Gene Day’s Black Zeppelin

First cover by Gene Day.

First cover by Gene Day.

In 1985, Deni Loubert’s newly founded publishing company Renegade Press published the first issue of Gene Day’s Black Zeppelin. The comic, a mix of science fiction, fantasy and horror comics, was predominantly a collection of Gene Day‘s work published posthumously, but also featured regular contributions from Dave Sim, David Day, Dan Day, Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette as well as other contributors such as Charles Vess, Augustine Funnell and Gordon Derry.

The series never exceeded five issues and was relatively irregular. It featured colour covers, by either Gene or David, with black and white interiors. The first three issues were 24 pages, the latter two being 32.

Issue 1, April 1985, Ed. Gale Day, Joe Erslavas

  • The Strip: Gene Day (A, S), Dan Day (I), Susan Thomas (L)
  • Priest: Charles Vess (A, S)
  • Winged Jupiter: Gene Day (S), Dan Day (A), Joe Erslavas (L)
  • Adriene All Alone: Dave Sim (A, S,)

Issue 2, June 1985

  • The Bizarre and the Fantastic: Gene Day
  • E. Pluribus Unum: Gene Day (S) Dan Day (P) David Day (I) Joe Erslavas (L)
  • Slaughterhouse Passing: Gene Day (S), Larry Dickison (A)
  • Quiet in the Green: Gene Day (S, A), David Day (Rendered), Susan Thomas (L)

Issue 3, August 1985, Ed. Joe Erslavas, Gale Day

  • It Waits: Gene Day (S, A)
  • Occurrence on a December’s Morning: Gene Day (S), Bruce Conklin (A), Dave Sim (L)
  • The Eaters: Augustine Funnell (S), Gene Day (P), David Day (I)
  • God’s Good Children: Gene Day (S), Dan Day (A)

Issue 4, March 1986, Ed. Joe Erslavas, Gale Day

  • The Infinite Man “Who Shall Cry For Damocles” Chapter One: Mark Shainblum (S), Gabriel Morrissette (P), David Day (I), Ron Kasman (L)
  • An Evil Cause: Dave McCarthy (S), Dave Sim (A)
  • Sequence: Gene Day (S, P), Dave Sim (S), Joe Erslavas (I)
  • Harry: Ronn Sutton (S, A)

Issue 5, October 1986, Ed. Joe Erslavas, Gale Day

  • “Who Shall Cry for Damocles” Chapter Two, Questionable Acts: Mark Shainblum (S), Gabriel Morrissette (P), David Day (I), Ron Kasman (L)
  • Life’s End: Dave Sim (S, A), Gene Day (A)
  • Gravedigger’s Banquet: Dave Sim (S, A), Gene Day (I)
  • Between Two Worlds: Gordon Derry (S), Barry Blair (P), David Day (F)
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Comic Book Confidential

If you are a fan of comic books as a art form, then chances are you’ve come across Comic Book Confidential. This documentary illustrated the history of comics with a special focus on the more recent developments at the time. The documentary, released in 1989, excellently highlights many of the milestones in American comics history and continues to be a relevent reference.

Comic Book Confidential was co-written and directed by Canadian documentarian Ron Mann of Sphinx Productions. In 1988, Sphinx Productions released a promotional comic as a companion to the film under Sphinx Comix. The majority of the 16 page comic is devoted to biographies of the creators referenced in the film, but there are quite a few small aspects of this comic that make it a gem. To begin, the comic is immediately recognizable by Chester Brown’s cover art. He also does a single page comic just inside the front cover. This is one of his many pieces that seem to pop up all over the place during this time.

Another aspect about the book that I love is that it included some work by bpNICHOL in the last year of his life. He worked as a consultant on the book along with Mark Askwith and is credited with writing the narrative captions. And last but not least, the lettering was done by forever true and consistent Ron Kasman. I didn’t have many problems finding my copy, and although it was originally free, you’ll have to pay a bit for it now.

The True North

Cover By Dave Sim

In September of 1987, the RCMP seized 192 comics from a comic book shop called Comic Legends in Calgary, Alberta. They also charged owners Julie Warren, Darren Ott and Dale Clarke with circulating obscene materials. The comics in question were adult comics and were never intended for children, nor were they sold to children. The reason for the search and confiscation of the comics was that a 14-year-old boy purchased a copy of Warlock 5 by Aircel Comics, and his mother complained. Warlock 5 was not a comic that was seized that day.

When comic artists caught wind of this, as they would, they were outraged. As a result, Paul Stockton (Of Strawberry Jam Comics), Leonard S Wong, Liz Schiller and Derek McCulloch formed the Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund (hereafter CLLDF). In order to raise funds for Warren, Ott and Clarke, CLLDF published an anti-censorship comic book anthology called The True North. Despite the unfavourable circumstances with which it was created, the comic book is an excellent testament to the conviction of the comic book industry both in and outside Canada. It also features a fantastic array of Canada’s writers and artists, as well as some Americans, spanning from from style to era and genre.

Unfortunately, all three shopkeepers were convicted with a fine of $5500. Although they did appeal with the help of CLLDF, the result was only a reduced fine.

In 1991, the CLLDF published True North II, a second anthology collection, again anti-censorship, and again, a great collector’s item. What I love most about these comics is the sampling of so many different Canadian writers and artists. Here is the contents of each book and there are some useful links at the bottom of the post.

True North

  • Anti-Censorship Propaganda – Chester Brown
  • Reid Fleming – David Boswell
  • One Romantic Evening – Jeffrey Taylor
  • Ronald and the Ducks – Ron Kasman
  • Starbikers – Ronn Sutton
  • The Life and Times of Tomas De Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor – Kent Burles
  • A Little Thought About Comics – Ty Templeton
  • Dan Panic: Think Allowued Talk – Greg Holfeld
  • It Comes Down to This – Nick Burns
  • A Suburban Nightmare – Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock
  • Real Life – M.A. Bramstrup and Monique Renee
  • Comic Books – William Van Horn
  • Dan Day Pinup – Dan Day
  • A True Story – Bernie Mireault and Joe Matt
  • Counterblast – Nick Burns
  • Warning – George Metzger
  • Wizard Pinup – Ron Kasman
  • Media Violence – Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette
  • Centerspread: Manunkind – Matt Wagner
  • -And So It Goes – George Freeman
  • Beware of…They! – Rodney Dunn
  • Jail for Joe – Dave Darrigo
  • Freedom of Choice Hot Tub – Todd McFarlane and Terry Fitzgerald
  • Edgar the Common Sense Elephant – Seth
  • Defenses of Clay – Rob Walton
  • Malcom and Eric – Ian Carr
  • Vox Populi – Richard Taylor and Mark Askwith
  • Bizarre Taste with Asta Roid – Gordon Derry and Adrian Kleinenberg
  • Rosebud – Derek McCulloch and Simon Tristam
  • Other Artists – Dave Sim, Gerhard
True North II
  • Lethargic Lad – Greg Hyland and John Migliore
  • Bachelor Party or The Road Not Taken or Just Another Male Fantasy – Dennis Eichhorn and Carel Moiseiwitsch
  • R.G. Taylor Pinups – Richard Taylor
  • How These Bastards Operate – Ron Kasman and Gabriel Morrissette
  • On Being Eurasian – Theresa Henry
  • The Weird Canadian Artist – Chester Brown
  • Prescription For Ignorance – Diana Schutz and Monty Sheldon
  • A Public Disservice Message – Roberta Gregory
  • Random Pornography – Darren Raye and Sean Scoffield
  • Saved – Seth
  • The Steel Brood – Kent Burles
  • Surgie Center Tales of the Existentialist Private Eye – Ty Templeton
  • Big Boss Barney – Sylvie Rancourt and Jacques Boivin
  • Reflections – Denis Beauvais
  • Little Zemo in Censorland – Richard Pace
  • Statue of Liberty – Jeffrey Morgan
  • The Censors – Stephen Bissette
  • Revenue Canada – Leonard S. Wong
  • Jungle Rescue – Ronn Sutton
  • The Eye of the Beholder – Deni Loubert
  • Tierra de Pajaro – Gilbert Hernandez
  • May 29th 1988 – Joe Matt and Bernie Mireault
  • Reid Fleming – David Boswell
  • Tales of the Censor – Janet Hetherington
  • Words and Thoughts – Toren Smith and Tomoko Saito
  • Potato Man – Todd McFarlane
  • The Raven – Patrick McEown
  • Three Card Monty – Derek McCulloch and Simon Tristam
  • Benefit – Rick Trembles and Bernie Mireault
  • Stupid Fucken Dumbass Censorship – Rick Trembles
  • Those People! – Reed Waller and Kate Worely
  • Blank – Tom Grummett and Roger Williamson
  • Captain Censored Vs. Dr. Goingtoofar – Al Roy and Max Douglas
  • Corpus Delicti – Jerry Prosser and Matt Wagner
  • Other artists – Dave Sim, Gerhard, Kelley Jones, Moebus

More recently, an American man was charged with possessing child porn when Canada customs agents discovered manga scans on his laptop. Both The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and CLLDF have both decided to support the case. If you want to donate, you can go to their site. Here is a great new and informative promotional flyer as well. Here and here are further resources.

Don’t Touch Me Independent Comics

The flyer for the launch of DTM #15.

Don’t Touch Me Comics is a comic anthology that was released in October of 1994. The comic was based out of Weston, Ontario but was mainly distributed in Toronto, and was founded by alternative artist Dave Howard. The comic was released irregularly as a small press publication in black and white until 2002. Until this time, the anthology regularly featured an interview with an artist or other comics professional like Joe Matt or Chris Oliveros.

In 2002, Dave Lapp, another local artist and comic creator, joined Howard and together they reformatted Don’t Touch Me, taking out the interview and publishing it in better quality. Since that time the anthology has been published regularly four times a year.

The flyer for the launch of issue 17.

Don’t Touch Me has featured such artists as Fiona Smyth, Joe Ollmann, Alan Bunce, Dave Lapp, Zach Worton, Greg McCann, Marc Bell, Matt Daley, James Waley and Ron Kasman among many others and is a great way to stay on top of local developing artists. Current and back issues can be purchased online here.

As further evidence of his determination to keep the alternative comics scene going, two years after creating Don’t Touch Me, Howard began the Toronto Comic Jam, fashioning it after Rupert Bottenburg’s Comix Jam in Montreal. In 2005 Howard retired from the Comics Jam, but it remains very successful, taking place at The Cameron on the last Tuesday of every month.

Lapp himself published his first collection in October of 2008 called Drop In by Conundrum Press. He has also produced several zines including The Hood and a regular strip for the Georgia Straight called Children of the Atom from 1996 to 2001.

You can find out more here on Howard’s art page, as well as more about Howard and his other work. To learn more about what Howard is still up to, check out his other blog which features a mixed bag of comic or music related stuff. Yeah, I said stuff. Things?