Thursday, 12 September 2013

Is this the earliest example of Jack Chick's career in comics ?

This might be the strangest, odd-ball find I've seen in a while - and I've seen my share. While poring through a collection of old Maclean's magazines that he recently acquired, cartoonist Seth came across this gag cartoon from the May 15, 1949 issue that looks to be done by none other than Jack Chick! Yes, that Jack Chick - now better known as Jack T. Chick, he of the notorious fire-and-brimstone Baptist comics.

Check it out.

That's definitely his name in the lower left-hand corner:

Sure, it's a pretty pedestrian gag , but if it's actually from the pen of Chick it casts some overdue light on his mysterious career: primarily that he was a published (secular) cartoonist 64 years ago. From what we know, Chick drew as a child and underwent his pivotal religious conversion after the Second World War thanks to his new bride, a Canadian-immigrant he met in Pasadena, California named Lola Lynn Priddle. Apparently she was very religious and during a visit to her family's home introduced him to a popular evangelical radio show from Charles E. Fuller that was responsible for flipping the God switch in his head.

The couple settled in El Monte, California where he got a job as a technical illustrator for an aerospace company. According to Wikipedia, he was too shy to evangelize to people directly so turned to comics in the 1950s after learning that the Communist Party of China had used comic tracts to gain influence among Chinese workers and labourers. He self-published his first tract in 1960, and established Chick Publications in 1970. The story since then involves a steady, relentless stream of freaky, reactionary (yet highly influential) tracts, comics and assorted material. But I've never read anything about his comics career prior to his religious conversion -- i guess until now.

Chick married Priddle in 1948: a year before this cartoon was published in Maclean's, one of two marquee venues for cartoonists of the day. Is it possible that Chick, then an illustrator/nascent cartoonist, was pointed in the direction of Maclean's by his new Canadian wife? Who knows. If anybody else has insight into this cartoon, and this period of Chick's comics career, I'd love to hear about it.

Jack T. Chick

Many thanks to Seth for alerting me to this.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

One more and it's a trend: Another letter-themed blog by a cartoonist

What are the chances? After blogging the other day about the letter-themed Tumblr by Julie Doucet and Simon Bosse, I came across a Tumblr by Geneviève Castrée dedicated to her love of stamps. A cartoonist and philately nerd: does it get any better?

The site is called Perdus dans la poste (Lost in the mail) and is a joy to scroll through. I am shocked how emotional I got looking at some of these stamps.

(Raymond Briggs)

(I collected stamps as a kid in Ottawa, and remember the above ones very well.) 

As Castrée writes the site was inspired by the slow decline of the US Postal Service (where she lives). As she puts it:

"When was the last time you wrote a letter? The last time you licked a stamp?
Some will say that we need to modernize, that we don’t need what is physical, what is paper anymore. 
Well, honestly, if that is how you feel I find you to be heartless.  A properly functioning national mail delivery service is what I call CIVILIZATION."

I can go with that. More below.      


Monday, 25 March 2013

Postcards from the edge: Julie Doucet is posting her old letters online

This was a fun thing I stumbled across the other day: it's called POBox Archives, a Tumblr joint effort between Julie Doucet and Simon Bosse (a talented Quebec cartoonist). Most of them are from fans or other cartoonists, and harken back to the early 90s hey-day of Doucet's Dirty Plotte fame, which she has gone to great lengths to distance herself from in the 20 odd years since. 

There's a ton of fun stuff here, including postcards to Simon from Marc Bell (below), and one to Julie Doucet from cartoonist Jean-Christophe Menu from the early 90s, when he was about to establish the influential comics house L'Association.  

Then there's one from controversy-magnet Mike Diana c. 1995, which was written on the back of a form letter from Jack Daniels. Gotta check that one out. Here's the front:

It's only been up and running a couple of months, but I look forward to this weird peek into the past. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sing it from the rooftops! The 2013 Doug Wright Awards are here!

Well, the nominees anyway. The ceremony is May 11.

2013 Doug Wright Award for Best Book are:
·         Lose #4 by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
·         By This Shall You Know Him by Jesse Jacobs (Koyama Press)
·         The Song of Roland by Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
·         Pope Hats #3 by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
·         Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest (Koyama Press)

2013 Doug Wright Spotlight Award (a.k.a. “The Nipper”) which recognizes Canadian cartooning talents worthy of wider recognition are
·         Nina Bunjevac for Heartless (Conundrum Press)
·         Brandon Graham for King City (Image Comics)
·         Patrick Kyle for Black Mass, Distance Mover, Wowee Zonk #4
·         George Walker for The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson (The Porcupine’s Quill)
·         Eric Kostiuk Williams for Hungry Bottom Comics

2013 Pigskin Peters Award, which recognizes the best in experimental or avant-garde comics
·         Hamilton Illustrated by David Collier (Wolsak & Wynn)
·         Hellberta #2 and "Sir Softly" from š! #12, by Michael Comeau
·         Michael DeForge, Larry Eisenstein, Jesse Jacobs, Mark Laliberte (editor), Marc Ngui, Ethan Rilly, Tin Can Forest and Magda Trzaski from 4PANEL, a special comics features in Carousel Magazine #28, 29
·         Ginette Lapalme for "So, what should we do with ourselves?..." from Wowee Zonk #4 and  "Little Stump" in š! #12 


And the late great Albert Chartier will be our inductee into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame. He's great, and really needs to experience a Doug Wright-styled renaissance. So why not now? Oh - and the jury is going to move to Montreal this year -- more on that later.

Here's the poster done by 2012 DWA Spotlight winner, Ethan Rilly.  More event info over at the DWA blog.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Exploring the 'fourth sex'

The latest issue of University Affairs includes a feature I wrote on Dr. Tony Bogaert, a University of Brock sexologist who has become something of a hero for the fastly emerging asexual pride movement in North America and beyond. (There he is below, standing in front of the asexual pride colours.)

I have to admit I knew nothing about asexuals or the asexuality pride movement when I was asked by UA to write the piece. In fact, I scoffed a bit internally at the very notion of asexuals as a new "fourth sex" in addition to heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals. 


But after reading Bogaert's smart, snappy book on the subject, Understanding Asexuality, I became increasingly convinced. As Bogaert states, the idea of people who are completely uninterested in sexual activity poses a threat to our hyper-sexualized culture. Even Dan Savage, the gay journalist and political advocate, has been slow to accept asexuals as a legitimate sex, laughing of the asexual pride movement that has sprung up over the past half-decade. 

But as Bogaert points out, for two-thirds of natural history asexual reproduction was actually the norm: sexual reproduction is only believed to have begun about 1.2 billion years ago (among some very unsexy organisms called eukaryotes). Today, many asexuals are standing up, in public and on popular asexual websites like the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network. 

Last year Tim Gunn, former host of Project Runway, came out as asexual in a move that instantly forced the topic of asexuality -- and Bogaert's body of research -- into the spotlight. As you'll see if you read my piece, the issue is a surprisingly sensitive one that poses a host of social and political ramifications.

Go check it out, and let me know what you think.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Nipper 1967 - 1968

After a bit of a delay I'm happy to report that Drawn and Quarterly has just released Nipper 1967-1968, the third in their series of reprints of classic Doug Wright comics. If D&Q's head honcho Chris Oliveros is to be believed, this latest volume of "Canada's Peanuts" is sure to fly off the shelf in Tokyo where they recently sold out of their Nipper stock at a comics convention in a couple of hours.

But the real reason I mention it here is because I contributed an introduction to the new book which offers up some historical perspective and perhaps insight into Wright's creative process at the time.   

As well, D&Q fills us in on news from the recent grand opening of Doug Wright Park in Burlington, Ontario. Phyllis Wright and her three boys were on hand, as was Seth. Photos over on the company blog.