In comics: Carl Barks, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Crumb, Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Richard Corben and Moebius (Jean Giraud)
Outside of comics: Mark E. Smith (the Fall music group), Nick Bostrom (physics theory), Max Tegmark (physics theory), Gerhard Richter (painting)
Can you compare the cultural climate in Canada and the USA?
I left Canada to move to the US in 1994, so my impressions of the cultural scene there are dated - but I remember Canadian contemporary art as being almost entirely supported by government grants (or academic jobs) whereas in America there’s a thriving art market driven by wealthy collectors. Unfortunately, art tends to reflect the interests of its patrons, so Canadian art tends to be academic/bureaucratic, while American art is much livelier - but oblivious to its own role supporting the “1%” (as we call them here).
What is the topic of your graphic novel 'Fantastic Life'?
Uncertainty, fear and aloneness. Sounds fun, right?
What is the future of comics as a medium?
It seems to be bifurcating into a “high” form (“art comics” and “literary comics”) supported by a few “angel” publishers and practiced by the small numbers of artists who can afford the (huge!) time commitments the medium requires, and a “low” form (popular superhero and genre comics) that survives despite a modest market by providing and developing “IP” (intellectual property) for television and movies. As usual, there’s an interesting “indie” form in the middle that sometimes manages to combine the intellectual rigor of the high form with the juiciness and vigor of the low form.
Interestingly, the formal evolutions many of us have been expecting (e-comics, webcomics, etc) haven’t taken off so far - printed comics seem to be hanging on as semi-fetish objects. I still like them!
What artists (any genre) should be more famous?
Hmmm - sticking to comics, few artists get anything like the attention they deserve! I’ll put in a plug for my friend Bishakh Som, a wonderful cartoonist who makes work that references gender explorations, Indian heritage, architecture, and contemporary urban life with gentle humor and real depth.