Monday, December 24, 2007

Oscar Peterson...

Posted by Arna:

Oscar Peterson the renowned Canadian jazz piano master died yesterday. He will be missed.

Here is an interview with Oscar Peterson from 1965, published in 'Seventeen & a half', which was my high school literary magazine. Good friend Lanny Salsberg was publisher of the mag. My friend and fellow classmate Robert Libman met Mr. Peterson at the Friars Tavern in Toronto, Canada. I did the portrait from a photograph.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Hair(less) The Musical!

Got the chance to see a terrific forty-five minute cartoon musical this weekend at the Royal Cinema in Toronto.

The RUBY GLOOM characters were all singing and all dancing. With a great music score by Ray Parker and Tom Szczesniak, (the same guys who created our COOLMAN! music), HAIR(LESS) sounded and looked gorgeous. Director Robin Budd and his crew pulled out all the stops. Pretty nice stuff for a television budget animated in Toon Boom Harmony. Why not release this on the big screen?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Moo Cards!

Got these a while ago. They are fun to share, sort of like our own personal trading cards. Yayyy for Moo!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gladstone Late Afternoon...

Taken by John van Bruggen, on the way to Canzine 2007. Read more about the event here.

Here's more about the event, for Nick who asked :)

Artist Max Douglas was there (Arna's son), showing off his ambitious new book, THEREFORE REPENT (a partnership with writer Jim Monroe). We hung out with Max, (family day!) and picked up a poignant graphic trio of HUNG books by Shannon Gerard and a really funny little (really little!) book called Transit Tokens by John Martz (he of the called notorious TTC ANAGRAM MAP). We also got a trippy PINPAL PAPER DOLL. There was lots more to see and do- you could have a 'hate letter' written about you if you so desired, and read the latest SHAMELESS magazine. We somehow missed seeing the room installation by TARA BURSEY, but we heard it was dark. Tara's work always challenges the viewer.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Royal Winter Fair 2006

Here's a little sampler of shots we took during our visit with Daniela and James at the Royal Winter Fair last year. It's been a year and the Royal is on again. What a great place to draw.

But since we might not make it to the fair this year, we'll post this link to a fabulous set of Royal Winter Fair sketches by Drazen Kozjan. Delicious.

Dani and J are in San Francisco now, and from what we hear, life is good. You can visit their blogs here:

Daniela and J

Friday, September 07, 2007


Posted by Arna:

Here are some stills from the soon to be released animated feature film, Persepolis:

Based on the books by the same name:

On the first night of this year's TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) we saw Persepolis, the movie, and it was good.
A few facts:

-Approx. two years in the making.
-Based on the graphic novels 1 and 2 of the same name by Marjane Satrapi.
-Directed by artist and writer Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud.
-Created almost entirely in black and white in France, using traditional animation techniques with some CGI enhanced shots.
-Set against the fundamentalist Iranian revolution of the 1980's, the story follows writer artist Marjane Satrapi's life starting when she was a ten year old girl in an educated liberal family, to the time she was a young adult, living in exile in Europe. As Marjane Satrapi was careful to explain at the screening, this is a story based on her life, but not a true autobiography, since there are events that were altered from reality during the making of the movie.
-The version we saw was subtitled, but this movie will be dubbed in English and released later this year for the North American market. I hope that it will see a good size release in theatres. Certainly the audience at this night's screening reacted with genuine delight and much spontaneous laughter.
This style of animation is what is now known as ' 2D traditional'. Hand animated on paper, then in-betweened. And then in this case and most amazingly, the animated line was all traced by felt tip pen to give the look and feel of Satrapi's original graphic novel. For more on the technique, please check the nifty 'making of' documentary which you can watch on the Persepolis website. In order to create the felt tip traced line that you see on every drawing in this film, the filmmakers searched out a respected semi retired French hand-inker named Franck Miyot (or Miller...sp?) and asked him to train a young crew of approx. 20 artists in the art of hand-inking. As a result there is a group of talented artists in France who have brought this labour intense animation tradition back to life in that country.
Can't say anything bad about this film. OKAY maybe once in a while the score was a tiny bit too on the nose. Even so the music was workmanlike and better, and at often genuinely uplifting. Listen for a quirky and totally appropriate version of 'Eye Of The Tiger' sung in a raw slightly off-key style by the heroine. ~Woohoo! The song pulls you out of a sequence that focuses on the teen Marjane's mind-numbing depression, exacerbated (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) by a doctor's over-prescribed drug regime.
The film makers could have divided this story up into two parts, but maybe they thought that they'd get just one kick at the can. They'd edited the two books into one tale and told it well. The art direction of the film elaborates on the simple black and white style of the books, sticking mostly to black and white but adding shades of grey, laid down in richly textured washes. The look of the film sometimes feels like German expressionism... (a little Cabinet of Doctor Caligari perhaps?) in it's use of scumbled blacks and murky lighting. Or a reference to the Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. Then during the battle scenes and historic sequences, there's a echo of the silhouette animation of Lotte Reininger, and you can see the influence of Goya during the riot/execution sequences.

Favourite characters:

Young Marjane. A bossy outspoken little girl, innocent and possessing faith in her world and her God... soon to be tested.
Grandma. Wise in woman's ways and Marjane's rock.

Persepolis will be screening at the Ottawa Animation Festival later this week. It's a great time to read the graphic novels before the English language version of the film debuts in December. Or re-read them, which I'm off to do next!~ Arna

Reviews of the film: Here, here, and here. Update: here's a new review on Michael Sporn's 'splog' and this review posts a video of the Persepolis trailer.
And here's Nick Sung's review of several TIFF films including Persepolis. Nick's review comes complete with watercolour illustrations!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chester and Joe...

Hey! If you went to the groovy Toronto Comic Arts Festival last weekend and you have pictures you wish to put up...please check out this TCAF Flickr group. Anyone who wants to contribute photos of the Fest is welcome to join. If you see yourself in a shot, please comment and tell us who you are...We'll add your names to the caption.

It was an excellent fest. I only wish I'd been able to go both days and see even more of the artists and the artwork!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Kicking off the Toronto Comic Arts Fest...

posted by Arna:

Updated, August 17, 2007: Here's a link to flickr photos from this event. Don't forget that the TCAF Toronto Comic Arts Fest is this weekend! Mostly a free event with loads of talented artists and their work on display...
On August 16 2007, there will be a comic book launch featuring two very different visions of the end days, spanning the political spectrum:

Claudia Dávila's spOILed is a Peak Oil parable about a world without petroleum.

Salgood Sam (AKA Max Douglas, son of Arna Selznick) and Jim Munroe's THEREFORE REPENT! is a Post-Rapture graphic novel about a world without God.

The creators will be in attendance, and their original artwork from the comics will be on display. Books, original artwork and silkscreened posters will be on sale.

This event kicks off the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which culminates in the weekend fair of international artists on the U of T campus.

Thursday, August16, 8pm-10pm. Free at Tequila Bookworm 512 Queen St. West, upstairs. The Bookworm's new location is ten doors west of their old place, and the upstairs features lots of cozy rooms and an outdoor patio to enjoy their local brews.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Did I Do Wrong?

Posted by Arna.

Here's a sketch for the weekend: another dachshund. These dogs keep coming up in my doodles.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


A gripping tale told from the point of view of a ten year old Iranian girl. Now a 2D animated movie made in France and directed by the original writer/artist Marjane Satrapi, and Vincent Paronnaud. Hopefully an English language version will be released soon. You'll find some intriguing (French language) videos on the Persepolis MySpace site.
Update, July 17_07: Cast announced for the English language version include the voices of Sean Penn and Iggy Pop. (read more from Animation Magazine)

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Posted by Arna: Meant to post this weeks ago when it happened, so sorry it's late.

I was a lucky participant at an all day puppetry workshop in June at Puppetmongers Studio. I met a very cool bunch of people with tonnes of passion for their storyteller's art. Here are some of the shots I took at the event:

Above: David Powell of Puppetmongers and Brad Harley of Shadowland Theatre check out one of Eric Woolfe's puppets. Taken at the FRESH IDEAS IN PUPPETRY DAY, June 16, 2007 at Puppetmongers workshop.

Above: Eric Woolfe (THE BABYSITTER) and his crew...

Above: Ronnie Burkett reads from new work in progress, BILLY TWINKLE, REQUIEM FOR A GOLDEN BOY. BILLY TWINKLE is about puppeteers and promises to intrigue and mystify as did his shows: The Trilogy: TINKA'S NEW DRESS, STREET OF BLOOD, and HAPPY, and more recently TEN DAYS ON EARTH. You can read more about him here, and take a tour of Burkett's workshop.

Above: Panel on Story and Scripting. Members of the puppeteers group The Raucus Caucus ~love that name! Left to right: Ruth Howard, Brad Harley, Ann Powell, David Anderson. Turns out that storytelling with puppets presents many of the same challenges that animation storytelling does. Ann and David explained that they storyboard their shows together, working out ideas on the wall of their studio.

Earlier in the day we heard a discussion on directing, moderated by Anne Barber (Bread and Puppet Theatre, Shadowland Theatre). Directors Mark Cassidy (click here for current info), Michael Waller, and Jim Warren shared their insights. Eg: (I'm paraphrasing here, not actual quotes!!)

Mark Cassidy "Use puppets in a story to open up the telling of the tale, and create a situation that will bring out the unexpected".
Michael Waller "When giving direction, sometime it's best to talk to the puppet, not the puppeteer".
Jim Warren: 'When adding puppets to a dramatic production, integrate the puppets into the story and allow adequate time to develop the puppet designs!"
Funniest line in this discussion(I think it was Michael Waller's) :
" Little balls can make you cry".
The evening was given over to performances, which included Mark Keetch and Noah Kenneally performing their bittersweet piece on relationships: OUR TIME, Johan Vandergun of Lampoon PuppetTheatre and Pat Lewis of Meadowsweet Productions perform THE PARK BENCH and David Powell and his puppet Alex performing LONG LIFE AS BOUNDLESS AS THE SKY, (named for the Korean musical accompaniment) in which we saw Alex stand on his head. You really do believe that there are muscles and tendons in Alex as he goes through the various yoga-like positions.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

SK8 art...

Posted by Arna:

Check this out! Starts next week in the the Distillery District. A show of decorative skateboards, the collaboration between two artists, Harvey Chan and Jon Todd:

Harvey was my first sculpture teacher at Toronto School Of Art.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Give me my ROM back.

Posted by Arna:
Convocation Hall, Uof T

I want my ROM back. Where’d it go?

Smook, and Drazen and I met at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for a sketch outing Friday morning. How exciting! We hoped to check out the new Michael Lee Chin Crystal addition too. We didn’t get past the front lobby. Seems we had dangerous brush pens, and small watercolour boxes that I’ve brought to the Museum before. Plus we were carrying bags. Not huge bags, but we had little sketchbooks in them. Now mind you, there were women with large purses walking in unchecked as we chatted with the security personnel. Who knows what those gals were carrying in there... maybe dangerous lipstick, which they could use to deface the exhibits if so inclined!

Yup I’m a tad peeved about this. The Museum is a sacred place to me and I would never think of defacing it in any way. I have spent many childhood/young adult days sketching in the ROM and feel as though it is ‘mine’. I’m protective of the place. It’s a valued resource that belongs to every Torontonian in that same way it belongs to me.

So it's all renovated and flashy now and without warning there is a new policy. No art equipment other than pencils?!? Plus we got a curious instruction to draw ‘freehand’ only. Is there any other way?
Don’t get me wrong I love my pencils. I even had one small HB with me. But this is a bad policy. Artists have visited and sketched at the ROM for over 50 years. We’d like to continue to do so. We’re part of the fabric of the city and we don’t want to see city life shrinking in this way. This is not about security. We opened our bags and happily showed the contents; three or four brush pens and two little sketchbooks and small watercolour box, a few paper towels to wipe up if there was a spill... I travel light! Meanwhile while the purse carriers walked in no problem. Me. No. Get.

Actually the guard misspoke to us...I checked the ROM website after our little adventure, and it claims you can sketch with pens and pencils. Wish I’d known that when we were talking to him! The fellow finally did say that he would make an 'exception' and allow a pen in ‘this time’. But by then it felt like time to leave.

So we three wandered down Philosopher's Walk and sprawled in the shade on the lawn across from Convocation Hall to sketch and vent and catch up. My sketch buddies for the day are a pair of charming talented fellows and we had a delightful time. Drazen has a bunch of new children's books in the works and a spiffy new website, and Mike (Smook) is doing great guns boarding on Ruby Gloom. I didn’t do as much drawing as I’d like...I’d let that officious guard get to me. Not wise, shoulda known better because there was plenty of cool stuff to draw. Proud graduates fluttered on the lawn in red robes... courtyards surrounded by arched cloisters with gargoyles...

Of course we did a little horsing around too: Check out the shot below taken ‘somewhere on U of T campus’... don’t worry, we rubbed out the drawing afterwards. We’re a regular trio of art

I’m very glad we had the chance to get together! Thanks to (slightly burnt) Smook for the prodding... Thanks to Drazen making me look so thin and stylin'! How nice. See you both again soon I hope.

We all missed John who usually travels with me, but had script deadlines and a pulled ligament in his drawing hand. Get better soon, sweety!! :)

Click here, here, here, and here, for older posts of us drawing with and without Smook at the ROM...

Click here for Mike Smukavic of Reddot blog! and Drazen Kozjan of Hypnotic Eye and Happy Undertaker.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Two Smokeless Patrons...

Posted by John:
More from the same day as 'Grange Park', below. Two patrons at SMOKELESS JOE'S bar, deep in conversation.

Grange Park sketching...

Posted by Arna:
Here’s a quick sketch in a small Moleskine, using a Pigma brush and coloured in Photoshop. We meant to visit The AGO for the Emily Carr exhibit, but the gallery was closed Tuesday due to ongoing construction, so we wandered over to Grange Park.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kensington market walls...

Posted by John and Arna:
Saturday we visited The Beguiling bookstore for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Had a nice chat with the talented Michael Cho and picked up tickets for Scott McCloud who spoke at OISE on Sunday night. Good weekend all round...

Saturday was also JANE JACOBS DAY in Toronto ( see Nick Sung's post on Jane Jacobs here) and we did our own walk from the Annex to Kensington Market and along Nassau Street which is full of funky cafes, music stores and a cool Tshirt shop called Hardboiled.

At the back of a store on the corner of Nassau and Augusta, we found this wall covered with collaged posters 'n graffiti that made fine photo material. John took these shots.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Posted by Arna:

Here's a small fishy doodle to entertain you while we're busy with work n' stuff...

Clicking the image takes you to our Flickr page. Once you're there, click 'all sizes' to go to the larger version of the image.

This little character is inspired by the movie THE HOST, a wonderful Korean film that builds a monster movie story by focusing on a family, and especially the disaffected son, who has lost his way. We follow the family's struggle to rescue the son's young daughter, after she is taken by the monster. The story carries themes of the terrible pollution our species has brought to this planet, and the destructive undermining influence of the American presence on Korean culture. There are allusions to the nerve-wracking SARS health scare we in Toronto are so familiar with, and great portrayals of the sort of groupthink fear that drives people to adopt ridiculous and totally pointless measures in times of crisis. Don't miss this film! It's funny, and terrifying. A great one to see in the theatre...the music echoes like the score from a Miyazaki film. The juggernaut motion of the monster; sometimes awkward, sometimes acrobatic (nothing like this little creature in the sketch above), keeps you on the edge of your seat.

We'll give it five 'doodler squiggles' or 'squidlers', a word that suits this film. ~~~~~

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Posted by Arna.

Just came back from Banff where I was lucky to spend 4 days in the fresh air, and experience an amazing story conference. Got my head clear and came back to Toronto to finish a board that is keeping me very busy for the next three weeks. I'll post more about the conference in the next days.

Thanks to Warren Leonhardt who encouraged me to go. Thanks to Chad Kerychuk and Ken Bautista who put the conference together.

Big thanks to speakers Ronnie Del Carmen, Kris Pearn, Josh Staub, and George P. Georgeadis for your energy, insight and inspiration.

This photo was taken on the way up Tunnel Mountain Trail. I am now walking hills in our neighbourhood to get in better shape so the next time I'll make it to the top of that trail!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Posted by Arna. To see more views of this piece, please click the photo and that will take you to our Flickr. Once there, please click 'all sizes' on the photo to see the larger version.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Posted by Arna:

This model had an athletic and angular frame that inspired this rough treatment. You can see more views of the piece on our Flickr site. Please click the image above and once you're there, click 'all sizes' to view a larger version of the image.

Friday, February 09, 2007


John took this picture last spring/summer. The Royal Ontario Museum (or ROM as it's known to most Torontonians) is undergoing a bit of a transformation. The reno is called 'The Crystal' but I don't know how crystalline it will be when it's finished, since the skin appears to be white aluminum siding.

This shot shows the old ROM and a skeleton of the new wing in sharp contrast. I wanted the old part to look the way I remember it so gave it a dirt layer. Then I added the dinosaurs fighting in the window as a tribute to the great dinosaur hall. I spent many childhood afternoons standing under the Tyrannosaurus Rex that loomed over the centre of the room, hoping to catch it moving just a little... :)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Broken Glass

posted by Arna:

We stumbled on this (Well, not actually! It's a figure of speech...thanks Clive :)) when walking in our neighbourhood last summer. Michelle says it looks like a fish, and I agree:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

4 legged house...

posted by Arna:

An idea for a structure I would build of transparent material, with lights inside so it glows a bit. It could walk like Howl's Moving Castle. I'd set it in a city square or a farmer's field and then watch where it goes!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

As seen on Queen West...

These storefront pix were taken by JVB just before Christmas. Clicking one of these thumbnails will take you to our Flickr page. Once there, click 'all sizes' for a larger view.