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Cloudscape comic collective finds a home in Memorial South Park

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Cris Sayer of Cloudscape
Comic artist Cris Sayer is one of the many comic artists who will be using the studio at Memorial South Park field house. Photo: Stacy Thomas

Local comics and comic enthusiasts have a new home thanks to a City of Vancouver pilot project.

The comic collective Cloudscape Comic Society, known as Cloudscape, held their first regular weekly meeting last week at the Memorial South Park Field House (located at 5955 Ross St.) where anyone interested in creating or reading comics is welcome to join them every Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. onward.

The group of more than 60 artists were among some 50 artists and collectives who applied to be part of the Vancouver Park Board’s two year project offering free artist space in unused city park field houses.

In exchange for use of the buildings, recipients will offer volunteer hours engaging the public in the arts.

The space is a big step up from Cloudscape’s previously held meetings at The Grind coffeehouse.

Plans for the space and the surrounding community

“Come January, we are to start putting in community service in exchange for this building, so one of the things that we plan on doing definitely is having comic book classes for the local citizens,” said comic artist Oliver McTavish-Wisden, promotions director of the project.

Treasurer Christine Vivier added that she will be putting her experiences working with children to good use, offering classes to kids, likely in the age range of eight to 14.

“There was a big debate early on about whether to open this up to the entire Internet, and just see what we get, or whether to have it a geographically-focused anthology,” said vice president Jonathon Dalton.

“We decided to go with geography, and I think that was a really smart decision. Because people are much more invested in it if it’s something in their community — people that they know in person,” he said.

“There’s also been some discussion about creating a small press resource centre where people could just come in and either learn about self-publishing or even just have the tools on hand to self-publish,” said Cloudscape president Jeff Ellis.

Other outreach activities include three mini-comics currently in production, as part of the group’s mentorship program pairing experienced artists with novices that began earlier this year.

The group also has hopes for the field house being used as a place for artists to host launch parties.

Collective’s yearly anthologies growing in popularity and quality

Cloudscape has produced six yearly anthologies to date (with a seventh underway), which have gained such popularity as a means for showcasing local artists that they’ve had to establish an editorial board to review submissions, as they now get more than they have space for.

“We don’t want to just be a vanity press where just anyone shows up [and] we’re going to put your stuff in,” said Ellis, noting that they want to keep the quality level up.

Anyone can become a Cloudscape member by either attending three meetings or being published in an anthology.

“We would like this to be the comic resource centre for self-publishers and all comic artists in B.C.,” said McTavish-Wisden.

Reported by Carissa Thorpe

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