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Bishop Macdonell Library Anime / Manga / Comics Club visit (Guelph, ON) – December 20, 2017

We finished off our 2017 on a high note with a visit to the Bishop Macdonell Library Anime / Manga / Comics Club, our first non-classroom school visit! Invited by school librarian Heather Thelwell (who we met at the Guelph Book Bash back in October and purchased 10 copies of Issue #1 for the school library) it was an opportunity to discuss the comic (and comics in general) with comic fans (some of who had read Issue #1!) in a relaxed setting. The Club (made up of students from grades 9 to 12) even provided a sweet spread of snacks which was greatly appreciated. There’s a good chance we’ll return once Issue #2 is released in early 2018.

One observation we had was that the Club was 90% female. Back when Jason and I were in high school (the ’90s), there were no official school comics clubs and all comics-talk was generally male and superhero dominated. So being able to have a discussion about a variety of comic genres with a group of interested and engaged young women was an unexpected development that we’re fortunate to have been a part of.

Looking forward to more opportunities like these in 2018.

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WhitCAF (Whitby, ON) – November 18, 2017

This past weekend we exhibited at our first comics-specific event – WhitCAF, the Whitby Comic Arts Festival. Sponsored and hosted by the Whitby Public Library, this happened to be the inaugural edition of the event and featured a number of comics and art creators, both local and from across the Greater Toronto Area.

We had a great time talking Group of 7 (and comics in general) and I managed to get a bunch of my Christmas shopping done (there was an abundance of amazing products on offer and I scored awesome comics from creators J. Torres and Meaghan Carter for my niece and nephew, I also picked up Dan Collins’ Auroraman for myself).

Best of all, I was asked to participate in Saturday Afternoon Comic-toons alongside Torres (Teen Titans Go!) and Collins (Adventures of Lil’ Auroraman) in which we read our comics with help from an audience of kids and parents. Seeing Group of 7 turned into a live script reading was something else. I really hope to do it again in future.

Oh and I met an entire troop of Star Wars pilots and stormtroopers which was, of course, incredible. The costume detail was insane!

WhitCAF marked the end of our 2017 exhibiting but we plan to be at more events in 2018! Turns out there are CAFs across southern Ontario and we’re more than willing and able.

Until the next one – Chris

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Ontario Heritage Fairs Association AGM (Toronto, ON) – October 28, 2017

A few months back, we were asked to present the comic and related resources at the Ontario Heritage Fairs Association AGM. The Association “offers students the opportunity to explore the many aspects of their Canadian heritage in a dynamic learning environment and to present the results of their efforts in either French or English in a public exhibition” (stolen directly from the website). These kinds of presentations are invaluable to both Jason and I as there’s always an angle or lens or suggestion we hadn’t yet considered in terms of how best to develop and share the comic with scholastic audiences. Overall, the meeting was vigorous and engaging and yet again affirmed the value of using resources like Group of 7 in a classroom setting. If we can help start a conversation about Canadian history, we’re pleased to do so.

(don’t mind the photo, I should have hit the lights beforehand)

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Unionville High School visit (Markham, ON) – October 24, 2017

Our first high school visit! 

One thing very much leads to another with Group of 7. Case in point, last month we presented the comic to the history heads of the York Region District School Board. In that audience was Sara Faulkner, a history, political science and ELL (English Language Learner) teacher. Sara reached out to us about visiting her ELL class and conducting a workshop. We were obviously delighted to do so.

Until today, we had yet to present to a high school audience so Sara’s class at Unionville High School will now hold a special place in our hearts. Having delivered a series of G7 presentations over the past year, there’s a certain rhythm to our content and delivery but today, we added a few additional components including a live-reading (I was McCrae, Jason was Currie). Sara also introduced an element of critical thinking as we used the graphic text to make connections to Canada’s experience in the First World War including military uniform and dress, trench warfare and life on the home front.

We have always believed in the positive impact G7 can have in a classroom setting but finally seeing it in action was something else. Sara had used the comic to create an ELL-specific classroom resource and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Furthermore, using G7 as an ELL resource in general is a development we hadn’t anticipated but is most welcome and demonstrates the value of using comics in the classrooom in a variety of situations and for a diversity of audiences.

Our second high school visit can’t come soon enough!

(second photo taken by Sara Faulkner, Unionville High School, October 24, 2017)

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Vocamus Press 4th Annual Book Bash (Guelph, ON) – October 15, 2017

Guelph has been good to Group of 7. Local press jumped on the concept when it was first launched publicly in early 2017 and local businesses (The Dragon, Royal Cat Records) and institutions (Guelph Public Library, Guelph Civic Museum) have been keen to help spread the word by providing a space for our promo postcards. Our first school presentation was at Central Public School and our first signing was (again) at The Dragon. Suffice to say, John McCrae’s hometown has given us a great deal of support so we were thrilled to be included in this year’s Guelph Book Bash, a celebration of local authors, creators, books and publications organized by Vocamus Press, a local non-profit that promotes Guelph book culture. 

Any event that sells local craft beer (Wellington Brewery), falafels (Osmows) and is hosted right around the corner from my house has our stamp of approval. With any luck, as more issues are released over the next year, we’ll be invited back for the Book Bash’s 5th anniversary.