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This Drawing Is A Story @ My Hero Gallery, 4/13 to 4/20

Posted by Susan / April 13, 2007

20070413_Myhero.jpgI made a zine once.

I was in the eighth grade and - though not a terribly charming child - I had managed to sweet talk my teacher into letting me abuse the photocopier privileges that us kids were occasionally allowed. In retrospect, the whole affair was basically an imposition on the reader; since I had no "legitimate" outlet for my ideas, I figured I could just make one up.

Luckily, the zines kicking around nowadays are light years ahead of my pubescent rants about Courtney Love and the merits of Sharpie marker tattoos. But still, there's something about the kind of person who decides to self-publish that makes you wonder whether there will be any checks and balances against self-indulgence.

Then again, if you've ever stood in an established gallery, viewing a lauded video installation and wondering if it's art simply by virtue of being inscrutable, you might be ready for a departure from what the mainstream art world deems worthy of its patronage. And that's exactly why the My Hero Gallery was created this past September.

Sarah, one of the founders of the gallery, tells me there's a real hunger among young artists in Montreal to have a space to show their work.

"The big galleries, it's hard to get your stuff shown, and even if you do you have to pay for the space," she says. So she and her roommate decided to convert their loft (3655 St-Laurent, Suite 206) into My Hero. Since the gallery's inception, they've had a showing every month, with plans to escalate to two per month beginning in May.

20070413_Myhero2.jpgMy Hero's current offering, This Drawing Is A Story brings together a group of artists known for their zine and comic book work in a show billed as a "new way of exploring traditional comics." The works on display have left speech bubbles and panels (and occasionally, paper) in the dust, in favour of a more fluid mode of graphic storytelling.

Jack Dylan's set of napkin drawings done in diners all feature a well-honed sense of the ridiculous, and deceptively banal captions such as, "after the mistake had been made, there was no other alternative." (To see the picture that unexpectedly accompanies this one, you'll just have to go for yourself.)

A series by Naomi Cook features cartoon landscapes framed within the cast of characters of the children's song "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." (If you're not familiar with it, the elderly chick in question proceeds to swallow progressively larger animals, hoping that each one will eat the last and solve the problem. Naturally, she kills herself in the process.) Each panel, which features pictures and disjointed poetry in the belly of the respective beast, is a vivid reminder that by nature, stories have the same Russian doll structure; essentially swallowing themselves.

Chris Taylor's fantastic, meticulous ink looks like it should have a heavy metal soundtrack. The blocky texture is reminiscent of a Transformers-obsessed boy's nightmares. And Rebecca Rosen's imaginative detail almost makes you long for dystopia to come crashing down.

A major highlight of the show is the set of characters by Lee McClure, who has the most developed understanding of how to portray humans of the bunch. The drawings are so evocative, they almost seem to be in motion. My favourites were the old men with serene faces stabbing each other as though in a narcotic trance. Or perhaps they're just really into the music, it's tough to be sure.

"A picture is worth a thousand words" may be old hat, but like most clichés it is overused because it's true; these drawings tell stories when the words fall away.



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