At WhitCAF, Jason and I met John Swinimer, the main guy over at True North Country Comics. John’s a big fan and supporter of Canadian comics, creators and publishers and asked us for an interview. Hear the results here.
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
As of today (really as of mere seconds ago) you can now buy Issue #1 at West End Comics in Toronto! So WHAT are you waiting FOR? Get thee to Parkdale!
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)
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)
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.
We came. We sold comics. We ate homemade breakfast sandwiches. We sweat buckets.
Our first experience officially exhibiting the comic was truly memorable. On the hottest day of the year, we set up shop between a jewelry artist and a homemade greeting card creator and got down to the business of introducing shoppers to the wild world of Group of 7. Special shout out to Jason’s dad Stan, who lent us his tent without which we would have been extra crispy by day’s end and Pamela and Kaleigh, the organizers of the Perth Pop-Up Market. We felt so welcomed and supported!
Today, Jason and I travelled to Newmarket to present the comic to the History Heads of the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) and facilitate a discussion about its application in secondary school classrooms. It was a very positive and productive meeting with both sides suggesting possible avenues for student exploration including: history, art, ESL and critical thinking. One suggestion that we hadn’t thought of was translating the book into French, which now is something that’s on the radar.
Jason and I were always aware of the educational potential of Group of 7 but today’s meeting really brought that home. At the end of it, our 15 minute presentation had evolved into a 30 minute discussion and we had a number of requests for running comic-related classroom workshops across the region – a most welcome development. Looking forward to launching our first workshop sometime this Fall!
The in-store retail train just keeps on a-chugging. Issue #1 is NOW AVAILABLE on the shelves at Cyber City Comix in the north end of Toronto (Steeles and Bathurst). Big thanks to Darryl at Cyber City for making this happen!