the portable city

by definition, not static

status: archives being slowly restored, comics being relocated, new artwork and writing in the queue

High Intensity Comic Work


So my first round of art school was a fine art degree. And I didn’t really know a lot about art careers and I wasn’t really sure what I WANTED to be doing, but I did kind of chafe against the “comics aren’t art” vibe some teachers had. And then Shannon Gerard came and talked.

And Shannon’s gone on to do a lot, a LOT of really cool stuff ( but her talk was about, or at least mentioned, how she was doing comics as part of a cross-disciplinary masters, by making them with lithographic prints. Which is, I think, a real flex.

Like, it’s one thing to draw a comic, and another thing to draw it backwards, soak it in chemicals, and then, one page at a time, pull the right amount of successful prints from the stone, before you could draw the next page. It still boggles my mind. Just fuckin incredible.

And her process did two things – it elevated the medium to something the more traditional fine art faculty would engage with, and it also used the then popular genre of autobio/confessional comics, which probably also helped get fine art profs to connect with the project.

So my memory of her talk is prettttty faded, but what it did was give me permission to be a real shit about bringing comics back into my fine art work. Clearly I just needed to use more punishing mediums! So I did.

Did I have anything to say WITH those comics?
Would that stop me?
Also no.

So, in my final year of art school, baby artist shel decided to paint and etch comics of the most banal shit you can think of.

I did a BUNCH of these, and if you think these painted ones are… slow and meditative….

Wait’ll you see the blood, sweat and tears I poured into intaglio prints of empty spaces:

These were etched and aquatinted into copper plates, printed by wiping ink into every crevasse in the metal and then wiping all the excess ink off the face, then squeezing them through a huge heavy press, one print at a time.

That said I do still like these haunted window views inspired by taking the subway up past Yorkdale station every day for school.

But oh my god the LABOUR it took to make these. Was that the secret to making them fine art? I do not know, I just know I gave it a real good try. I even screenprinted a deconstructed journal comic, god help me:

Anyways, the last piece I made this way was also the first fine art painting I ever sold, and it was titled “waiting” and it was a journal comic about doing my first Canzine alone when my teammate ditched. Painted in layers and layers of acrylic, across six canvases.

Did I use these as livejournal icons for years after?


Anyways now when I feel like I’m being a bit of a try-hard, I at least know where I learned it.

Oh my gosh okay I did make ONE more of these, the year after I graduated. It’s very angsty.