By Kerry Freek
Hey guys — it’s getting warmer, despite (as I type) potential Monday snow. The birds are chirping (pigeons cooing), and people are coming out of their hermit caves to flood the city streets, budding with creative bounty – the results of their winter-bound solace. Toronto’s gangLion is no exception. Late last week, I spoke with Dave Missio, one of gangLion’s co-founders, to see what’s transpired over the cold months, and find out what we can expect from the comic zine’s upcoming Talent Show + raffle fundraiser.
MONDO: When you say gangLion, are you talking a cluster of grey matter or a centre of intellectual or industrial activity? Something completely different?
Dave Missio: “The basal ganglia (or basal nuclei) are a group of nuclei in the brain interconnected with the cerebral cortex, thalamus and brainstem. Mammalian basal ganglia are associated with a variety of functions: motor control, cognition, emotions, and learning.”
This definition was provided via email by one of our contributors (the illustrious Dwight Schenk) after he suggested the name “ganglia” for the project. He also pointed out that we could be a gang and, “Who doesn’t want to be part of a gang?” We ultimately decided to go for the singular form (ganglion) and adopted the lion as a mascot (read: logo). It helps to give a project with this many contributors a name, I think; it promotes a united front and a common goal to work towards. With comics kind of requiring the artist to hole themselves up for hours on end, the social group aspect helps too.
MONDO: Who is gangLion? How did gangLion come to be? What is gangLion trying to accomplish in this bustling city?
DM: GangLion was first conceived by Georgia Webber and myself through long distance telecommunications (Google Chat). We had both experimented with the comic form and agreed that, if I ever moved back to Toronto, we would collaborate on some ideas. We then realized just how many talented artists and writers we happened to know in the city, and proceeded to round them up and sell them on all the things Georgia and I had already discussed. In some cases we act as facilitators, teaming writers up with artists in order to help them tell their stories. I find that so many talented people just need a little bit of direction now and then and hopefully gangLion can serve as an outlet and as a hub group for artists and writers looking to be published for the first time.
MONDO: What draws you to making/sharing comics?
DM: As much as I love reading and watching films, there remains something distinctly unique about graphic novels and sequential art being able to tell stories in a way that no other medium comes close to. Developing the skills to create these stories involves practice, criticism, and experimentation, and sharing our work helps build confidence and a more critical eye to our own work. We all have stories to tell, learning how to tell them well takes time.
MONDO: Why should attendees/participants come to gangLion’s upcoming talent show? In other words, what can you promise that other talent shows cannot provide?
DM: The Talent Show is basically going to be amazing. We have so many great people coming out ready to entertain with their ten or so minutes bathed in the limelight. This is going to be the type of show where people you know may reveal a previously hidden talent. They may not end up juggling swords, but crossing only ONE eyeball? Now that’s talent. Anyone that shows up can participate, all talents welcome. There will be lots to laugh about (and at) mixed in with some truly amazing performances. We’re hoping to raise a bit more money for the production fees on our next issue, so there’s also a raffle that we’re holding. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only Talent Show to also hold a raffle at the same event. This knowledge is based on absolutely nothing.
gangLion’s Talent Show + raffle is happening on Thursday, April 8 at the Smiling Buddha around 9 p.m. Come on out to showcase your weird talents and maybe win a cool prize.