Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Generation Y Rules? Munday's Quarter-Life Crisis Seems To Think So

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Nathaniel G. Moore’s Conflict of Interest column appears biweekly.

Okay, so I just asked the Internet and there is no way to actually discern accurate data that carbon-dates the origin of Generation X and Y. However, I think a more pristine definition arises during nights when mixed groups of people are hanging out and there is always this pop culture reference gap between those born in the mid-1970s and those born anytime in the 1980s.

I think that Generation X had its time. It was a good run for all us Goonie-watching, Star Wars-loving maniacs. We had Cabbage Patch Kids. We had Jaws, Ghostbusters, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Of course, you can crunch the numbers and realize Ghostbusters was released in 1984, The Goonies in 1985, and figure out the 25-year-olds could have seen half the crap I'm talking about here in their lifetime. But my point is, if Evan Munday's post-apocalyptic new novella-length comic is anything to go by, these 1984 babies, Generation Y or not, are the salt of the earth. In Toronto, anyways. And I think, in many ways, he's right. Why fight it?

Quarter-Life Crisis is a quirky self-published comic book set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto where everyone except the 25-year-olds has mysteriously died. How will they survive? There's your story.

The comic is at times full of brutal battles, and you get caught up in a strange close-to-home way because it’s Toronto, right, and you get a bit worried that this could somehow come true. Or has it? How close are we to Evan Munday's nightmare? Though clearly an exaggeration here, what is Munday saying about our amazing city dubbed by Canadians as "the centre of the universe"?

The story follows Toronto's Yung brothers, who live in the bento box-shaped structure above the ruins of OCAD and who mine for both copper and allies. Copper is like gold in the city now. The Yung brothers also live in hellish fear of rival gangs, the Rogers (the bad guys) and, occasionally, some very mean Bay Street thugs.

I was compelled by the copper mining in the city and asked Munday to clarify the brother's excavation habits. “There are a lot of scavengers/scrappers currently — maybe not as much in Toronto, but it's pretty prevalent in many American cities — who take the copper from abandoned buildings, construction sites, not-so-abandoned trucks, wherever, and sell them to unscrupulous companies for good money,” Munday explains. “Copper's a very useful metal to have! So, I figured people would need copper just as much in the future. A good thing to barter for. Instead of money, though, you get food or other supplies. Also, the Rogers have a particular use for it that might be revealed later on.”

Munday, who spends his days and nights as publicist for Coach House Books, began writing the strip in the summer of 2008, with hopes of completion that same year. “That was before I realized how long it was going to take and how bad I had become at not sleeping.”

“On a good average day, I can finish one page (penciling and inking). But I rarely work a page at a time, so it's hard to say. I treat it like a one-man assembly line: all the story first, then all the pencils, then all the inks, etc,” explains Munday. He then jokes, “To increase the tedium.”

According to its creator, Quarter-Life Crisis was strongly influenced by Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim books. "I wanted to do a fun Toronto book," says Munday. And there is plenty of fun in Munday's post-apocalyptic tale, with slick illustrations, pop culture fevered dialogue and monologues, and survival-of-the-fittest urban mischief.

“The term 'quarter-life crisis' was being bandied about in the newspapers a lot, so I thought, 'Why not make a book about a real quarter-life crisis?'”

Enter the Yung Brothers: Harper and Aaron. Munday says the plans for the protagonist brothers was always there. “I felt like all my previous self-published and never-realized books dealt with romantic relationships; a sibling relationship was something new. And weird, in the context of the book, since there wouldn't be many siblings (given the age restrictions).”

Munday's main goal was to create “a heightened sense of Toronto.” This results in some key dynamics of our fair city showing up in Quarter-Life Crisis, such as our playful nightlife, the anonymous ambience of consumerism, a sole surviving TTC streetcar and, as Munday explains, “Dance Dance Revolution becomes a death match instead of a popular past-time. Shoppers Drug Mart becomes this ideal safe house.”

Munday hopes readers will see the Toronto they know and love, “but see it as if it were in a funhouse mirror.”

And what about that lone streetcar surviving the apocalypse, helping the Jung brothers avoid all the nastiness outside while getting from A to B? How does the author think the suits at the TTC would feel?

“I think they would enjoy it. After all, even in the post-apocalypse, at least one streetcar still works. That's durability, man! The brothers depend on that streetcar for safety and transportation. They'd be dead a hundred times over if it weren't for the TTC. What other municipal service can say that in the future?”

***

Quarter-Life Crisis is available at select bookstores, or if you see Evan (which inevitably you will if you are in Toronto) ask him for a copy and give him some money. Or maybe copper?

For more information, please visit Evan’s site: idontlikemundays.com.

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