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Comics as a community

Celebrating the socially distant art form

If you’d asked me six months ago where I’d be today (May 16), I’d have said “at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Yaletown, enjoying Day One of the 2020 Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (VanCAF).” In January, to paraphrase a line from the 1978 Superman movie, Krypton shifted its orbit. The word “coronavirus” entered our vocabulary as the world’s nations confronted a growing public health threat. On March 11, the outbreak was officially declared “a pandemic.” Social distancing and self-quarantines were advised, then ordered. Along with beaches, parks and restaurants, theatres, concert halls, cinemas and arenas closed to prevent large gatherings. On March 23, VanCAF director Isabella Laird announced its cancellation. Founded in 2012 by writer and editor Shannon Campbell as a "free-to-attend community event,” the 2019 edition included more than 260 exhibitors — independent artists and comics publishers — and programming that featured workshops, panel discussions, readings and interviews. Although VanCAF reached out to its community this week with online programming, it was no substitute for the special explosion of creative energy present in the physical assembly of so many talented artists. I missed that unique electricity, and I mean to be there when it returns in 2021. In the meantime, l’ll recall a milestone event from 1971, a Simon Fraser University exhibition called The Comics as an Art Form.


local news

Overstated stickiness

A tale of Italian-American twitterpation

Filming in Toronto under Norman Jewison’s direction, pop singer-turned-actress Cher turned in an Academy Award-winning performance. Born on this day (May 20) in 1946, she managed the feat in his 1987 romantic-comedy hit Moonstruck.

comics page

Blighty sends its best

Acknowledging an absolute mastery

Arguably the world’s first comic book, Britain’s Comic Cuts made its debut on this day (May 17) in 1890. It only made sense, then, that U.K. artists should have staked their claim to cartoon honours a century later with the 1991 anthology feature The British Animation Invasion.


Beyond the news at six

Honest portrait of national turmoil

Though press freedom in the Philippines suffered a setback in court today (May 18), the battle remains non-violent. That was not the case when filmmaker Nettie Wild, born on this day in 1952, was there shooting her 1988 feature A Rustling of Leaves: Inside the Philippine Revolution.


Resolute going forward

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Not just a new year, but a new decade begins today (January 1, 2020). The very thought of it — the challenges, the opportunities, the responsibility — is enough to induce creative paralysis. Or, perhaps, to invoke the title of Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s 1863 novel What Is to Be Done?.



A DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES is the Internet address of Michael Walsh, a Canadian living in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I spent my working life as a newspaperman. While others covered the waterfront, I specialized in movies. As a film critic, I published my views in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television, at conferences, conventions and in the occasional courtroom. It was my good fortune to cover 30 of the most exciting, innovative years in screen history (1965-1995).
Retired, but not inactive, I've launched Reeling Back in in order to recall and, perhaps, make sense of it all. Eventually, it will grow into an archive of the nearly 6,000 films I've reviewed to date. Because everything old is news again, each posting will include a note connecting these particular movie memories to the here and now.

And, yes, I intend Reeling Back to offer new material, including web-log commentary, reviews of current pop culture and additions to my own "works in progress" — four book-length projects still in the notebook phase.

From Will Shakespeare to Marshall McLuhan to Joss Whedon, the great thinkers have all reminded us that we live in a world of wonders. In this small corner of cyberspace, I'd like to share some of the wonders that I have seen.