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ganglion-coverBy 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.

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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.

The Gargoyle: A Review

Posted by admin On October - 16 - 2007

Where MONDO remembers its roots as a campus paper by bashing those who continue on in earnest.

By Siobhan Mildred Watters

There are a few words my friends have heard me say a lot — verbally, on Livejournal, in IMs, and in e-mails — in the past month or so. These words would be “broke,” “poor,” and “Visa,” along with many other combinations of words denoting the flailing and pitiful state that my finances are in. One downside to being broke and poor (in the lower-middle-class way) is not being able to purchase books. The big or small, fat or tall, elegantly or strikingly tailored tomes that catch my eye. My solution is to continue to complain, and furthermore, to take advantage of other means of obtaining the published word.

Today, on my way out of U of T, I happened upon the Gargoyle, sadly, not dedicated to the rockin’ animated television show of my childhood, but the student newspaper for University College and one of many published on campus. The paper’s front page was not packed with headlines and photographs of Dalton McGuinty, refugees, and Lindsay Lohan; in fact, its “front page” was more of a cover. It sported a single image: the nape and upper back of a young lady who, incidentally, had the word “Gargoyle” tattooed there. However, the enticing and attractive black and white photo was not the thing that sold me; it was because there was no sale involved. But of course! Gargoyle is free.

Turning the page, I found the masthead and editorial section, which has actually been dubbed the “gargeditorial,” a title that works better read than said aloud (trust me, I tried it). From the gargeditorial, I learned some uninteresting things about Gargoyle office politics and its managing editor-in-chief — somebody in student paper land owes him money — but also, that this was the year’s first edition.

Next, I read (most of) the Gargoyle’s politics section, which is actually two pages consisting of three stories, interrupted, for some reason, by pages from the opinion section. This sparse political coverage suits me just fine because I belong to that group of youth that are uninterested in political goings-on, the ones responsible for democracy’s demise. However, I congratulate the Gargoyle for publishing a story that married academia and politics, most fitting for a university newspaper. The story, “A Scary Prospect: Reflections on a Proposed Academic Boycott” by Jon Sas, gives an opinionated account of a recent motion by members of Britain’s University and College Union to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions as a means of protesting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. While reading, I was inspired to volunteer myself as a proofreader (the inspiration is since lost), as it is quite evident they do not employ one now.

In the opinion section, hate is directed towards frats and bike thieves. One piece, a wannabe Onion article but good in its own right, reported the demise of 22 people at the Ontario leaders’ debate where a suicide bomber — PC Leader John Tory — donated a bomb attached to his chest. Following several opinions, was an untitled, unaccredited article that I didn’t review due to the apparent laziness of its author.

Interestingly, the Gargoyle boasts a true centerfold — a two-page spread of collage artwork by contributor Dan Epstein. The artwork leads into the two dominate sections of the paper: arts and culture, and avant-garg (which works much better, I think, than gargeditorial). In arts and culture, Alexandra Heeney gives a re-review of John Cusack’s earlier and, in her opinion, greatest films: The Sure Thing and Say Anything…; and, Benjamin Raphael Reed (I’d advertise a middle name like that, too) writes reviews of singles I’ve never heard of, but uses allusions that aid digestion. Avant-garg delivers a nice mix of poetry and short stories, and is what the Gargoyle is really there for. Diego Valderrama’s and Daniel Giavedoni’s comics are funny and cute (I bet they hate being called that), though some details didn’t make it through the presses.

Overall, I found the Gargoyle to be a little biased — it didn’t reach out to me at all as a co-op student on campus. Of course it doesn’t; but in all seriousness, its articles are subjective and there is no clear distinction between its opinion and politics sections for a reason. However, the Gargoyle is “one of many,” and is directed towards a small audience, and so, is entitled to its bias. The paper excels as a showcase of student art, poetry, and fiction — even its news articles are purposely fabricated. The names of its editor and writers alone are enough to draw me back, Jon Sas (it just has to be pronounced “sass”), and Aslan Amani.

Verdict: Who really cares? It’s free.

Note: Harsh criticisms directed towards the Gargoyle and its staff can be attributed to the author’s bitterness due to a recent bout with flu-like symptoms and still having no money. Also, the word “gargoyle” has started to lose meaning.

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MONDO is a non-profit, weekly, Toronto-based, online magazine that focuses on arts, culture, and humour. We’re interested in art of all kinds (music, theatre, visual art, film, comics, and video games) and the pop culture that we inhabit.The copyright on all MONDO magazine content belongs to the author. If you would like to pay them for more content, please do. To contact MONDO please email us at editor@mondomagazine.net

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