Discovering Inkstuds. Rediscovering Colin Upton
Weird. This weekend I went to Vancouver with my family. We were driving up Main Street and passed by Heritage Hall. I mentioned to my kids that this was the locale where many years ago I sold off much of my comic collection, during comic conventions that were organized by Leonard S. Wong. As we drove by, I mentioned, “I wonder if conventions are still running here…” and lo! There was a sign on the front of the building announcing that a Vancouver Comicon taking place that very same day.
I did a Web search for the convention once we got home, in order to find out what artists were attending the event. I never made it to reading information about the convention, because I spun off and experienced full-on rapture upon discovering the Inkstuds website, where over a hundred (!) interviews with comic artists have been uploaded to the Web for your listening pleasure. And of all the places where this website could have been from, it is hosted as part of CITR radio from the University of British Columbia. Man, my high school years were consecrated to listening to that radio station, from hardcore, to reggae, to jazz, to blues, to world music, and beyond…and now I find out that CITR also has a radio program on comics!
I have been looking for exactly this website for weeks, having finally tired of listening to Buddhist podcasts at work (check out Buddhist Geeks: “Seriously Buddhist. Seriously Geeky.”) Even weirder, one of the participants in the radio shows on Inkstuds is none other than Colin Upton (dubbed by Dave Sim the “Canadian Dean of Mini-Comics”). Colin, I doubt that you remember me, but when I was a nerdy thirteen-year-old kid, I bought copies of your Socialist Turtle and Granville Street Gallery mini-comics. You were The Shit, man! Your drawing style was simple enough so that in my mind I thought I could perhaps emulate it, but refined enough to come across as exuding a bare-bones, pared-down sophistication.
And there I was today, listening to a podcast where you were describing the evolution of your mini-comics, all these years later.
Nervous Tic Nic
You were not the only one out there creating mini-comics. One of my best friends in high school, we’ll call him Nic (not short for Nicholas, but an abbreviation of “Nervous Tic) was privately slaving away at his oeuvre, The Enlightenments of Samuel Stonerolling in: the Hole of Humanity, which to this day probably has never been publicly distributed. Well, I’ve hung onto said volume for twenty years, for no rational reason that I can think of other than my love for and attachment to Nic.
The only time that Nic’s rather violent neck-twitches would cease was when he was stoned. Let’s just say that didn’t happen infrequently. Interestingly enough, this weekend while I was in Vancouver I stumbled across Peter Kuper’s Stop Forgetting to Remember, a volume I had never seen before. I’m halfway through it right now, and I’m finding it astounding. Not only does Kuper’s confessional memoir focus on his endless dope-smoking antics as a teenager, but he also reminisces on his inability to engage in opportunities to lose his virginity, even when the occasion presented itself no holds barred! And I thought I was alone…Stop Forgetting to Remember is confirmation that there is strength in dorkiness—who’d have thought that during my teenage years, I had inadvertently joined forces with a legion of dope-smoking, comic-collecting geeks with an inability to socialize with the opposite sex?
But back to Nic: Nic, you are an asshole. It’s not enough that you took six hits of acid and phoned me one evening to tell me “I’m in Hell,” then blurting out an address near the corner of Broadway and Arbutus and hanging up. I went to find you, yelling out your name late on the street, only to discover you in a nearby restaurant preaching about God to the restaurant’s patrons. We went to Kits beach and I spent hours listening to you ramble on, until you’d come down enough for me to know that it was safe to take you home.
No, that’s not enough. Some weeks later, you had to walk out the door in the middle of your shift at Caper’s, take all of the money out of your bank account, and disappear. Never to be seen again. Well, the hell with you, copyright law or no. Here is your story. So sue me.
I still miss you.
Download (28.6 MB): Stonerolling
Poem (written twenty years ago): Fallen Angel
Many thanks to Brian Glover for his conversion of the original mini-comic into PDF format. I owe you one.
Interview with Peter Kuper on Inkstuds.