Toronto has what I would call a fairly respectable comics scene - from the ongoing popularity of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival to the existence of several fine comics stores (including my fave, The Beguiling) and the noticeable increase in comics-related booths and programming at Word on the Street this year.
So really what Toronto needs to top it off is a comic book that gives back, that celebrates all that is Toronto. I believe I've found it in Quarter Life Crisis, local publicist Evan Munday's first stand-alone work.
Munday, who previously contributed to this year's Stripmalling, has done Margaret Atwood one better by setting his post-apocalyptic world in a very-recognizable Toronto where only 25 year olds have managed to survive. These remaining Torontonians have formed tribes for protection - the Rogers congregate around the lower part of the city and control the Shoppers Drug Marts (smart!), the Koreans control Koreatown, the Eaton's Centre is a neutral zone for trading, the suit-wearing Bay Street thugs roam the city lawlessly and two brothers, Harper and Aaron Yung, camp out in the OCAD building.
The Yung Brothers spend their days scavenging for metal to trade with their contact in the Rogers (Omar - the sequence at the beginning, especially the part about him shutting down the dance floor at Velvet Underground by requesting Tool songs, was my favorite because it is so so true. I hope we see more of Omar in the following books). The brothers use a streetcar to travel in and for protection. They get into trouble with a couple of Bay Street thugs and get their ass saved by a few Koreatown reps. Indebted to their rescuers, the Yung brothers find themselves caught up in a crazy scheme to hold a Shoppers hostage in order to steal needed medication.
Toronto is very recognizable in Quarter Life Crisis and this is a large part of its appeal. Munday has successfully replicated such landmarks as the OCAD building, the Eaton's Centre, the Rogers Building, U of T etc. For a first comic Munday's art is clean and well-framed and his dialogue is well-paced and witty, though tending occasionally towards the groan-worthy. This may be a good thing, though, as it's an indication that the book doesn't take itself too seriously - fitting for its rather pie-in-the-sky premise.
I also found some sequences a bit confusing such as the transition from the planning stage to the storming of the Shoppers. A lot of back story, characters and scenes are packed into Quarter Life Crisis' 121 pages and this made for a bit of an overwhelming ride. This should smooth out in the following books, though. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of Munday's work - it's good to have a talented homegrown comic artist among us to showcase what we love about this city.
Check out Munday's website. It'll tell ya where you can pick up this fine book.