Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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

Obviously I'm an admirer; I had the pleasure of collaborating with him on a comic called Shock Effect. We were both huge gamers, fans of 3D sci-fi shooters like Gears of War, so I came up with a story to play against our love of the genre, about a regular family caught amidst an alien invasion.

Since then, John's art caught the attention of the editors at Penguin Canada, as they were planning a line of graphic novel biographies for younger readers. But not only would he be drawing the book-- he'd be writing it. Lone Hawk: The Story of Air Ace Billy Bishop comes out this Fall. The result is a story that gets inside the mind of the pilot, by pitting his internal struggles against the thrills of aerial combat.

For his Whazamo comic John chose George Orwell's Animal Farm, which he explains was the first to teach him the power of metaphor. It's a method he continues to use to full effect in his own comics, when matching the power of pictures to words. (Oh and speaking of animals, he draws a mean monkey too!)

WHAZAMO! Comics: Graphic vs Novel
Every TUESDAY and THURSDAY for the month of May, Open Book: Toronto will feature an original comic by a Canadian cartoonist. We asked them to share a story of one book that has inspired them as artists, as storytellers, as people. Together, their comics will open a window, a panel if you will, into the mysterious process of inspiration.

Click on the illustrations for a better look. (The images can be further enlarged by clicking on the icon with four arrows that will appear.)

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.

Ian Daffern

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
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Go to Ian Daffern’s Author Page