(Composite of self-portraits left to right: Charles Burns, Seth, Dylan Horrocks.)
I’m happy to report the IFOA roundtable of Canadian cartoonist Seth (George Sprott 1894-1975, Palookaville), New Zealand cartoonist Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville), and American cartoonist Charles Burns (Black Hole, X’d Out) Saturday afternoon lived up to the high expectations.
Getting three master cartoonists at the height of their respective careers together in one room (the Brigadier Room to be exact) to discuss the past, present, and future of their craft with an experienced and entertaining interviewer such as CBC Radio 2 personality Bob Mackowycz, created a wonderfully warm and familiar, at times almost confessional atmosphere. It felt at times as if a few old friends were getting together again to get reacquainted in someone’s living room rather than professionals on a stage sitting in front of a packed house of admirers.
Over the course of the hour the artists spoke about the struggles of balancing their commercial and paid work, ; issues around adopting comics to the screen; the different approaches to being a painter and cartoonist; and what may be in store for the next generation of cartoonists.
The artists also spoke about the fact that, because North American comics have only grown into a truly adult medium in our life time, almost all mature comics artists hail from a background in which the comic medium was expected to be written for kids. This transformation means that there is often a residual of that child-based tradition lingering in even the most adult work. The work of younger and upcoming cartoonists will not necessarily be steeped in work for children, a change that should make for new and interesting comic-art forms.
I think the most startling revelation during the afternoon was made by Dylan Horrocks. He did a four year stint working for DC (the company that owns Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), writing stories for Batgirl, in order to make ends meet. He made the observation that today’s superhero comics have moved away from a younger readership to those in their mid- to late- teens, with the story lines becoming quite dark, narrow, brutal, and depressing. So much so, he said, that he had to give up working in that sub-genre.
More upcoming events with cartoonists at the IFOA include:
ROUND TABLE: Fictional Truths: Ideas on Time, Memory and Place
Tuesday, October 26, 8:00pm ( Studio Theatre)
Myla Goldberg, Paul Harding, Dylan Horrocks, and Eshkol Nevo discuss the building blocks of novel writing at this round table discussion moderated by Siri Agrell.
READING: Barry, Bismuth, Laferrière, Martel
Friday, October 29, 8:00pm (Fleck Dance Theatre)
Lynda Barry, Nadine Bismuth, Dany Laferrière, and Yann Martel read from their latest works. James Grainger (The Excerpt’s editor-in-chief) hosts.
READING/INTERVIEW: Lynda Barry
Saturday, October 30, 5:00pm (Studio Theatre)
Illustrator and bestselling author Lynda Barry reads from her new book, Picture This, and is interviewed by Peter Birkemoe.