On Thursday, May 8th, the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly had a majestic night of comics with Conundrum Press! Above is, as described by moderator Sam Alden, a "hot mess of new books," from Québécois legends Jimmy Beaulieu and Réal Godbout, Toronto-based Mark Connery, and local artist Meags Fitzgerald's first book!
Sam Alden did a great job moderating, and started off the evening by bringing Réal and Jimmy up for a Q&A. Best Alden one liner of the night, by the way: "The theme of this evening is let’s take people who sit in a chair in an office all day and put them on a stage."
Canadian Hall of Fame artist Réal Godbout was there to present his first work in English, an adaptation of Kafka's Amerika. Celebrated Quebec comics artist Jimmy Beaulieu was showcasing My Neighbour's Bikini, his second translation for Conundrum's BDANG imprint. Godbout recalled a time when there was really no comic scene to be heard of, and a period when there was much more emphasis on magazines. Jimmy discussed the many changes in the industry - in the 80s it was more humour based, 90s were underground punk fan zines. When he started in the late 90s, early 2000s the publishers that started at that time were all former booksellers. They put emphasis on books and not magazines; they thought there was more permanence to a book.
Up next was Mark Connery, whose zines have been described as portals to other dimensions, hilarious friction, and anarchist scratchscapes. He was launching his anthology of Rudy comics, edited by Marc Bell, with a few pieces that had been previously published by Conundrum. Connery described the book's format, which went reverse chronologically, over 23 years of work. So like a backwards history of cats and fish and whatnot. Mark read as the characters, which was hilarious and surreal, and ended by saying, "So, uh, some of these are better to look at than to hear. Some of these drawings are pretty neat."
The final presenter was Meags Fitzgerald, whose book Photobooth: A History, has been getting rave reviews all over the place. Meags has chronicled the photobooth’s fortuitous history and the events which have given rise to the desperate need to save them. Meags charmingly brought up how, if you knew her, you knew she could "talk at length about things nobody cares about," so she got a friend to write interview questions to "minimize ramblings."
Afterwards, all of these immensely talented artists stuck around to sign copies. It was such a great night, and we had an awesome time. Congrats to everyone involved!