Writer/Artist: Neil Slorance
The latest instalment of Neil Slorance’s series of illustrated travelogues, “The Canada Issue” sees Neil and his friend Chris Baldie heading to Canada (as you might expect from the title) for the annual Toronto Comic Art Festival (TCAF), and features all of the quirky, straight-faced charm that has typified Neil’s career to this point.
Through the medium of his cute, expressive, nose-free characters, Neil starts off by explaining to us the significance of the trip to him, viewing it almost like a comic pilgrimage of sorts. We find out a little about his love for Canadian comic creators and the culture in general, before moving on to the important stuff – food.
A sizeable portion of the comic is dedicated to the wonderful array of foodstuffs available in Canada, from ice cream and smoked meat sandwiches to Tim Hortons and poutine. The latter is perhaps the food Neil gets most excited about (and rightfully so), espousing the virtues of the delicious combination of French fries, cheese curds and gravy throughout the course of the book.
The enthusiastic consumption of food leads into Neil talking a little about his recent exercise routine (and subsequent weight loss), chronicling the effects that the change had on his self-esteem and general confidence. It’s handled all with the trademark Slorance charm, with a subtle, self-effacing “aw shucks” humility that stops it coming across as “hey punks, look at all the weight I lost!” (which would also be a valid approach, tbh).
We get a little insight into the TCAF itself and Neil’s clear affection for the event, singing its praises while simultaneously dealing with his own nagging doubts about whether or not he belongs there. His desire to do well and sell comics in order to “get that poutine money” is both amusing and encouraging, but the comic doesn’t bog itself down with becoming a convention review, swiftly moving on to the remainder of Chris and Neil’s holiday. He also touches a little on the cultural significance of the country, with Neil’s family previously emigrating to Canada for a short while.
The artwork throughout is all in the typical Slorance style, with the occasional more detailed page featuring a better look at some of Neil’s favourite foodstuffs from the trip thrown in for good measure. With Slorance, you pretty much know what you’re going to get by this point, and I’d assume that anyone picking this one up would already be fully aware of the charms of his stripped-down black and white style.
It’s fun, informative and gently humorous, but it doesn’t quite have the same emotion and ‘ninja feels’ that have become a staple of Slorance’s autobiographical work to this point. There are no awkwardly sweet romances or quiet personal revelations to be had here, but as an amusing and educational insight into another country and a love letter to the world of poutine, this still comes highly recommended.
You can (and should) grab yourself a copy of Modern Slorance: The Canada Issue from the Art By Neil Slorance Etsy page. Oh, and make sure to follow Neil on Facebook and Twitter as well, while you’re at it.