Articles

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Swan Song – XS Noize

XS Noize’s Michael Barron gave a fantastic review of Cloudscape’s Swan Song anthology:

From its 12” by 12” size and with each story title contained inside a vinyl image; the connection to tangible and superb quality music is superb. Just this musical knowledge alone is blissful enlightenment; the stories will blow your mind…


For the love of music, creativity and motivation; this collection of stories by Swan Song by the Cloudscape Comics Society is an essential read for anyone galvanized by music.

For the full review, visit the XS Noize website.

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Cloudscape Comics featured in Langara Voice

Cloudscape Comics is featured in Langara College’s newspaper, the Voice:

“Cloudscape Comics Society has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the back room of a coffee shop, and is now a force to be reckoned with in Vancouver’s art scene….  A local comic artist who’s been with Cloudscape since 2016, James Brandi, said the society has been an invaluable resource for networking and meeting kindred spirits. ‘It’s the only thing like it in Vancouver, as far as I’ve been able to find,” Brandi said. “If you are involved in comics in Vancouver, you’ll end up going through there.'”

For more, check out Mandy Moon’s article “Cloudscape Comics Floats to a Bright Future at Fieldhouse.”

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Swan Song – Vancouver Sun

In the Vancouver Sun, Stuart Derdeyn reviews Swan Song, our music-themed anthology:

“The material is delightfully varied and explores music across all kinds of genres and touches on everything from science to cultural theory, sci-fi and fantasy and even some spores with killer harmonies…. Enjoy honest expressions of why Tegan and Sara are so important to so many (‘Tegan and Sara and Me’ by James Brandi) to Emily Cowan’s wonderful ‘The Sound of Silence,’ all about not really being into music much at all. That her work selects The Young Canadians’ ‘I Hate Music’ as a muse is all the better…. As an introduction to the collective’s output, Swan Song takes flight. It’s also a perfect seasonal gift for anyone with a penchant for graphic novels and/or music.”

For more, read Book Review: Swan Song.

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Hipira

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Hipira, written by Katsuhiro Otomo and illustrated by Shinji Kimura, is a charming children’s book about the adventures of a young vampire. Kimura’s artwork is vividly colourful, rich and finely painted. It is also stylised in a fantastic, crooked sort of way, somewhat reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas

The book is short, but the stories are appealing and fun, and a lot is achieved. It’s good for adults who can appreciate the art, and also good for the kids who want adventures.

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Feast of Fields – Broken Pencil

Jean Matthew reviews Sean Karemaker’s Feast of Fields in Broken Pencil #80:

“Autobiographical comics have never looked quite like Sean Karemaker’s Feast of Fields. The comic features wide, hand-drawn and intensely detailed black-and-white illustrations. Karemaker shares stories from his childhood, his time at school, and his evolving relationship with his mother…. The characters are constantly set as tiny figures in a large setting that span neighbourhoods, blocks, and intersections of an entire house…. Overall, Feast of Fields represents the deftness of a great writer and illustrator to translate highly personal anecdotes into a valuable reading experience. A truly great read and a promising start to this autobiographical comic series.”

For more, read “Feast of Fields Represents the Deftness of a Great Writer and Illustrator.”

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Last Look Trilogy

Review by Matthew Nielsen

The Last Look Trilogy (X’ed Out, The Hive and Sugar Skull) by Charles Burns follows a series of events and thoughts in the life of a young and somewhat unconventional artist named Doug, including his memories, fears, and ambitions. It is a surreal story in which the reader is taken back and forth between various points of a timeline, and even an alternate dreamworld. Reality and dreams are shown one after the other, and in which time and events are shuffled. As the story progresses, the mystery gradually dissolves, and by the end, all elements come together.

Burns makes several references to Tintin, such as the cover of X’ed Out bearing a striking resemblance to Tintin and the Shooting Star as well as evidence of Doug reading Nitnit comics in some panels. Burns also makes references to other comics, seen especially during the dream sequences in which the characters becomes stylized and drawn differently from the “real world” of the story.

Unlike the immense black and white intensity of Burns’ Black Hole graphic novel, the Last Look trilogy uses colour. However, Burns doesn’t hold back on detail, and there remain many strong and bold shadows. Burns’ approach to characters, especially the facial expressions (such as characters sometimes leaving their mouth open during a snapshot photo), adds a relatable kind of believability to the whole mixture.

All in all, if you’re interested in a surreal experience with timeline hopping and strong visuals, you might enjoy the Last Look trilogy.

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Arts Profile on Jeff Ellis by Langara College

Jeff Ellis is not only Cloudscape founder but also one of the main teachers at Langara College’s Graphic Novel program. This week he was profiled on the Langara College’s website:

“Jeff has been drawing comics for as long as he can remember, but his interest intensified in high school, when he became an avid comic reader and filled his notebooks with his favourite characters. In creating his own work, Jeff draws on real experience or anecdotes.

‘I try to bring a strong sense of character into my work,’ he says. ‘The better I know my characters, the easier it is to know what they would do or how they would react.’”

To read more, visit Arts Profile: Jeff Ellis on the Langara website.

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Swan Song – UBC Arts Report

Ashley Park on the Arts Report (on CiTR-FM, UBC’s radio station) talks about Swan Song, Cloudscape’s music-themed anthology. She discusses the anthology’s variety of topics, which stories stood out for her in particular, and each story approaches the themes differently. In particular, she enjoyed how each story was linked to a particular song.:

“It was so much fun because I would type [the song] on Youtube, and I would listen to the music, and then I would read the comic itself …. It was such a cool thing to do because… as artists we kind of have music on , just kind of zone out and go with the flow. You have sounds going on, but you are feeling the music and expressing it in its own way. So I like the sounds and the art going together.”

To listen to the full review go to Arts Report July 18, 2018.

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Hostage

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Hostage  by Guy Delisle is a graphic novel telling the story of Christophe André’s kidnapping and time spent as a hostage in Chechnya. A young Frenchman working for Doctors Without Borders, André was taken from his office and driven away to remote unknown locations.

Delisle provides a gripping story in capturing the immense expanses of time that André spends in solitude. As days and days go by, the reader is often left alone with André, his prison cell, and the thoughts that go through his mind.

The artwork is stylized and sketchy, but it works, especially with the minimalistic settings and interiors that feature prominently throughout stories like these. Even if the style isn’t immediately your cup of tea, give it a try for the story, and maybe it’ll grow on you. I quite enjoyed this book and found it to be memorable, inspiring, and overall an excellent graphic novel.

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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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