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  February 07, 2008 | Attention Insomniacs! « Previous | Current | Next » Comments (0) | Archives | About Email lind at

In Ontario, you can now shop at Wal-Mart at 2 am. Perfect for sufferers of Phantom Girlfriend Syndrome who can't sleep at night, as the dreaded Valentine's Day approaches. (Oops! I just realized, I accidentally signed 07 on this cartoon. All those 24/7s were getting to me, I guess.)

Last week, Brendan Jones, a Grade 12 student at Heart Lake Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, was expelled from school for writing a piece of fiction in an exam. Now he is barred from finishing high school because he dared to write about a student murdering one of her teachers (here is the Globe article).

Well, last I looked, murder mysteries were a legitimate form of expression, horror movies were raking in cash and the most popular video games were all about killing people. (What that says about us is topic for another day.) Is there now a minimum age at which aspiring writers can take on topics that pervade our culture without risking their academic futures?

While some may argue that we can't be too careful given school violence, words are not the problem. More expression of all kinds, not less, is needed. I pity students growing up in today's climate of fear. If they can't express themselves, what's left for them? Let me stress: This was fiction.

This case reminded me of a cartoon I did almost exactly seven years ago about a similar act of first-degree fiction, except that it was a 15-year-old who spent 35 days in prison for writing about a student who blows up his school. The charges ended up being dropped. (In the cartoon, excerpted above, Celia meets a girl who has been jailed for writing about assassinating Premier Mike Harris.)

Grade 12 students across the province could support Brendan Jones by using the power of words to shock and appall, and write short stories in which a teacher gets offed. They can't all be expelled. That might teach the teachers to respect freedom of expression.

Brendan's friends have set up a Save Brendan Jones Facebook support group. You can read his dangerous story there.



You can see a more extensive portfolio of my work at the blog, including This Bright Future, a distilled and partial continuation of Weltschmerz, Turtle Creek, a daily comic about a turtle and a computer, and Footprint in Mouth, a quarterly cartoon I draw for Alternatives.

Weltschmerz in Print

Weltschmerz ran in Toronto's Eye Weekly from 1997 to 2007. It ran in weekly papers in southwestern Ontario, Ottawa and Edmonton between 1995 and 2008.

Notes on Writing a Comic Strip

I wrote this 17-page, 4 MB PDF document for my workshop at the 2006 Eden Mills Writers' Festival. It details the creation of one strip and gives tips on writing comics.

Politics and Environment

Monbiot | Guardian columnist and Heat author George Monbiot's blog. Not only about global warming, but expect plenty of refutations of the flat-earthers. His writing is witty, incisive and bang-on.

Desmog Blog | An indispensible (and Canadian) resource that "clears the PR pollution that clouds climate science."


Weltschmerz playlist at CBC Radio 3 | Some of the music I listen to while drawing this comic -- independent and Canadian.

This American Life | Radio documentaries that hit the heart, brain and funny bone.

CBC Podcasts | I don't listen to much live radio. Now, podcasts allow me to catch a lot of what I miss. I listen to The Current, Ideas, Spark and Search Engine while inking.


Diesel Sweeties by R Stevens | Witty repartee between guys, girls and robots drawn in a pixelated yet surprisingly versatile style.

Scott Pilgrim Manga-style indie-rock romance by Canadian Bryan Lee O'Malley | The most fun I've had in a comic book in recent memory. Highly recommended.

Dykes to Watch Out For | Alison Bechdel's brilliant weekly strip has been ghettoized because of its gay themes but deserves a wider readership.

Doonesbury | Garry Trudeau is still great after all these years.

Kevin Heuzenga | Enviable drawing style and dry wit. Start with Time Travelling.

Graeme MacKay | The editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator has a distinctive, addictive drawing style. And he makes me chortle.

Friends and Neighbours

Blog Guelph | Hometown photos and events.

The Narrative | Riveting photoblog. Matt O'Sullivan is at the right place at the right shutter speed.

Breast of Canada | A calendar promoting women's health.

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