The TradeWaiters 50: Live at VanCAF 2018: “How to Hook Your Friends on Comics”

Anyone can be a comics reader. That’s an oft-repeated theme on the TradeWaiters. And it became the guiding mantra of our first-ever LIVE episode, recorded at this year’s VanCAF. On “How to Hook Your Friends on Comics,” Jon, Jeff, Jam, and Jess will share four books that YOU can use to get more people reading comics, and offer some advice on what hooking someone on comics really means.

Our picks this week were:
the Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon books by Mo Willems
Bone by Jeff Smith
Yotsuba& by Kiyohiko Azuma
and Acme Novelty Library #18 by Chris Ware

Also mentioned in this episode:
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Li’l Abner by Al Capp
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Sparks by Ian Boothby and Nina Matsumoto
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Spiderman by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Quimby the Mouse by Chris Ware
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Hostage and Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
Feast for a King by Kosmicdream
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back adapted by Archie Goodwin, Al Williamson, & Carlos Garzon
Rick and Morty adapted by Marc Ellerby and C.J. Cannon
Steven Universe adapted by Jeremy Sorese and Coleman Engle
Home by Marc Michaud and Daniel Michaud
Super Late Bloomer by Julia Kaye
and Pegasus and Bellerophon by Anna Bron

And our own projects:
Phobos and Deimos by Jonathon Dalton
Crossroads by Jeff Ellis
It’s Okay to Sploot by Jam
and Liquid Shell by Jess Pollard

Music by Sleuth.

Our next episode will cover Fante Bukowski by Noah Van Sciver

You can also follow the TradeWaiters on Tumblr, Soundcloud, Twitter, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Ko-Fi.

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New Cloudscape Anthology: Life Finds a Way

We are Cloudscape are excited to announce the open call for submissions to our next comics anthology: Life Finds a Way. We will be accepting submissions between July 15th, 2018 and Sept. 31st, 2018. Production of the finished comics will take place between Oct. 1, 2018 and Mar. 30, 2019, and the final product will pay $50/page.

Have you ever wanted to know what happens to the people who survive the apocalypse?
Have you ever wondered where those survivors get their food?
How they rediscover old technologies or create new technology never seen before?
Have you ever wished apocalyptic fiction focused a little more on hope, and less on horror?

Life Finds a Way is a comic anthology about post-apocalyptic stories and the hope for tomorrow. Post-apocalyptic fiction as a genre is focused on the horror of humanity’s struggle to survive day-to-day in a shattered world, but rarely touches on the more human aspects of life after society as we know it has fallen. The Life Finds a Way anthology offers a breath of fresh air in the genre, focusing not on gritty realism and tragic misanthropy, but on the real human stories of love, family, courage, and hope despite the circumstances of a changed world.

This anthology will give artists and writers a chance to explore the ways in which people have protected, nurtured, and developed their new communities, as well as highlighting the adaptable resilience of humanity. This does not mean that everything has to be easy for our protagonists – the world has fallen apart, after all, and it will not be rebuilt in a single lifetime – but these stories should show that progress is possible, even if it is as small as tending a garden in an underground shelter. Life, after all, always finds a way.

For more information, visit the Life Finds a Way  page. We look forward to learning about your futures.

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A Chinese Life

Review by Matthew Nielsen

A Chinese Life, written by Li Kunwu & P. Ôtié and illustrated by Li, is a very large autobiography telling the story of both Li and the People’s Republic of China in the post-war period and beyond. At nearly 700 pages in length, this book is an extensive tome that serves as a powerful and surprising testament to the endurance, struggles, achievements, and troubles of Li, his family, and his neighbours.

In contrast to Shigeru Mizuki’s famous manga Showa, which tells both biography and history side-by-side, A Chinese Life is more focused on Li’s life and how history affected it. Because of this, China’s history as a whole isn’t really explore unless Li is in some way affected by it. So don’t expect a full history of China in the  latter half of 20th Century China, but instead of someone’s life in that immense system. Li is and always has been a loyal communist, and goes into details how he saw the world and communism at different stages in his life. He also discusses the various challenges and troubles experienced during his lifetime, ready to honestly express both support and criticism for various moments linked to the politics in his personal history.

Li’s artwork is quite stylised. You could call it non-uniform and somewhat liquidy. It’s very organic. Sometimes this makes it tricky to tell who is who, but usually it’s consistent and there’s a good use of names to clarify things.

I personally learn best through graphic novels, and found this graphic novel to be fascinating. Li is just one person among so many others, but his story is so much like the lives of many others that after reading a biography like this, I’d felt like I’d gotten to know a generation, a nation, and human life itself just a little bit better.

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The TradeWaiters 49: “The Witch Boy” by Molly Knox Ostertag

Get down with the magical commune. This episode Jon, Jess, Jeff, Jam, and Kaye read The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, and it was a universal favourite. The Witch Boy is a middle grade graphic novel about magic, gender roles, and defeating dragons. Our panelists also reveal their cat-sonas and talk about the Scholastic book order forms.

Also mentioned in this episode:
Strong Female Protagonist and The Hidden Witch, also by Molly Knox Ostertag, as well as Shattered Warrior drawn by Molly and written by Sharon Shinn, The Castoffs drawn by Molly and written by M.K. Reed and Brian Arthur Smith, and Star Vs. the Forces of Evil created by Daron Nefcy.
Baby Mouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Garfield by Jim Davis
Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
The Expanse created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
Never Alone by Upper One Games
Money Heist created by Álex Pina
The Vampire Diaries created by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
and Teen Wolf created by Jeff Davis

And our own projects:
Phobos and Deimos by Jonathon Dalton
Crossroads by Jeff Ellis
It’s Okay to Sploot by Jam
Lunar Maladies by kgros
and Liquid Shell by Jess Pollard

Music by Sleuth.

Our next episode will be our fiftieth anniversary edition, recorded live at VanCAF 2018!

You can also follow the TradeWaiters on Tumblr, Soundcloud, Twitter, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Ko-Fi.

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Chicken Soup & Goji Berries

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Chicken Soup & Goji Berries is written by Naomi Cui and illustrated by Janice Liu. It is a story about the Yang family, a Chinese immigrant family living in Canada, and the arrival of their grandmother (Nainai), who has come to live with them. Throughout the story we see family life and mini-adventures, focusing primarily on how the family interacts and learns from Nainai.

One of the most fascinating elements of this comic is the crossover and mixing of languages. Various characters use a mix of spoken English and Chinese; as stated in the ‘About this Book’ section of the print version, “many immigrant families in Canada communicate to each other in a combination of both English and their native language.” So whilst the children might address their parents in English, the parents would reply in Chinese, which is compellingly explored in Chicken Soup & Goji Berries.

In order to accurately portray what language is being spoken at what time, the comic by default shows written Chinese when characters are speaking Chinese, and written English when they are speaking English. On the web version, you can translate the Chinese to English by scrolling over the speech bubbles, and likewise you can translate the English to Chinese by scrolling over those sections. This creates a very natural and effective way of showing the cultural crossover, and I found it to be a new and enjoyable reading experience. Conversely, the print version accomplishes this effect by having the comic pages, which feature the default text, on the right-hand side of the page spread and then, on the left-hand side, the text is isolated over a white background (in the same location as before) but with the Chinese and English swapped/translated (as seen in the image included in this article). Whilst the print version’s reading experience isn’t as swift and fluid as the webcomic version, it’s still well done and doesn’t get in the way much at all of the reading experience.

This use of language plays an important role in seeing the problems that some characters can have with communication. For example, one chapter show the challenges involved with Nainai not knowing how to speak English, as well as Xinxin (the youngest child) having trouble speaking Chinese, as she is still in the process of learning the basics.

The artwork is fantastic, with delightful drawings overall and excellent character design that gives each individual a unique appearance without it being either jarring or over-the-top. The webcomic version has the first chapter in full-colour, and while the black & white (for print) and blue & white (for webcomic) pages are good, the full-colour pages are even better and I would enjoy seeing the whole comic that way. Likewise, I’d like to see even more of the story continued, as well as more examples of cultural crossover, challenges and potential conflict. But as it stands, for what it is, it’s a really good comic already.

The characters are very likable, the story has fun little surprises, and overall it’s a short but enjoyable journey of family members connecting with each other. I look forward to checking out more work from Cui and Liu in future. If you’re interested in seeing the comic for yourself, you can find it at http://www.chickensoupcomic.com/.

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Cloudscape at Commercial Drive Car Free Day on July 8th

Come join us for a SECOND Cloudzine featuring the works of Cloudscape and its members as well as some drawing activities for kids! July 8th is Commercial Drive’s Car Free Day. It lasts from noon to 7 pm and spans 15 blocks on Commercial Drive, ranging from Venables to North Grandview. It features amazing local artisans, musicians, community activities, delicious food, tons of entertainment and activities for all ages.

Learn more about this event at Car Free Vancouver: Commercial Drive and remember to stop by our booth when you get there.

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Thoreau at Walden

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino is a short biography of the writer Henry David Thoreau and his time spent writing in a secluded countryside home at Walden Pond. With only a small vegetable patch for him to grow what he needed for food, Thoreau spent the rest of his time writing, thinking, and observing nature.

Porcellino creates a calming, patient, and contemplative journey. His artwork, although very simplistic and stylized, works very well with the overall mood of the writing. There is very good pacing throughout, with pausing and silence playing powerful roles. At the end of the book is a detailed and helpful notes section, along with source references on Thoreau. It’s a short read, but it’s a good read and I recommend it.

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TGD2S Family Comic Jam & Barbecue at Cloudscape HQ

When: July 14th 12:00pm-3:00pm
Where: Cloudscape HQ, Memorial South Park Field House, 5955 Ross Street, Vancouver, BC

At the TGD2S Family Comic Jam & Barbecue, connect with other trans, gender diverse, and Two-Spirit families while participating in a fun-filled afternoon of comic art courtesy of Cloudscape Comics.  Children, youth and adults can socialize and roam freely among the multiple art stations. FREE BBQ and snacks provided, with vegan options available. Family means something different to everyone and we welcome ALL families who have a need/desire to connect with other TGD2S folks and resources!

Art stations will be facilitated by volunteer artists, including Sfe R. Monster, a Canadian queer artist who focuses on gender, queerness and genderqueerness in their work. Check out their work at http://www.sfemonster.com/. Other amazing artists in attendance include Oliver McTavish-Wisden, Emily Lampson, Kathleen Gros, and Christian Lett.

The field house has a capacity of 30 people, so we ask families to limit themselves to 5 participants each to include as many families as possible.

For more information, check out the TGD2S Family Comic Jam & Barbecue Facebook event, and you can learn about other events that day at the general TGD2S website.

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Last few days for the Kickstarter for Iron Circus’ new science fiction anthology

The latest graphic novel anthology by Iron Circus Comics is in the last few days of its Kickstarter. FTL, Y’all!: Tales From the Age of the $200 Warp Drive  is a collection of comic stories about an Earth where anyone and everyone has access to the stars! It features a wide variety of stories from numerous cartoonists, including Cloudscape president Jonathon Dalton.

Six months from now, detailed schematics anonymously uploaded to the Internet will describe, with absolute precision, how to build a faster-than-light engine for $200 in easily-available parts. Space travel will be instantly—and chaotically—democratized. The entire cosmos is suddenly within reach of all humankind, without organization, authority, or limitation.  This comics anthology is about what happens next. With 25 stories and over 350 pages of comics, FTL, Y’all! is one of Iron Circus Comics’ biggest anthologies ever. 

The Kickstarter closes this Friday, so if you want to buy a copy of this great new anthology, visit the FTL, Y’all Kickstarter soon.

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Mrs Weber’s Omnibus

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Mrs Weber’s Omnibus is a collection of comics written by Posy Simmonds for the British newspaper The Guardian. The comics themselves were usually simply known as “Posy” in the paper, and have also been previously released as multiple other, smaller collections, but here they are all in one big omnibus. However, the collection does not include other work by Simmonds, such as Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery, which are separate graphic novels. The comics focus on a range of characters, interconnected either with family ties, romantic relationships, and friendships. These characters (the “Heeps,” “Webers,” and “Wrights,” along with others) interconnect and meet up with each other often. Throughout the first three quarters of the omnibus, we slowly see these characters change and grow, but only somewhat and some of the time.

The main aspect of these comics that work so well is seeing the various discussions and conversations of the time period. Being written and set in the late 1970s through to the late 1980s, the families discuss and adjust to the changes of those time periods, and how they compare to the ideals they grew up with. During the last quarter of the book, we see a lot less of the families that featuring primarily throughout the rest of the collection, and instead see more of other characters, such as a grumpy writer J. D. Crouch. Thus, as a stand-alone book, it seems to have a lack of closure, but in the context of a long-running series, it doesn’t seem so strange.

Due to this nostalgia, it might seem that these stories would mostly appeal to British people, or more specifically, British people who were in their 30s-50s during the 1980s. However, even if you don’t fit these categories, it is interesting to take a glimpse into the everyday life and concerns for this group of people. You may be surprised to find how much you can connect with them, as well as all the things you were unfamiliar with, such as various dated idioms or long lost widespread concerns.

Most of the artwork is either in black and white, or black and white plus an additional colour like red, but there are a handful of colour pages here and there. It is a very thick and sizeable book. The page size is just right for the content, but the book thickness is a tad distressing and can lead to lots of potential damage when reading, so take caution. It’s the kind of book that seems to be best read on the table at home as opposed to on the go.

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