24 x 36 mixed media on canvas by Joshua James Collis available at Wolf/Sheep Arthouse email firstname.lastname@example.org. The poem is a selection from my new chap book The Book of The Black also available at Wolf/Sheep
24 x 36 mixed media on canvas by Joshua James Collis available at Wolf/Sheep Arthouse email email@example.com. The poem is a selection from my new chap book The Book of The Black also available at Wolf/Sheep
The wind shrieks by with a fervour reminiscent
Of a supposed madman coming to terms with society
Striations of clouds running faster than outlaws
After a crime spree
The rain stops temporarily
The drops run off me onto the damp dirty pavement
The clouds part momentarily
And they reveal Orion
The hunter overhead
Perpetually locked in mid-shot
The hunt will never cull him peace
Visual show from Wolf/Sheep’s last art show The End is Here
September 30, 2005, Vancouver, B.C. – Written for a second year First Nations Literature class where we were required to compose a First Nations myth. Stricken with writer’s block and befuddled by the recent re-election of George W. Bush to the White House, I became inspired.
Gather around children, sit with your elder by the fire. I have told many tales of animals sacred to our tribe. I have told tales of the tricksters Nanabush and Wisakedjak. Listen now to the tale of the greatest trickster of all, he who changed the way Salmon spawned, he who altered the body of Coyote for all time, and he who changed the way we think about our Chiefs. Hear now, the tale of Georgedubush, the magical trickster.
In the days when Georgedubush traveled the world, there were no stars, mountains, or people; there was only war. Now you will probably say, “No people? No stars? Then how could war take place foolish elder?” This was no war between tribes of men, but the old tribes of the sacred animal peoples.
Coyote and his tribe from the east had been at war with the Salmon Tribe of the west for so long they had all forgotten why. In the west, salmon sang songs of the evil and treachery of coyotes. In the east, them coyotes sang songs about them salmon, and how they were the evil ones, full of treachery and hate. Georgedubush was heading north along Redneck Creek. Little did he know – about anything for that matter – that he would play a pivotal role in their struggle.
As per usual, Georgedubush was hungry and clueless. Large storms had destroyed many villages down south, but he was not worried. He was safe and dry on a quest from his elder father. Two weeks before, Georgedubush’s father, Georgeaychdubush, had summoned him to his large White-Longhouse.
“Come in Dubya,” said his father, as Georgedubush was often called, “sit, drink, smoke this pipe with me.”
His father offered him the pipe.
“No thank you father, I have smoked enough for today Chief.”
Georgedubush had been smoking the peace pipe all day.
“Why you have you summoned me father, is it time for my journey to manhood?”
Georgeaychdubush was happy that his son was eager.
“Yes Dubya, it is time for you to become your own man. You must go north along Redneck Creek. At the end of the creek lies Hick Falls, there you will find a prophet. He will tell you which way to head. He will tell you the great prophecy of your destiny, to end the century long war between two tribes. You will bring peace and reign as chief for four, possibly eight years. Take these supplies, they should, Dubya?”
At this point Georgeaychdubush realized that his son has grabbed the provisions and ran out the door. Dubya only heard the parts about food and becoming a chief. Before Georgeaychdubush could explain anymore, Dubya was off down Redneck creek.
And that brings him to where he is now. He had eaten all his father’s supplies the first night and became sick from frequently eating the same poison berries. After a week he finally came to Hick Falls, a trip that would have taken anyone else a day. There was an old hermit perched upon a rock at the opposite side of the creek. Taking no notice of the hermit, Georgedubush tripped and plummeted to the bottom of the falls. Georgedubush floated downstream due east for what seemed like an eternity, until finally he was snatched out of the stream by coyotes.
“You evil scum! How dare you venture this far east?” questioned the elder of two coyotes.
“This is the biggest salmon I have ever seen,” exclaimed the younger.
Georgedubush was worried.
“Am I a Salmon?” Dubya thought aloud to himself.
He suffered an existential crisis. After a few hours of deliberating they eventually agreed that Dubya was some kind of man-whale. The Coyotes took Dubya to their village where they drank, sang, danced, and became friends. Georgedubush learned of their struggle with the salmon. He offered to build them weapons that would turn the tide of war, but in return they would have to make him Chief.
“But we already have a Chief,” the Coyotes explained.
This did not concern Georgedubush, as he loved to build weapons anyway. He agreed to take some of their magic white powder in exchange. He loved the powder very much.
After only a few short days, he had built gigantic bows and arrows as well as giant tomahawks in order to help the Coyote Tribe win the war. He was confused though because this tribe already had a chief. Then the old prophet he missed at the falls came running into the Coyote village.
The ancient prophet informed Dubya that he was supposed to head west to become a Chief. Georgedubush fell asleep during this long, deep, metaphorical story. No one knows exactly what the prophet said, but Georgedubush headed west to the Salmon tribe village. The Salmon there were gullible and in need of serious aid.
The last chief of the Salmon Tribe had been slain by the Coyote’s new giant bow and arrow and the tribe was frightened. They were certain them coyotes had a bow and arrow big enough to destroy their village, possibly even all the land. Georgedubush walked in at the right time and won their election for chief by a landslide. The salmon living on the edges of the village had voted for the opposition, an educated salmon who could speak fluent coyote and was an advocate of peace. The salmon in the middle of the village voted for Georgedubush. He filled them with lies, empty promises, and plans to build bow and arrows, tomahawks, and lakes of fire water the likes no one had ever seen. He built himself a big White-Longhouse and the largest bow and arrow ever to date.
The bow was so large the salmon had to swim far upstream to complete the bow and balance the arrow when firing. The female salmon would swim upstream to their mates during the long construction period to spawn. When the salmon spawned there, they found the waters to be a safer place to lay eggs than the ocean. This is why to this day Salmon still spawn upstream thanks to the outrageous antics of Georgedubush.
Georgedubush thought the war would end and them coyotes would surrender, but those coyotes copied the design and built a bigger bow. So then Georgedubush built a bigger one. So did them Coyotes, but an even bigger one, and vice versa for another four to eight years. Until a final encounter between Georgedubush and the Coyote Chief came. They argued over who had the bigger bow until Georgedubush’s enchanted prostate spoke up.
“Salmon! Coyotes! Heed my words as they are wise and few!” the prostate cried.
“There are no more reasons for war or violence! Georgedubush has tricked you all so that he may be called chief and live in a White-Longhouse. He has told you all the same lies and you believed all along. Though one can do bad things, it does not make one evil. If anyone is evil it is Georgedubush!” The animals all cheered.
Dubya had to do something, so he kicked the Coyote chief right in the groin to show he is strongest and Coyote weak and evil. This is how Coyote came to have a detachable penis. The salmon were fed up, so they loaded Georgedubush into the largest bow and shot him so far that no one saw him ever again. Right as he was shot, his enchanted prostate leaped straight out of his body. The resulting blood turned the salmon and their eggs red during spawning season for all time. As a reward the enchanted prostate declared all streams sacred to the salmon during their spawning season and gave Coyote his first detachable penis.
The enchanted prostate was named Gore. He ran for the now vacant spot of Salmon Chief. He lost in a landslide when it was found out by the salmon in the village center that he spoke coyote, was concerned about the environment, and was a disgusting disembodied prostate.
Georgedubush kept hurtling and hurtling from the bow. Dubya had no idea how his prostate had become enchanted or why it was named Gore. In Fact, Georgedubush had no idea he even had a prostate or what it was for. He was so ignorant to this that he felt no pain and as a result he did not die. He just kept flying and flying.
He crash landed on the moon where he went on to win an election as its chief as he was its only inhabitant. Dubya at first thought he had lost but quickly demanded a recount. He learned that despite losing the popular vote, none of what people wanted really mattered anyway. So he declared himself undisputed Chief of the Moon for the next four years. He would then have another meaningless election followed by a recount or two then possibly another four years when he would retire.
Many believe Georgedubush lost the second election to some kind of space snail monster. Others say he won and served back to back terms as Moon Chief to an articulate space snail that would try and fail repeatedly to teach Dubya to read. Others say Dubya went mad from constantly snorting moon dust up his nose. Others don’t care about Georgedubush and may become frustrated if you ask what happened to him. Others say he found a way off the Moon and continued his adventures. Them last others is probably right. There’s no keeping some hungry substance-abusing moron away from you for too long.
Everyone at this party seems like a douche bag. Jonathan’s friends are all either Earth tone hippies or pastel yoga hipsters. Right when I’m about to go be alone in my room, I notice her.
Dyed red hair, so fresh there is a faded stain along her hairline, a pierced lip, a scarlet dress from the 1960’s. She’s smiling at me from across our big kitchen.
Jonathan sneaks up behind me. His muscles are so lean you can probably grate cheese on them. The only thing separating me from his genitals is a skin tight layer of black Lululemon shorts. Does he ever wear a shirt?
“Don’t worry so much, dude. You’ve been single for, what? Like a year? Let it go buddy,” said Jonathan.
“It’s been two months.”
Jonathan pinches my cheek. Creepy, like a stereotypical grandparent.
“Go mingle, ok buddy?” said Jonathan, as he sashays away.
I don’t take yoga, or have dreadlocks, so I can’t exactly keep up a conversation. I make a joke about being down with the downward dog to two girls in matching headbands. I scurry off like a puppy to the punch bowl.
“Steven! Get your butt over here! There’s someone I need you to meet,” shouts Jonathan.
Jonathan is next to the girl in red. She smiles that scarlet lipstick smile. She bites her lip like she might be nervous. I swear my glasses are going to fog up like a cartoon character.
“Steven Jarvis, meet yoga student Rachel. Rachel Starling, meet new roommate Steven,” said Jonathan.
“Hi new roommate Steven. Come have a drink with me,” said Rachel.
She heads to the punch, beckoning me.
“Don’t fuck it up, guy,” whispered Jonathan.
He pinches my bottom as I follow. Rachel grabs my hand. It’s hard to see behind foggy glasses. She pours us some punch.
“Everyone here seems like such a wanker. Except you. And Jonathan,” said Rachel.
“Thank you. Read my freaking mind.”
“So, Jonathan says you’re a musician.”
“Yeah I’m a rock. Like a rock star, without the star.”
She giggles. I am so charming.
“You dress pretty suave for a rocker. I love skinny ties. You need a hair cut though. You should let me cut it.”
“Sweet. I think there’s some scissors in the –“
“Not now loser.”
“So what do you play?”
“Um. I play guitar, tenor sax, ukulele – ”
“You should play me a song.”
I take her hand and lead her to my room. Please let me get laid.
She sits down on the old brown couch in my room. Could I not have tidied? Shirts and ties everywhere.
“What you gonna play for me?”
I sit beside her and withdraw my instrument.
“Really? Ukulele?” said Rachel.
I begin to play: C, F, G, A minor F.
“I heard there was a secret chord. That David played, it pleased the lord. But you don’t really care for music do you?”
Rachel gasps, “I love Leonard Cohen! Oh my God!”
“It goes like this, the fourth the fifth. The minor fall, the major lift. The baffled king composing, Hallelujah.”
She puts a hand on my thigh. I can see my reflection growing in her eyes.
“Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”
Then we totally make out. Hallelujah. An hour feels like five minutes. Then I drop the ukulele directly onto her foot.
“Oh shit! Sorry.”
She rubs the red mark as a bruise forms in the centre of her red flat clad foot. She checks her cell phone.
“Crap. My ride’s here. “
“Yeah. Plus, I’m not sleeping with you. Tonight. Although I kind of want to. But you’re taking me on a date. Coffee. Tomorrow.”
I look in the bathroom mirror after she leaves. I laugh at the red lipstick smeared in the stubble around my lips.
“Works every time.”
After that night Rachel and I are inseparable. She cuts my hair. She makes sure I take my Flintstone’s Chewable Vitamins. I sing her songs. We listen to Leonard Cohen for hours on end. He’s coming to town in a few months. We have to go.
We walk kilometre after kilometre through the rain. I bring a giant red umbrella to keep us dry, she wears that indigo raincoat. We say I love you for the first time under a rainy gray sky.
My world is perfect, until one day she starts to talk about Ricardo. He’s the new instructor at the yoga school.
“Ricardo? No man, no. I mean, I just met him, but he’s cool. I think he has better abs then me,”
I glare at my absence of abs then back at Jonathan.
“He knows she’s got a boyfriend. All she does is talk about you. And what a mope you are,” said Jonathan.
He tousles my hair. I hate him and his perfect abs.
Even with Jonathan’s, “reassurance,” I’m still worried. Rachel starts taking more yoga classes than before.
Her birthday is coming up. She had one shortly after we first started dating – we didn’t do much – so I have to make this special. I make a reservation at a restaurant on the top floor of a hotel. It overlooks the entire harbour. I buy a new skinny tie. I have my shoes shined to admire my reflection.
I’m sitting at the table staring at the single yellow candle and glow. I check my phone again. 10 minutes late. It’s ok, she’ll be here. I feel like the entire restaurant is glaring. Where’s his date?
Rachel is here. The dirty blonde roots of her hair are visible. The dye is fading out, like a tangerine sun set. She’s in yoga pants and that aubergine hoodie. Her make-up obviously put on in a rush.
“I didn’t realize this was a formal affair. It’s only my birthday.”
Oh right. Hey Rachel! Let’s go on a date to one of the most romantic restaurants in the city, on your birthday, and dress like we just rolled out of bed!
“You’re not mad. Are you?”
“No, no. It’s your birthday. Let’s just have a good time.”
I order wine. She orders tea. I order steak. She orders salad. She declines desert.
“So, I was thinking after we could take a walk around the harbour then could see where–“
“Leonard Cohen is tonight Steven.”
Shit. I don’t have tickets.
“Let’s go get tickets.”
“It’s sold out.”
“There’ll be scalpers.”
“It’s fine. I already have a ticket. Ricardo surprised me today. That’s why I was late.”
Of course he did. I spend all this time worrying about him and he beats me to the punch. Rachel ditches me on her birthday to go to see Leonard Cohen with another guy. She kisses me good night and says that she will see me soon.
At home I walk past Jonathan doing headstands in the kitchen.
“You’re home awful early fella, what happened?”
“Fuck off Jonathan.”
I slam my door so hard I think it knocks over Jonathan in the kitchen. I sink into bed and listen to anything but Cohen.
I didn’t talk to Rachel the whole next day, or the day after that. She finally calls me.
“Hey Houdini, where you been all my life?” said Rachel.
“You’re mad at me, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know. Would you be mad if I went to a concert with another girl?”
“It was my birthday. You forgot to get tickets, so you should be the sorry one. Ricardo is my yoga instructor. And I love you, dumbass.”
“I love you too. I’m sorry.”
“I will take that under consideration. Look, I’m going to yoga. Then I’m going to lunch with girlfriends. I was thinking we could spend the afternoon together?”
“That would be good.”
“Ok. I’m going to drop by first and drop off some stuff. See ya in a bit.”
Jonathan and I are sitting at the kitchen table debating the legitimacy of Nintendo Yoga when Rachel comes in.
“Hi boys! Topless again Jonathan?”
“As much as possible,” said Jonathan.
Rachel walked in and shed hands me a ham. Wrapped in saran wrap. On a platter. A Black Forest Ham.
“Well, this is unexpected.”
“Don’t ask. It was a gift. I don’t think they realized.”
“Ooh! I’m making us omelettes!” said Jonathan, grabbing the plate out of my hands. He starts ransacking the fridge for ingredients.
“I gotta go meet the girls. Have fun boys. I’ll be back this afternoon, ok?”
“I Love you.”
“You too,” said Rachel.
I flopped down on the old sofa while Jonathan cooks. I strum my guitar. Maybe I’ll write a song for Rachel? A few minutes later there’s a knock-knock at my door.
“Bad news buddy. You have-ta come see this. You’re not gonna believe it,” said Jonathan.
“What dude? Just tell me.”
“The ham, Steven. The ham is a lie.”
The ham is a lie?
“Hams don’t lie, Jonathan.”
“This one does.”
I enter the kitchen. The ham is sitting uncut on its platter. There’s a carton of brown free range eggs. There are some onions and green peppers. There’s a block of orange cheddar cheese.
“So, how’s this a lie?”
He knocked off the flat front of the ham, like it’s some kind of meat plug. It’s hollow on the inside. Jonathan pulls a freezer sized Zip-Lock bag out of it. He dumps its contents onto the table. Love notes. Tea bags, drawings of her, and rose petals.
“This is not ham.”
“Bummer dude. Ham’s a lie. I guess Ricardo’s a big liar. And an ass hat.”
He pats me on the back and leaves the kitchen. I unfold a note. Blue lined, loose leaf, Hilroy paper. Ricardo spares no expense when professing his love. I read the note. He had fallen for her when they kissed at Leonard Cohen? So he fills a ham up with love? Were they out of conventional methods at “Stalker Hallmark” that day? I crumple the note in my fist.
“I can’t believe talked me into this. Even for you guy.”
Jonathan and I are driving in his shitty black Toyota Tercel hatchback. Jonathan, actually wearing a skin tight black Under Armour long-sleeve – although driving barefoot. I’m in the passenger seat, wearing a black turtleneck. The ham of lies, resting upon my lap. This is a stealth mission.
“I could get so fired for this.”
“You could have just lent me your car. I could have done it by myself.”
He glares through me.
“Keep your eyes on the road, Jonathan.”
“So how did she take it?”
“Bad I guess. She just kind of screamed at me. Then, we had a big cry party.”
Rachel had come back that afternoon. I picture Rachel’s make-up running down her face like little tar lines of sadness. Her roots, growing up beneath faded tangelo hair. Whoever said if you love someone give them away is a jackass.
“Did she say if she was going to date Ricardo or not?”
“I don’t know or care man. She had an awesome thing with me, and then it all came down to a break-up ham.”
“We’re almost there.”
Jonathan slows the car. I position myself on the windowsill of the passenger side. I look around the deserted city streets for any witnesses. It’s a ghost town at 3:59 a.m. I look up at a starless sky as that tingling feeling of doubt creeps up my neck. No, this must happen.
“Don’t hit a window. Hit the side. If you smash a window Steven, I swear.”
Jonathan hits the gas. I hurl the ham of lies like a grenade against the side of the yoga school. The pork bomb explodes against the brown brick wall. Little bits of pink porcine flesh rain about the doorstep of the building. The notes, drawings, tea bags and rose petals rain like perverse confetti on the Ricardo and Rachel parade.
“Who’s the swine now?”
He squeals the tires around the corner – we were outlaws fleeing the scene of the crime. The pig is in the poke.
The next morning the yoga school opened at 6:00 a.m. The owner will find pork matter and love notes scattered on their doorstep. Hopefully Ricardo will be fired.
A few weeks later I bump into Rachel. She pretends I don’t exist. She has a faint violet hair dye stain around her forehead.
Photo Credit http://septagonstudios.tumblr.com/
– Originally published by wolfsheep.com in Januray 2012.
It’s not all capes and chaos. It is not all testosterone and chauvinism. We neglect comic books as an art form in favour of the misconception that it is all about fulfillment of boyhood fantasy and male stereotypes.
“We wanted to create a publishing company that did not focus on superheroes but rather put emphasis on the art, story and originality of the project,” says Philip Defina, Vice President and Art Director of Toronto, Ontario, based Septagon Studios.
Septagon Studios was founded in 2003 by brothers Philip and Domenic Defina and their cousin Nicola. The Definas grew up as comic book fans. It was the art that drew them in, illustrating their own comics and covers to pass the time. Many dream of making it big in comic books, however, the industry is notorious for the difficulty of new artists getting started.
“In the late 1990s to early 2000s we spent some time hanging around different comic creator forums and websites. There were a lot of artists and writers out there that just wanted to be seen and heard,” says Defina.
Mainstream comics puts their focus on super-heroics, cancelling titles that sell under the 20,000 issue range and often letting art fall to the wayside. Septagon reached out to the indies. They looked for creators that shared their vision of comics as an art form. They decided to become an independent publisher in order to give those creators exposure.
“We are a small company and we do what we do out of our love for comics and helping comic creators. We are always keeping our eye out for the opportunity to collaborate with creators who have unique comics with strong original art connected to a great story. We really believe in publishing quality as opposed to quantity,” says Defina.
The Definas even chose an oft overlooked symbol to represent their vision of comics, “a septagon is a polygon with seven sides and seven angles. It is a unique shape that you don’t really see or hear about often. There is also a lot of spiritual symbolism related to the number 7 and creation. We thought the shape and name would make a unique comic imprint and it connects well with how we are trying to represent ourselves as an indie publishing company,” says Defina.
Current Septagon projects include digital and print medium versions of Masks and Archaeologists of Shadows. Each title bears its own artistic style which is uniquely individual.
“The artwork in Masks combines photography with digital painting and photo-manipulation. The artist and writer of Masks, Aaron Rintoul, did all the photography for the book and he weaved together a story that takes place inside the psyche of a girl named Sara. Masks is a non-linear story where the reader draws their own interpretation. We actually offer the whole first issue free digitally and we have a hardcover graphic novel edition for anyone that would like to have the book in their hands,” says Defina.
“Archeologists of Shadows is a graphic novel that has been in development for more than five years. A.O.S. has allowed us the opportunity to collaborate with writer Lara Fuentes and artist Patricio Clarey all the way from Spain, with editing and adaptation by Preston Park Cooper. It contains over 100 pages of immersive story and art that goes beyond the typical superhero vs. villain comic. It is more of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Steampunk adventure that makes you think about reality, society, technology and the search for purpose. The art combines drawing, sculpture, photography, photo manipulation, and digital painting to create a real 3D feel. If you’re a fan of Lord Of The Rings or The Matrix, we think you’ll like A.O.S.,” says Defina.
Septagon seeks to strike out its own artistic niche in a world progressing towards a digital revolution within a traditionally printed medium, “the first digital comics were published in the mid 1980’s and some people have been saying that printed comics are doomed since then. I think there is a strong future for both print comics and digital comics. I believe there will always be comic fans that will want to have the experience of feeling and reading a printed book in their hands,” says Defina.
“We also continue to provide creator resources and help through the Septagon Studios Comic Blog and the Work In Comics Facebook Page. This usually keeps us pretty busy and out of trouble,” says Defina.
Check out Septagon’s various websites and social network feeds to keep up with the latest:
Septagon Studios http://www.septagonstudios.com
Work In Comics http://www.facebook.com/WorkInComics
Archaeologists of Shadows http://www.aoscomic.com