A short film I made at UVic this semester. Social commentary on the continuing conversion of heritage buildings into condos with store front.
These were a part of Wolf/Sheep’s Halloween stunt last year. The video was edited by Arya Hawker, and shot and directed by Wolf/Sheep members Erik Van Kobra, Elisa DeVille, Genghis Shawn, and Sarah Savage while bored and stranded for the night in The Seattle-Tacoma Airport on the way home from a trip to New York. What they created was a very believable, compelling, and fun recreation of The Blair Witch Project set in an airport.
The article was written by yours truly under the pseudonym “James Smyth” (my middle name, my mother’s maiden name, and an alias I’ve used for years). The gang asked me to write something based on the video that they had created. My mind raised on comic books and fiction immediately asked itself about the history of Sea-Tac. I looked up the history of crashes at the airport. I used the real life people; I did it in the most respectful manor I could. I wanted to create something grounded in reality. Reba Monk was a real life flight attendant and hero who died saving people at Sea-Tac. Heather Jones is a fictional character, although the story of the flight she was supposed to have been on is quite real.
Kyle Dark designed what I wrote to look like a real article and we released it on our social feeds with little to no explanation. A week later on Halloween we released the video and set all of our Facebook profile photos and banners to black.
Arya on Facebook
I think tonight I’ll stay at home
And draw a bath
A cozy place to sit and contemplate the wrath
The pitter-patter of the faucet drips
And I count by math
I lick the salt off my finger tips
‘Til it drives me mad
The digits stick to my tongue
And I begin to add
One plus two plus three
Really too bad, too bad
Naturally, I must find what I need
In the streets to understand
I pick the flesh of his eyeballs from my teeth
‘Til it drives me insane
I lick the salt off my tips, I, Zombie.
photo credit: wolfsheep.com
-originally published on wolfsheep.com July 2013.
There’s an idea in this world: an idea that one group can tell another how to act, how to think, how to feel. An idea that one group is synonymous with the lesser. This is a world where corporations tell us it’s unlawful to share the intangible. It’s also a world where people think they can tell us who we can and can’t marry. If we are truly to be equal, then the powers that be must Cease & Desist.
On July 5, 2013, Wolf/Sheep Arthouse in conjunction with Lab Salon presented Cease & Desist, a night of art, music, culture, and drag queens at Lucky Bar in Victoria, B.C., as a part of Victoria’s annual Pride celebration. Cease & Desist served as the launching point for new creative movement spearheaded by Wolf/Sheep founder Erik Van Kobra.
“I started playing around with basically what appeared to be public domain resource materials and mixing it with blatantly copyrighted stuff. I started with fashion houses and large well known brands because [they] stood out. I found the contrast of the two things really visually appealing. The ridiculous thing about it, is the design end is so basic, it’s not even fucking funny,” says EVK.
The art of Cease & Desist is a melding of iconic corporate logos of fashion and design with the hedonistic and decidedly non-glamorous world of pornography. The copyrighted logos of brands such as Ferrari, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, and others contrast as they lay over images of women and men often in the throes of orgasm and exhibitionism. The point of the art isn’t purely a shock and awe campaign. EVK hopes to play with peoples conceptions about what is art and what is considered offensive.
“I think people are less quick nowadays to be offended. They’re more apt to be offended privately. I think they want to be thought of as accepting and cool and liberated and enlightened. The reality is, is that they live inside of a shell created for them. I think things like corporations have almost the same attitude. ‘We’re for people. We have people in our ads. We’re real. We’re making stuff for you. Just behave. Behave by our rules. Don’t steal. Buy our shit and you’re our friend,'” says EVK.
We live in the social networking age. Millions upon millions of users share images online through image sharing sites such as Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and others. Images and memes are shared over, and over, and over, and over.
“On Tumblr, all bets on copyright are off. But how so? How can you build a business around what is obviously blatantly copyrighted material on their part? The way [corporations] look at it, there’s 1 million or so 14-year-old kids sharing their shit on a platform like that, it’s free advertising. The minute someone thinks about it, takes it seriously, say me or you or someone else, it’s a problem,” says EVK.
Cease & Desist was born out of the idea of pushing copyright to the limits where EVK might receive actual cease and desist letters from companies for using their intellectual property. Companies such as Napster, Megaupload, and The Pirate Bay have all been taken down by corporate bullies who didn’t agree with people giving away for free what they saw fit to profit from. The fashion industry, the music industry, and the creative industry all appear to be for creativity, when in reality they’re just trying to hold everything back and in line with their profit margins.
“We truly do live in an appropriated world. Our society thrives off of it. But the fact that someone out there owns that appropriated creative drive is stupid. It’s almost redundant. They shut down Napster, they shut down The Pirate Bay, they stop people from sharing things they don’t physically own. What is the point, where does it end, where does it stop, where do you start, how do you regulate it? Let it go, just let it go. Let [same sex couples] get married. Who fucking cares?” says EVK.
Erik had been working on the art that would become Cease & Desist for quite some time before he was approached by Doug Macneil with the idea to promote a different kind of Pride event.
“When I moved over here I tried to go out, get involved in the scene or get involved in going out, it was done. I saw it so many times over and over again. To me I felt that Victoria – I’m not attacking anybody – because of what I had seen living over in [Vancouver], is that everybody is behind. I felt that if I could find somebody that was willing to bring it up to more of a speed that I enjoy, that’s where I wanted to go with it. That’s why I approached Erik,” says Macneil.
Doug wanted a different kind of Pride event. A far more aggressive event removed from the familiar tropes of Pride. One that freed itself of the labels and preconceived notions within a community. Not a gay event, not a lesbian event, an event that was all inclusive where any and all can celebrate Pride in a non-traditional Pride venue. The result became Cease & Desist.
“The idea right now within the gay community is a real civil liberties discussion. Why are they not entitled to the same rights as straight people? Why are they not entitled to the same happiness and unhappiness as the rest of us, even though it is very touted and explicitly stated in the majority of our society that they’re entitled to equality,” says EVK.
Cease & Desist at its core is about liberation. Be that the liberation of copyrights, sexual liberation, or the liberation of all preconceived notions of what it is to be gay or straight.
“I think that segment of society speaks pretty loud, and the artwork does the same thing. I don’t think that any of us are oblivious to it. It’s a fact. It’s generally in your face. The first knee jerk reaction is that people get offended by it. Beyond what they think, what they truly believe. ‘No, no, no, sure. Let those people be the way they are, until I have to see something I don’t really want to see,’ and I think sex a lot of the time is the first knee jerk icebreaker for that one. You really jump on a line. Either way, I think it’s enticing,” says EVK.
Doug brought in some of the most talented and androgynous drag queens that Vancouver, B.C., has to offer for the July 5 show. The night was hosted by Kamelle Toe, a stand up comedian who commands attention. Other performers included Raye Sunshine, Mantra MMX, as well as DJs Kasey Riot, and Victoria’s own Monolithium.
“I want to bring a little piece of my home and a little piece of my imagination and to go down the rabbit hole with Erik. It’s been tons of fun with the Wolf/Sheep guys. I have gay friends who have gained a lot of respect for what something serious as this can do,” says Macneil.
The July 5 show was a flurry of androgyny, neon, glitter, and culture. The brick walls of Lucky Bar wore the neon Cease & Desist artwork proudly. Kamelle Toe delighted with her humour, Raye Sunshine exploded on the stage in a spot on Rouge costume from the 90s X-Men, Mantra MMX exuded androgyny, and Kasey Riot and Monlithium provided the beats.
“Cease & Desist isn’t going to be for just Pride only, but this time around we thought this would be the time to push the boundaries of the scene in Victoria and give the masses something they have never seen or heard before. Hopefully that comes to a bigger thing down the road. It doesn’t need to be a Pride event,” says Macneil.
Cease & Desist is series of art by Erik Van Kobra and a clothing line by Wolf/Sheep. What it really is, is a movement, a glittered coated fist of solidarity pumping in a nightclub. It’s a reminder that we need to push boundaries, we need to question norms. If we cannot be counted equally, if we lose the freedom to share information, what are we?
“I as an artist should have the same rights as you as a gay person, and we don’t. There’s inequality there and I think that’s unjust,” says EVK.
photo credit: wolfsheep.com
-Originally published by wolfsheep.com May 2013
WHY CANADA’S PUBLIC BROADCASTER HASN’T SEEN INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
Name an internationally successful Canadian TV program. You can name dozens of great shows, but like Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, they’re only big here. Now name an internationally successful British show. Stop, that’s enough. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) would have us believe that it all comes down to funding. But there is something bigger at work. Is there something rotten in the Canadian dream, in our own apathetic disposition towards ourselves in the global community?
According to the April 2011 Nordicity Report Analysis of Government Support for Public Broadcasting and Other Culture in Canada, in 2009 citizens of the United Kingdom paid $111 per capita towards their public broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In Canada, we paid a paltry $36 for ours. That’s over 60% less than the average $87 paid between the 18 western countries that were analyzed.
Why has the CBC failed to make programming that has transcended Canada and become ubiquitous in homes around the world? The BBC has created programming for decades that live in the global consciousness. Dr. Who, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Sherlock, and Little Britain are all original BBC programs that became international phenomena with massive cult followings. Dr. Who alone has spawned numerous spinoffs in its 50 year history.
In Canada, we have had many, many in-house successes produced by the CBC that are a part of our national identity. The Kids in the Hall, 22 Minutes (formerly This Hour has 22 Minutes), George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (formerly The Hour), The Rick Mercer Report, Royal Canadian Air Farce, and Hockey Night in Canada are just a few to name from my generation.
Are there fan conventions around the world with children dressing in Don Cherry suits, with friends who drew the short straw dressed as Ron MacLean? Are there children across the globe dressed in Dr. Who suits and friends as his various companions? Will there be Who fans for decades to come? Absolute`ly. Are we Canadians, and specifically our public broadcaster, unable to find a way to make our culture palatable and present it in a way to show the world how truly great it is?
John Threlfall is the former Editor-In-Chief of the Victoria, B.C., arts and culture paper Monday Magazine. He has been a listener of the CBC for over 30 years and from 2002 to 2007 he was a recurring guest on CBC Radio One’s Definitely Not the Opera with Sook-Yin Lee where he was referred to as their “walking encyclopedia of pop culture.” He currently serves as the Special Projects and Communications Officer for The Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria in B.C.
“This is where the CBC often missteps, is that they’re trying to give us a unifying Canadian image of, ‘this is what the Canadian experience is.’ Whereas Canada is really founded on regionalism,” says Threlfall.
The CBC adheres to its mandate from the Canadian Broadcasting Act of 1991, which states that, “the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens, and entertains.”
By all means their product does just that. The CBC strives to create a unified image of the Canadian experience on television. Canada is a vast country with many different and varied regions. The experiences of myself on the west coast to someone on the Prairies, to Ontario, to the Quebecois, to the Maritimes will all be radically varied. If we can’t agree on one Canadian image to represent us, how can our programming here be successful enough to go beyond our borders?
“That’s why I think you have regional successes. Like The Beachcombers, not that it’s a brilliant show, but [it] was really successful on the west coast. CODCO was very successful in Newfoundland. King of Kensington was huge in Ontario. I watched King of Kensington when I was growing up and it didn’t really work for me because it wasn’t my world. I think that’s probably part of the problem. You’re trying to go for this unified Canadian image that doesn’t really exist,” says Threlfall.
Look at the images that are put before us as being The Canadian image. Arguably our biggest export to the United States via the CBC has been Bob and Doug McKenzie. We all know ‘hosers’ like Bob and Doug who want to sit around, drink beer, and talk about hockey. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Is that the image that we as Canadians as a whole want to portray on the international stage?
What is it about the British image that is so much more palatable? Is the image of the tea sipping, distinguished accents, foppish attire, watching football and grabbing a pint any better than the maple syrup swilling, slack-jawed and awed (yeah, eh?), plaid sweater clad, watching hockey and drinking a Molson image of a Canadian?
We can’t keep presenting stereotypical Canadians and expect different results. Look at more contemporary non-CBC Canadian shows like Corner Gas or The Trailer Park Boys. Canadians are shown as bumbling and entrenched in their stereotypes. We’re expected to enjoy it simply because they are this idea of what a Canadian should be.
The CBC produces quality television that we enjoy at home. In Britain, there was no mandate for the BBC to create programming that would garner success outside of the UK. Nonetheless they have, so why can’t we? Unfortunately, you must look at the money.
The 2012 Federal Budget saw $115 million in cuts coming to the CBC over the course of the next three years. These come on the heels of a history of massive cuts that stem back to the 1990’s. The 10% cut will push the CBC’s budget below $1 billion. Compare that to the BBC’s 2011/2012 Annual report where they are to receive £3.6 billion ($5.5 billion Canadian) from household licensing fees and £279.4 million ($430.5 million) in government grants.
The CBC simply has no room to take risks on programming. If they are to continue to inform, enlighten, and entertain, they must put what little money they have into programming that is guaranteed to see a return. We live in an era where many television shows are taking on cinematic qualities and becoming post-modern television. The runaway success of shows such as Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, and the BBC’s Dr. Who are unparalleled. Imagine if we could create a Canadian program on that level. Not with this government, and not with a history of budget cuts to the CBC.
On April 29, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet put forward a new budget bill. Bill C-60 would give the Government an unprecedented say in collective bargaining with Crown Corporations. Harper would have a say in who works for CBC and how much they make.
“We shouldn’t be beholding to the Federal Government who hold the purse strings of the CBC, it should be the other way around. CBC should create the best content possible with the best Canadian talent possible and hope that the Federal Government just supports that,” says Threlfall.
To be clear, the CBC is Canada’s public broadcaster, not the state broadcaster as Sun News and Ezra Levant would have you believe. It is the Harper Government’s new budget bill that will see the CBC staffed by government approved personnel and further unable to take risks on programming.
Canada was founded in the spirit of colonialism. Everything is imported, from all citizens that came after the First Nations, to many of our products, to our television. We hardly ever look in to our own national identity. We the voters have the power to change that. Would we not want to put more money into the broadcaster if it meant that we would see returns such as quality programming?
We live in the YouTube era. If YouTube has taught us anything it’s that captivating programming can be made on a shoe string. If CBC continues to not take risks, won’t it just cautiously burrow itself into the ground? Do we want our public broadcaster, the broadcaster of our people, to be overtaken by corporations that will decide which American shows we will watch?
In 2008 the CBC lost the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, The Hockey Theme (not to be confused with the late Stompin’ Tom Connors’ classic The Hockey Song) which served as the theme since 1968. It was the audio cue for generations of Canadians that hockey was on. That theme is now in the hands of a private corporation. It no longer belongs to Canada’s public broadcaster, and therefore the public.
In 2014, the contract for Hockey Night in Canada between the CBC and the NHL will come up. It is a forgone conclusion that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will want to shop the multimillion dollar franchise around to other networks with war chests of cash much, much deeper than the budget of the CBC.
None of this is to say that the CBC does not produce ground breaking and powerful programming for us. Listen to Q with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC, it’s a masterful blend of pop culture, world issues, and philosophy. Watch Rick Mercer, the fact that he’s Canada’s Jon Stewart is a compliment.
Hockey will go on. The CBC may even go on. But unless we Canadians find a way to be less apathetic towards our national identity, unless we put more money back into the arts, we’ll continue to lose ourselves in the swathing sea of international programming and content.
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
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