The middle ages of zine culture produced some fantastic works out of Montreal. The most well known is probably Julie Doucet, but another great creator of comics and zines is Shane Simmons, a master of experimental comics. A writer of screenplays and TV scripts, his early career produced several short zines, including one major series entitled Angry Comics. This series ran until issue #12 before it was discontinued.
A real gem in Simmons’ career is his five part comic series Money Talks published by Slave Labor Graphics. The first issue came out in June of 1996 and the series was published bi-monthly until February 1997. This concluded the first volume of Money Talks, but sadly the series was not continued.
Simmons, an extremely skilled writer, paired his scripting with characters from American, Canadian and British monetary bills and notes. Although perhaps a little off-putting to begin with, the style becomes quite comical, especially when Simmons further experiments with how to impose facial gestures and action using only the bust of characters.
Albert, Ellie and Abe.
The story begins in Evansville with the death of Edward Warfield. It soon comes to light that Edward’s death was at the hands of his rival tycoon played by George Washington. The story follows the mob style activities of both of the rivals and related characters such as the Bowes family, a mother and her three daughters, all played by different versions of Queen Elizabeth. At the hands of Simmons, the comic has expert comedic timing and character dialogue.
Simmons can now be found at Eyestrain Productions where he and his other work is available to look at or order.
Rob Walton’s Bloodlines, or Blood Lines, was published in 1987, originally by Ottawa publisher Aircel Publishing. Rob Walton created the project, and although not published until 1987, he cited 1984 as some of his earliest concepts of the idea. The story takes place in the middle of a gang war, but the added touch is the presence of divinity within the war. Rob Walton explains it in his summary for the first portion of his script adaptation here. He says, “imagine that the drug gangs in the Wire were fronts for a war between good and evil.” Good enough for me.
Because of the comic’s mature content, it passed from publisher to publisher. After one issue at Aircel, it moved to Blackburn Video and Comics but only lasted two issues there. The comic finally rested with Vortex comics, a publisher commonly known for its line of adult or mature comics. Unfortunately, after its trek across Ontario, it only lasted four more issues under the Vortex title.
Rob Walton, a self-described “writer who draws”, also did the art for the comic, which is great in black and white and complements the point of the story as well. In fact, he did just about everything in the comic.
Here are the subtitles in order:
Overture – part one
Overture – part two
Overture – part three
Dreaming Innocence – part one
Dreaming Innocence – part two
Dreaming Innocence – part three
Dreaming Innocence – part four
Rob also did some work for Dark Horse Comics and published a graphic novel called Ragmop. If you want to check out some of Rob’s other stuff, here are a few different links:
Alright, so here’s a hot comic from Canada’s underground which, as I write this, is selling for $156 on ebay. Completely produced by David Stewart Geary, or Dave Geary, the comic focuses primarily on beer and features much of the same bawdy tones as many other comix of its time. Geary was another master of the Underground comix age in Canada, producing other titles such as Gopher Freedom and Fleshapoids.
Definitely some mature content, and I have to tell an anecdote. Inside the front cover in the indicia, there is what I assume to be a purposeful “typo”. This typo asserts that the comic was published by Public Pubications, and not Public Publications. I laughed, which I’m sure was the intent of the writer. The funnier still was the entry made in the old finding aid. The person who went through this collection before me did not put down a publisher! There’s no way they could have missed this, and it’s blasphemy that they put nothing. What I assume happened was that they couldn’t cross check it, and rather than embarrassingly putting down what was there, they put nothing at all.
Published in Saskatoon in September of 1971, the heart of the Underground comix era, Geary did put out two more issues after this one. Here are the titles from Beer Comix #1:
Chimo Queen of the Ritz in Love’s Labours
Eco Tunes and Murky Maladies
I Love My Frog
Goony Bunny answers that Age Old Question, “Is it Sex or is it Lust?”
Things to Do: “How to Get on Everybody’s Nerves”
Dream of the Rave Beer Fiend
Love on the Slopes: A Shelly James Ture Romance Adventure
A Beer Comix Vignette
Chimo Queen of the Ritz
Lurid Pap Comix
Goony Bunny the Philosopher Rabbit
Stark, Scary and Lustful
A New Era Dawns in Agadir-Morocco
In the first Chimo comic, Chimo’s name is given this introduction:
*Chimo (Pron. CHEE-MO) Ancient Canadian Colloquialism. Mod. trans. “Eat poop white eyes”
See also: Bridge City Beer Comix and Bridge City Revue.
It’s pretty interesting to go through some of the older zines from the 80s and 90s and stumble upon some that exceed the typical standards of zine culture. Today I stumpled upon a zine entitled “ARG: Apocryphal Restituion Guild”. This zine, created and produced in Calgary in 1989 by Kevin Kurytnik, was not only one of the better zines I’ve seen as far as physical appearance and production quality went, but also the content. Later Kurytnik later produced “UGH! Undulating Gods in Heat!”
The editor and greater contributor of content to ARG, Kurytnik’s illustrations and dark humour are more subtle and dry than the genre typically produces. His simple but detailed black and white drawings attract the attention of any reader and pair up remarkably well with the content and style of his writing.
Although Kurytnik strayed from the comic world, he was able to carry out his creations and ideas in animation. From ARG, Kurytnik published “Mr. Reaper’s Really Bad Day” which he later turned into “Mr. Reaper’s Really Bad Morning”; a short film that he directed and co-wrote with Carol Beecher. You can see it here:
Here is a link of his other accomplishments if you’re interested in learning or seeing more. Kurytnik is now an instructor at Alberta College of Art and Design and here is his faculty profile.