Sunday, 18 December 2016


Many of you may know my favourite cartoonist, whom I consider to be the best working in the field, also happens to live in Toronto and sometimes we meet up for brunch - Chester Brown (no relation!)

Anyway we had a great chat where I just showed him the first 25 pages of my "Meditation" graphic novel, and he happened to have a graphic novel he'd borrowed from a friend, about U.G. Krishnamurti, who was a spiritual teacher related to the advaita/Buddhism side of things.

Anyway Chester was supportive and I'm super grateful to him! Check out his review of our brunch! :) He actually mentions me! HURRAY!


When I went to Nina’s recently, she lent me this graphic novel, saying that she thought I’d enjoy it. She was right.
It’s a biography about U-G Krishnamurti (1918 - 2007) and an introduction to his thought. (That’s probably the wrong word since Krishnamurti dismissed the importance of thinking.) U-G Krishnamurti isn’t to be confused with the more famous Jiddu Krishnamurti. They weren’t related, but they did know each other and were both wisdom teachers (although U-G rejected that label). 
I was vaguely aware of who U-G Krishnamurti was — I picked up his book The Courage To Stand Alone back in 1997 and had read a bit of it, but it didn’t grab me and I never finished it. 
This Dog Barking is divided into three parts — the first two contain the biographical material and the third is devoted to his teachings. Here’s a bit to give you a sense of the content:
Grey’s drawing is a bit on the crude side, and the word-balloons contain quite a few “typos", but who cares about those sorts of things when a book is captivating? I’m a bit surprised at its structure — moving from concrete biographical events to abstract ideas shouldn’t have worked, but it did, at least for me. It became more and more engaging instead of the reverse. But you should keep in mind that I have an interest in spiritual matters — those of you who don’t share that interest might have a different reaction to the book.
I have no idea how to get ahold of copies. 
I did find myself wondering if Grey deliberately put the thumbs on the wrong sides of the hands on the cover or if that was a mistake.
A few days after finishing the book, I had lunch with Toronto cartoonist (and teacher) Matthew Brown. (We’re not related.) Matthew has a similar interest in spiritual matters, but he’s more interested in eastern approaches to the subject, whereas I’m more focused on Christianity. I wasn’t sure what he’d think about Krishnamurti since Matthew’s into meditating and Krishnamurti thinks that the practice is evil:
Matthew knew a bit about U-G Krishnamurti and had the impression that he was something of a grumpy curmudgeon, which matches the little I now know about the man. Matthew didn’t take Krishnamurti’s opinion of meditation very seriously. 
Matthew’s actually working on a graphic novel about meditation and is serializing it at He brought out the originals to show me, and it looks like this will be his best book to date. I’ve been telling him for years that he should do this book because I always find it interesting when he talks to me about the subject. He’s finally taking my advice.
We met at the Future Bakery on Bloor. Here’s the meal I ate while we chatted.


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Matthew Brown - Poopsie the Penguin
a few seconds ago
In comics.

Matthew Brown - Poopsie the Penguin
a few seconds ago
Thanks Chester! It was a great discussion as always and I'm happy you had the U.G. Krishnamurti graphic novel from Nina when we met up. Thanks as always for your open mind, open ear and willingness to laugh at strange extreme opinions and jokes. I'm interested in all explorations of spirituality that crop up in comics, or sex, or both. :)

Saturday, 19 November 2016

What is Meditation? (work in progress!) PAGES 6-8

“What is Meditation? TICKET TO THE UNKNOWN”, is an ongoing confessional slapstick autobiography docu-comic about meditation—daily panels can be found on Instagram under Poopsiepenguin... and the complete final pages will continue to be posted on this blog (as soon as all their panels are posted individually on Instagram and Facebook)!

I'm currently at work on pages 18-20.  Please let me know if you have any questions!

What is Meditation?
(page 6)
GUEST STARRING: Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha

What is Meditation?
(page 7)
GUEST STARRING: Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha

What is Meditation?
(page 8)
GUEST STARRING: Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha, Lao Tzu

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

What is Meditation? COMPLETE & FINAL PAGES 3-5

“What is Meditation? TICKET TO THE UNKNOWN”, is an ongoing confessional slapstick autobiography docu-comic about meditation—daily panels can be found on Instagram under Poopsiepenguin... and the complete final pages will continue to be posted on this blog (as soon as all their panels are posted individually on Instagram and Facebook)!

I'm currently at work on page 13.  Please let me know if you have any questions!

What is Meditation?
(page 3)
GUEST STARRING: Charlotte "Joko" Beck, Samso

What is Meditation?
(page 4)
GUEST STARRING: Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha

What is Meditation?
(page 5)
GUEST STARRING: Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha

Friday, 9 September 2016


“What is Meditation? TICKET TO THE UNKNOWN”, is an ongoing confessional slapstick autobiography docu-comic about meditation—daily panels can be found on Instagram under Poopsiepenguin... BUT HERE ARE THE FIRST TWO PAGES IN THEIR COMPLETE FINAL VERSION, for anyone who'd like to see them this way!

What is Meditation?
(page one)

What is Meditation? (page two)
GUEST STARRING: Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Fritjof Capra, Arnold Shulman

Thursday, 4 August 2016

"What is Meditation?" (pages 4 - 6)

Just like Superman, Batman or Spiderman, it occurs to me that great realized beings have their own origin stories... what set them on the path to enlightenment, early trials and that first "Aha!" moment.

"What is Meditation?"
(photo of page 4)

I tend to see these great teachers as regular humans--but through their dedication to inner searching for an answer to suffering and the wisdom they brought back--they became heroes.

"What is Meditation?"
(photo of page 5)

It's kind of a conundrum... like any of my favourite teachers from when I was a kid or in high school, even when I meet them as an adult and know they are just "regular people," I feel a kind of respect and gratitude which I can't shake.  And I don't want to!  It goes even more for the teachers who managed to access deeper levels of consciousness and bring back lessons which they have shared for the healing of humanity... sometimes you can seem to "feel" their presence, even if they died years ago--which is a real mystery!

"What is Meditation?"
(photo of page 6)

Next ones up may include Lao Tzu, Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj!  And perhaps a surprise or two.  Finally I will interview two of my living teachers in comic book form!

Wish me luck. Come along for the ride!  And some laughs along the way.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

"What is Meditation? (And Why Should I Do It?)"

"What is Meditation?"
(photo of page 1)

I've been doing meditation, in one way or another, since 1997 (including Korean Zen Buddhism, pattern-healing presence and Advaita Self-Inquiry.)  One thing I've noticed is that most people who are into comics don't know much about meditation, and most people who are into meditation don't know much about comics.

"What is Meditation?"
(photo of page 2)

Thus, my next project: a confessional slapstick comics documentary about my engagement with meditation! It's inspired by comics masters Harvey Kurtzman (creator of Mad Magazine) and Osamu Tezuka (creator of "The Life of Buddha")  and my two greatest living meditation teachers, Fred Prack and Ed Muzika.

"What is Meditation?"
(photo of page 3)

Follow me on InstagramFacebook or this blog for updates!

Om, om and away!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Ambient Zero on INSTAGRAM + birth of the next project

This week, I finished the final pages of THE CLIFF, Book 5: "The King"... it will be released of THE COLLECTED CLIFF, Books 1-5 next year by Editions TRIP Comix of Montreal.

THE CLIFF, Book 5: "The King"
final page (49)

Meanwhile, I've been kicking back and forth what the next project will be.  I finally opened an Instagram account and had the idea of posting a drawing a day --

Instagram Post #1: "Poopstar"

 Instagram Post #2: "Polite Houseguest to the Darkness."

Instagram Post #3: "LIFE IN THE CITY - Early Summer"

Instagram Post #4: "Triad of Influence."

 After a few iconic drawings implying dizzying heights of lateral connections amid a flurry of funny animal word games, it seemed a better idea to do just one story per day, starring a beloved character who elicits reader response: Poopsie the Penguin.

Instagram Post #5: "Poopsie the Penguin, in: 

Instagram Post #6: "Poopsie the Penguin, in: 

There was mild response, but not the avalanche of hilarity I had hoped for.  Now it seemed a better bet to do just one panel per day, which continued as a serial in a known and beloved default genre: the private detective story.  (I also transferred to more polished posts, scanning and adjusting the original drawings in Photoshop... a sort of "lo-fi to hi-fi" transition, although the drawings retained their savage incompetence and splinteriness around the digital edges.)

Instagram Post #7: Poopsie the Penguin, in 
(Episode 1)

Instagram Post #8: Poopsie the Penguin, in 
(Episode 2)

Instagram Post #9: Poopsie the Penguin, in 
(Episode 3)

However,  almost nobody was reading it.  Maybe one or two ardent admirers of the absurd, or dedicated devotees of the deranged, were "liking" it on Instagram or Facebook.

Instagram Post #10: "The Escalation of Euclid."


Instagram Post #11: What is Meditation?
(page 1, rough outlines - on the drawing board)

Then yesterday, I settled on the next project: a graphic novel called "What is Meditation?", in the confessional autobiography / documentary format, with a regular nine-panel grid, inspired by Harvey Kurtzman's "Hey Look!" pages from the 1940's-1950's... except for the fact that I can't draw nearly as well as him; yet the project is tempered by the inclusion of the metaphysical.  And I married this new graphic novel in development to the Instagram idea of posting at least one page per week... also, I am not typing a script as I did for the CLIFF series and ARCHITECTURE DEPARTMENT.  I'm drafting the script by sketching on note paper, then drawing directly in ink onto the large final paper.  So this new project is retro in its nod to the American comics master Kurtzman and the great meditation teachers of Buddhism and Advaita, current in its semi-real-time sharing via social media, and forward-looking in its ambition to unite the three prominent paths of my life: comix, meditation and teaching into one potent, redolent, fraudulent package.

Please join me!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

ARCHITECTURE DEPARTMENT live graphic novel reading - May 28, 2016 video

ARCHITECTURE DEPARTMENT, Book One: "The Waters," live graphic novel reading at Victory Cafe, Toronto with musical accompaniment!  It was quite an event.  Thanks to everyone who participated!  Check it out...
Actors (in order of appearance): Matthew Krist, Brian Speagle, Jacob Pendergrast, Sarah Goodman, Morgan Phillips, Tova Epp, Colin Matthews, Liyat Benchetrit.
Musicians: Mikhial Gurarie (bass & stick), Paul Swoger-Ruston (guitar), Adam Reich (treatments), Matthew Brown (drums).

ARCHITECTURE DEPARTMENT live graphic novel reading - May 28, 2016 video link

The merchandise! Lovely display by Quyen Tieu.

Mikhial Gurarie struggles with sound and vision in the foreground, while Claudio Ghirardo grabs himself a libation in the background to help the whole thing go down.

Youngsin Park, teacher and artist with her cute daughter Kylie dropping by to join the fun!

Flannery Fielding discusses deep topics with Jacob Pendergrast, while Brian Speagle cajoles Liyat Benchetrit and Tova Epp speaks to an offscreen source.

Prof. David Lieberman, the man who shepherded this project through the Master's of Architecture thesis process -- a gentleman and a scholar, to whom I am perpetually grateful. And in the background, Matthew Brown on drums.

Madness by quorum! The talented ring of actors doing their rehearsal - Brian SpeagleMorgan PhillipsJacob PendergrastSarah GoodmanColin MatthewsLiyat BenchetritTova Epp (hiding) and Matthew Krist.

One microphone, 8 great actors. Result: magic. Brian SpeagleMorgan PhillipsJacob PendergrastSarah GoodmanColin MatthewsLiyat BenchetritTova Epp (still hiding!) and Matthew Krist.

The music begins! On stage, Mikhial Gurarie on stick, with actors in the foreground - Brian SpeagleJacob Pendergrast,Liyat BenchetritMorgan PhillipsTova Epp and Colin Matthews.

We have lift-off! On stage are THE CLIFF Ensemble - Mikhial Gurarie on stick and bass, Matthew Brown on drums and Paul Swoger-Ruston on guitar. Actors reading in the foreground - Liyat BenchetritMorgan PhillipsTova EppColin Matthews and Matthew Krist.

After the show, Matthew Brown signs a few books (conspicuously like yearbooks back in high school!) while actors Colin MatthewsBrian SpeagleLiyat Benchetrit and Sarah Goodman kibbitz about how it all went down and what will come next? Flannery Fielding's shoulder to the left.

More post-show gossip and tidbits - Flannery Fielding's shoulder, Matthew Brown's elbow, Morgan Phillips's right ear, Colin Matthews's face, Jacob Pendergrast's laughter and Brian Speagle's left ear and cheek.

Actors signing books - this is the big time. Morgan PhillipsJacob Pendergrast and Liyat Benchetrit.

Special thanks to Prof. David Lieberman and to my lovely wife, Quyen for all their help!

Aspiring architect Bagel Blue is plucked from the periodic destruction of the world by flood and commissioned to design a new world, from the safe haven of Varanasi—a city mysteriously perched in the nexus of our collective archetypal subconscious outside of space and time, on the tip of Shiva’s trident.   Featuring the agony of architectural education, the contributions of love, sex and anger to the design process, inspiration, despair, the interpenetration of the sublime with the mundane, and the origin of the bagel, this graphic novel is a manifesto, a satire, a complaint, an apology, a celebration and an exploration.

Artist Bio:
Matthew Brown was part of the underground Montreal comix scene in the early 1990’s and returned to self‐publishing graphic novels in Toronto in 2012 with THE CLIFF series, from Ambient Zero Publications. The Complete CLIFF, Books 1-5 coming out from Editions TRIP Comix (Montreal) in 2017.  Matthew has studied Architecture, Education and Theatre (Spec. Playwriting.)  He has traveled and researched extensively in India.