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A Smorgasbord of Influence

Hey there lovely 49th Shelf readers!

Author. Illustrator. And all around nice guy, Rob Justus here. I’ve been asked to put together a humble but mighty list of Canadian creators who influenced my work, but more specifically influenced me when I was writing (and drawing!), what I can only assume is your new favourite graphic novel, Death and Sparkles.

I draw inspiration from all over the place. From television and movies, to toys and video games, but these books and graphic novels just left such an imprint on me that their awesome story powers will seep into my work for the foreseeable future.

This list is pretty all over the place, but I’d argue that Death and Sparkles is a little all over the place too. It’s a little bit of something for everyone!

So without further adieu, here’s my list.

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Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton

What can I say that hasn’t been said about the comics in Hark! A Vagrant? Probably not much, I’m not that clever. Regardless, this book is absurd and hilarious. I don’t even know half of the historical people she refere …

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Time to Get Into Comics!

Canada is full of incredible talent and it’s an absolute smorgasbord when it comes to the comic book industry. We produce some of the most talented writers and artists in the industry! Because comics are collaborative, sometimes not everyone on the creative team is Canadian, so for this most excellent list (in my completely biased opinion), I’ll highlight some of my recent favourites for a wide variety of audiences. There’s something for everyone in this list, and I hope that if you’re reading this, that you’ll consider picking up or checking out at least one of them.

If you’ve never read a comic before, they aren’t scary, I promise! Now is a great time to start and learn all about a new medium that blends art and writing together beautifully. If you try comics out digitally, many apps such as hoopla and ComiXology offer Guided View technology which will help navigate you through the page. But with western comics (as opposed to manga), the rule of thumb is always read left to right, top to bottom with the panels as well as the word balloons. You’ll get the hang of it quickly!

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10 Mind-Bending Canadian Comics You Should Read, and Why

New motherhood is a kaleidoscopic wonderland in Shea Proulx's Alice at Naptime, a dreamy exploration of art and inspiration—and a truly "psychedelic" work of literature, like the other other books that Proulx includes in this recommended reading list.  

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Comedy, erotica and horror have been written off historically for being "low" art-forms, because of the hierarchy human beings place on all things "bodily" in nature, as opposed to acting solely on the "mind." Certain genres act on our bodies when we laugh, are aroused, or experience repulsion or fear. Comics could also could be considered a body-genre. When we look at drawings, we are able to trace the path of a person's action in our mind's eye, using the same sense we utilize to track our own body's movement through space, a sense called "proprioception." 

Drawings not only make clear the path of the body, but also the path of the mind, as text does, but differently from text. The world "psychedelic" is most associated with mind-altering substances, but the word breaks down from the Greek to mean "the mind...made clear." Works of art that show clearly the mental processes involved in thinking through a subject might also be described as psychedelic, especially when the subject is inexpressible in words—a …

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Farley Mowat, Comics, SciFi and Manitoba

Book Cover the Case of Windy Lake

Michael Hutchinson launches his middle grade Mighty Muskrats Mystery series with The Case of Windy Lake, the story of four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance... In this recommended reading list, Hutchinson shares other titles that have inspired him as a writer—and as a reader too. 

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Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat

My Dad may have read a little too much Farley Mowat and was always someone who wanted to get off the grid. We didn’t get to watch TV much and it was always just fuzzy CBC when we did. We read a lot! Farley Mowat’s books were a family favorite and books such as Lost in the Barrens and Curse of the Viking Grave were some of the first books I read. They also introduced me to the idea of books being the foundation for television or movies. I really enjoyed the book Never Cry Wolf and the movie that followed.

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It Happened in Canada, by Gordon Johnston

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The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen in Comic Book History

Book Cover Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen

Hope Nicholson's newest project is The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, an engaging and gorgeous catalogue of comic book heroines though the ages. Hope, author of The Secret Lives of Geek Girls and founder of Bedside Press, specializing in archival comics collections, is pretty spectacular herself, and we relished the opportunity to ask her a little more about this fascinating book. 

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49th Shelf: It seems like superwomen are having a moment, what with the success of Supergirl and the Jessica Jones series, the awesomeness of reboots like Ms. Marvel, and excitement about the forthcoming Wonder Woman film. But your book posits that there exists an incredible history of powerful female heroes that it lesser known. So what do you think is particular about what’s happening right now?

Hope Nicholson: I think there are a lot of great things happening right now for female characters! Definitely we've never had as intense a cross-platform saturation as exists today in this really overwhelming presence of comic-book-related TV shows and movies, and we are seeing more female characters pop up as leading characters in these programs. Another great thing that is happening is an awareness that we need a lot of female characters from many different walks of life, to con …

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Richard Rosenbaum

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Welcome to The Interruption, a 49th Shelf–Books on the Radio podcast in which I interview Canadian writers about the surprising things that inform, inspire, and even interrupt their creative process. The Interruption is now generously sponsored by The UBC Creative Writing Program, celebrating 50 years of excellence in creative writing. Programs include undergraduate minor and major degrees, Masters of Fine Arts in Vancouver or by distance education from anywhere in the world! For more information visit creativewriting.ubc.ca.

Today, I chat with Richard Rosenbaum, the author of Raise Some Shell: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (ECW Press, 2014). Here's what one reviewer (Vic Sage, at Retroist) had to say about the book:

"The highest praise I can give to Richard Rosenbaum is that while his book is quite educational and smartly written [it is] enormously humorous .... during my first read through I kept imagining the author and I sitting at a restaurant just chatting about characters that we loved very much .... He proudly announces in the first few pages …

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Canadian Comics for First Nations Schools: A Lit Wish from the One Tribe Anthology

ONE TRIBE LOGO

For the second year in row, we’ve been spending the holiday season making Lit Wish Lists—lists of books we want to give, books we want to get, books to read or reread. And all this thinking about Lit Wish Lists got us pondering the nature of the Lit Wish; what exactly might one of these look like? So we went exploring to find out, and came up with three excellent Lit Wishes worthy of coming true in 2014. This one is by writer/editor James Waley, the force behind the One Tribe Anthology project. 

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Chad Solomon - Rabbit and Bear Paws

Chad Solomon - Rabbit and Bear Paws

The One Tribe comic book anthology is a not-for-profit fundraiser production currently being assembled for release later in 2014, in association with the Canadian publisher known for reissuing the legendary Classics Illustrated comic book line, Jack Lake Productions

Like many of their superhero characters, Canadian comic book creators have a reputation for being caring, compassionate individuals with a strong sense of justice, and they have often answered the call for assistance regarding world crises. Art auct …

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Video: @BookMadam's Hands On Holiday Book Recommendations #GiveCDN #HolidayGift

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

This time of year, maybe it's the anticipation of mangling every gift-wrapped item, but I get excited about a hands on holiday. Perhaps it's because we carry more, cook more, put up more—put up with more—that I get a little giggly at the idea of myself as an elf in Santa's workshop—busy, busy, busy. True, in my vision, it's also a reality show in which the elf who finishes the most toys with grace and charm is crowned the winner. But, I digress.

Hands on, doesn't have to equal mad frenzy. Or a circular saw. Me? I like to colour. I like to sit down with a child—cue imaginary friend—and let rip. It's the perfect zen activity for someone who doesn't consider herself an artist. In Lynda Barry's book Picture This, she asks why it is that we don't consider colouring an art form when to sing another's work is still song. Is it all about the act of creation? Or is it about the impulse to use something other than words and language to express ourselves? And that a template is outlined for us has little to do with how we fill that space.

So, this holiday, when I have some time to myself, I'm going to take a colouring book to my favourite cafe, order myself the largest hot chocolate on the menu and bust out my crayo …

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