We're having our second Ladies Night at Strange Adventures Comic Shop, this Friday, from 6 to 9pm!

You can read about the last Ladies Night, RSVP on Facebook, and check out our special guests Raina Telgemeier and Faith Erin Hicks. Other special guests include me, Rachelle, and Rachelle's baby—who will sketch anything you want, even Wolverine with Venom power.

Ruts & Gullies: Une histoire voyage super cool sur les Canadiens-français en Russie!

This brand new little paperback from Conundrum Press has brightened my week. I was getting mopey thinking about how I won’t get to travel anywhere this summer, except to and from work. I’ve spent the past few years touring a lot with my band, but now I’m a real working lady, and I’m getting antsy for a road trip that won’t come.

Then Ruts & Gullies reminded me that I can travel through the magic of books! Books! Each page draws you into an imaginary world that’s way better than say, actually going to Brooklyn!

But for real, travel stories are great for satisfying an adventure-craving when you’re stuck at home. Ruts and Gullies chronicles French-Canadian cartoonist Philippe Girard and his cartoonist pal, Jimmy Beaulieu as they travel from Quebec City to St. Petersburg, Russia for a comics arts festival.

While significant trips are often imbued with a sense of escape or freedom or emotional catharsis, Girard’s is especially so. He heads to Russia on the heels of losing a close friend to cancer and when he returns to Canada he’ll undergo a semi-serious surgery, so his travel is bookended by significant and scary events.

However, Ruts & Gullies doesn’t head into super self-reflective territory. The events in Girard’s life just give the reader insight as to why he would go to country everyone tells him is crime-ridden and impoverished and all around, generally scary. He’s been given a sense a bravery or maybe carefree-ness that comes with being so close to death.

But, like I said, Ruts & Gullies isn't weighty— it's a fascinating and joyful read. It’s along the same lines as the amazing Guy Delisle’s Shenzhen and Pyongyang—interesting and funny tidbits about a people and country that are relatively unknown to most Canadians, without getting too “aren’t other cultures hilarious?”

Comics are a perfect medium for Girard’s story since, like most travel stories, it’s less of a straightforward narrative and more scenes of interesting moments in Russia: seeing the remnants of communist culture, trying weird new food, lost passports, public transit mishaps, cool new friends, etc.

No kidding, I really did feel that Girard took me with him on thrilling trip to an awesomely strange destination, and I didn’t even have to leave Scrapperton at home.

Friendly, Neighbourhood...Thing

I know ads for totally absurd merchandise are common place in any Marvel comic, but seriously:


What is this?

No, really? What is it?

These are my best guesses.

Salad Tongs.

Melon baller.

Ultra safe scissors?

Or some sort of medical tool? Foresceps? Or...uh...a speculum?


Ugh, chilling stuff.


Please help me out. The more I think about it, the creepier the possibilities.

Kyle Baker in Halifax! Tomorrow!

The incomparable KYLE BAKER will be speaking at the Halifax North Branch Library tomorrow afternoon! Baker, as you probably know, is an incredibly prolific writer and illustrator, who has won every comics-related award there is and worked for every publisher and company in the business. I just read (or in some cases re-read) a bunch of his stuff including Nat Turner, Why I Hate Saturn and The Bakers books—all amazing, and each totally different from the last. Baker's work is as diverse as it is brilliant.

Baker's talk is part of a day-long Graphic Novel Camp—an event providing education about comics and celebrating the medium. LBW's BFFs Mike Holmes and Faith Erin Hicks will also be there, as well as Kate Beaton (of Hark! A Vagrant fame), and the wonderful Rebecca Kraatz (if you haven't read her book, House of Sugar, do it! And check out the beautiful wood-burned images on her website. Looking at them is like a present you give yourself).

For more information about the Graphic Novel Camp event go here.

This is event is free! So come by! 

Cat Week: Scrapperton Buys Comics

For Cat Week, I'm passing my reviewing duties over to my cat, Scrapperton. He's an avid comic reader, although I don't usually trust his opinion because he's basically only interested in comics with cats in them.

His favourite is Grant Morrison's WE3, even though "iz sad" according to him.  I gave Scrapperton a copy of Cat Getting Out of Bag by Jeffery Brown, but he hated it and said "iz not true. All dis is stereotypes."

So, here's what Scrapperton has to say. (I've included some of my comments for clarification.)

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1

Scrapperton: Dis one haz a cat in it. Two cats! I luvs it.

Tiina: Yeah? Great!

Scrapperton: I roded on a hippopodamuss once, like da guy in da comic.

Tiina: What are you talking about? No, you didn't!

Scrapperton: Maybe it wuz just a fat guy.

Ghost Projekt #1

Scrapperton: Dis one has a cat.

Tiina: Yup.

Scrapperton: Iz he da bad cat? Did he kills all da baybees?

Tiina: Um, I don't know. I don't think he's to blame. He might be bad though.

Scrapperton: He scratchez da couch. Iz very bad.

DMZ #51

Scrapperton: No cat. I hates it.

Tiina: But besides there being no cats, what did you think?

Scrapperton: Needs more cats.

Batman and Robin #10

Scrapperton: CAT! Anothr cat!

Tiina: Sort of a fancy tiger guy. A little like Bubastis from Watchmen. Remember him?

Scrapperton: Where iz Catwoman?

Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way #1

Scrapperton: Da title doesn't rilly describe what's inside. And if dis iz da best up and coming artist den Marvel should be wurried. I can't wait 'till Faith Urrrin Hicks has comic in next issue of Girl Comics. She'z waaay better than any of dees guys.

Tiina: Wow, that's pretty insightful, Scrapperton. I was thinking something similar.

Scrapperton: Put dis comic in my box. I poop on it.

Tiina: Oh dear.

Hat Week: The Hats of Romance Comics Explained

Hats and head-wear play an important role in romance comics. By studying the trends of the era, and using hats as signifyers we can gain understanding about social norms and the political climate in romance comics.

In other words, let's look at the crazy crap people put on their heads in the Silver Age.

Head wraps were a popular look that seems to have pretty much died out. I like it. It'd be cool to just wrap a towel around your head after you get out of the shower and not have to worry about blow-drying or flat-ironing or curling your hair.

The head wrap diminished in popularity when girls began to discover that having so much warmth around their heads affected their brains, sometimes turning them violent.

The swim cap is another obsolete head piece you'll see a lot of in romance comics.

I understand the practicality of it: you can go for a swim, but still have your hairdo looking fine when you're relaxing on the beach afterward.

But to me, those swim-hats seem to make a girl look like ol' Cabbage Head.

Men's hats are often a subtle indication of their personalities, or their likes and dislikes.

Most pervasive head-piece of the Silver Age? The headband, hands down. But there are distinct differences between the types of headbands, and the way they're worn.

There's the evening headband:

A girl's got to wear a bow to bed, in case Dennis (or Arthur or Tommy) show up in the middle of the night.

The basic headband, worn across the top of the head, is incredibly common, and indicates an average, demure, chaste girl.

But flip that thing down, and wear it across your forehead, and oh boy. That's the way hippies wear headbands, so a girl rocking that style is in for crazy, European sex parties:

And getting caught up in dangerous revolutionary politics:

Wear a headband across your forehead and you'll undoubtedly find yourself in a situation like this:

Lastly, romance comics have lead me to believe that there was some sort of baldness epidemic in the Silver Age because wig ads are everywhere.

Wigs are the hats of yesteryear. I wish I could find a hat with a built in scalp that looks like skin.

But even wigs could lead a good girl down the bad path of political rabble-rousing.

So if you're having trouble following the complex plot of an issue of Teen Age Love, Sweethearts, or Secrets of Young Brides, take a look at head-wear, and that'll clear everything right up.