Vocamus Press Writers’ Community Genre Fiction Group presentation at McLaughlin Library (Guelph, ON) – March 3, 2019

Thanks so much to the Genre Fiction Group for the invitation to discuss writing comic books, historical inspiration and self-publishing today. You gave me 20 minutes and in classic me fashion, I spoke for an hour and a half. But to be fair, I did check in more than once and no-one seemed bothered about the time spent talking Group of 7 or the hero’s journey or pacing or story structure or archives or reddit or the evocative and emotional nature of history. Community groups (whether fiction writers or comic book creators) are such necessary cogs in their related machines, providing spaces for support, expertise, insight and sharing. Thanks for including me in yours today.

Vocamus Press 5th Annual Book Bash (Guelph, ON) – October 14, 2018

This was our second Book Bash go-around and this show is always a great time. I get to walk from my house and talk comics with locals on a leisurely Sunday accompanied by Wellington Brew and shawarma. Can’t go wrong. For two years running we’ve been the only comic book on offer amongst a sea of local releases. Some repeat customers came by to pick up Issue #2 while I had the opportunity to support the creative endeavours of others who have supported our book. Good people. Good event.

The Dragon 20th Anniversary mini-con (Guelph, ON) – September 15, 2018

Jason took the reins solo at this event to help celebrate The Dragon, it’s excellent employees and amazing owners, Jenn and Robert Haines. Perhaps the highlight was hanging out with new friends (and incredibly talented local illustrators and creators) Scott Chantler, Jay Stephens, Nick Craine and Scott Mooney. Good eggs, all of them and you should buy their stuff. Jason also sold two posters (our first!) to local Group of 7 fan Robert and found time to ink (with a brush assist from Chantler) A few pages of Group of 7 #3.

ETCH 2018 Book Launch (Guelph, ON) – June 2, 2018

We can’t seem to stay away from Vocamus Press OR the Guelph Public Library. Earlier this year, Jason and I ran a workshop through Vocamus for teen storytellers at the library, so to be invited to the launch of anthology of teen storytelling (which includes a submission from one of our workshopees!) was a lovely gesture and we were honoured to participate. The mere fact that these storytellers have started their work decades before us (we were clearly doing other things in high school) is so impressive and the packed library of family, friends and supporters was an inspiring sight.

Meet the Makers: From Cartooning and Comic Books to Graphic Novels, A Catalyst for Change (Guelph, ON) – May 30, 2018

This was a real treat. An opportunity to take part on a panel with some of our favourite people (and creators) and share thoughts on our work and comics in general. Hosted by the Friends of the Guelph Public Library and moderated by Jenn Haines, owner of The Dragon, the panel included multiple Eisner nominee Scott Chantler, cartoonist Brian Fray and us. In front of a full house at the Guelph Public Library, we joked and swapped stories about what inspires us to work in comic books and cartooning, discussed our favourite examples of the medium and even lay bare some of our more embarrassing moments. It was an amazing night and we couldn’t have asked for better panel-mates. Post-panel beers (and further comic book conversations) at The Albion capped the event off beautifully.

Kazoo Print Expo (Guelph, ON) – April 14, 2018

Despite terrible weather (it snowed AND hailed), we had a wonderful time exhibiting at the Kazoo Print Expo. Apparently even the worst weather won’t keep Guelphites from checking out and supporting local arts (sidebar – I love this city). We met a whack of great folks, picked up some amazing product and drank some delicious Kazoo Fest beer (specially brewed by Wellington Brewery). We also debuted our new banner and signed Issue #2 for a fan who explicitly visited us (and the Print Expo) for that one specific reason. Made our day. At my request, Jason even drew Hourman for me! Hourman! The hero whose powers last for an hour! And only an hour!

Vocamus Press Teen Writing Workshop (Guelph, ON) – February 2, 2018

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of running a story writing workshop for teens at the Guelph Public Library. Sponsored by local book advocates Vocamus Press, the workshop had a fairly broad scope (see below) so we focused on what we knew and what we’ve learned over the process of creating and releasing Group of 7. As for our expectations, we weren’t sure how many would show up (five did – on their PD Day no less!) or what they wanted to get out of hearing two middle-age new-ish story creators talk about Star Wars, Margaret Atwood, mythologist Joseph Campbell, comic books, character development and plot devices. We asked each to pitch us their story ideas (which ranged from personal stories of struggle to dystopian sci-fi thrillers) and then discussed some techniques the writer could use to move their idea forward. By workshop’s end, the participants were noticeably more comfortable talking about their stories with us (then they had been at the beginning) and each other (it didn’t appear any of the five knew each other previously). The workshop ended with the group recommending stories / films / shows to each other based on which story interests were shared in the workshop.

“You haven’t seen the Goonies yet?!” 😮

So far, Group of 7 has taken us to elementary schools, high schools, comic clubs and now library workshops. Wild ride. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Centenary of the death of Lt. Col. John McCrae at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Guelph, ON) – January 28, 2018

We were honoured to participate in the commemoration of the centenary of the death of Lt. Col. John McCrae at his hometown family church today. On January 28, 1918 McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis at No. 14 British General Hospital in Wimereux, France. He was buried the next day in Wimereux Communal Cemetery with full military honours. General Arthur Currie was in attendance and McCrae’s horse Bonfire was part of the funeral procession.

John’s father David was an elder of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (the limestone building below opened in 1858) and superintendent of the Sunday School. To this day, a pew in the church has a plaque indicating where the McCrae family sat.

This comic book continues to involve us in scenarios and situations we couldn’t possibly have imagined four years ago when Jason and I first discussed the idea. Today was altogether amazing and humbling. Definitely the first time the comic has A) been featured in a religious program and B) given a shout out during a religious service.

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.