Embroidered Cancer Comic

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Embroidered Cancer Comic by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin is a short comic  (graphic novella?) that’s an autobiographical retelling of Elizabeth’s husband Bob being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The comic’s panels are entirely made up of embroidered line art illustrations, and whilst this artwork can appear somewhat unrefined, it still holds a charm and doesn’t get in the way of the reader connecting with the short, heavy story. The scene where the doctor breaks the news still moves me upon reflection.

If you’re interested in reading this comic for yourself, you can find it online at Embroidered Cancer Comic .


Kickstarter for “Halfsoul,” a fantasy-based graphic novel exploring mental health

For the month of May, SWKart is running a kickstarter for a graphic novel entitled Halfsoul, which deals with mental illness within a fantasy context. The story is set in a world where it’s possible to trade half of one’s soul for the power to grant one’s wish. Those who do become “halfsouls” and are often hunted for elimination. Follow the journey of four halfsoul hunters, with their own personal and questionable histories with halfsouls. What appears to be black and white becomes a story of vulnerability, mental illness, and recovery.

SWKart is run by Kelly Chen, who recently graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. When asked about her motivations for creating Halfsoul, she replied: “One of the things I’ve noticed is mental illness/ trauma stories tend to focus on the tragedy without much focus on the recovery. I don’t want Halfsoul to follow that path. It’s never a clear-cut journey to recovery, but I am trying to write the story with a focus towards recovery.”

To learn more about this compelling local graphic novel, visit the Halfsoul Kickstarter page.


The TradeWaiters 47: “Battle Angel Alita” Vol. 1 & 2 by Yukito Kishiro

It today’s episode Jam, Jeff, Jon, and Kaye read the first two volumes of Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro. Join us in the bleak, dystopian future of this nineties manga where robot bodies are cheap but freedom is not. Spoiler alert: one of the Tradewaiters didn’t like this book, and another doesn’t like movies.

Also, you are cordially invited to the LIVE recording of our fiftieth episode at VanCAF this weekend! Admission is free (and VanCAF is awesome), so come watch us talk about comics in person at 3:30 on May 19th in the panel room at VanCAF at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown, Vancouver.

Also mentioned in this episode:
Space Oddity and Aqua Knight, also by Yukito Kishiro.
Altered Carbon produced by Laeta Kalogridis
Dragon Ball Z by Akira Toriyama
The Wicked and the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin, George Perez, & Ron Lim
Serial Experiments Lain directed by Ryutaro Nakamura
The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson
and Eden’s Outcasts by John Matteson

And our own projects:
Phobos and Deimos by Jonathon Dalton
Crossroads by Jeff Ellis
Lunar Maladies by kgros
and Jam’s website

Music by Sleuth.

Our next episode will be on The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang.

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


The Lengths

Review by Matthew Nielsen

The Lengths by Howard Hardiman is graphic novel about Eddie, a young man from London who becomes a male escort under the alias “Ford.” Along with a separate name, he gets a second mobile phone to help keep his two lives apart. Not only does the story focus on his times as an escort, but also his personal life, such as with his friends and his boyfriend.

The art style is peculiar for two reasons. Firstly, there are rarely speech bubbles. Most of the dialogue is instead featured within the story’s on-going captions. However, the placement of the text usually works so that you know who is saying what. Secondly, all characters are portrayed as anthropomorphic dogs. It’s just a particular aesthetic, perhaps for the sake of keeping anonymity? Hardiman does a fantastic job of using a different dog breed for each character, and the whole dog-man thing is never brought up by the characters (nothing so blatant as “Oh, mate, I could proper murder a pack of Scooby Snacks, right now” or “My fur’s all messed up.”).

Overall I found the book quite peculiar, a tad jarring, but I kind of liked it. I wouldn’t call it “great” but I wouldn’t call it “bad” either. Have a think about it, and see if you’re up for giving this book a try.


Finding Cloudscape artists at VanCAF

The Vancouver Comic Arts Festival has released its floor plan so you can see where all the artist tables will be for 2018! Here’s where you’ll find various Cloudscape contributors:

Table Exhibitor Name Room
B4 Miriam Libicki Exhibition Hall
C8 Lindsay Ishiro Exhibition Hall
D7 Sfé R. Monster Exhibition Hall
D8 Abby Howard Exhibition Hall
D9 Jam (Wasted Talent) Exhibition Hall
D11 kgros Exhibition Hall
D11 James Brandi Exhibition Hall
E8 Gurukitty Studios Exhibition Hall
F1 Alina Pete Exhibition Hall
F2 Sam Logan Exhibition Hall
F3 & F4 Camilla d’Errico Exhibition Hall
F8 Jason Turner Exhibition Hall
G1 Cloudscape Comics Gym
G2 Hannah Lou Myers Gym
G2 Kris Sayer Gym
G3 Christian Haruki Lett Gym
H4 Jess Pollard Gym
H4 Simon Roy Gym
H7 Steve Rolston Gym
H9 Eric Zawadzki Gym
I2 Ian Boothby Gym
I2 Nina Matsumoto Gym
I3 Kathleen Jacques Gym
I6 Sean Karemaker Gym
 J11 Jonathon Dalton Gym
K5 Reetta Linjama Gym
K7 Renee Nault Gym
L12 Reb Erlik Lucky’s Lounge
N1 Lisa Lindsay Art Gym
N7 Yuriy Plisenko Gym
O1 Johnnie Christmas Gym
O5 Colin Upton Comics Gym
O7 Nemo Balkanski Gym


Vancouver Comics Art Festival 2018

It’s almost time for the Vancouver Comics Art Festival. VanCAF is Vancouver’s biggest celebration of independent and self-published comics, where numerous comic creators sell their graphic novels, create art, and discuss numerous elements of the comics medium. It is a wonderful way to connect to the local comics community and to meet all your favourite comics creators in person. Cloudscape always has its own booth at VanCAF, and many Cloudscape artists will have their table as well, including Alina Pete (Were Geek), Angela Melick (Wasted Talent), Colin Upton (Post-Modern Minicomics), Jonathon Dalton (Lords of Death & LifeMad Tea Party), Kathleen Gros (Last Night at Wyrmwood High), Kathleen Jacques (Band vs Band), Nina Matsumoto (Sparks, Simpsons), Simon Roy (Prophet, Tiger Lung), and Sean Karemaker (Feast of Fields). 



Project X Challengers: Seven Eleven

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Project X Challengers — Seven Eleven: The Miraculous Success of Japan’s 7-Eleven Stores is a non-fiction manga written by Tadashi Ikuta and illustrated by Naomi Kimura that chronicles the the ambitious founding of the Japanese 7-Eleven store. One may assume that this story is merely about an American 7-Eleven trying to plant its roots in Japan, but it’s more about people who discovered the 7-Eleven business format and decided to manage their own 7-Eleven company with the same template and business model, in exchange for a giving the original American company a portion of the Japanese company’s turnover. So what we’re dealing with is more of a new business startup than the mere expansion of an existing company. It’s almost like a different company with the same face.

In the manga we see the early days of the startup, when the main characters attempt to find a business model that can work well in Japan’s economy. Once the 7-Eleven format is discovered, negotiations with the company begin, but assistance (such as information and support) is very limited, much less than expected, and the Japanese company has to do a great deal of the work on their own.

This manga documents the struggles, challenges, and initial successes of the company in a fantastic display of overcoming the odds. On top of that, we explore a decent amount of the characters and their motivations, helping to move the narrative along. It makes a change from the interview-based documentaries we tend to see as videos. The art style gets the job done, rarely being sub-par, if at all. The graphic design for the products and posters used in the comic is sharp and detailed. The manga also provides a timeline at the end, not just of Japan’s 7-Eleven stores but also other relevant events in order to give context.

All in all, this book was informative and a lot more interesting than I assumed it was going to be. Give it a try. In the meantime, I’ll try and see if there are any more of these Project X Challengers books out there for me to read.


Sarah’s Scribbles

Review by Matthew Nielsen

There are numerous creative, witty, relatable and funny webcomics (collectively titled Sarah’s Scribbles) made by the illustrator Sarah Andersen. You may have come across them online many times or maybe you’ve never heard of them, bu if you like at least some of the first couple of her comics you read, you’re going to enjoy many more.

Andersen’s short comics usually take up just one page and contrast how things may seem in the mind versus how they seem in reality. The comics often deal with social anxiety, coping with adulthood and responsibilities, various societal pressures, and reacting to how various other people talk, interact, or behave overall. I have had a great deal of enjoyment out of reading these comics. As many of my friends can relate much more to them than I, by reading these comics, I have been able to better understand the mindsets of some of my comrades. It seems that sometimes the best way to explain a problem is not through words but by sharing a link to one of Andersen’s insightful comics.

There are multiple books that collect these short stories in printed form, including Adulthood is a Myth, Big Mushy Lump, and Herding Cats. Opening a random page on any of these will most likely make for a quick morale boost any day.

You can find Sarah’s Scribbles online at http://sarahcandersen.com/


Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is an autobiographical journey of the author’s relationship with food. Knisley has enthusiastic high quality food lovers for parents and has spent a great deal of time and family connections working in or around the kitchen, and the author provides a wise and experienced account of her interactions.

Knisley is able to deliver a powerful range of memories, including sight, taste, and smell — very richly portraying food and locations. Her life stories are interlaced with the occasional random facts and recipes, the latter of which add a high level of practicality to the book. Knisley enthusiastically tells her tales, not just with selected positive highlights, but also with an admirable degree of honesty. The art style is simple, stylized, and consistent, aside from extra detail where necessary. For example, there was one scene showing a very nicely drawn croissant to emphasize the taste, texture and smell. I quite like it!

If you’re up for a journey into and beyond the kitchen with friends and family along the way, told by a positive and energetic artist, then you might want to check this graphic novel out.