Updated Canadian Webcomics list!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but I’ve finally completed the update for our list of Canadian Webcomics. Thanks to everyone who’s been sending links, rest assured that future updates will be far more immediate. There’s some phenomenal work in there from great Canadian artists and writers. If you’re Canadian and have a webcomic or are a fan of one that’s not on the list already, please send an email to andrew@joeshusterawards.com and I’ll update accordingly. Enjoy!

Check out the list here!

Is 442 Bloor Street West the new home of the Silver Snail? (updated)

Photo by Aaron Lynett/The National Post * The Silver Snail comic book store on Queen Street West in Toronto.

Victor Ferreira of the Toronto Standard suggests strongly in his December 8th article that it will be. Guess we’ll have to wait and see…

442 Bloor Street West – Google Maps. Located at the NW corner of Bloor St. West and Howland Ave. Home of “The Futon Store”.

If this is the case, and Victor is correct – then the Silver Snail would be moving into what is  likely the most comics-centric neighbourhood in the country:

* as it will be 1.5 blocks west of The Labyrinth at 386 Bloor St. West

* and directly across the street from the Labyrinth is BMV Books (which has a devoted 3rd floor for comics) at 471 Bloor Street West

* it will be one block north and two blocks east of Little Island Comics at 742 Bathurst Street.

* and finally, will be one block north and three blocks east of The Beguiling at 601 Markham Street

*** UPDATE *** Sunday, January 8th.

A quick visit to the location and the Futon Store looks about the same as it always has. No indication that it will be closing or relocating. It’s a nice corner lot with large loading bays, but if it’s moving out so the Snail can move in, it certainly doesn’t look like it will be happening any time soon.

Dragon Lady follow-up

LINK ROUND-UP:
The End of an Era: Toronto’s Dragon Lady Comics to Close in Early 2012
Igor Bonifacic, for BlogTO
Laura Godfrey, for the Torontoist
David Graham, for The Toronto Star
Bryan Munn, for Sequential Spiltink
Sue Carter Flinn, for Quill and Quire
Rich Johnston, for Bleeding Cool

UPDATE: Official closing date is February 1st (although manager Joe Kilmartin reports that the pull file customers should be able to get the product they ordered until Sunday, February 5th and they’ll be informed about how and where they can pick the items up directly for later that month.

***********

Rising rent and renovations (i.e. public works and street repairs).

That’s what hurt Dragon Lady in the long run, and it’s a problem facing many independent businesses in Toronto.

Renovations: for many years College Street was ripped up while repairs were made to to the streetcar line — that meant fewer cars driving by, no parking for them, and very little street traffic. Many businesses along the College Street West stretch were impacted negatively, including Dragon Lady.

Rent: recent changes in legislation have increased property taxes in the downtown core and those dramatic increases have resulted in building owners introducing unreasonable rent hikes. Dragon Lady’s rent was raised a whopping 25% last July, and the increase ate dramatically into their profit margin, ultimately it was this that was the deciding factor for owner John Biernat.

Rent increases only affected a few of the major GTA comic retailer storefronts. Stores like Silver Snail and Paradise Comics have benefited from also owning the buildings they operate out of, so their rents are not an issue (just the property tax hikes), although when Silver Snail moves to a new location this spring it will probably be renting space (unless they get financing to buy a building up front), but any arrangement they negotiate will take into account the rent and property tax increases.

The Beguiling is located in Mirvisch Village, and some of the rent is subsidized.

The only downtown Toronto store I can think of in a similar situation as Dragon Lady is One Million Comics, but they have a strong and diversified business (not only new comics, back issues and books, but also Anime/Manga and a large assortment of collectible statues and toys), and are also located on the subway line and right on Yonge Street. They have a regular, uninterrupted flow of automobile and foot traffic. One Million has not been mentioned by the various reports on the scene that have been popping up in the wake of the story we broke here at the JSA blog, but they are a successful comics retailer with a rental store front.

It’s really unfortunate, as College Street West is really quite a strong hub for Toronto’s creative community. The Royal Academy of Illustration and Design studio (which includes Andy Belanger, Francis Manapul, Ramon Perez, Scott Hepburn, Willow Dawson, Marcus To, Ian Herring and joining in 2012 – Ken Lashley), as well as the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop (who feature Ty Templeton, Leonard Kirk, Eric Kim, Dave Ross, Dave Lapp and other creators as teachers) are both located within spitting distance of the Dragon Lady Comics location.

Today, there’s a Toronto Star article (link above) about the Dragon Lady (and Book Mart) closings with some quotes from me in it, but for the sake of clarity, here’s the full statement I gave reporter David Graham:

Comic book shops, like independent book and music stores, are outlets for members of our community to congregate and wax poetic, but they are also businesses that require our frequent support and a regular turnover of merchandise. Dragon Lady’s closing definitely affects most of us in the Toronto comics community because the store and the people that work there have had an impact on collectors, readers, creators and even other retailers for over 30 years.

I fondly remember going to the Queen Street location a lot when I was a teenager collecting back issues in the 1980’s, and it was just a few weeks ago that I was there chatting about industry changes with manager Joe Kilmartin, but Dragon Lady is representative of the type of retailer that has been most affected by the changes in comics reading and purchasing habits. Stores don’t sell back issues like they once did, and at Dragon Lady back issues were their main selling point. It looked like a store from 1982, not 2012.

Dragon Lady’s owner is a great guy and someone I’ve always respected, but he resisted adapting the store over the years to meet the needs of the customers and the recommendations of his staff, something that other Toronto comics retail outlets like the Silver Snail and The Beguiling continue to do successfully.


Kevin Boyd
is the current director and a co-founder of the Joe Shuster Awards for Canadian Comic Book Creators. He is also the Canadian Comic Book Guest and Comics Programming Coordinator for Fan Expo Canada, Fan Expo Vancouver and the Toronto ComiCon, and is an Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Adviser.

Retailer Roundup – July to December 2011 – the Mega Roundup – East Coast Edition

The preoccupations of life, mainly the arrival of my first child, resulted in a break from the day-to-day duties of running the Joe Shuster Awards (big thanks to Kevin for picking up the slack!).

Harry Kremer

But it’s now 2012 and time to start thinking about the Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer, and begin the process of coming up with potential nominees. This award is open to input from all members of the general public, including retailers, so if you would like your shop of choice to be considered for the award, please send an email to retailers@joeshusterawards.com.

(Note: please see yesterday’s note re: eligibility)

We’ve updated with a few new stores, updated links, and added some twitter feeds.

Now, on with our show.

Newfoundland

Time Masters had a cute promotion called Show Us Your Geek where customers submitted photos of their geek rooms. In October there was a Customer Costume Contest.

Tally: 5 shops in Newfoundland

Opened in 2011 – 0

Closed in 2011 – 0

Nova Scotia

The Coast held their annual Best Of Halifax poll, and in the Best Comics Store category:
1st – Strange Adventures, Halifax
2nd – Quantum Frontier, Halifax
3rd – Giant Robot Comics, Dartmouth

Strange Adventures held a number of signings the last few months:

  • In December it was Darwyn Cooke for the Martini Edition, with custom made martini glasses
  • Kagan Mcleod appeared signing Infinite Kung-Fu graphic novel
  • Kate Beaton had a big, busy, buzzy night for her new book Hark! A Vagrant!
  • Rebecca Kraatz, in support of Snaps!, and Temple Bates, with Hermoddities, signed at the shop in August, both books published by Conundrum Press, located in Wolfville, NS.

Tally: 9 shops in Nova Scotia

Opened in 2011 – Giant Robot Comics

Closed in 2011 – Role Initiative, in Yarmouth, has been declared closed.


Prince Edward Island

No news to report the last 6 months.

Tally: 2 shops in PEI

Opened in 2011 – 0

Closed in 2011 – 0

New Brunswick

Mad City has a new website

Strange Adventures put out their own comic, available throughout the SA empire at a cost of FREE!

Enigma Comics and Games is closed. When I visited in March 2011, things were clearly on the way down. Telephone disconnected. Facebook page down. Sackville is a very small town, population 5,400. Mount Allison University is located there, but it’s a small school with a student base of 2,300. It was a risky experiment, to open a shop in such a small town.

Tally: 9 shops in New Brunswick

Opened in 2011 – 0

Closed in 2011 – Enigma Comics and Games

Kesel and Grummett resurrect Section Zero as a webcomic

Here’s Karl Kesel’s official statement:

I could not be happier. SECTION ZERO is back.

SECTION ZERO ia a comic Tom Grummett and I co-created in 2000 as part of Image’s Gorilla Comics imprint, along with some other titles by people you may have heard of: Busiek and Immonen’s Shockrockets, Waid and Kitson’s Empire, Perez’s Crimson Plague, and Dezago and Wieringo’s Tellos. It was my first creator-owned comic and, I gotta tell you, I had the time of my life. But then life took an unexpected turn (I got divorced) and in the middle of its first six-issue arc, SECTION ZERO went on indefinite hiatus.

Tom and I always wanted to get back to Zero and finish what we started but first, as Tom has said, “the stars had to come into the proper alignment.” Cut to late 2011. I’ve started this site, and wonder what I’ll do after the first Johnny Zombie story ends. Guess which two words I think of instantly.

Of course, There Is No Section Zero… without me and Tom. Got to admit, I was worried. A lot of time had passed. We hadn’t spoken in a while. Tom was busy drawing Avengers Academy and Hulk and comics with “X” in the title. Maybe he didn’t have the time or interest any more.

A waste of good worrying. You know the friends you may not see for years at a stretch, but the minute you’re back together it’s as if no time has passed? That’s how it is with Tom. He didn’t say “yes”— he said “Hell yes!” (Except more Canadian.)

So here’s what we’re gonna do: Tom and I are working on new SECTION ZERO material now, squeezing it in around our day jobs. At the same time we’ll be posting all the previously published storyline— starting with today’s 5-Page Prologue, followed by 3 pages every Thursday. By the time all that’s posted, we’ll have a ton of new stuff ready. If you haven’t read these comics before, this is your chance. If you’ve already read them you’ll still want to check in because A) Richard Starkings, First Tiger at Comicraft Comicraft, has insanely and wonderfully insisted on “freshening” the lettering for the book, so the pages have a slightly different look to them, and B) since re-lettering was being done anyway, I’m tweaking the script here and there. The changes aren’t major, just important. For instance: the Prologue originally ended with Kyoti musing about the upcoming 2000 US Presidential election. Considering how that election played out, I really wanted to make his comment a bit more pointed. Things like that.

There’s a lot more to say about SECTION ZERO— both how we got here (over a few mountainous speed bumps) and where we’re going— and we’ll get into all that right here, starting Thursday.

Karl kesel

Koyama Press in 2012

PRESS RELEASE (Courtesy of Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources)

2011 was a breakout year for Koyama Press that saw the publisher win 2011’s Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Comic Book Publisher, in a field of nominees that included Canadian publishing luminaries such as Drawn & Quarterly, and several of the publisher’s titles won major industry awards and made a number of “best of” lists. The year finished off on a high note with the launch of a beautiful new website designed by Squidface & the Meddler.

2012 looks to be an equally exciting year for the innovative publisher. Spring 2012 will see a new release from artist and illustrator Jesse Jacobs whose book Even the Giants (AdHouse, 2011) marked his major publishing debut after several award-winning self-published titles. Jacobs describes his new comic work, By This Shall You Know Him, as coming “out of the darkness of oblivion.” Within the book’s confines, Jacobs states that the reader will “bear witness to the limitless ambitions of a gang of celestial beings as they fiddle and fuss with all sorts of molecular arrangements, creating infinitely detailed patterns and strange new worlds brimming with bizarre life forms. Part art-book, part graphic novel, By This Shall You Know Him depicts all manner of beast running, crawling and slithering towards death’s cold embrace.”

Tin Can Forest (aka Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek) whose Koyama Press debut Baba Yaga and the Wolf was nominated for the 2011 Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent, and won the duo the 2011 Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Comic Book Cartoonist will release Wax Cross also in spring 2012. The artists describe the new work as “an alchemical folk-tale set in the twilight of the modern age, when the moon has devoured the sun, the mechanical ocean has evaporated into silence, and the decaying corpse of electric current sleeps eternally in a casket of orange lichen. Featuring a cast of characters as familiar as the faded Polaroids in a photo album salvaged from the flooded basement of a condemned church, Wax Cross presents illustrated transcriptions of ectoplasmic revelation, fibrous and grainy folklore, and unbridled bestial merriment, accompanied by textual incantations and occult decoration.”

The New Year will also see Koyama Press publish Lose 4, the most recent issue the critically acclaimed, one-man anthology by Michael Deforge who Rob Clough of The Comics Journal has called “the most startling, fully-formed young cartooning talent to burst on to the scene since Dash Shaw.” 2012 will also see new work by cartoonist Julia Wertz, author of the autobiographical comics The Fart Party and Drinking at the Movies. Her work has received praise from a number of outlets including, Bust, LA Times, USA Today, The Comics Journal, and New York Magazine. Dustin Harbin’s children’s comic The Playground War will debut in the spring as well.

These books are just some of the new titles that are set to be released by Koyama Press in 2012, a year that promises to maintain the publisher’s momentum as they continue to promote and support a wide range of emerging and established artists.

Retailer Award Eligibility note

Harry Kremer

A few people have been sending us recommendations for the Harry Kremer Canadian Comic Book Retailer Award, so it should be noted that in order to qualify for the award a store must meet two very specific criteria:

  • the retailer must be in business for at least two years to be considered eligible
  • previous winners are not eligible for nomination (this includes the specific shop as well as franchises or other stores held by owners who have previously won)

Blue Beetle Comics, for example, is a store that is also owned by Walter and Marc of Hamilton’s Big B Comics, who won the award in 2008. Another example is Little Island Comics (which opened in 2011) which is owned by Peter and Shane of the Beguiling, who won the award in 2010.

2011 Canadian Comics Wrap Survey: Jennifer Haines

Tell us about yourself – a brief bio/intro.
I opened The Dragon in 1998, drawing on my love of the hobby and my experience in the industry. Since then, I’ve gone on to obtain my Master’s degree in Classical Studies and my Bachelor of Education, which I used to teach for 7 years at The Linden School in Toronto. I also applied my B.Ed. to creating www.comicsintheclassroom.ca, a teacher resource for using graphic novels. Although I am currently on mat leave (raising the heir to the Dragon empire!), I still conduct workshops at local schools to help integrate comics into classrooms and libraries. The Dragon won the last two Echo reader’s choice polls, and was a finalist for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing award for the past two years.

Continue reading

2011 Canadian Comics Wrap Survey: Willow Dawson

Tell us about yourself – a brief bio/intro.
Hey there! I’m a cartoonist working out of the RAID Comics Studio in Toronto. I wrote and drew the graphic novels Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung (Penguin Canada), and Lila and Ecco’s Do-It-Yourself Comics Club (Kids Can Press), and illustrated No Girls Allowed (with Susan Hughes, Kids Can Press). Some of my illustration clients include Owl Kids, Kids Can Press, Top Shelf Comics 2.0, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., LGBTQ Parenting Network, Filmblanc, Kiss Machine, Metaviews, Jesse Hirsh, and YWCA Canada. I also teach Creating Comics and Graphic Novels at U of T and do lots of artist talks, panel discussions and workshops. My favourite topic to speak on is writing and drawing biography, autobiography and memoir.

Continue reading

The End of An Era: Toronto’s Dragon Lady Comics to close in early 2012

It’s not the best story to start 2012 off here on the blog, but it’s an important one:

Back in early December I paid a visit to the 609 College Street West location of Dragon Lady Comics in Toronto, where it has been located since the mid-90’s (Prior to that it was based on Queen Street West, having opened there in the spring of 1979). In the window was a very prominent “for lease” sign. My inquiry re: the fate of the store brought an uncertain response from the store employee working that Friday night. He said that rent was going up, while profits were down and the owner felt it was too much to take on, and that the store would remain open in the current location only until the building’s owner could find a new tenant and when that happens a decision would be made whether or not to relocate or close up permanently.

Just before Christmas, I ran into a long time Dragon Lady employee who told me that a decision had been made — that original owner and store founder John Biernat would not be relocating the business but closing up the shop permanently. A tentative closing date of late January was mentioned. This has subsequently been confirmed by store manager Joe Kilmartin on Facebook as February 1st, although pull file customers will be able to get the product they ordered on February 5th.

Dragon Lady Comics & Paper Nostalgia, opened in 1979 - closing in 2012

Follow-up and link round-up