The Rabble of Downtown Toronto

The following pages are an excerpt from my latest comic, The Rabble of Downtown Toronto. If you’re familiar with my stuff, you’ll know that I’ve been writing about the streets of Toronto for a long time now. The main reason I started drawing comics was that I wanted to tell stories about the city and since then, the Toronto streets have been the primary focus of my work. Even when I’m not trying to write about them, they end up working their way into my comics.

My first comic book, Artbum, was about an old man with a shopping cart. He would tie bits of garbage to his cart, draw on some of the trash he found and build little sculptures out of it as well. The story I told was a sad one, and was my first attempt at tackling issues like poverty, mental illness and alienation. It’s been challenging for me to try to deal with subjects like this in my work.

I see The Rabble of Downtown Toronto as one expression, or maybe the next step in my exploration of these issues. The book took me two years of hard work to complete and it was a painful experience much of the time, both technically and emotionally. Though it was difficult creating the book, the process allowed me to explore a number of issues and view these problems from different angles.

It is not my intention to offend or make fun of anyone — I don’t think that what I’m expressing is funny. Yes, the book is challenging, but I feel that makes for an interesting read. One of the main reasons it’s challenging is that I’m expressing a number of problems in our city that many people would rather not address or think about.

It’s my hope that The Rabble of Downtown Toronto will cause readers to reconsider the people I’ve written about and how they see themselves standing in relation to them. And hopefully, the book will generate discussions that centre around the issues that it raises. This project asks a lot of the reader as much of its meaning depends on how they interpret the content. I would ask that they consider the work as a whole and take some time to sit and think about it before forming opinions about what I have expressed.

(Jason Kieffer)

Excerpted from The Rabble of Downtown Toronto, Old Boot Comics,