This week, 11th Dimension Press launches its inaugural graphic edition, Chilly Tales, the first of what could be many anthologies of Canadian art comics. Curated by illustrator-writer duo Plierpants (Matt Daley and Cory McCallum), the book includes new work from comics veterans such as Fiona Smyth and Marc Bell, as well as newcomers including Somya Singh and Rosena Fung. 11th Dimension will co-host the launch on Oct. 23 with The Beguiling in Toronto.
Q&Q spoke to McCallum and Daley about the anthology and their collaborative process.
How did the anthology come about?
Cory McCallum: I was approached by 11th Dimension’s publisher, Darryl Murphy, who I went to high school with, and he asked if I was doing anything of graphic-novel length. I told him I wasn’t, but one idea I did have was to do an anthology of Canadian underground comic-book artists and writers. 11th Dimension has published some guides and academic stuff, and he wanted to get more into the literature world, and specifically the comic-book world. For Matt and I, we didn’t put any of our own pieces in because we wanted it to be a spotlight on other people.
Do you imagine this as an ongoing series?
CM: I’d like to do another one, and hopefully get even more submissions in. Because it was a relatively unknown publisher, and because Matt and I are a pretty Toronto-centric brand, we were able to get submissions from across Canada, but I know there are 10-to-50 times more contributors out there. I’d like to have more from the Prairies, more French content. We hope we can parlay the book into a more broad Canadian venture.
How did you guys begin working together?
MD: We met through a mutual friend. Cory got in touch with me a little while later with some story ideas, and we struck it up from there. I was doing a strip at the time for Broken Pencil, with a character I called Mr. Monitor. I’m not the most confident writer, and I felt like I was sort of hitting a brick wall with it, so I approached Cory about writing a few. He came up with a few ideas that were great, so for a while we had this continuous strip, which kind of parlayed into the book The Pig Sleep: A Mr. Monitor Case.
Cory, how do you find working with an illustrator?
CM: I can do the skeleton drawings. For our second book, Errol Dynamic, there aren’t a lot of words, so I was trying to storyboard it for Matt. I’m a pretty good quick sketcher, but I don’t have the patience to make stuff look good. I like that I can have an idea, talk it through with Matt, and something shows up. It’s generally like 70 per cent of what I ask for, and 30 per cent of what Matt changing it and making it more vibrant and alive. Its been pretty fun. Someone asked me a while ago how I write for comic books, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know, I only know how to write for Matt.’
Do you have creative projects independent of one another?
CM: Matt does a ton of stuff design-wise, because that is his actual job. So he’s always making art, whether it be for another company or magazine or whatever. For me, most of my other writing goes into songwriting. The only narrative stuff I write is usually with Matt. I also have a full-time job, and a family, and a band, so usually the pace that Matt and I are working at is enough to keep my creative side occupied.