STINKIN’ SUMMER, BROKEN PENCIL PALS!
So we don't really do themed issues of Broken Pencil anymore (we found them limiting and challenging to put together) but sometimes themes unwittingly reveal themselves in the stories we tell. In this issue, you will see a theme of artistic survival, where creators consciously (or unconsciously, in the case of Conundrum's Andy Brown) end up in environments that are creatively fertile and are also affordable enough to allow them a decent quality of life. In our cover story “DIY in the Farmland” by Isabel Slone, you'll read about a growing clutch of DIY artists — zinesters, filmmakers, comics artists, and in the case of our cover subject Andrew Mcluhan, a self-taught furniture upholsterer — who have retreated from the buzzing cores of cities like Montreal and Toronto for the quieter (and cheaper) accommodations that the region provides. At the same time, the County has become gentrified — a haven for city slickers looking to sip wine, ride bikes through the country roads and hang out at the Drake Devonshire, a fancy “country inn” and restaurant run by the owner's of Toronto's ultra-hip Drake Hotel. Slone examines how these two energies co-exist and the complications that arise when the rest of the world learns about a beautiful regional secret.
We've also got a story about Conundrum Press, the comics publisher who has somehow logged 20 years of existence while maintaining a resolutely DIY and hands-on outlook. The main reason for its unique vibe and survival lies with founder/publisher Andy Brown, who started the press by publishing his friends' work in mid-‘90s Montreal, when rent was cheaper and artistic risk was an everyday occurrence. Writer Jonathan Rotsztain (also a great comics artist — Google him) does a great job of painting Conundrum's humble origins and the loyal community that has bolstered its survival over the years.
Beyond these pieces, there are some other cool stories in this issue that I'm really excited about. We are bringing on Al Donato, a writer, game designer and journalist who works with Toronto's Hand Eye Society and writes for Torontoist and Huffington Post about politics, accessibility, gender and more. They will be writing a column for us called “Power Up” about personal politics and how they manifest in the indie gaming world. Al is really rad and smart and I am really pleased to welcome them to the mag in a regular capacity. We've also got a story about the new generation of teen zinesters who are gently shifting paradigms and making weird, hilarious and invigorating work both in print but especially online, by the very excellent writer/zinester Rachel Davies of the online zine Pop Culture Puke. I love this piece so much and learned a ton (I'm old! I need help!) and I hope you do too. As always, we welcome feedback of all sorts to email@example.com. Tell me what you liked! Tell me what we can do better! Tell me everything!