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Thursday, May 23, 2013


from The Last Division and Final Frontier by Kyle Charles
THE FOLLOWING IS A GUEST POST by Cat McDonald. I asked her to tell us about the latest thing happening at On Spec - COMICS! Here's what she says:

"Those of you who subscribe to On Spec have a treat coming soon. On Spec is running a comic! We’ve started working with the delightful Kyle Charles to bring you The Last Division, an eight-part story about heroism in the future of reality TV, told in Kyle’s slick, expressive comic style. I can’t tell you how excited I am that On Spec now has a space for comic artists.

The idea that speculative fiction in inherently 'un-literary' has stuck in my craw since I first heard it. My youth had been full of starry-eyed wonder at the classics of fantasy, and later, I broke my heart over 1984 and A Wizard of Earthsea. And yet, when I talked to others, I was as likely as not to hear the entirety of genre fiction roundly dismissed! In my college classes, fellow students wriggled with visible discomfort at the idea of “magic realism”. Orwell and Le Guin were ignored or dismissed as rare exceptions.

I have always been of the opinion that literature is not limited to memoirs and certain coming-of-age novels. To dismiss speculative fiction is to say, “Only those stories about the reality I know and understand are important,” - the working of a spectacularly limited mind. But then, while working at On Spec, I realized something. I had been saying something similar; “Only those stories that exist on my terms are important.” Speculative fiction is one thing certainly, but geek pop culture in general tends to be tarred with the same brush. Video games, blockbuster movies, TV series, comics, tabletop games - there were other media that I dismissed all too easily. Especially comics. Speculative fiction gets a bad rep all around, and there’s no good in just protecting the stuff that’s made purely out of words; our culture is much, much larger than that. Yes, some of it is just fluffy escapism, and some of it is callously commercial, but some of it is rich with truth and meaning, with feeling and beauty and every other sentiment we call literature. A true artist is a true artist no matter what the medium. 

 So, I suggested that we start running a comic, and volunteered to be the editor in charge of the project.  I put together a submissions call with the help of some friends in the local comic scene and got a good fistful of solid submissions. Some I liked, some I loved, some I seriously regretted having to reject, but only one I had to insist upon. Kyle’s proposal was exactly what I wanted; it was action-packed but intelligent, offbeat and sensitive. I loved starting our comic feature with a cyberpunk story because of the great literary pedigree the subgenre bears. Kyle also understood what I meant when I asked for a series of stand-alone short stories. The Last Division’s chapters are connected, but a reader can pick up any issue without having to feel like she’s getting someone else’s leftovers. 

So, pick up any issue of On Spec, starting with this spring’s issue, and you’ll be able to see Kyle at work. Once his contract is up, we plan to open for submissions again. I would love for literary, intelligent comics to be a permanent fixture of the magazine.

And you know what? If On Spec ever becomes capable of printing a video game, then I’ll take submissions for those, too."

Cat's Bio: Cat McDonald is a notorious troublemaker working in Edmonton, Alberta. She edits and designs for On Spec magazine, and her fiction can be read in Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales and Here Be Monsters: Tongues and Teeth. Currently, she’s trying to sell a weird western novel, madly researching organized crime history, learning to make chicken soup from scratch, and judging furry dance contests. She keeps busy.

Kyle's Bio: Kyle Charles is an Edmonton born and raised comic artist who still resides in the city. After graduating from visual arts post-secondary and completing his stint as Happy Harbor's Artist-in-Residence, Kyle has broken into the comic industry with upcoming work for Image Comics' '68: Hallowed Ground.

(Thanks, Cat and Kyle).

Next Post: Interview with Karen Dudley and her fantastic new fantasy, Food for the Gods. You might find some of the things she has to say surprising!

Stay tuned!

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