Bevan


Learn How to Write Comics at Langara College

Writing for Comics I & II are being offered again at Langara College, taught by Cloudscape board member and author Bevan Thomas. If you want to learn how to better write your own comics and graphic novels, tell an effective narrative, and properly balance the relationship between words and art, then sign-up for his classes at the Langara College Graphic Novels & Comix page. Classes are starting at the end of this month, but there is still time to register. We hope to see you there!

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Asterix & Obelix

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Asterix & Obelix, originally written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo is an iconic series of French comics about an indomitable Gaulish village at the edge of the Roman Empire in the year 50 BC. Despite Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, one village remains free of Roman influence, and this village is able to keep all invasions at bay due to their druid’s magic potion, which grants them superstrength. The main characters are the intelligent and nimble Gaulish warrior Asterix, and the powerful yet slow-witted Obelix, who permanently has the effects of the magic potion due to having fallen into the cauldron as a child. Though the series started off as a collaboration between writer Goscinny and artist Uderzo, when Goscinny eventually passed away, Uderzo took up the project solo. Uderzo retired in 2011, and now the project has been handed over to the author Jean-Yves Ferri and the illustrator Didier Conrad.

This series features all kinds of adventures, with roughly half the books being set in the Gaulish village as the Romans devise a new scheme to take it, and the other half being set abroad as the Gauls visit some other country. It is by no means historically accurate, with some adventures involving anachronisms such as the Vikings (the actual Viking age was several centuries later), but it is a good lot of fun all around with plenty of head-bashing and legionnaire-smashing along the way.

Aside from the delightful illustrations and designs provided by Uderzo, there’s also the abundance of verbal humor provided by Goscinny. The use of wordplay and cultural jokes is a big part of the series.This is usually well-translated into English, although sometimes the translations are tad too cheesy or obscure to quite hit the mark. Still, there are the classics. For example, all Gaulish men have names ending in “-ix,” such as the druid Getafix, the fishmonger Unhygenix, the old man of the village Geriatrix. Likewise, other cultures have their own sets of pun-styled names (such as the Viking names ending in “-af” or the Goths in “-ic”). There are also plenty of other little jokes, including how the Germanic Goths speak in a gothic typeface and Egyptians speak in hieroglyphics. By today’s standards, a few of the jokes may come off as rude, mean or even offensive, for example, the visual portrayal of African people. But for the most part, many of the jokes are harmless. Other jokes may be quite dated, such as the various references to the film “Cleopatra: from 1963.

For the best books, one should probably aim for the initial Goscinny/Uderzo collaborations. These include many notable adventures, such as Asterix the Legionary and Asterix in Britain. The Uderzo solo books are a bit more hit-and-miss. Some are very good, just as good as the original collaborations, but some are lacking, and some are downright jarring, such Asterix and the Falling Sky, which features aliens, including Superman lookalikes. There are also various compilation albums like Asterix and the Class Act and Asterix and Obelix: The Golden Book, which are a bit out of the norm. I do appreciate the later experimentation of Uderzo, but some of the experiments were disappointing. The Ferri/Conrad collaborations are quite new and therefore there are only three of them so far. Though I have not read the most recent album, the other two (Asterix and the Picts and Asterix and the Missing Scroll ) have been quite enjoyable to read. Not as good as the best Goscinny/Uderzo books but certainly better than the worst Uderzo-solo books.

On top of the comics, there are also several animated films (plus a couple of live-action ones). The first of the animated films, Asterix the Gaul, feels a bit like watching the Flintstones, but the films improve for the most part, with my favourite being The Twelve Tasks of Asterix. Oddly, the film Asterix and the Big Fight has two English dubs, one British and one American, and for some reason the American dub changes the characters, names such as the fishmonger being called “Fishstix” instead of “Unhygenix” (also Asterix is voiced by the guy who played Fonzie from Happy Days). Strange.

If you’re up for some ancient adventures in Gaul and abroad, with plenty of bashing and smashing and hilarious jokes and numerous puns, then Asterix & Obelix is a series I strongly recommend.

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“Faerie Fire” – an RPG bestiary featuring cloudscape contributors

If you are a fan of role-playing games or great monster art, then you should know that Faerie Fire has started its kickstarter. This is a Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition supplement masterminded by prominent Cloudscape contributor Shannon Campbell that explores the bizarre world of the fairies with numerous new monsters and magical items. Faerie Fire is inspired by the neon noir aesthetic of the late 80s, with a touch of Trapper Keeper, and a spot of 90s Lisa Frank thrown in for good measure. With magic reminiscent of neon lights and holograms, and a fey court full of glamour, the fairy wilds are filled with creatures dazzling and deadly in equal measure.

Faerie Fire features numerous artists who also have contributed to Cloudscape books, including Renee Nault, Nina Matsumoto, Sfe Monster, and Alina Pete. Part artbook, part bestiary, Faerie Fire is guaranteed to be a stunning addition to your bookshelf. To order it and various other great perks, go to the Faerie Fire Kickstarter page.

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Cloudscape Comics featured in Vancouver Metro

Our executive director, Oliver McTavish-Wisden, was interviewed in the Vancouver Metro, where he talks about Cloudscape’s history, our anthologies, Comics in Transit,  and Vancouver comics in general.

“From a graphic novel that explores Vancouver’s dystopian future to a series of oversized comics that expose transit users to the complexities of life as a refugee to Canada, more and more Vancouver artists are drawn to comics. Many see the art form as a way to explore social truths — and to build community….  The Cloudscape Comics Society continues to have an important influence on Vancouver’s emerging scene. A charity organization of independent comic book artists based in Metro Vancouver, they publish local BC comics and ‘foster a community where BC comic creators can network with each other while developing their craft and continuing to push the boundaries of the comic book medium.'”

To read more, visit “Vancouvering: Growing Comics Art Scene Draws Enthusiasts.”

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750 Years in Paris

Review by Matthew Nielsen

750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé is a unusual graphic novel:  a series of illustrations that depict a single point within the city of Paris that is shown again and again throughout different points in history. Starting from the 13th century, we are taken through medieval, imperial and eventually modern times. Among the scenes depicted are crusaders marching through the town, plague running rampant, conflict and war in the streets, and even events as recent as the “Je Suis Charlie” marches.

This unique graphic novel is without words, except for a caption showing the particular year each drawing is set in, as well as a collection of notes and dates at the end that briefly explains some of the events depicted in the illustrations. 750 Years in Paris may be a quick read, but the artwork and consist lives is great and Mahé provides a fine example of the ever-changing lives that cities lead.

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Vote for “Bones of the Coast” in the CanComicsWiki Award

Bones of the Coast is one of the finalists for the Canadian Indie Comic Book Wiki Award on the best Canadian-made indie comics of the year 2017. Do your part for Cloudscape and go to CanComics Wikie Awards Survey to vote for Bones. The poll ends on December 31st.  Then follow @cancomicswiki on Twitter or Instagram to see the winners announced in January.

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The final days of the “Swan Song” Kickstarter

The Swan Song Kickstarter ends on Saturday. This is Cloudscape’s last annual anthology edited by board members and voted on by the Cloudscape Comics membership, a process that has been a part of Cloudscape for 10 years! This anthology marks both our anniversary, and our departure from this particular publishing method, as we move onto a model that puts more opportunities and knowledge in the hands of BC creators.

If you are interested in supporting Cloudscape and making our last annual anthology an impressive one, we encourage you to buy a copy of Swan Song and other things from the Kickstarter’s various tiers.

For example, the deluxe version of Swan Song comes with fake band posters inspired by the various comics and designed by the great Kathleen Jacques of Band vs Band. We also have art commissions available, a pin featuring Cloudscape’s coat-of-arms, a complete library of old Cloudscape books, and many more . Check out the Swan Song Kickstarter while there’s still time!

from Hannah Myers’ “Booty Trap”

from Sfe Monster’s “Pier Music”

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Swan Song: “Out of the Blue Period” by Sleuth

If you like Swan Song, you’re probably a music fan. We are now offering a new tier in our Kickstarter. Along with the Swan Song soft cover you can get the vinyl album “Out of the Blue Period” from Sleuth, a great local indie band that just happens to include Oliver McTavish-Wisden, one of our contributors. In fact, you could call Sleuth the unofficial (official) band of Cloudscape, and they provided the music for our Kickstarter video.

You can listen to part of the album at Sleuth: Out of the Blue Period and purchase this tier on the Swan Song Kickstarter page. There’s only three days to go before the Kickstarter ends!

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Art Commissions now available in the Swan Song Kickstarter!

There are only four days left in the Swan Song Kickstarter, and we have new tiers available. You can now commission several of our contributors for new art, including Jeff Ellis (Teach English in JapanCrossroads), Simon Roy (Prophet, Tiger Lung), Jonathon Dalton (Mad Tea Party, Lords of Death & Life, Teach English in Japan), or Hannah Myers. Stop by the Swan Song Kickstarter to take advantage of this opportunity.

Jeff Ellis sample picture

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