Paterson Hodgson, a local Toronto cartoonist, extended an invitation for me to attend the October release party of her self-published booklet More! Now!. This compilation of short comics was the focal point of the event at Mama’s Liquor & Lounge on Dundas Street West, and I purchased a copy.
In Toronto’s tightly knit comics community, where it’s hard not to know the cartoonist I’m reading, it struck me as a surprise that I hadn’t come across Hodgson or her work before this invitation.
More! Now! serves as a collection of Hodgson’s creative output from social media, a magazine gig, and her ongoing sci-fi realism endeavor.
The local nuances are evident, particularly in scenes featuring pairs of bicycles navigating Toronto’s rail paths and public trails amid the backdrop of global warming and the “social distance hangs” era. The portrayal of Toronto’s public walking trails and ravines as urban sanctuaries adds a layer of depth to the local storytelling.
Panels illustrating the graffitiing of the Landsdowne underpass — a common pastime disrupted by local law enforcement —resonate with the familiar struggles of politically engaged Torontonians who face the brutality of police interventions.
A visual prayer for the decline of landlords during the lockdown depicts the era’s activism through community efforts. Meanwhile, a spread lamenting the gentrification of Parkdale depicts dialogue so integral to the west end 20-something’s experience that it almost reads as satire.
The aesthetic of More! Now! adopts an instinctual and loosely defined style — so loose that it occasionally breaks its own form. Despite this, it successfully captures a Torontonian cadence in dialogue, reminiscent of the familiar use of local landmarks and Toronto-isms found in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s now-famous Scott Pilgrim comics. Unlike those, which meticulously explore the intricacies of indie culture through manga-influenced soap-romance plots, More! Now! eschews detailed explanations, choosing instead to immerse itself in the act of processing the time that shaped it.
Its visual cues are more in the ilk of Chicago’s Caroline Cash. Themes of locality, queerness, and the humour of everyday life are also shared between these two cartoonists.
This collection stands as a representation of the socio-political intersections of its time in Toronto. Rather than serving as a nostalgic relic, More! Now! addresses the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with a tone that suggests a shared acknowledgment of its persistent, albeit almost silent, presence. It also manages to infuse humour and a lighthearted touch to local narratives. The comic moments reflect the absurdities and idiosyncrasies of daily life in the city, making it a relatable and enjoyable read for anyone living here — and perhaps even for outsiders, too.
This article appeared in the 2024 Feb/Mar issue.