Fiona Smyth is a legend of the Toronto arts community. A true renaissance woman, she's a sculptor, a muralist, a book illustrator an animator, an art teacher and an independent comic book artist. If you're a Toronto resident, you've probably seen her work without even realizing it. Her murals adorn iconic locations like Lee's Palace's Dance Cave and Sneaky Dee's (which is known to Scott Pilgrim Fans) where she designed their sign and bonehead cow logo. In 2019, she was inducted into The Giants of The North Hall of Fame as part of Canada's Doug Wright Awards for indepedent cartooning along with the late Inuit cartoonist Alootook Ipellie (1951-2007).
Her psychadelic and fluid drawing style has graced a who's who of Canadian publishers, newspapers and magazines since the time she was a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design, (now OCAD University) where she now teaches a new generation of students how to make comics. She is best known for tackling feminist issues, including issues of sexuality, gender and idenity throughout her entire body of work, which spans 30 plus years. In 2018, Koyama Press published a retrospective of her career from 1985-2018 called Somnambulance, which features excerts from her comic Nocturnal Emissions, published by Vortex Comics, as well as work she did for Vice, Drawn and Quarterly, Exclaim! Snipe Hunt, Taddle Creek and even Urban Outfitters' Slant Magazine, among others.
Other work includes Cheez 100, collecting the first 100 strips of her series Cheez that was published in Exclaim! Magazine, her first and only graphic novel, The Never Wheres and two critcally-acclaimed sex education books for kids written by renowned sex educator Cory Silverberg, What Makes a Baby? and Sex is a Funny Word.
On the podcast, Aaron finds out how Fiona was recruited to create the Sneaky Dee's sign, what about her childhood and catholic upbringing pushed her to explore feminism in her art, what makes her work for kids different than her work for adults, what her southern good ol' boy pen name is and how it felt going from a punk student with a D.I.Y. ethos that's skipping class at OCAD to teaching at OCAD and becoming the authority she used to rebel against. Plus, find out if Seth lived with her, where she saw herself among the “Holy Triumverate” of Toronto's autobio artists (Seth, Chester Brown and Joe Matt) in the 90s and what it's like to be featured as one of Canada's Big Four comic artists in the recently closed This is Serious: Canadian Indie Comics at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Oh, and she reveals that she and Cory Silverberg are working on a third sex education graphic novel covering puberty. Also, did you know she wanted to be a realist painter?
This episode of Speech Bubble with Fiona Smyth is sponsored by Hairy Tarantula and Bam Coffee Co.
Fiona's Giants of the North Hall of Fame Write-up
Fiona's Zines Online
What Makes a Baby?
How to Comission Fiona Smyth for a Project
Learn How to Make Comics from Fiona – Starts Jan. 25, 2020
Society of Illustrators
Albatross Soup – a short film by Winnie Cheung with illustrations by Fiona Smyth
Bradley of Him by Connor Willumsen – Koyama Press