Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ian Daffern

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Ian Daffern directs and produces documentary videos and writes about books and comics for places like Quill and Quire, The Globe and Mail and The National Post. He's also half of the mighty writing team behind Freelance Blues, your favourite new supernatural-horror-comedy comic (tm).

His website can be found here at

Video blog:

Follow him on Twitter at:

On Comics, with Ian Daffern

Ian Daffern is Open Book's 2011 Whazamo! Writer in Residence.


Tell us about Freelance Blues.


Freelance Blues is a comic about a guy named Lance who has a problem. Whenever he shows up to work, he finds out that his boss is a monster trying to take over the world. So he's got to save his co-workers, defeat his evil boss and get up tomorrow and find a new job, because for him, being a hero doesn't pay the bills. It's an episodic comic-book, where each issue is a complete adventure, exploring everything from homicidal call-center cults to blood-sucking pharmaceutical testing labs. At the end, it will answer why all this bad stuff keeps happening to him. It's a workplace misadventure about trying to find your place in the world really.

Freelance Blues

By Ian Daffern and Mike Leone and drawn by Vicki Tierney

Recent Writer In Residence Posts


Today's Whazamo comic comes from Tory Woollcott, a Toronto-based cartoonist who made her debut with the graphic memoir Mirror Mind: Growing up Dyslexic. Besides being well told, what made Mirror Mind stand out is that it is one of the first stories in any medium that really got across what dyslexia actually is, and how it affects those who struggle with it.


Looking for David Collier at TCAF this year, I found him in a lecture room, drawing cartoons on a wipeboard. Not as part of session--but because “someone needed to fill up that empty space.” The same passion has driven Collier to fill notebooks and eventually the pages of comics and graphic novels since the mid-eighties, in autobiographical essays and other true-life tales.

WHAZAMO! Graphic Versus Novels

It's been an amazing month of literary comics here at Whazamo with each cartoonist bringing their own unique approach to the challenge of adapting or representing their chosen book. Of course we're not the first to mix mediums, there are many excellent examples of cartoonists who have been moved to turn prose into comics.


Hyein Lee is an artist to watch. I met her on the indie-press circuit, a quiet kooky girl in ladybug shoes, selling prints of pastel monsters, bunnies and penguins, along with hand-made mini comics. But it was really a short-story that was published in Broken Pencil that caught my attention.


You don't get a lot of comics about poetry, but that's just the kind of artist Marian Churchland is. Her first graphic novel Beast followed a sculptress struggling with the creative process, as she tries to complete the portrait of her shawdowy, and most probably, magical patron.

Whazamo! The Art of Story

Graphics vs Novels! As part of Whazamo! Ontario Graphic Novel Month, we asked cartoonists to share a story of one book that has inspired them as artists, as storytellers, as people. Opening a window, a panel if you will, into the mysterious process of inspiration. The following conversation with 4 of the artists explores the differences between the mediums of books and comics—and shows how when you combine art and storytelling, anything can happen.

Kalman Andrasofszky
Charlene Chua
Agnes Garbowska
John Lang

Produced by Ian Daffern (
For Open Book Toronto (
Edited by Jeun Lee
Photography by Hernan Morris


Cartoonist John Lang is equally at home with editorial assignments as rampaging monsters.


Kalman is a comic book illustrator, and a concept designer for video games, television, those looking for imaginative fantasy or science fiction creations. He has a particular knack for the details that make a genre hero memorable.


Storytelling is powerful. When I asked this week's illustrators to choose a book that inspired them, both went for a favourite from childhood. When else are you more easily pulled into the world between two covers? In Agnes Garbowska's case, a lot of that time was spent under the covers, terrifying herself with the stories of R.L. Stine's classic Goosebumps series.


One of the best things about doing indie-comics is the different artists that you get to meet along the way. Charlene Chua was exhibiting the same year as me once at the Speakeasy Comic Book Show at the Gladstone hotel, a combination of art show and mixer. And mostly what caught my eye were her women.

Whazamo! Comics: Michael Cho

I met Michael Cho at one of the first TCAFs, where I picked up a tiny mini comic called Night Time. It made an impression; not just the art, but a first person voice that captured the thrill and freedom of being a teenager (it's kind of like Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs' before 'The Suburbs').

Graphic vs Novels! Comics vs Books!

It's amazing to be back for a 3rd year of Whazamo! here at Open Book: Toronto. The past year has seen comics crack end-of-year top-ten charts; become bestsellers, and appear on CBC Canada reads. Ontario publishers even started offering courses to help editors keep up with the whole books-with-pictures phenomenon!

And the Toronto Comic Arts Festival just keeps getting bigger, with international guests and a fantastic list of new books being launched this weekend. All of this has given us the chance to showcase Ontario's finest cartoonists and comics creators, through interviews, profiles and web-documentaries. But this time we're doing something different...

Whazamo! No Girls Allowed

No Girls Allowed! Willow Dawson and Susan Hughes spin historical yarns in their graphic novel about women that dressed as men for fortune, fame and love. Follow the lives of women vikings, doctors, generals and soldiers from the age of Pharaohs to the Civil War.

Whazamo! State of the Art: Web Comics

The Toronto Comics Arts Festival is the most jam-packed fiesta of cartooning talent you can find all cramed under one roof. This year, rather than just show you the festival, we wanted to take a close look at the methods and means contemporary cartoonists use to express themselves today in a two-part series called State of the Art.

Whazamo! Dark Adaptation & Lorenz Peter

Artist and writer Lorenz Peter takes to the tracks to explain what the phenomenon of Dark Adaptation means, and why he named his seminal full-length graphic novel after it. Between bizarro animation and a strange encounter on the railways, Peter walks us through his creative process, a hardscrabble upbringing in a Northern Alberta oil town, and the oft painful affair of transmuting personal experience into art.

Whazamo! State of the Art: Self Publishing

The Toronto Comics Arts Festival is the most jam-packed fiesta of cartooning talent you can find all cramed under one roof. This year, rather than just show you the festival, we wanted to take a close look at the methods and means contemporary cartoonists use to express themselves today in a two-part series called State of the Art.

Toronto Comic Arts Festival

It's Ontario Graphic Novel Month! Check out our Whazamo! page, an online comics celebration that showcases talented graphic novelists and illustrators.

Let this video from last year's festival inspire you to head to the Toronto Reference Library on May 8th and 9th, 2010, for The Toronto Comics Art Festival. The festival features over 200 cartoonists who "convene to exhibit their art and book projects, to discuss and promote their work via panels and readings, and to interact with the public."

This video of last year's TCAF was produced by Vepo Studios.

Open Bar 2: Rebecca Rosenblum

In the second Open Bar, able drinker Ian Daffern talks to author Rebecca Rosenblum about her favourite Toronto patio, the Victory Cafe.

Open Bar 2: Rebecca Rosenblum

In the second Open Bar, able drinker Ian Daffern talks to author Rebecca Rosenblum about her favourite Toronto patio, the Victory Cafe. Along the way hear how her short story collection Once got started, her undying love of bars, and the joys of being on your feet.

Open Bar is a cocktail of photos and conversation from your favourite authors; serving up stories of their trusted locals for writing and relaxing; discussing their latest book or their drink of choice.

Whazamo! Bonus Track: Jeff Lemire

When Whazamo was getting ready to launch, one of the first artists to get back to us was Jeff Lemire, an amazing Toronto cartoonist best known for Essex County, a haunting graphic novel series about life on a small town Ontario farm. Now he’s back with a whole slew of new projects, including The Nobody , an update on the Invisible Man, the trailer for which you can find here. Though we missed it during May, we knew we had to share it with you now—think of it as the Whazamo bonus track!

Name: Jeff Lemire

Hometown: Woodslee, Ontario


Role: Cartoonist

Whazamo! Profiles: Eric Kim

Name: Eric Kim

Hometown: Toronto


Role: Comic artist, illustrator, co-creator, aspiring creator

Latest Work: Most recent was The Sidesteppers for Owl Magazine. My next upcoming work will be “The Push” for the Popgun vol. 4 anthology, followed by a my webcomic “Streta”...then a project from Oni Press.

Whazamo! Profiles: George Walker

Name: George A. Walker

Hometown: Brantford Ont. Although I’ve lived in Toronto since 1979. Toronto.

Web site:

Role: Illustrator, graphic novelist (Book of Hours); writer (Woodcut Artists Handbook , Graphic Witness ,pub. Firefly Books)(Inverted Line and Images from the Neocerebellum, pub. Porcupine’s Quill); Acquisitions editor of the Graphic Novel Series at The Porcupine’s Quill

Latest Work: Name of Book, Press, Graphic Witness ,Firefly Books, Images from the Neocerebellum, Porcupine’s Quill and an upcoming trade edition of Book of Hours 2011 Porcupine’s Quill

What’s It About in a Nutshell: Visual narratives : the image as text.

Whazamo! Profiles: Brian McLachlan

Name: Brian McLachlan

Hometown: Toronto


Role: Cartoonist

Latest Work:
Ticket To Space , Scholastic Canada

What’s It About in a Nutshell:
After a clerical error, a 13 year old girl gains a chance to go aboard the space shuttle. The space agency tries to make the pre-flight training ridiculously hard that she'll give up and they won't have to put a child into a dangerous situation. Ha! Good luck, space agency!

What first inspired you to create comics or graphic novels?

Whazamo! Profiles: John Bell

Name: John Bell

Hometown: Montreal-born Haligonian living in Ottawa

Website: http://www.collectionscanada.g...

Role: Comics Historian

Latest Work: Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe (Dundurn, 2006)

What’s It About in a Nutshell:The history of comics and graphic narrative in English Canada, with emphasis on comic books.

What first inspired you to write about comics? I grew up in the 1950s, when comics were a mass medium – and a kid’s salvation.

Whazamo! Profiles: Kate Beaton

Name: Kate Beaton

Hometown: Mabou, Nova Scotia


Role: comic artist

Latest Work: Never Learn Anything From History, self published

What’s It About in a Nutshell:A collection of comics, mostly poking fun at historical events and people.

What first inspired you to create comics or graphic novels? It's just been something I've done for myself for a long time, and now for an audience.

What for you makes a comic or graphic novel AWESOME!? Ah that is a hard question, I think it is different for every example.

Whazamo! Profiles: Marta Chudolinska

Name: Marta Chudolinska

Hometown: Toronto, ON (as well as St. John's, NL; Vancouver, BC; Mississauga, ON; Warsaw, Poland)

Website: www.backandforthbook.wordpress...

Role: artist

Latest Work:Back + Forth, The Porcupine's Quill
available at

What’s It About in a Nutshell:

Whazamo! Profiles: Evan Munday

Name: Evan Munday

Hometown: Toronto? (Originally Ramsey, NJ, or Oakville, ON)

Website: and

Role: Sometimes illustrator, sometimes cartoonist

Latest Work: Stripmalling (written by Jon Paul Fiorentino), ECW Press

Whazamo! Making A Softer World

Emily Horne and Joey Comeau, creators of A Softer World, demonstrate how their highly popular web comic is made, and discuss how it came to be. Dinosaur Comics creator Ryan North guest stars. Look for all 3 creators at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival! And you can find
A Softer World at:
and Dinosaur Comics at:

Whazamo! Profiles: Ashley Spires

Name: Ashley Spires

Hometown: Tsawwassen, BC

Website: and

Role: writer/illustrator

Latest Work: Binky the Space Cat, Kids Can Press (Coming August, 2009)

What’s It About in a Nutshell: A delusional house cat entertains notions of exploring outerspace (which is anything outside of his house) and fighting aliens (all flying insects) while secretly building a rocket ship in his litter box.

Whazamo! Profiles: Kid Koala

Whazamo! Profiles looks at Kid Koala, who kicks off the TCAF celebrations tonight with his Loud Party.
He's also about to release Space Cadet, a graphic novel told through 120 white-on-black etchings, about a a girl who was raised by a guardian robot, to become a famous space explorer. Find out more about Kid Koala's latest comics below!

Name: Eric San

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec


Role: illustrator, scratch dj, diaper changer

Latest Work: Space Cadet

What’s It About in a Nutshell: Parenthood and space travel

Whazamo! Profiles: Troy Little

Name: Troy Little

Hometown: Summerside, PEI but spent many years living in Ottawa.


Role: writer / artist (sometimes publisher).

Latest Work: Angora Napkin, IDW Publishing

What’s It About in a Nutshell:

Whazamo! A Softer World Preview

Emily Horne and Joey Comeau, creators of A Softer World get stuck up a tree discussing what their highly popular web comic is all about. Ryan North guest stars in this preview for the full story of "The Making of A Softer World", coming later this week on Whazamo! Look for all 3 creators at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this weekend.

Welcome to Whazamo! Ontario Graphic Novel Month

Whazamo! is a cavalcade of all that is excellent in Canadian comics and graphic novels, inspired by the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Throughout May we will showcase comics by Ontario's independent book publishers, as well as present unique video and interview profiles of the best Canadian cartoonists in bookstores and on the web. Why comics for Open Book: Toronto? Why not! Toronto is a comic-book town.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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