Friday, March 5, 2010

This is Canada! Kind of...

With the news that Canada's immigration minister, Jason Kenney is taking "full responsibility" for a citizenship study guide that had all references to gay rights removed, it reminded me of a handy dandy guide book I picked up last summer at Monkey's Paw.

This immigrant's guide from 1948 certainly didn't remove references to same sex marriage. Homosexuality hadn't even been invented yet!

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's a Good Life

image from Seth's Clyde Fans Book One

Renowned illustrator, book designer and cartoonist Seth is on an honest to goodness, no holds barred, book tour. Seth is currently promoting both the recent book he designed about Canadian cartooning icon Douglas Wright and his own book, George Sprott. Is it unusual that a publisher send a cartoonist out on the road to promote a book? No, but in a world where most of the practitioners are reclusive loners who work in quiet isolation it's rare to find someone so good at it. Seth is an articulate, entertaining, engaging and knowledgeable speaker. As a guy who goes by a singular moniker and dresses like he's from the cast of the Philadelphia Story he's a reporter's wet dream. His profile almost writes itself. So it shouldn't be a surprise that here in Toronto we're seeing some kind of Seth-blitz. Friday evening I witnessed Seth's charm when, rather than discuss new work he re-imagined a John Cage piece by telling 12 unrelated anecdotes as a slide show of his sketches played on a screen behind him. After the talk, audience members received a copy of Walrus magazine featuring a profile of Seth. Saturday's Globe and Mail not only profiles the artist but includes a slideshow tour of his home (like many cartoonists, Seth is an avid collector of various ephemera). Ladies and Gentlemen, that's entertainment. I'm glad Seth is gaining confidence doing this kind of stuff because it not only raises his own profile but due to of his knowledge of comics he's also raising the profile of other artists and the medium of comic books. In general, I think other comic book artists should accept that doing promotion is sort of part of the job description and take Seth's example to just suck it up and get out there. Sometimes we like to hear your stories from your mouthes not just from your speech bubbles.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Andrew Joyner via The Jacky Winter Group

Learning lots about eBook readers this week. More than I need to know really. I just had me a birthday and as is tradition 'round these parts I received several books — 4 to be exact. Real books:4, digital books:0.

Digital books are harder to wrap I guess.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Softcovers, Hardcovers, Shortcovers

Shortcovers is getting a nice chunk of press. A pretty fair review showed up on the Wired blog and there's a mention in the New York Times.

I can only assume this means we're getting our money's worth from our PR firm.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Next Great Read Will be a Short One

Whenever someone uses the phrase "that was a great read", I always think of Peter Gzowski who hated the expression saying, "the word 'read' is not a noun!" Unfortunately for curmudgeons such as the venerable Mr. Gzowski, language is a funny thing - it's a living, breathing, evolving thing. Thus it follows the way we read is also a living, breathing, evolving thing. The project I've been a part of for the last eight months is based on that premise. Despite those that claim the "end of print", we read more than ever. People read not just newspapers and magazines but on their cell phones, their smart phones, their desktops and laptops. Shortcovers is all about finding your next great read by letting you discover stories either on your desktop or you cell phone. The service allows you to get not just free chapters but also buy individual chapters or even order a hard copy of a book.

I've said enough. Watch the thing:

Shortcovers Intro from Shortcovers on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Things You Find When You Aren't Looking

Things like this video from the TED site:

If I could draw like this, I might never touch a computer again. Well, maybe to read e-mail and stuff...

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kidd Stuff

Though I'd seen this interview with Chip Kidd before I somehow had forgotten about it. Or maybe I'd seen photos of the apartment sometime ago in the New York Times style section? Either way, it has resurfaced here on Be sure to stick around for the end of the interview when you'll see Mr. Kidd fronting his band Artbreak.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Little Blue Books 

The story of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889-1951) reads like a Coen brothers script.
Photos from a lecture at the Powerplant Gallery in Toronto

A young go-getter Emanuel Julius begins working at the Socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason where he meets and marries a wealthy heiress. Eventually he buys 25% of the paper with the heiress' backing and starts publishing public domain classics in pamphlet format. When EHJ discovers there is a voracious appetite for the pint sized books, he quickly starts churning out pamphlets consisting of re-printed classics and commissioned originals from notable authors such as Upton Sinclair and Clarence Darrow. Not all of Haldeman-Julius contributers were as esteemed and the quality of the Little Blue Books, as they were later called, quickly deteriorated. The following titles attest to the range of work published:

1507. A Rational View of the Sex Issue [by] Harry Elmer Barnes.
1508. What You Should Know about Poisons [by] Heinz Norden.
1509. The Gay Chronicle of the Monks and Nuns [by] Joseph McCabe.
1515. The Love Affair of a Priest and a Nun (Abelard and Heloise) [by] Joseph McCabe.
1516. Facts You Should Know About Gonorrhea [by] Heinz Norden.
1517. Land, and Old Man and His Wife [by] Konrad Bercovici.
1523. How to Avoid Catching Venereal Diseases [by] Heinz Norden.
1524. Famous Eccentric Americans [by] J. V. Nash.
1534. How to Test Your Urine at Home [by] B. C. Meyrowitz.
1535. How to Throw a Party [by] Heinz Norden.
1536. Facing Death Fearlessly [by] Joseph McCabe.
1537. The Essence of Unitarianism [by] L. M. Birkhead.
1538. A Rational Sex Code [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1545. Why I Do Not Fear Death [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1546. An Encyclopedia of Sex [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1553. Beneficial Exercises for Nervousness and Indigestion [by] C. O. Benson and Dr. C. L. Smith.
1560. Why I Quit Being a Prohibitionist [by] Harry Hibschman.
1564. Homosexuality in the Lives of the Great [by] J. V. Nash.
1565. The Danger of Catholicism in the Public Schools [by] E. Haldeman-Julius.
1566. How to Conduct a Love Affair [by] Betty Van Deventer.
1567. Making Men Happy with Jams and Jellies [by] Elizabeth Palmer.

Of course, some of the more popular titles involved titillating topics of sexuality or the conduct of the sexually active (or deviant). Yet these pamphlets, sold mostly through mail-order for 20 for $1, made E. Haldeman-Julius wealthy. He became a man about town, which couldn't be that hard in a town like Girard, Kansas. Eventually though, his wife, Matrice ran off with his alcoholic assistant leaving Emanuel alone to womanize and write many, many, many, many, many, many more Little Blue Books.

In the end, it was E. Haldeman-Julius' writing that may have been his undoing. In a book about the FBI he outed J. Edgar Hover as a homosexual which of course didn't go over too well at the Bureau. The FBI already had a file on Haldeman-Julius due to his role as a publisher of socialist literature and as they dug deeper they discovered EHJ's unpaid taxes. EHJ was charged and found guilty of tax evasion but he died before he served any time. In 1951, he was found dead in his pool, or as many locals believe, the FBI murdered him.

His printing house was left to his son but on July 4th, 1978 errant fire works landed on the roof catching fire and burning the building down.

See what I mean. A Coen brothers' script.

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