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October 29th, 2012 · No Comments

Local cartoonist releases third book

Perry King

In the middle of the G20 protest saga in 2010, Dave Lapp was at ground zero watching the chaos.

A veteran cartoonist, teacher, and local resident, Lapp eventually took his experiences to paper, using a trusty black tip marker to draw a black-and-white two-page strip.

The strip took 10 hours a page, but this was more than a comic for Lapp. “I wasn’t doing it for the newspaper, I was doing it because … what a unique experience, man oh man,” said Lapp, who thought a final product would have taken too long for newspapers.

And then, Lapp says “that was me not relying on the media, I thought ‘I don’t trust what [is] happening on the news,’ so I went down to have a look.”

In June, Conundrum Press published the cartoonist’s third book, People Around Here, a 160-page compendium of comics that appeared in the Gleaner and other publications over the span of a decade.

“I underestimated what was going on [at the G20]. Stupid me, I had black pants on, a black shirt,” he said.

“Where are the cops? I kept thinking, ‘Where are the police?’ Here we are starting at King and Yonge. They’re walking up the street, slowly, yelling, breaking windows, breaking windows, breaking windows … and there’s a contingent of six or eight cops that kept their distance about 30, 40 metres …”

In contrast to this eye-opening experience, most of the comics in People Around Here are snapshots of everyday life. “Those stories, the original ones, were always me in coffee shops or restaurants sketching,” said Lapp.

The strips cite streets, neighbourhoods, and landmarks in Toronto, and are layered with Lapp’s dry humour. Many of the stories are of conversations with his colleagues, or conversations Lapp happened to overhear.

“There is a side to him that you don’t really see in person that does come through in the work,” said Chester Brown, Lapp’s colleague and a comic icon in his own regard. “I would place Dave at the forefront of the artists who are doing really interesting work, but there are just so many interesting young cartoonists—cartoonists in their 20s and early 30s. I guess Dave is situated somewhere between those guys and me, age-wise.”

From Honest Ed’s to Euclid Street to Yorkville, this Annex-area has often been his muse.

To have a third book published is still a pleasant surprise for this veteran artist. “Maybe the possibilities were there before, but I’m not really sure,” he said.

Lapp has come a long way as an artist. After a failed attempt to publish a comic while studying at OCAD, he resorted to publishing smaller comics. “The good news is I shifted my publishing focus. The bad news is I wasn’t thinking books at all,” he said.

He also supplemented his income with teaching gigs at the AGO and the Avenue Road Arts School (460 Avenue Rd.).

He didn’t leave his love behind, and his first two books, Drop-in and Children of the Atom, were published in the interim.

The indie comic scene in Toronto has been rewarding, but also unrelenting over the years.

Chester Brown, whom Lapp draws inspiration from, can relate.

“Going into cartooning, I had a suspicion that it wasn’t going to make me lots and lots of money and that I would be measuring my success in other ways—which is pretty much the case,” he said. “As long as you go into cartooning with your eyes wide open about that, then there are rewards to be had.”

Lapp is now focusing on publishing his next book, Pencils, a 500-page project that he began in 2006, which has been his white whale.

It is based on his own childhood life in London, Ontario at a time “when things were different. The parents weren’t monitoring all the time, no TVs, no video games. we would just go out in the field,” said Lapp. “It doesn’t have the organized evil of the Children of the Corn, but I was using up some of my nine lives with some of these neighbours.

“One of the key stories I love in the book is when my neighbour and I loaded up 30-aught-six hunting rifle. We were only like nine or ten years old … he loaded up the rifle, pointing it and swinging it at me. I had a World War II German Luger, and I filled the clip with bullets, and that’s just the two of us …”

From his parents’ divorce, to nature and his environment, the book explores relationships between himself and others at the time, and Lapp is taking studious care with the details.

Brown, a close confidant of Lapp, is looking forward to the new work. “I’m hoping it’s going to be the breakthrough book for him, the book that really puts him on the map, and gets people really recognizing him,” he said.

Pencils was intended as Lapp’s first published book, but he now finds himself with three. “I feel so lucky about all this stuff,” he said.

To see more of Lapp’s work, please visit davelappcomics.blogspot.ca.

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