50 People (And Places) We Love

By Brooke Ford, Lindsay Gibb, Nathaniel G. Moore, Hal Niedzviecki, Richard Rosenbaum, Ian Sullivan Cant & Derek Winkler

For our 50th issue, we wanted to celebrate what BP has been about over the last 15 years. We also wanted to inspire those who might be picking up a copy of BP for the first time. And so, a list: A list of 50 amazing people across this country who have dedicated important swathes of their lives to furthering the practice of independent culture in Canada. Obviously, there are many others who could have been on this list. If we’re missing someone, write in and tell us about them. The people on this list are our heroes. Over the next 50 issues of BP, there will be others. We can’t wait to meet them.


Marc Bell
Years Active: 1990-present
Location: London, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Shrimpy and Paul! For decades now, Bell has been inspiring us with his zany, intricate cartoons, showing off his unique blend of ’60s psychedelia, ’90s slackerdom and post-millennial complexity. And standing with Bell all this time have been his two best pals, the mean-spirited Shrimpy and his fun loving sausage-with-nipples buddy, Paul. While Bell’s laudable accomplishments include the groundbreaking anthology Nog A Dod and working with and inspiring cartoonists from coast to coast, we’ll always love him for Shrimpy and Paul!

Where is he now: Bell’s recent accomplishments include the massive art/comic book Hot Potatoe and a 2010 solo show at Dutch gallery/comic shop Lambiek.

Quote: “At times I think [Hot Potatoe’s] almost a ridiculous book, and then on the other hand I think, no, it’s fine…It just has that extra bit of excessiveness going on.”


R M Vaughan
Years Active: 1990-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Vaughan is a poet, playwright, novelist, critic and video artist. We love Vaughan for his fiction (gay-witch coming-of-age-novel Spells), his poetry (Troubled, a poetic memoir of his relationship with his therapist) and his many videos and works of criticism. But what really puts Vaughan in a whole different category are his sudden outbursts of sheer weirdness. To whit: his biting campaign against Toronto’ s Live With Culture advertising, which featured the man himself slouched in a pair of underwear under the caption: “Live Without Culture.”

Where is he now: He recently joined forces with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and Vtape to produce 2010′ s video art show Mid-Life Shelf-Life. He is working on a play and writing the visual arts column for the Globe and Mail.

Quote: “My favourite video I made is called ‘Hate,’ co-directed by Jared Mitchell. It involves me, naked, talking about how much I hate my body and hate the gay culture that tells me to hate my body. The weird thing is, given the subject matter, and the horror show visuals, it has played practically everywhere. There is clearly no international accounting for taste.”


Shary Boyle
Years Active: 2000-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: After years of pursuing her idiosyncratic visual palette — a fractured narrative of mythology, gender and adolescent growing pains — Boyle is now emerging as a genuine, home grown, Canadian art superstar. Her show Flesh and Blood just wrapped up at the Art Gallery of Ontario and is on display in Montreal before heading to Vancouver for the summer. We at BP have always loved Boyle. Her first publication — Homestead, Scarborough — was a zine and when BP featured her on the cover of our Girl issue in 2000, she was touring with Peaches, providing illustrative accompaniment to the music.

Where is she now: Boyle continues to work in Toronto, making sculptures, paintings and drawings while teaming up with other artists — look out for more events like the Spring 2010 show of Boyle overheads and Super-8 films with live musical accompaniment by Christine Fellows and Jason Tait.

Quote: “I have a certain amount of skepticism about popularity. I could just as easily not be cool tomorrow.”


Ralph Alfonso
Years Active: 1976-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest Accomplishment: As manager of punk band The Diodes from 1976-80, Alfonso helped run Canada’s first punk club, the Crash n’ Burn. A zinester from way back (his monthly mimeographed zine Coffee, Jazz, Poetry is now available in collected form), Alfonso started a record label, Bongo Beat, in 2000. Originally something of a vanity project to showcase his own jazz/garage rock work, Bongo Beat has thrived and grown into an outlet for the production and promotion of weird music and alternative stuff that might not otherwise see the light of day.

Where is he now: Though heavily invested in the digital realm (Bongo Beat recently became the very first record label to make their entire catalogue available in Second Life), Alfonso still remembers the vitality of hand-crafted art, encouraging his bands to create distinctive packaging for their physical releases, setting new standards for an art form that’s threatening to disappear as music increasingly goes all-digital.


Emily vey Duke and Cooper Battersby
Years Active: 1998-present
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia and other points

Greatest Accomplishment: Multimedia ironicists with a melancholy edge, their 2000 video Being Fucked Up recast ambition as perversion and expertly skewered the banality of thrill-seeking on the precipice to nowhere.

Where are they now: Recent nominees for the Sobey Contemporary Art Award, they are currently teaching at Syracuse University. Their new video, Lesser Apes, explores cultural norms by expounding on the love affair between a woman and a female bonobo. They also created the cover for this issue of BP!

Quote: “Everything I do in my search for satisfaction fails. Smoking pot makes me slow witted, ambition leads nowhere.”


Ian Phillips
Years Active: 1989-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Achievement: You could call Ian Phillips an iconoclast of the queer zine or a micro press publishing pioneer. Either way, he is the publisher, designer, bookbinder and founder of Pas De Chance, a hand made and hand sewn chapbook press that uses cover stock made from, among other things, suede, Japanese paper and, recently, popcorn boxes. Recognized around the world for his beautiful book making, Phillips is perhaps best known for his Lost project, an ongoing series of zines featuring lost pet posters that spawned a book and, apparently, a toy and clothing line in Japan.

Where is he now: Pas de Chance celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 2010 with a jam-packed launch that featured new collaborations with Derek McCormack and Elissa Joy.

Quote: “I don’t want people to focus on the creator of the books, but rather the books themselves.”


Sonja Ahlers
Years Active: 1990-present
Location: Whitehorse, Yukon

Greatest Accomplishment: Three books of genre-busting semi-autobiographical collage art that parse together the geographies of pop culture, memory and identity. Ahlers is at once a pioneering feminist, a visionary artist and a wandering soul who propels herself between hometown Victoria, home base Toronto and current hideout Whitehorse. A zine maker, hoarder, collector and amateur archivist, Ahlers is the only person to have ever graced BP’s cover twice, fitting for a creator whose early zine (A Wandering Eye) was reviewed way back in BP #3.

Where is she now: Today, her peanut-sized knitted Fierce Bunnies (a cross between toy and sculpture) are garnering attention from Vogue and appearing in the movie Twilight. Ahlers is back in the Yukon dealing with bunny back orders and working on a book about a breakup.

Quote: “Entering the alternate reality she has created in The Selves, I found myself standing somewhere seductive, familiar and very funny.” — Kathleen Hanna.


Jon Pressick
Years Active: 1995-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: His work and advocacy for queer writing and art. A writer, reviewer and radio personality, Pressick has organized the queer literary festival Writing Outside the Margins, and the queer zine/arts & crafts fair Fruit Market. He ran the zine TRADE: Queer Things, in which he spotlighted the talents of queer Canadian artists and activists, from 1999 to 2006. Under the pseudonym Max Girth, he also created the Choose Your Own (Sex) Adventure books and created the sexual Hanky Code pin collection.

Where is he now: Pressick is now the managing editor of sexlifecanada.ca, co-hosts Sex City on CIUT and is a member of the band Tomboyfriend.


Joe Blades
Years Active: 1980-present
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick

Greatest Accomplishment: Blades is a poet of prodigious output. Probably best known as the driving force behind the zine New Muse of Contempt (reviewed in our first issue and six times since), Blades is also the publisher of Broken Jaw Press. Author of eight books and counting, editor of 11 anthologies and contributor to just about every publication that ever printed a poem, Blades has also dabbled in exhibitions, live shows, radio, film and television. He’s what you call a working poet.

Where is he now: Still in Fredericton, presiding over his east coast poetry empire. He recently released a new poetry collection Prison Songs and Storefront Poetry and hosts a local literary radio show.

Quote: Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner calls Blades “a true prophet of poetry.”


Jonathan Culp
Years Active: 1992-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Culp originally launched Satan Macnuggit Popular Arts in 1996 as a label for his band Loogan Bin. When the band broke up, it was repurposed as a collective video and zine distribution initiative with Siue Moffat. Over the years, Culp has relentlessly toured the country showing and selling a wide array of indie films and videos. Key contributors have included Meesoo Lee, Scott Treleaven, Flick Harrison and Sive Moffat. Culp has also made several well received films, including the feature Grilled Cheese Sandwich, curates film events at Toronto’s Trash Palace and peddles the first issue of his zine Cinertia, a compendium of movie reviews.

Where is he now: Satan Macnuggit the distributor shut down in 2004, though the site continues to feature a wide array of video clips worth checking out. Culp is currently working on a book and feature-length collage film on Canadian narrative cinema of the ’70s and ’80s while playing guitar for the band Tomboyfriend.

Quote: “The story of how Satan Macnuggit got its name is so boring and anticlimactic, we absolutely refuse to tell it any more.”


Brad Cran
Years Active: 1996-present
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Greatest Achievement: Through his chapbook press Smoking Lung, which he started in 1996, Cran gave Vancouver area writers like Ryan Knighton, Billie Livingston and Teresa McWhirter a place to call their own. Though Smoking Lung is now dormant, having culminated in the 1999 anthology Hammer and Tongs, Cran still promotes indie writing as a contributor to the great Geist magazine and organizing events like the Vancouver International Writers Festival’s Poetry Bash. In 2008, with wife and fellow poet Gillian Jerome, Cran created Hope in Shadows, a collection of personal stories and photographs to sell on the streets of Vancouver. Over 5,000 copies have sold, raising more than $30,000 for the people of Vancouver’s downtown Eastside.

Where is he now: Still a tireless advocate for Canadian poetry, Cran is in the middle of a two year reign as Vancouver’s Poet Laureate.

Anecdote: Leading up to the Vancouver Olympics, Cran very publicly declined to participate in the so-called literary events being organized in conjunction with the Olympics, objecting to the requirement that all participants refrain from saying anything negative about the Games.


Jim Munroe
Years Active: 1989-present
Location: Toronto, Ontaio

Greatest Accomplishment: After Munroe put out his first book, Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask, through Harper Collins in 1998, he made waves by self-publishing his second novel, Angry Young Spaceman the following year, through his own press No Media Kings. He also began the indie touring circuit Perpetual Motion Roadshow which sent 100 artists on multi-city book and media tours between 2003 and 2007. Munroe has made a name for himself in the video game realm with The Hand Eye Society, a videogame culture collective he helped found, and his Artsy Games Incubator which helps artists turn their work into video games.

Where is he now: He recently completed the graphic novels Therefore Repent! and Sword of My Mouth (with Shannon Gerard) and is in post production on his lo-fi sci-fi movie Ghosts With Shit Jobs.


Louis Rastelli
Years Active: 1995-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest Accomplishment: It’s safe to say that Fish Piss (1996-2006) was Canada’s most important zine of the late ’90s. It not only gave a voice to the country’s most interesting indie scene (Montreal in that same time period), it also gave a home to emerging, unforgettable talent ranging from Heather O’Neill and Joe Hale to Marc Ngui and Emily Pohl-Weary. His critically acclaimed novel A Fine Ending, published by Insomniac Press, has been called “a warm-hearted account of an artistic community’s defining years.

Where is he now: Rastelli continues to be an important indie innovator. He oversees such projects as Distroboto (mini-zine vending machines), Archives Montreal zine archive and Expozine, the two-day Montreal zine and comic fair he co-founded in 2002. He continues to self publish zines of his own writing and essays.

Quote: “The issue is never finished. At some point you just have to print it and put it out.”


The Beguiling
Years Active: 1987-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Being Toronto’s (and, until the opening of Montreal’s Drawn and Quarterly store, arguably, Canada’s) premiere stop for indie and alternative comics was not enough for The Beguiling. Owner Peter Birkemoe and manager Christopher Butcher (notably the inspiration for Scott Pilgrim’s cool gay roommate, Wallace Wells), also started up TCAF, a massive two-day comic fest in Toronto that celebrates the best in the graphic arts by attracting creators from all over the world.

Where is it now: It’s on Markham Street just South of Bloor in downtown Toronto. And it’s online. So no excuses. Drop by and complete (or start) your collection.

Anecdote: One of the original owners, Steve Solomos, was immortalized in Joe Matt’s Peepshow as a curmudgeonly comic store owner.


Michael V. Smith
Years Active: 1998-present
Location: Vancouver/Kelowna, British Columbia

Greatest Accomplishment: Consider Smith’s entry a homage to a whole gay-lit-rotic underground scene in Vancouver that reached its heights in the early 2000s when Smith’s alter-ego Miss Cookie LaWhore was running events like gender bending cabaret Skank (co-hosted with poet Billeh Nickerson) and putting out his/her short-lived but unforgettable zine Cruising which Smith describes as “an insider’s look at public sex.” The ‘climax,’ perhaps, for Miss Cookie was in provocateur/novelist/editor Amber Dawn’s docu-porn movie Girl on Girl, in which Cookie yields “his hetero-virginity to performance artist & sex worker” Dawn.

Where is he now: Miss Cookie seems to be retired and Smith, the more serious writer and filmmaker, is gearing up to publish his second novel in 2011.

Quote: “I would be willing to marry a totally great fag with fashion sense and a big mouth even though he’s as terrified of my tits as he is respectful of my wicked mind just to be able to say that my union actually does something besides consolidate finances.” — Trish Kelly on Smith.


Julie Doucet
Years Active: 1987-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest Accomplishment: Starting out as a mini-comic, Doucet’s Dirty Plotte (translation: Dirty Cunt) won the Harvey Award for Best New Talent, and she just took off from there. Today, Doucet is one of the most important comic artists in North America. Her frank, neurotic, groundbreaking work is autobiographical, occasionally controversial (it has been stopped by customs officials on numerous occasions) and celebrated around the world.

Where is she now: Since her comic debut, she’s moved around from Montreal to New York to Seattle to Berlin, but she’s back in Montreal, actively participating in the local arts scene. On her charming website, you’ll find pieces of poetry resembling cut out words in strings of texts.


Derek McCormack
Years Active: 1992-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: McCormack has carved out a unique niche in Canadian writing as author of highly stylized, cryptic works of fiction that relentlessly explore the relationship between gay culture and machismo, with hilarious doses of kitsch thrown in for good measure. Among his titles is 2003’s The Haunted Hillbilly, which told the story of a young Hank Williams haunted by his succubus tailor, and was recently adapted into an award-winning stage musical.

Where is he now: A new novel is in the works, plus a collection of essays on fashion and monsters. Meanwhile, H.A.M.S., a make-believe mail-order school that he’s created with Ian Phillips, will be the basis of an installation at the Art Gallery of York University.

Quote: “I dream of being evil. I have dreamt this dream since I was a child — I wanted so badly to be the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. I carried a wooden wand around until I was, um, 10?”


Derek Beaulieu
Years Active: 1997-present
Location: Calgary, Alberta

Greatest Accomplishment: A prolific writer and editor, Beaulieu created housepress, a publisher of radical fiction and poetry, and put out 300 publications between 1997 and 2004. Beaulieu has also been involved with editing almost all of Calgary’s unconventionally capitalized literary magazines including filling Station, dANDedlion, and endNote, as well as the experimental anthology Shift & Switch. Recently, despite vowing never to publish again, he started another small imprint, NO Press.

Where is he now: Beaulieu’s iconoclasm persists, with his focus shifting lately from poetry to conceptual fiction, such as visual translations of works originally written in words by Edwin Abbott Abbott and Paul Auster. He continues his mission of relentlessly promoting the difficult and unconventional in Canadian writing.

Quote: “NO Press started with the mandate of no promotions, no sales, no isbns, no worries.”


Jeff Chapman (aka Ninjalicious)
Years Active: 1991-2005
Location: Pickering, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Chapman is best known as the creator of legendary Toronto zine, Infiltration. Under the assumed name Ninjalicious, he would publish his exploits discovering hidden and forbidden areas of various cities, including hidden hospital passages and abandoned subway stations. Frequently called “life changing” and “inspiring,” Infiltration remains one of Canada’s best known, and loved, zines. Before Infiltration Chapman created another favourite, the absurdist comedy zine YIP, and he was prominent in the world of BBS and online message boards, going under another assumed name, Milky Puppy.

Where is he now: Chapman passed away in 2005 at age 31, but the culmination of his Infiltration experience, Access All Areas: a users guide to the art of urban exploration, was published just before his death and is currently in its third edition.

Quote: “I always thought of it as a perfect example of a zine: it focused on a subject that no one else wrote about, and did it in a way that made for excellent reading whether you were an explorer yourself or not.” – Louis Rastelli on Infiltration.


I’m Johnny and I Don’t Give a Fuck
Years Active: 1995-2003
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Greatest Accomplishment: Elusive memoirist and punk Andy put out five issues of his handwritten book-size zine I’m Johnny and I Don’t Give a Fuck. Those five small books are now classics of Canadian zine culture. In clear-eyed, inimitable memoir-ish prose, each book chronicles another episode in Andy’s existence. Home is a ramshackle punk cooperative perpetually under siege by the landlord, occupation is punk rocker perpetually on tour, and the whole enterprise is characterized by drinking binges interspersed with melancholic chance encounters.

Where is he now: No idea, though rumour has it that his PO Box is still active. Send $10 to PO Box 21533-1850 Commercial Dr., Vancouver, BC, V5N 5T5 and see what happens.

Quote: “After, I continued my long-standing tradition of not staying in contact with those who I truly enjoy the company of, and I would never see nor hear from Greta again.”


Joe Ollmann
Years Active: 1989-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest accomplishment: Then based in Hamilton, Ontario, pioneering cartoonist Ollmann became gradually known for the autobiographical comic Wag, as well as a variety of handmade books of comics, stories and art, such as an alphabet book about stuff found on the ground. Wag, the comic zine, was eventually compiled into The Big Book of Wag! by Conundrum Press in 2005. Ollmann’s also the author of the book of stories in comic form Chewing on Tinfoil, featuring tales of arson, sexual harassment and God as a fat naked floating guy. His last book, This Will All End In Tears, won a Doug Wright award.

Where is he now: His full-length graphic novel Mid Life will be published by Drawn and Quarterly in March 2011.

Quote: “Haven’t you heard? Since I became a grandparent I can swear in front of my adult kids.”


Friendly Rich
Years Active: 1998-present
Location: Brampton, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Take your pick: Nine albums of orchestral vaudevillian circus rock, ran a school-age annual make-your-own-instrument parade of noise for five years, and founded the now sadly defunct Brampton Indie Arts Festival.

Where is he now: Richard Marsella, aka Friendly Rich is currently at the helm of the Regent Park School of Music, a not-for-profit that provides music education to Toronto’s inner–city children, including such offerings as teen community orchestra in Parkdale led by former Rheostatics drummer Dave Clark. He also leads the band Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People and is at work on a puppet opera.

Anecdote: Live shows have been known to include on-stage cell phone calls to phone sex workers and some very questionable uses of Nutella.


Andy Brown
Years Active: 1996-present
Location: Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Greatest accomplishment: As founder of Conundrum Press, Andy Brown is a hero of independent publishing. Conundrum emerged as one of the most important voices of the Montreal indie arts explosion of the ’90s, starting off with chapbooks and zines by the likes of Golda Fried and Dana Bath before moving into full-length books by artists, writers, performers, and sometimes roommates like Catherine Kidd, Corey Frost and Billy Mavreas. Fourteen years later, Brown continues to farm new Conundrum authors from the aisles of zine fairs, comic fests and cramped deppaneurs. A writer himself, Andy has published a book of shortstories, I Can See You Being Invisible, and a novel, The Mole Chronicles, not to mention classic one-off zines like Booked Into Wartime: Literary Figures Adopt New Careers featuring a Jetta-selling Karl Marx.

Where is he now: In 2009 Brown moved from home base Montreal to Wolfville, NS. Conundrum itself is shifting toward publishing graphic novels, with a recent release from comic great David Collier.


Darren O’Donnell
Years Active: 1993-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Haircuts by Children. Though Darren O’Donnell had done many things over the last two decades, like creating a sex-in-public video art project in partnership with Emelie Chhangur-Stone,

starting “research-art atelier” performance art company Mammalian Diving Reflex and publishing a number of novels through Coach House Books, he captured imaginations around the world by handing scissors (and a bit of professional training) to children in grades five and six. The project questioned why adults don’t trust children with larger decisions, such as voting, when they will be the ones shaping our future.

Where are they now: O’Donnell runs an online morning show called Live at the Common on Ustream where he tries to talk to customers of The Common Café and hands the guest-hosting duties over to whatever friends walk in.

Quote: “Art just jumped the shark.”


Rick Trembles
Years Active: 1980-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest Accomplishment: The iconic cartoonist, punk and Montreal scenester has created an elaborately written and illustrated movie review every week for the last 10 years. And that’s in addition to comics, sculptures, a zine (Rick Trembles’ Sugar Diet) and his long running post-punk band The American Devices. Along with figures like Rupert Bottenberg, Valium, Billy Mavreas, and a whole bunch of others, Trembles was part of the early ’90s explosion of Montreal underground comics onto the international art scene.

Where is he now: Still working in Montreal, Trembles recently assembled his second best-of collection of movie reviews, published by British indie press Fab under the title Rick Trembles’ Motion Picture Purgatory Volume II.

Quote: “Failing to outrage, perplex or induce laughter means I’m fucking up.”


Will Munro
Years Active: 1999-2010
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: If you wanted to dance to dirty, dirty rock, Munro’s parties were the place to be. His monthly gathering, Vazaleen, combined communities through music and art, and changed the cultural landscape of sexuality and play, introducing bands like The Hidden Cameras, Crystal Castles and Peaches to Toronto and beyond. DJ, event promoter, visual and performance artist, and owner of The Beaver, Munro made a huge contribution to Toronto’s Queer scene, the Queen West nightlife, and to the fusion of indie punk with disco and rock. Munro passed away in May, 2010, leaving a number of his friends and fellow Toronto artists to carry on his work.

Where is he now: The Art Gallery of Ontario recently featured a retrospective of Munro’s multidisciplinary work called Total Eclipse, which included hand-stitched quilted works on fabric, silkscreens on mirror and paper, and posters from his shows.


Matthew Firth
Years Active: 1993-present
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Firth is the force behind Black Bile Press and the litzine Front & Centre. Front & Centre attracts the talent and Firth then takes the best of Canada’s outsider writers and prints their stories in chapbook form. Writers like Salvatore Difalco, Christina Decarie, Nathaniel G. Moore and Firth’s Western Canada compatriot Mark McCawley have all gotten the Bile treatment. Since his early years as creator of litzine Black Cat 115, Firth has been lauded for putting out some of Canada’s edgiest writing and for his general fearlessness publishing everyone from virtual unknowns to a writer doing life in a California jail.

Where is he now: Firth lives with his wife and two sons in Ottawa where he juggles a day job and family responsibilities with his passion for publishing and working on his own fiction writing.

Quote: “Working on the micro press scale is… very gratifying. The writers are more down to earth, and appreciative and giving and don’t have that snotty sense of entitlement that so many bigger time writers have.”


Years Active: 1996-present
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Greatest Accomplishment: Keeping a political bookstore and vegan restaurant running for almost 15 years is no small achievement, especially when the politics in question are those of a workers’ collective. Internet opinion is divided on the quality of the food, but no one doubts the value of Mondragón as a forum for radical thought of all kinds: anarchism, environmentalism, indigenous resistance, Marxism, feminism, animal liberation, LGBT issues and social change in general.

Where is it now: Same place it’s always been, in Winnipeg’s exchange district. The venue is a home for zines, concerts and special menus for events such as Noam Chomsky’s birthday (order up: Eggplant ParmaChomsky Sandwich).

Anecdote: The word Mondragón comes from the Basque town of the same name in northern Spain, which is known for its many workers’ cooperatives.


Emily Schultz and Brian Joseph Davis
Years Active: 2000-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishments: Schultz and Davis are well known as the co-creators of Joyland.ca, the short fiction hub with outposts in cities across Canada and the U.S. Both of them are published authors and magazine writers. Schultz earned accolades in the early 2000s for her imprint The Pocket Canon which she produced with Davis, featuring anonymously penned fiction and poetry that occasionally skirted on the edge of scandal. The Globe and Mail included Schultz in their “Tomorrow’s Ondaatjes and Munros” roundup of young authors, while Davis garnered attention for his sound projects from Spin Magazine.

Where are they now: Currently Schultz and Davis are hiding out in Brooklyn where they are working on historic novels and running Joyland.ca.


Becky Johnson
Years Active: 1993-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: The crafty contingent might know Becky Johnson as one of the co-founders of City of Craft, an annual fair of handmade goods that also curates and sponsors crafty art shows throughout the year. Crafty in her own right, Johnson makes zines, buttons and crocheted objects d’art (including a coral reef crocheted from torn up plastic bags), often releasing material through her very own Sweetie Pie Press. And if that’s not enough, she’s also a comedian. Under the moniker of Iron Cobra, Johnson performs a kind of absurdo-improv with Graham Wagner, or, as of late, on her own.

Where is she now: Johnson recently completed her European tour of Iron Cobra sans Wagner and she is working on another performance tour with Kayla Lorette (under the name The Sufferettes). She is also co-producing the Toronto comedy show Catch23 and is working on new button projects and a few large-scale crochet pieces.


Mark McCawley
Years Active: 1988-present
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

Greatest Accomplishment: Founding Greensleeve Editions, which has published over 50 chapbooks since 1988 including the peripatetically issued litzine of beautiful profanity Urban Graffiti. Now on its 10th issue, UG is a stalwart on Edmonton’s literary scene, befitting McCawley’s status as a born-and-raised Edmontonian. But UG isn’t parochial — it has given writers from across the country like Matthew Firth, Angela Hibbs, Michael Bryson, and Philip Quinn a home for their work while serving up the kind of in-your-face fiction that is almost completely marginalized in Canada.

Where is he now: Though better known as a publisher, McCawley is also a writer with titles like Just Another Asshole: short stories (1994) as part of his oeuvre. Alas, Edmonton’s gritty prophet of ugly lit seems to have slowed down production. In the meantime, there is the imminent publication of UG 11, the “Vice and Debauchery” issue.

Quote: “No longer would I alter my writing in any way in order to be published by others, now that I had the means to publish myself.”


Jesjit Gill
Years Active: 2004-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Gill did a great service to illustrators when he created a newspaper, full of drawings by various artists, and handed it out for free around Toronto.  Free Drawings, which ended its run in the summer of 2010 after eight issues, was an outlet for artists and an opportunity for illustrators to work together. A screen printer and artist, Gill creates posters, curates poster shows and even dabbles in zine fairs like Zine Dream, which he started in 2008 with Laura McCoy.

Where is he now: Gill still prints posters and is currently working on various publishing projects, planning to put out zines and books by Adrienne Kammerer, Adam Buttrick, Laura Curley as well as his own work, in early 2011.

Quote: “Do I talk about screen-printing too much? It comes up every time I talk to someone.”


All Citizens
Years Active: 2007-present
Location: Bruno, Saskatchewan

Greatest Accomplishment: Establishing a vibrant arts and music hub in the middle of farming village Bruno, Saskatchewan (population under 600) is no easy feat. But the “smallest music venue in Canada,” founded by Tyler Brett and Serena McCarroll, does exist, as lovingly depicted by BP correspondent Maggie MacDonald, who set the scene thusly in BP #45: “On a strip full of classic Western storefronts…beside a beige building marked ‘Senior Citizens,’ you will find a building labeled ‘All Citizens.'” Inspiration to local artists and inspired by Brett and McCarroll’s original search for an $800 home to call their own, All Citizens is now legendary for, among other things, getting Bruno to officially proclaim June 7th Julie Doiron Day.

Where is it now: All Citizens is open Wednesday to Saturday, offering everything from live music to art shows and readings.

Quote: “What Tyler and I did was crazy. However, there’s something to be said for following your heart. Not everyone needs to be as reckless as we were… [But] people really respond if they feel you’re doing something genuine.” — McCarroll.


Years Active 1996-2002
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Greatest Accomplishment: Sunburn was an independent anthology of comics published three times a year, produced in large format and edited by Karl Thomsen. Each issue, readers could anticipate sharing in Thomsen’s discoveries from the underground comics scene, ranging from the psychedelia of Billy Mavreas to the illustrated story of how ego and big business killed the Winnipeg Jets. Each of the 17 issues published included an insert of zine and small press information that was a greatly appreciated resource.

Where is it now: Though Sunburn no longer publishes, Karl Thomsen, now 40, is a journalist living in Winnipeg.


Ian Ferrier
Years Active: 1990-present
Location: Montreal, Qeubec

Greatest Accomplishment: Ian Ferrier is the kingpin of the Montreal spoken word scene. Not only a writer, performer and musician himself, Ferrier is also organizer of the long– running spoken word night Words & Music and co-founder of the record label Wired on Words. He is a benevolent ruler of his wordy kingdom who has, for years, supported the talent he finds burgeoning all around him.

Where is he now: His band, Pharmakon MTL, blends psychedelic trance improv with poetry, often also improvised, and will be releasing its newest album, To Call Out in the Night, in February 2011.

Quote: “On a blue white planet spun from the lips of a well in space/like a note on the bell of a trumpet Miles Davis blows/and the sound as soft as a whisper from the other side.”


Matthew Blackett
Years Active: 1998-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: m@b, published by the eponymous Matt B., as his fans came to know him, was a wry, perzine-esque comic, featuring three panel snippets of moments and observations from the big city. The comic was compiled into the collection Wide Collar Crimes, published by Blackett, and m@b was picked up by Eye Weekly where it ran for four years. The comic was criticized by some Eye letter-writers for not having punchlines, but m@b fans knew that was the point.

Where is he now: While his comic will always be a big part of what he’s achieved, Blackett is now focused on Spacing, a magazine about public space issues in Toronto which he started in 2003 and has since spun off into online versions for various Canadian cities. He is also the creator of Spacing’s hugely popular Toronto subways buttons and the most recent “Left Wing Pinko” buttons and magnets, inspired by Don Cherry’s sentiments during the induction of Toronto’s new mayor, Rob Ford.


rob mclennan
Years Active: 1989-present
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: The author of over 20 books (mostly poetry) and the editor of self-made chapbooks and broadsides through above/ground press, which he started in 1993, mclennan is not only prolific in his own output, but also through his regular blogging about the other Canadian poets and authors. In 1994 he founded the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair which continues to take place twice annually. In 2004 he co-founded Ottawa’s small press Chaudiere Books with Jennifer Mulligan.

Where is he now: His blog and accompanying newsletter continue to be one of the most popular resources for small press author interviews and literary journal reviews. He is working on his third novel, Boy and Girl and Man and Woman.


Roberts Street Social Centre
Years Active: 2005-present
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Greatest Accomplishment: The Anchor Archive Zine Library is both the foundation and best-known aspect of the Roberts Street Social Centre.  The collection of over 3,000 zines was started by Sarah Evans and Sonia Edworthy in the living room of their house. The duo moved out of the house to make room for a number of other projects and services such as the People’s Photocopier (which provides affordable copying for zinesters and artists), Ink Storm Screenprinting Collective and a summer residency where artists live in the back shed to work on various projects and gather support from the local community.

Where are they now: Still run by Evans, Edworthy and a number of other volunteers, the centre is a constant hub of events and workshops, such as the 24-hour zine challenge, dinner and a movie fundraisers and screenprinting lessons.


Germaine Koh
Years Active: 1991-present
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Greatest Accomplishment: Over the last 20 years, Germaine Koh has been steadily ascending the ranks of Canadian conceptual artists. Broken Pencil first took notice way back in the ’90s, when we did a feature on her project Sightings, which consisted of found snapshots published as postcards in editions of 1,000 to 2,000. Since then, Koh has continued to fuse guerrilla publishing with high art, the results ranging from the kitsch to the profound.

Where is she now: Koh started her career in Ottawa, but now lives in Vancouver, where she does things like wrapping the #3 Main Street buses in massive photo collages depicting the streetscapes they pass everyday.

Quote: “My work has the character of open-ended experiments designed in response to, and unfolding within, existing situations.”


Stacey Case
Years Active: 1993-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Celebrating b-culture with indie aplomb! Stacey Case’s accomplishments are many, from zines, to screen printing, to music, movies and, yes, pillow fighting. But they all pretty much stem from his love of trashy pop culture, a love amply on exhibit in Case’s early ’90s zine Rivet, described in BP #7 as “the best all-around zine out of Toronto” and featuring everything from Mexican wrestling to the Hilarious House of Frightenstein. The creator of the Super 8 film series The Parkdale Wrestler, Case now runs Trash Palace, a somewhat elusive theatre devoted to forgotten 16mm b-movies.

Where is he now: Running Trash Palace (and Trash Palace TV, weekly offerings on YouTube), as well as organizing Pillow Fight League competitions and running a silkscreening business. He’s also the drummer in the punk band The Weirdies.

Anecdote: Case co-founded the Pillow Fight League in 2004. The league consists of women fighters who “are serious brawlers – armed with beauty, brains and a nasty disposition.”


Billy Mavreas
Years Active: “all of them”
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest accomplishment: Billy Mavreas is a dynamo of cartooning nuttiness. From his kitschy antique shop, Monastiraki, in Montreal’s Mile End, Mavreas holds court as the denizens of Montreal comics and indie arts revolve around this hub. All the while Mavreas churns out art and comics of bizarro psychedelia, such as the silent egobending adventures of Boy Priest and his catlike pal Lifeform in his 2008 graphic novel Inside, Outside, Overlap.

Where is he now: With the help of fellow artist Emilie O’Brien, Mavreas has recently reinvented Monastiraki from a plain old antique shop into a gallery and event space that has hosted art, music, performances, book launches and all other kinds of miscellanea. Also a co-founder of Montreal’s ever-expanding zine fair Expozine.

Quote: “I’m a little bit of a Satanist.”


Guerrilla Media
Years Active: 1993-2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Greatest Accomplishment: Printing and distributing 40,000 copies of a four-page National Post parody in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. The paper skewered the consolidation of Canada’s media into a few corporate fiefdoms and took plenty of shots at one-time Can-media emperor Conrad Black. In the heyday of culture jamming, this small, anonymous band of rabble-rousers used media spoofs, fake websites and all around venomous satire to skewer the cozy relationship between media, corporations and Canadian politicians.

Where are they now: Inactive, though a record of their work still exists online at sites including guerillamedia.org and blackenvy.8m.com.

Quote: “Findings in a new Phaser Institute study suggest it might be time to stop feeling sorry for the poor and start getting angry at them.”


Sally McKay
Years Active: 1990-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Sally McKay started self-distributing her zines and artist books back in 1990: “They didn’t exactly have titles,” muses McKay about her 3-fold flyers. “One was about Bert and Ernie. One was about the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.” She was also part of a collective zine called Chicks United for Non-Noxious Transportation (CUNT). But her greatest contribution was Lola magazine, which she launched with Catherine Osborne in 1997. Lola was a much lauded hybrid zine and magazine that avoided artspeak and provided a portal into the Toronto arts scene. After 16 issues, Lola ended its run in 2003.

Where is she now: McKay shares an art blog with Lorna Mills and is finishing up her PhD in Art History and Visual Culture at York University.


Brian Kaufman
Years Active: 1988-present
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Greatest Accomplishment: Kaufman created Anvil Press in 1988, originally to publish literary/art magazine subTerrain. SubTerrain has now been a source of gritty fiction and poetry from Vancouver and beyond for two decades. Anvil Press released its first book, Rachel Mines’ A Toilet Paper: A Treatise on Four Fundamental Words Referring to Gaseous & Solid Wastes Together with Their Point of Origin in 1991. It’s “a mouthful of a title,” says Kaufman, “but funny, scholarly, and ribald all at the same time!” Over the years

Anvil has released titles such as Annette Lapointe’s Giller Prize nominated debut novel, Stolen, and Lincoln Clarkes’ controversial Heroines photo-essay project which depicted Vancouver’s drug addicts in their raw environments.

Where is he now: Kaufman continues to edit both subTerrain and titles for Anvil Press.


Rob Kovitz
Years Active: 1992-present
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Greatest Accomplishment: A series of elaborate “bookworks” consisting entirely of other peoples’ texts and images restructured. After his first book, Pig City Model Farm (Princeton Architectural Press), he published other books in this format through Insomniac Press and his own imprint, Treyf Books. A personal fave over here in BP-land is Games Oligopolists Play which is formed exclusively by images and texts taken from economic textbooks and articles on hockey.

Where is he now: His 10-year-long tribute to Manitoba, Ice Fishing In Gimli, combines passages from novels, travel brochures, government papers and song lyrics, which are further mixed with film stills and photographs. It is currently for sale as a book and being exhibited at spots around the country.

Quote: “It takes a lot of time to find that material but…I spend much more time figuring out which order it’s going in and getting that flow that you wouldn’t necessarily think can happen when you’re working with all these fragments.”


Art Metropole
Years Active: 1974-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Art Metropole has been Canada’s go-to spot (and now site) for everything from a reprint of 1977 zine Ripped and Torn (billed as Glasgow’s only fanzine) to Greg Curnoe’s Blue Book #8, described by the late Curnoe as “a very Canadian self portrait – me describing myself in terms of what I am not.” For the last 30 or so years, it has published art books, zines, videos and multiples, as well as exhibited and distributed them.

Where is it now: In 1997, the group sent 13,000 items to the National Gallery of Canada, but it still maintains its space at King and Niagara where you can drop by and peruse the goods. Most recent show: Peaches Grillz — metal replicas of musician/performance artist Peaches’ teeth.

Anecdote: Founded by the artist group General Idea, Art Metropole got its name from its original location in the space of a gallery which closed in the 1940s. That gallery was called Art Metropole.


David Collier
Years Active: 1990-present
Location: Hamilton, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: For the last two decades, cartoonist Collier has been a chronicler of little-known Canadiana. Since his first comic book series, Collier’s, he has brought his signature blend of thin, black and white sketch book-like illustrations to seven books published by Drawn and Quarterly. Collier’s great talent is to merge memoir with a quirky fascination with the lives of others. Whether he’s writing about Ethel Catherwood, the Olympic high jumper known as the Saskatchewan Lily, or the tragic times of the wrongly accused David Milgaard, Collier’s work is as humble as it is perceptive.

Where is he now: Collier, who spent many formative years in Saskatoon, now lives in Hamilton with his family. He has a new book out which just came out through Montreal’s Conundrum Press. Called Chimo, it’s about his decision to re-enlist in the army with the hopes of serving in Afghanistan through the Canadian War Artists program.


Casa Del Popolo
Years Active: 2000-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest accomplishments: Casa del Popolo (House of the People) was opened in 2000 by congenial hosts Kiva and Mauro and immediately grew to become one of Montreal’s most important venues for indie culture. Its long narrow space is often filled to overflowing, beers spilling and heads craned to catch the likes of everyone from Thurston Moore to Heather O’Neill. Arts, literature and performance all appear on Casa’s stage, and it has played host to festivals ranging from Pop Montreal to the Montreal Zen Poetry Festival.

Where is it now: After a 2009 cessation of live performance due to licensing issues, the Casa re-opened and rebounded. Still in the same place, serving the same role to the people of Montreal, it hosts frequent live gigs, monthly spoken word nights and a Comix Jam.


Conan Tobias
Years Active: 1997-present
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Greatest Accomplishment: Based on personal aesthetic alone, Tobias may be the most recognizable magazine editor in Toronto (think rockabilly crooner), but his real success is launching Taddle Creek as a literary annual for Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, and turning it into a gorgeous twice yearly lit mag with a track record of consistently publishing an extremely engaging collection of fiction, poetry and illustration. In some catty literary circles, Taddle Creek is known as a Torontocentric magazine with very rigid grammar and submission expectations. This is true, though Tobias has, in recent years, opened up the magazine to out-of-town profiles, giving exposure to artists like Lee Henderson and Sonja Ahlers along with his usual roster of talent including Jessica Westhead, Alex Boyd and so many more

Where is he now: Taddle Creek just finished its first North American tour in the summer of 2010 and Tobias is working on a non-fiction book-length project as well as continuing to publish Taddle Creek.


Sherwin Tjia
Years Active: 2001-present
Location: Montreal, Quebec

Greatest Accomplishment: Tjia is a poet and painter, with work published by Insomniac Press, Coach House Books and Conundrum Press, but these days he’s more famous as the mind responsible for several irreverent experimental collaborative performance-art type events. He has created such stunning successes as the Strip Spelling Bee, Queer Slowdance Night, Crowd Karaoke and the Idea Adoption Agency, where participants put their ideas up for adoption and interested takers sign papers agreeing to use the idea within two years.

Where is he now: His next project is a Choose Your Own Adventure-style book told from the perspective of a housecat.

Quote: “It’s fun to cross-dress! I felt that if I had a chance to win something and go on stage to receive it, that I would like to wear a beautiful dress.”

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