The Artist: Colin Upton
was born in Winnipeg in 1960 and moved out to the West Coast
at age four to West Vancouver. My father was a professor of
Canadian history, our home was full of books up on art and
history. However, learning disability and serious behavioural
problems that persisted into early adulthood disturbed my
childhood. I began drawing as a treatment for dyslexia. At
an early age I discovered both Asterix the Gaul and the work
of Herge, creator of the classic comic Tintin, whose work
has heavily influenced my own. Later I discovered Monty Python,
underground comics, punk rock and the autobiographical comics
of Harvey Pekar. Entering the Emily Carr school of Art in
1979 I took design and life drawing but my heart was really
in cartooning. I dropped out in my 3rd year after a nervous
collapse caused by the early death of my father.
five lost years and 8 months of treatment I felt better but
after a fruitless search for a job I found myself broke and
bored on welfare. In 1985 I printed my first mini-comics,
Socialist Turtle and The Granville
Street Gallery, in a basement on a borrowed gestnar. Switching
to offset printing I eventually self-published over 60 mini-comics
and digests of my own material. I co-founded the Vancouver
small press digest series New Reality, I somehow amassed a
large collection of alternative comics and became vice-president
of the Vancouver Cartoonist Society - just before it collapsed.
Otherwise, I kept busy as a co-host of the noise program Newsounds
Gallery on Co-op Radio, sitting as a volunteer at the Pitt
Gallery, performing with the audio art band The Haters and
drumming for the rock band Puke Theatre.
the first Big Thing comic was released, bankrolled by a local
patron of the arts, Ed Varney, consisting of mostly autobiographical
material. Big Thing was then picked up by Fantagraphics Books
who published four issues, containing a greater variety of
stories, fiction, fantasy, humour and autobio, to thundering
indifference from readers and critics. In 1992 I traveled
with a group of North American cartoonists to the largest
comicon in France at Angouleme and the next year I was a guest
at a convention in Porto, Portugal, travelling with Naughty
Bits artist Roberta Gregory.
Fantagraphics cancelled Big Thing I fell into a long dry period,
despairing of my future in comics. I was smarting from the
indifference or outright hostility of the critics, I have
always been too thin-skinned and easily hurt. And it does
hurt, believe me it hurts. During this period I created a
few stories for anthologies, including several illustration
jobs for comics writer Dennis Eichhorn, and returned to mini-comics
publishing. I also put out two issues of my cash-cow comic,
the erotic comic Incubus, who's first issue sold more than
all my previous comics combined. However, the publisher left
comics to create pornographic card games. I have the third
issue of Incubus pencilled, sitting in a drawer.
Aeon released a one-shot Big Thing that earned some small
favourable critical and readership response, particularly
a story (Chris) about the damage done to a young couple's
relationship by the demands of political correctness. Also
that year Starhead released the Big Black Thing, reprinting
selected mini-comics material, mostly as a comics industry
in-joke which I will not explain here as it would take too
long. For years I was a regular visitor to the San Diego Comicon.
but relative poverty has limited my appearances in the last
several years to the A.P.E. conventions in San Jose until
ON THE ROAD
I began my most ambitious project, Buddha on the Road, an
anti-religious adventure epic that last six issues until the
publisher folded. In 1997 I went on a five city signing tour
of the East Coast with Roberta Gregory and Donna Barr that
ended at SPX in Silver Hills, Maryland.
the years my comic strips have appeared in Vancouver freepapers,
zines, anthologies and comicbooks. I have created award winning
illustration work, mostly historical work for Flagship games
of California. I have also done performance art, paintings
and just recently completed my first equestrain portrait!
find me hanging out in art galleries, visiting galleries and
liberaries, drinking tea with friends and urban hiking around
Vancouver's tree-lined streets. l am living comfortably, independently
impoverished in Vancouvers hip and trendy nieghbourhood of
Mount Pleasant. Currently I am co-hosting a weekly UBC radio
show about comics. I am living with my cat, Lomu the Wicked,
who hates you.
I am a pale penis person of the hetero persuasion, anglo-
swedish- american, blue-eyed, brown haired. 6ft. 300pds. Ugly
with sensitive skin that has a tendency to break out into
rashes. I vote N.D.P. (socialist). I am an atheist, pro-choice,
anti-gun and pro-frees peech. I wear black. Oilskin, denim
or leather jackets, plaid shirts, doc martens, and I collect
hats (7 ¾ ) when I can buy I buy books, mostly English
and Russian novels, some Indian, American and Canadian novelists
but I mostly read non-fiction. I study history; military,
political, art, religious, comedy, and I take an interest
in current events. I wish I understood more about media studies
and economics - I think we're being had. I listen to punk
alternative, any sort of slightly weird pop music and Gilbert
and Sullivan. I like comedies, spaghetti westerns, samurai
epics and Chinese martial arts fantasies. I don't know how
to drive, I don't drink, smoke or do drugs. I do tea, I’m
trying to lose weight. Sometimes I feel like a patriotic Canadian.
Sometimes I'm not sure. I have never been arrested.
#223 440 East 5th Ave.