New Nestlings collection almost here

Warren Clements writes (April 10/14):
Today I was shown the first glued copy of Third Time’s the Charm: A Nestlings Collection, a 120-page compilation of the comic strip I used to do for The Globe and Mail. Nestlings Press will be showing it off on May 9 and 10 at a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a free event that takes over the Metro Toronto Reference Library on Yonge a block above Bloor. Other Nestlings Press books for sale that weekend will be Philip Street’s When Tom Met Alison: A Fisher Collection and Anthony Jenkins’s A Fine Line: The Caricatures of Anthony Jenkins. Both artists are expected to pop in during the comic arts fair to say hello and, if asked, sign copies of their books.

How to Get to Heaven and Back soon to arrive

Warren Clements writes (April 4, 2014):

How to Get to Heaven and Back, a subject I’ve been gnawing at for years, is almost off to the printers. It’s a 144-page, 5-by-8-inch movie book, about films in which people die, go to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory/Limbo, and return to Earth. (Think of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait, A Matter of Life and Death and Defending Your Life. Not to mention Oh! Heavenly Dog and Little Nicky.)
Films about the Grim Reaper, God or Satan visiting Earth, resurrection (though not demonic possession) and angels made the cut, but films about vampires (undead), zombies and mummies (immortal) didn’t. Ghost films fill a lengthy chapter, but honestly, you could write a ten-volume series and still not cover all of them. To complicate matters, it’s not always clear whether particular ghosts have gone to Heaven or Hell and returned, or whether they have stayed on Earth to do their ghostly business. I ducked the issue.
There is a brief bibliography in the book, but many more titles could have been included. In the interest of completeness, I’ll paste them here. Thanks to YouTube, a miraculous way of finding material that is otherwise unavailable. (I would rather pay the copyright owners for a DVD of You Never Can Tell than see it piecemeal on the Web, but the option wasn’t there.) I got ideas from the Toronto International Film Festival program books, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and other film guides listed below. The AFI video series The Directors gave me lines from Terry Gilliam. Other aids:
The Best Old Movies for Families, by Ty Burr (2007, Anchor Books)
Doug Pratt’s DVD-Video Guide, by Douglas Pratt (as well as his DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter, a labour of love that ran for years and from which the guide was compiled)
Blaxploitation Cinema, by Josiah Howard, although I ended up not focusing on demonic-possession films (Abby) or vampire films (Blacula).
Chicks on Film, by Gabrielle Cosgriff, Anne Reifenberg and Cynthia Thomas (Avon Books, 1998)
Films in Review, by John Esposito
From Cyd Charisse to Psycho, by Dale Thomajan (1992, Walker & Co.)
Halliwell’s Hundred, by Leslie Halliwell (1984, Paladin Books), source of the Halliwell quote in How to Get to Heaven and Back.
The Handbook series (print-on-demand monographs from Tebbo), including The Cate Blanchett Handbook (Debra Farber), The Jeff Bridges Handbook (Karen Reynoso), The Julia Roberts Handbook (Ellen Woolsey) and The Nicole Kidman Handbook (sorry, no record of author)
The Hollywood Book of Love, by James Robert Parish
Home Movies: Tales from the Canadian Film World, by Martin Knelman (1987, Key Porter Books)
Hong Kong Babylon: An Insider’s Guide to the Hollywood of the East, by Frederic Dannen and Barry Long (1997), although I scaled back the section on ghost films (A Chinese Ghost Story, A Chinese Erotic Ghost Story)
If You’re Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble, by Joe Queenan (1994, Hyperion)
Ken and Em, by Ian Shuttleworth (1994), source of the note about turning colour to black-and-white in Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again
Levinson on Levinson, ed. David Thompson (a book of interviews with Barry Levinson)
(More Than) 20 Questions About Angels I Can’t Answer, an article by Lynda Barry in Self magazine (December, 1997)
The Movie Guide, by James Pallot (1995 ed.)
The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies (1999, Avon Books)
The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood’s Worst, by John Wilson (2005). Wilson founded the Golden Raspberry Awards, commonly called the Razzies.
The Pocket Essential John Carpenter, by Colin Odell and Michelle La Blanc (2001, Pocket Essentials)
The Pocket Essential Steven Spielberg, by James Clarke (Pocket Essentials)
The Psychotronic Video Guide, by Michael J. Weldon (1996, St. Martin’s Griffin)
The Rough Guide to Horror Movies, by Alan Jones (2005, Rough Guides)
The Rough Guide to Kids’ Movies, by Paul Simpson (2004, Rough Guides)
Talking Pictures: With the People Who Made Them, by Sylvia Shorris and Marion Abbott (1994)
Total Film magazine’s 50 Greatest Interviews
The VideoHound series of books from Visible Ink Press, especially VideoHound’s Video Premieres (Mike Mayo), VideoHound’s World Cinema (Elliot Wilhelm), VideoHound’s Sci-Fi Experience, VideoHound’s Epics (Glenn Hopp) and VideoHound’s Horror Show (Mike Mayo).
Video Trash and Treasures II, by L.A. Morse (1990, HarperCollins Publishers)
Your Movie Sucks, by Roger Ebert (2007)

Rob Ford’s enemies list

(posted Feb. 23/14)
Much about the saga of Toronto Mayor (in name, at least) Rob Ford intrigues me, but his latest salvo is particularly appropriate. He has created an enemies list: a list of 17 city councillors whom he wants his supporters to defeat in the fall election. The most famous enemies list was that of U.S. president Richard Nixon, who compiled the names of all the media, political and other types against whom he bore an unending grudge. Like Mr. Ford, Nixon was undone by video technology and lost all his powers halfway through his term. Role models R Us.

Farewell, Book City (Bloor near Bathurst branch)

Warren Clements writes (Jan. 19/14):

Elsewhere on this site, you will read that Nestlings Press’s books may be found in the branch of Book City near Bathurst on Bloor Street West in Toronto. No more, alas. This past week brought the devastating news that, after decades in business, that particular bookstore is closing. The other Book City branches will remain open.

My memories of the store stretch back to the 1980s, when I would haul copies of two collections of the Nestlings comic strip up the rickety wooden stairs to the second floor of the shop, to leave them on consignment. The atmosphere was sublime — all those books, all those readers browsing the shelves — and the staff members were helpful and interested. Thanks to John and all the others who have made recent forays so enjoyable, and best of luck to them as they navigate the increasingly cruel waters of this industry.

Book City isn’t alone, of course. World’s Biggest Bookstore is closing. And Steven Temple Books on Queen is in the final couple of days of selling off its stock of used and rare books before closing down. (Steven says he will resume selling elsewhere in Ontario, but probably from his home rather than through a store.)

The usual suspects are to blame: the high cost of renewing leases, the competition from, the fact that too few people have been buying books from bricks-and-mortar outlets to keep the stores alive. If you care about such things, and haven’t been in a bookstore recently, you might consider making a pilgrimage (if in Toronto) to one of the other Book Citys, or Ben McNally Books on Bay, or Ten Editions (used books) south of Bloor on Spadina, or TheatreBooks on Spadina north of King, or The Beguiling (illustrated books, graphic novels) on Markham Street near Bathurst and Bloor, or Sellers and Newel (used books) on College near Shaw, or whatever other surviving havens for the printed word are within easy travelling distance of your home. The sellers will be glad to see you, and you’ll always find something of value to carry home.

Books on the Way

(Filed Jan. 19, 2014)
Nestlings Press is working on a couple of books that, if the stars align and books on paper have not gone the way of the buggy whip, will be out in mid-spring.
One is a wry but factual look at all those movies and TV series in which characters die, go to Heaven or Hell, and return to Earth in human or animal form. You wouldn’t believe how many there are. The title: How to Get to Heaven and Back.
The other is Third Time’s the Charm: A Nestlings Collection, a 120-page 8-by-8 compilation of Warren Clements’s comic strip Nestlings, which ran in The Globe and Mail in the 1980s and 90s. The appendix will include strips done in the past couple of years. None of the strips appeared in two earlier books published by Sylvan Press (Nestlings First Flight, Nestlings Return Flight).

A-wassailing, ready or not

Warren Clements writes (Dec. 28):
I was invited to rewrite a few Christmas carols for the Dec. 24 editorial page of The Globe and Mail. Here they are, with a couple of extras (Bowie, twerking) that didn’t fit into the space. Hope you enjoy them.
Oh come, get your Ford fill,
Boorish and exultant.
Comfy, get co-omfy
And watch his defence.
All’s super-duper
’Xcept that drunken stu-upor.
Oh, crumbling lies before him,
A crack in his decorum.
“How dare you take my quo-orum?”
Cri-ies the Ford.
Oh come, it’s a Ford fest.
Chortle and take umbrage.
Comedy, tragedy –
The line is so fine.
Mayor of Toronto,
Spotting new foes da-aily.
“Oh come, let us appall them.
And then we’ll robo-call them.
If they ask questions, stall them,”
Cri-ies the Ford.

I saw three billion bucks float off
On Harper’s watch, on Harper’s watch,
And no one knows just where they went,
So says the Auditor-Gen’ral.
Though earmarked for sec-ur-i-ty,
When came the dawn, the cash was gone.
Three billion bucks went “poof !” – tough luck.
Next question, Auditor-Gen’ral.

The first Nobel
For Canada’s lit
Went to Alice Munro for
The short tales she’s writ –
A field in which
She’s proven a pro.
There is no secret pla-ace
Her pen will not go.
Nobel, Nobel, Nobel, Nobel.
Fire up the printing press. Watch her books sell.

Docked in space with howls of Bowie,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hadfield put on quite a show free.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Higher than the holiest cleric.
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Space, though, is not atmospheric.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

We three souls all senators are,
Battling moves to boot us afar.
Harper named us. Now he’s blamed us.
Feathers he brings, and tar.
Oh, oh…
Claimed expenses. Chits we banked.
Senate colleagues had us yanked.
What we’ve got here
Showed there’s rot here.
Surely we three should be thanked.

Whose child is this who leads the Grits,
Whose hair is wild and wa-avier?
Once on the ropes, the party hopes
That Justin is its saviour.
This, this is youth with style,
A blankish slate with charming smile.
Grits pray his feet aren’t clay,
And please don’t say, “Just watch me.”

Kathleen Wynne says let’s look past
All the feats of Dalton.
Never mind the sins amassed,
Wounds to rub more salt in.
Sure, when we killed gas-fired plants,
Spent a needless billion.
But no need to look askance.
Stopped short of a zi-illion.

In its twelfth fray, the Commons
Was truly sad to see:
Leaden responses,
Ten-dentious language,
Non-answers given,
Ate all the time up,
Sedentary clappers
Sicced on the public –
Fie, glib harangues.
Forestalling words,
True te-di-um,
From the front bench, all response-free.

Silent knight
Nigel Wright
Held his tongue
Out of sight.
Round him, versions,
Mysteries flew.
People wonder just
What Harper knew.
Piece by harrowing pi-iece.
Gleaning the truth piece by piece.

“Heck,” the harried users swear,
“We can’t get Obamacare.
Can’t get access to the site,
Though we tried for half the night.”
Programs falter, systems fa-ail.
Hear the angry critics rail.
“Health insurance? Work this slack
Could bring on a heart attack.
Was this mess bought off the shelf?
Programmer, please heal thyself.”

Twerking – when did this break out?
Feast on Miley Cyrus.
Tongue extended, wearing nowt,
Clearly she’s no prioress.
Backing into Robin Thicke,
Smoking up in Europe.
And – a rather public trick –
Wrecking ball lifts he-er up.

O little coin of yesteryear,
How empty lies the till.
The humble cent is gone. It went
To join the dollar bill.
The two cents’ worth we offered,
The penny for our thoughts,
In use no more. Yet in our drawer
We still have lots and lots.

Away with the mailbox.
No room for a bill.
As Canada Post drops
Its door-to-door drill.
The postman is hist’ry.
The stops at the door
Will vanish, requiring
A thousand steps more.
The fit and the healthy,
The halt and the lame,
By Canada Post will
Be treated the same.
We won’t come to you, Mac.
You must come to us.
They offer a minus
And call it a plus.

Robbo, the red-faced Ford bro,
Had a very thinnish skin.
All those in Ford’s Toronto
Walked on eggs with Rob and kin.
Once in the highest office,
He was rather loath to budge.
Didn’t play well with others
And he held a fearsome grudge.
Then one fall, the roof caved in.
Other counc’llors cried:
“Robbo, you’ve behaved so ill,
All your perks we plan to kill.”
Oh, how the Ford bros ranted
As the votes against them came.
Robbo, the red-faced Ford bro,
Has to play a reined-in game.

Great books! Great art! Great sale!

(Posted Nov. 22, 2013)
Need a great small painting or a book signed by the author for that one-of-a-kind Christmas gift?
The Arts & Letters Club at 14 Elm Street in Toronto (west off Yonge north of Dundas, opposite the old Sam the Record Man site) will be holding a sales of books, paintings, prints and other items by some of the city’s best artists and authors. Nestlings Press will be there, as will a reigning Canadian expert on Dracula and others of considerable note. The sale takes place Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission.

Scary Halloween Visitors

(posted Oct. 28, 2013)

Twelve years ago, as Halloween approached, I asked readers of what was then The Globe and Mail’s Challenge column to suggest scary Halloween costumes. Forget the monsters and ghouls, I said. Which Halloween visitors would really send a chill up the spine?
As Halloween 2013 approaches, it seems prudent to alert readers anew to these alarming possibilities. The authors’ names appear after their contributions.
Beware, then:

The hostess who, when you compliment her on the roast chicken, tells you she’s pleased you are enjoying it, since she was worried that leaving it out on the counter for two whole days might have spoiled it. (Brenda Weide)
Your daughter’s new boyfriend, who says that usually only his business associates call him “Mad Dog,” but you can too since he is dating your daughter. (Jerry Kitich)
The police officer who calls to say they found your wallet in the strip club and returned it to your wife. (Eric Mendelsohn)
Your Doberman, carrying a policeman’s cap in his mouth. (Colin Eyssen)
Your five-year-old, telling you she has sent her teacher a present of baby powder in an envelope. (ditto)
The young lad who brings you greetings from the lady you met at a convention 10 years ago, and who finishes by calling you “Dad.” (Charles Crockford)
The young man who appears at your door holding a chainsaw, says he is selling firewood, and, when asked where the wood is from, says, “Do you remember the 100-year-old maple you used to have in your back yard?” (ditto)
The young surgeon who, just as you feel the anesthetic taking over, lets slip that this is his first unassisted vasectomy. (R. Bryce)
The bagpipe player who comes to your house party, with his instrument. (Gordon Findlay)
The guest at your dinner party who insists you serve the wine he brought that he makes in his basement. (Alanna Little)
The host who invites you to dinner and then announces that he has a new recipe for squid and groundhog that he’s just dying to try out on someone. (Peter Marucci)
Your spouse’s parents, who, while maintaining that their stay will be a short one, are somewhat concerned that their new house will not be completed before winter arrives. (Robert Duffy)
And a happy boo to you, too.

Similar Challenge contests have formed the basis for Gulliver’s Day Trip (humour about books, book titles and reimagined plots) and If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes, both from Nestlings Press (

What do fictional characters do when their books end?

When Warren Clements edited the book Gulliver’s Day Trip, mined from the Challenge column that used to appear in The Globe and Mail, a number of chapters had to be cut for space.

Here is one of them. Canadians were asked to briefly describe the subsequent adventures of a fictional character after his or her fictitious career ends. The entrants’ names are in brackets after their entries.

Shortly after she married Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre remodelled the attic and let it out to a quiet, non-smoking gentleman.

After her return from Wonderland, Alice voluntarily checked herself into rehab.

Returning from Jupiter, Hal 9000 took a job as a scanner in a supermarket.

(Paul Davy)

Wanted: Hand-knitters for co-operative workshop. We specialize in open-necked sweaters and tricolour tuques. Apply M. Defarge.

(Marjorie Barton)

In his reclining years, Sherlock Holmes lived in an old folks’ home, where he was often called upon to solve The Case of the Missing Spectacles.

(C.H. Vane-Hunt)

Once married, Cinderella and the Prince went into the mail-order designer glass-slipper business and lost a fortune through losses caused by breakage in transit.

(Glen Acorn)

Urged on by mehitabel, archie left on a world trip determined to hit the capitals he’d never managed to reach before.

The Man in the Iron Mask joined the wrestling circuit, where his head-butt proved unstoppable.

(Gordon Findlay)

Prince Valiant started believing his own press and changed his name to Prince.

(Bonnie Green)

Hansel and Gretel won their case against the Witch for unlawful confinement and opened a candy store with the settlement.

(Brenda Weide)

Old film footage, unearthed in a PEI cellar, revealed a mysterious side to Anne Shirley’s career. In 1922, she starred in a silent adult film (never released) called Behind the Green Gables.

(Tim Chamberlain)

Humpty Dumpty pulled himself together and now speaks out against egg-beaters.

(Ron Charach)

Tintin retired to North America and ended up in a dog costume as the Fabulous Rin Tintin.

(Brian Yamashita)

Bilbo Baggins got a job packing groceries in a supermarket.

(Tom McGuirk)

Bigfoot moved to the south of France, where he found steady employment in the wine-making business.

(Barrie Collins)

Having had enough of being Holmes’s stooge, Dr. Watson sniffed out other, borderline avenues of providing cocaine.

(K.C. Angus)


Our Current Publications

Our first seven books are now available, designed by Kendra Martin and printed by Coach House Printing in Toronto. All are 120 pages, except Meet the Shakespeares, which is 168 pages, because, well, Shakespeare is Shakespeare. A Fine Line: The Caricatures of Anthony Jenkins and When Tom Met Alison: A Fisher Collection are 8 by 8 inches.

Distribution of the books is in its infancy, but copies are available in Toronto at Ben McNally Books, Book City (two of its locations) and other select stores. Copies of Meet the Shakespeares are available at TheatreBooks, at 101 Spadina Ave. half a block above King Street West. Copies of A Fine Line and When Tom Met Alison are available at The Beguiling Books & Art, 601 Markham Street, just south of Honest Ed’s.

Copies may be ordered by mail with a cheque – yes, cheque only at this point – sent to: Nestlings Press, 119 Spadina Ave., PO Box 252 TORONTO B, Toronto, ON M5T 2W1. For each copy of Bird Doggerel, The Charles Arthur Stories, Gulliver’s Day Trip, and If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes, send $13.60. For each copy of Meet the Shakespeares, send $15.70. For each copy of A Fine Line: The Caricatures of Anthony Jenkins and When Tom Met Alison: A Fisher Collection, send $20.95. All prices include GST. Nestlings Press will pay the postage for books mailed to an address within Canada.