The TradeWaiters 48: “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang

Listen in as Jon, Jess, Jeff, Jam, and Kaye read The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. This book is a stunning piece of cartooning and an instant classic. It’s a fairytale-esque historical drama about a genderfluid prince and his fashion designer slash muse slash confidante.

TradeWaiters episodes have been sparse in the last few months, which Jon would like to apologize for, so to make up for it for the next while episodes will be released every other week until we’re caught up.

Also mentioned in this episode:
Koko Be Good and White Snake, also by Jen Wang.
In Real Life by Corey Doctorow and Jen Wang
Flight edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Nancy by Olivia Jaimes
Set to Sea by Drew Weing
Super Late Bloomer by Julia Kaye
The Flinstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
and Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote

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 on The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag.

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


Sell your comics on the Cloudscape online store

Not only does our store feature numerous anthologies and graphic novels published by us, but we also sell other graphic novels by our members. We handle all the shipping for the books and only take 30% of the profits for the copies we sell. We already feature Wei Li’s Lotus Root Children and Jade McGilvray’s The Ambassador, but we’re always looking for more. If you are a BC artist interested in being featured on the Cloudscape store and think your work would be a good fit, contact us at [email protected]


Cloudscape at Main Street Car Free Day this Sunday

This Sunday, June 17, is Main Street’s Car Free Day, the biggest of Vancouver’s Car Free Day festivals. It lasts from noon to 7 pm and spans 21 blocks on Main Street, ranging from Broadway to 30th, and features 15 stages and mini festivals along the entire street. This is a fun, family-friendly event with kid-zones, skateboarders, funky artisan shops and popular food vendors. You can really taste the flavour of Main Street with extended patios from many restaurants.

Stop by Cloudscape’s book to see our first ever Cloudzine! We will be a special sales booth dedicated to the works of Cloudscape and its members, as well as numerous fun drawing activities for kids!

Learn more about this even at Car Free Vancouver: Main Street and we hope to see you there.


Cloudscape wants to publish your graphic novels

Remember, if you have a great idea for a new comic, then Cloudscape’s interested! We have already published a wide variety of books in numerous genres, everything from horror to children’s humour to fantasy to autobiography, and we’re always looking for more. If there’s a graphic novel you have written or a comics anthology you want to edit, visit our submission guidelines at to organize your pitch and send it our way.

Book of Hope

Review by Matthew Nielsen

The Book of Hope by Tommi Musturi follows the life, thoughts, memories, and daydreams of a middle-aged Finnish couple living in the countryside. It focuses initially on the husband but later features the wife as well.

The story feels slow but, at the same time, also like it’s happening over a long period of time. In a way, this does fit the mood of some people in the latter half or third of their lives spending time together in a peaceful, but also uneventful, countryside. The artwork in the book provides excellent examples of sequential comics illustration. Musturi has done a great job with the comics medium, and many pages could be extracted on their own as fine pieces of visual sequential art. The style itself is bold and consistent, reminiscent of various contemporary North American cartoons.

Though in the end I didn’t find the story that interesting, I greatly enjoyed the use of sequential art. The Book of Hope is a very good utility for art students, especially those in the fields of illustration and comics. As for storytelling, the graphic novel is good in some ways but could be better in others.


War Is Boring

Review by Matthew Nielsen

War Is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World’s Worst War Zones is a graphic novel memoir by David Axe and Matt Bors that follows elements of the war journalism career and life of David Axe. Though it is based on the webcomic of the same name, I have not read that, and so will just be discussing the graphic novel itself. The story takes place in many locations including Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, and even Somalia.

At first I expected an insightful telling of what it is to be a war journalist, as well as some history, background, and information related to the wars and other events in the locations that the story takes us to. However, we mostly focus on the thoughts and feelings of the main character, David, and less on the places that he’s reporting in or the situations he’s learning about. This results in a potentially more captivating form of storytelling that other comics journalism, such as the work of Joe Sacco. In most of Sacco’s journalistic comics, we are first given lots of information, either from interviews or historical documents, about the events he is researching. Then we are given a glimpse of the author’s emotions as well as the challenges that he experiences throughout his research. In War is Boring, however, we get very little information about anyone but the main character, which means we get a stronger connection to the main character himself.

Reviewing an autobiographical account can be tricky, because when we are judging the actions of the main character, at the same time we are judging the author. Autobiographies can be written in many ways, such as open and honest accounts that expose both positives and negatives, heavily biased accounts that warp and shape the story being told, and even limited accounts that only expose certain aspects of the author. War Is Boring is of the open and honest type. On one hand, I felt the focus on David’s negative traits made it hard for me to empathize much with him. On the other hand, I do respect Axe for being willing to depict the negative aspects of his account and opinions.

The artwork isn’t bad. The level of detail is consistent throughout. However, I feel something about the way the characters are drawn could have been better; they feel a tiny bit “off” to me. However, all in all, the art gets the job done fine.

In the end, I feel the book could have done with telling us a lot more about the locations and elements being researched. Also, throwing in more positive aspects about the main character, or at least discussing the actions in more detail, would have helped give the reader more empathy for the protagaonist. If people like Joe Sacco and Sarah Glidden can provide informative and captivating accounts of their journey, then surely others can too.


Two Cloudscape graphic novels nominated for Gene Day Award

We are excited to announce that two Cloudscape graphic novels, Fir Valley by Jason Turner and Feast of Fields by Sean Karemaker, have been nominated for the Gene Day Award for best Canadian self-published comic at the 2018 Joe Shusters. Check them out as well as the other great Canadian comics at the 2018 Joe Shuster Award nominations.


With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child

Review by Matthew Nielsen

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child by Keiko Tobe is a manga series about a mother, Sachiko, raising her autistic son, Hikaru, while also exploring the lives and challenges faced by the other family members and their friends. The story is what some would call “edutainment,” a mix of entertainment and education; not enough of one to be purely informative but not enough of the other to be purely for show, a mix of practicality and performance. An example of this is, while the story does have comedic and dramatic moments, there is also frequent dialogue that emphasizes awareness and facts regarding autism, even to the point where some elements feel like tiny PSAs. This is not necessarily bad, but it can feel a little jarring from a purely storytelling perspective. However, it also makes the story highly informative for the most part. The story has taught me many things. Not just about autism, but also about Japanese culture in general thanks to the culture/translation notes sections at the end of each book.

The volumes are quite down-to-earth and focus on relatable real life problems. From English volumes 1-8 we see Hikaru grow from a newborn baby into a junior high student. The growth is quite gradual and many obstacles must be overcome. As the series progresses and Hikaru matures, we begin to focus less on him as his problems either have already been addressed with counter-measures put in place, or we’ve already seen it all before. Instead, the narrative begins to look more on subplots of other characters, with their own potentially relatable issues.

Tobe has written an honest, informative and dedicated work. Many of the ideas on, not just autism, but parenthood in general, that are put forward in this journey, seem most agreeable and healthy. I’ve seen many parents, and children, who could have really done with a book like this in their life, if only they had the interest to read it and the knowledge of its existence. An interesting feature in With the Light is how Tobe deals with antagonists. Instead of them being designated simply as “villains,” the reader is often given the chance to see the antagonist’s point of view and motivations, and thus is able to empathize with their problems. The main characters work towards cooperation and many of the antagonists become either neutral parties or even allies in the journey.

As someone with Asperger’s syndrome, and someone who loves learning via comics, this book was ideal for me. It is perfect for anyone else out there who enjoys both manga and has a keen interest in learning about autism.  I truly learnt a lot about myself, as well as what my parents had to go through raising me, and also about my autistic peers. That is why it immensely saddened me when I found out, half way through English Volume 8, that Keiko Tobe passed away during the course of writing the series. I only realized it when I landed on the last completed chapter. It was followed by two very rough layout chapters, and the rest was bonus material. I am sure that if Tobe had been able to complete the manga, we would have seen Hikaru grow up to have become a productive working adult, but now that day shall never come. However, despite the series being unfinished, I still recommend With the Light to anyone interested in both comics and parenthood and in autism in general. I just wish Tobe could have stayed with us longer and had the opportunity to tell us even more wonderful stories. Thank you very much, Keiko Tobe, for the journeys you gave the world.


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.