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The last time Chester was at the Writers and Readers Festival he was presenting a section of “Yummy Fur” where the head of Ronald Reagan appears on the head of a man’s penis, leading to a walk out by a school group from Abbotsford, B.C.‘s bible belt. I arrived, as usual, way too early, took a stroll… another lovely fall day in Vancouver.
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At 1:25 PM, Blogger Stivel Velasquez said...

The Festival is a celebration of the Musical, Enological, Visual and Culinary Arts, and brings together the best in the Pacific Northwest...international & local jazz artists, world-renowned wines, fine artists and delicious local cuisine in a 1st-class city: Vancouver, Washington!

 

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