The Exit Interview with Arlen Hogarth

arts-iconThe last artist interview of the year. One-on-one with the introverted feminist behind some of the disquieting, existentialist comics in the Odds & Ends page of our paper.


Navigator: How did you become a feminist?

Arlen: My girlfriend became a feminist as we were dating and I picked it up really quickly. Just being with her all the time opened my eyes a lot. And also Tumblr. There are lots of social justice blogs there and I get daily reminders of how bad and unfair things are. It’s a good place for women and trans people, or anyone who’s not a white straight male, to have their opinions out there.

What makes you a feminist?

I use a female figure by default and want to show more people of colour. I like to share this with people and project it in my work. I think women are generally under-portrayed in the media.

Do you feel there’s not enough female imagery around us?

Most of the things I see are about a dude doing stuff and saving the world, and the woman’s there just for decoration to be looked at or to support the male character.  There are some good female representations out there, but not enough.

Do you think the landscape is shifting in any way toward a more feminist society?

Probably. Very slowly and late, but I think it is. Disney’s doing really good stuff, like Maleficent. That’s about a relationship between two women, and the guy’s kind of a douchebag. It turns out you don’t have to be saved by a true love’s kiss; it’s between the woman and the evil witch. And in Frozen the true love is between two sisters who care about each other a lot.

So is there a place for Prince Charming in feminism?

Not exactly. He’d be a lot different than the traditional Prince Charming.

Who would be your ideal Prince Charming?

(Smirks) Well, he’d be super nice and caring, but he’s going to treat the princess as an equal. If she doesn’t want to be saved, he’ll let her figure it out, or—


Well, maybe she’ll kick ass.

Did you think that way before you met your girlfriend?

No. I was actually pretty sexist and homophobic, and I made fun of fat people in high school—just like every other high school boy out there. It was kind of the norm, and I think it’s what society teaches boys to be like—to be entitled—and society tells girls to shut up. I’m ashamed for who I was then. It was a gradual realization that it doesn’t have to be that way. I used to go to church and then stopped after I realized the pastor took some parts of the Bible and taught us that men should be in charge and women should be subordinate—among several other things he said. I kept going until I was 18 to keep my mom happy.

Are you still religious?

No. I went into a church the other day because I really had to pee. I don’t have anything against religion as long as it’s not hurting anyone.

There are a lot of misperceptions about feminism. What would you say to people who associate it with, for example, militant male-haters?

Educate yourself, think about what we’re trying to do before you go shutting down the whole movement. If you actually think about it, it’s fairly obvious that we’re trying to be equal, decent human beings. Take a step back and listen before forcing your view onto people.

And what would you say to extreme radical feminists?

Chill out. You’re not going to get anywhere or help anything.

What do you associate with the term “lungless,” which you use as your brand?

I found the word online and thought it was really cool. Now I use it for all my tags and profiles on the internet. Sometimes I’m really quiet and mumble a lot, like I have no lungs.

Your art pricing is astoundingly low. Why?

My main audience is college kids who are already in debt, so I’m not going  to sell high-price paintings, no matter what my art teachers told me to do. I’d like to become snooty and famous and sell works for $1k, but for now it feels way better to sell paintings cheap than to have a whole stack of them in the house. And I feel like I’m constantly changing and getting better, so keeping the stack means keeping works I’m not happy with anymore.

What is the idea behind the recurring theme of female figures bigger than life walking through urban landscapes in many of your paintings?

I wish it was like this in real life. There’s something about the big living thing looking around. I feel it’s better if it’s a woman instead of a guy.

“Urban Giantess" by Arlen Hogarth. Photo courtesy of Hogarth

“Urban Giantess” by Arlen Hogarth. Photo courtesy of Hogarth

Do you conceptualize your paintings or do you improvise like with your collages?

I do have to plan them out and draw thumbnails. I’ve tried just painting without a plan, and most of the time it doesn’t really work out. It’s too much time and energy to be turned into a mess. The collages are totally random. I just get a bunch of National Geographics and fashion magazines, flip through them until I find something cool, throw them on a pile, and make something.

What inspires you the most?

There are a bunch of comic artists you probably don’t know that I really like. I want to be as good as them. Like Ashley Wood—he has a great visual and influential visual style, mixing comic books with expressionist painting and using almost  monotone, striking colours. And Mike Mignola—his was the first comics I got into besides Donald Duck. The way he draws is unique—clear lines, and every panel is a perfect composition. I also like his writing and sense of humour. Chris Ware, a cartoonist for The NewYorker, inspired my depressive and existential stuff. His art style is clearly different than mine, though. He’s geometric and precise—he does everything by the ruler or something. And people might hate me for this, but I literally get inspiration from nowhere. I just wait around and know I’ll get inspired out of absolutely nowhere. I also get inspired by music. Sometimes I just play music really loud and get excited and start creating.

What inspires you to make comics that don’t follow the traditional storyline?

I like short stories and storylines and getting emotionally involved. Complicated storylines are great, but I want my comics to have emotional impact. That’s how I’ve evolved, and that’s what I like to read, too. I like when it makes you ask, “What happens with the girl?” “Is she happy?” “What kind of car is she driving?”

So when the man jumps off the roof and falls into a manhole in issue 11, does he die or just exit the storyline?

Everyone expects him to splatter on the ground, but he goes into the hole. Well, that’s unfortunate; you think he’s going to die, so how can it possibly get worse? Maybe he dies, maybe he continues to live. Does that really change anything? I didn’t have a plan, or an idea for what’s going to happen. I’m not going to tell readers what to think. I just want them to feel something. I like that kind of humour where there is no punchline and nothing to laugh about.

Are the short comics you publish in The Navigator your preferred style, or do you write longer pieces?

I think they bring out more emotion when they’re stark, like the latest one about the lioness in issue 13. And  when I said my inspiration comes out of nowhere, the zombie penguins are exactly that.

But where did the lioness come from?

I did research and learned about how they travel and how the families and packs hunt. Everyone says how the lion is the king of the jungle, but he sits around and doesn’t do much. The females do the hunting, and the lion guards them against other males, which is almost redundant. They help sometimes, but the lionesses are basically the core of the family, and you never hear about them. They can go for four days without eating, and when they finally get something, they stuff themselves and then don’t have to eat for another week.

How long can you go without food?

I couldn’t go without it for four hours. I have to eat constantly.

What are some other things that fascinate you?

Cockroaches. They have a social significance. They’re a symbol of disgust, but are in fact beneficial, tough, and they live forever. They clean up and make great pets. I wish I had some. I’ve seen people with doll houses for cockroaches.

What makes a cockroach a great pet?

(Pauses) They’re as good as fish. You watch them move around… Ok, I guess they don’t make great pets, but they’re cool and cute.

What things do you hate?

I hate ginger, but only sometimes. I like ginger ale and gingersnap cookies, but otherwise ginger is gross. I hate those stupid mix chocolates with surprise fillings. When one of them is ginger I’m like ‘yuck.’ I hate misogyny and patriarchy. I hate being depressed and having anxiety. I hate some online gamers who complain constantly. I hate how expensive it is to live in BC. I hate how racist the US is and that they keep invading countries for oil. But I don’t think I’m a hateful person.

Things you like?

I like feelings, bacon, drinking, and humour that’s dumb. I like cherry blossoms, sweeping, and playing video games. Also, cats are awesome. I like physical work, because you can see the results, and it’s kind of like art: you’re making something and feel accomplished after. Being active and getting endorphins makes you feel good.

Does it make you feel like a good boy?

Yes, I am a good boy.


Arlen Hogarth’s comics are regularly published in the Odds & Ends section of The Navigator, and some have been in Portal. To view more of his work, including paintings and collages, visit his website, Lungless Art. [Editor’s note, Arlen’s work can also be found on the cover of Nanaimo’s free literary magazine “text” issue 2 and 3.] 


American Bullfrog vs. The Western Toad

features-iconBy contributor James Mackinnon. Read more the Museum News series.

In the most recent issue of The Navigator (Vol. 46 No. 13, March 25 – April 7), this column featured Vancouver Island Amphibians. Unfortunately, a certain number of errors regarding the native Western Toad and the introduced American Bullfrog made it through the editing process and into print. On the surface, such an obvious and ironic mix-up seems a little comical, but closer consideration reveals the potential, and very detrimental, repercussions that this flub could have on the struggling Western Toad.

Over the past number of years, much time and effort has been dedicated to the understanding and conservation of the Western Toad and its corresponding habitat. Great minds have spent countless hours studying these toads and promoting their importance on Vancouver Island. The errors that were printed here had the potential to undo much of this amazing work. Well-meaning readers, not necessarily well-versed in local amphibians, could, with all the best intentions, come across Western Toads and, believing them to be the invasive Bullfrog, remove them in the mistaken belief that they are helping to promote an important native species. With this in mind, we bring our “Museum news” series to a close for the year with an attempt to cultivate a better appreciation of these two species, their identifying characteristics, and the unique roles they each play in our local ecosystems.

As it is the species that stands to gain and/or lose the most from this recent media attention, we’ll begin with the Western Toad, the only native toad on Vancouver Island. Much the same as other amphibians, the seasonality of the Western Toad has it overwintering on land, burrowed in forest floors or beneath logs. For much of the early spring and late summer/fall, their behaviour is poorly understood, although locally they are believed to be living and feeding in densely wooded environments. They are most visible in the early to mid-spring when they make their ways to lakes, marshes, and other wetlands to find mates and lay their eggs. This behavior changes slightly year to year, and is believed to be tied to both air temperatures and day lengths, but for the most part begins in mid-March to early April on southern Vancouver Island. For the most part, eggs will have been laid and adults will have retreated back to the woods by mid- to late April.

The Western Toad can be identifid by its bumpy skin and prominent dorsal line. Photo by J. N. Stuart

The Western Toad can be identifid by its bumpy skin and prominent dorsal line. Photo by J. N. Stuart

The main distinguishing factors that set the Western Toad apart from other frogs in the region are colour and skin patterns. As with many of the other amphibians, their colour scheme varies considerably with region, but generally their thick, knobbly skin ranges from dull to dark green or brown, is covered in dark or reddish glands, and has a dry appearance. Adult toads display a pronounced dorsal line, a light-coloured streak from their head down their back. Just aft of the eye is an ovular paratoid gland, and its legs are short and stalky compared to other frogs. Excluding the hind legs, the Western Toad grows to be roughly 5-15cm long. Females are larger than males, sometimes substantially so. Being one of the top consumers of various insects, the Western Toad plays an important role in many forest ecosystems. Adult toads are credited with keeping many different insects at a level that is healthy for trees and other plants. Without the toads, many plant species would endure huge stress.

The second species we need to look at, and the critters that really are a cause for concern, is the American Bullfrog. Originally native to the Canadian and US east coast, the Bullfrog’s territory has steadily (through introduction and natural dispersal) extended to cover most of continental North America, including much of south-eastern Vancouver Island and the lower mainland. Because they will feed on whatever fits into their mouth—often with over-the-top aggression—it has been observed that the Bullfrog out-competes native amphibians for space and resources in many situations, making it one of the biggest threats to native amphibian populations. Bullfrogs are also vectors for different fungal infections, further stressing local amphibian populations.

Known to breed prolifially, the American Bullfrog can produce up to 20 thousand eggs at once. Photo by Andrew C.

Known to breed prolifially, the American Bullfrog can produce up to 20 thousand eggs at once. Photo by Andrew C.

One easy way to identify the American Bullfrog is by its size. No other frog on Vancouver Island reaches the sizes that these creatures do; females grow longer than 20 cm (not including legs), with males slightly smaller. There are other identifying factors as well. While both exhibit similar general colours (dark-to-pale greens and browns), the lumpy glands found all over the Toad’s backs, heads, and legs are absent in the Bullfrog. Instead, Bullfrogs have more speckled legs, cream-coloured or yellow under- necks, and bright yellow eyes. Their skin also appears smoother and more moist than the Toads’.

There is quite a bit of concern surrounding the introduction and expansion of the American Bullfrog’s range, and the effect that they are having on various local ecosystems. Ongoing research studies on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in BC are attempting to get a better idea of the distribution and abundance of the Western Toad. This information is crucial to proper management of the species. While there are certainly still unknowns about both species and what their presence in certain areas means, there are a number of things that anyone can do to aid in the conservation of native species and to help the general understanding of these populations:

  • Report sightings of the American Bullfrog to local authorities or government groups, such as the BC Frog Watch Program.
  • Whether native or introduced, all amphibians are protected by the federal wildlife act against moving, containing, and transporting. Do not ever transport frogs or toads from one region to another. People bringing the Bullfrog from place to place for pets, or as garden features, may be one of the biggest factors responsible for their rapid expansion.
  • Establish and maintain desirable amphibian habitats. On top of invasive species such as Bullfrogs, one of the main threats facing many of BC’s amphibians is habitat loss. Take special care around these habitats, and if there are any wetlands and riparian areas on your property containing native species, do not use any lawn or garden pesticides or chemicals.

For more information on the American Bullfrog, the Western Toad, and the many other wonderful creatures that live around southern Vancouver Island, come by VIU’s Museum of Natural History. The museum is open to students and the public on Mondays from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Tuesdays from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, and Thursdays from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. More information is available on their Facebook page and website.

The de-evolution of James Lunney


Op-Ed by contributor Sebastian Barkovic

So a Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam claim religious persecution. No, wait, that’s Nanaimo-Alberni MP, James Lunney.

Lunney has been in the news lately, not for shaking hands or kissing babies, but for reasons related to his religion. As a student of politics, and a student of religion, this interests me quite a bit. What troubles me is that I don’t feel like Lunney shares the same academic convictions I do. His choices as of late regarding politics and religion just don’t add up.

Before we go any further, let me give you some background information. A month ago he decided to denounce evolution by tweeting “jst stop calling #evolution fact! Bynd realm of current science 2 observe or reprod origins” (sic). Syntax not withstanding, that’s fair enough—it is called the theory of evolution, after all.

Back to present times, and you will find that Mr. Lunney has given a notice of resignation from the Conservative Caucus in defense of his beliefs, and is sitting as an independent in Parliament. He said he resigned because there are, “deliberate attempts to suppress a Christian world-view from professional and economic opportunity in law, medicine, and academia.” Call me crazy, but I don’t think Lunney has any ground to stand on. Here’s why.

First, Lunney must have mistakenly used the words “world-view.” If this wasn’t a typo (which I really hope it was) then it’s a bigger mistake for two reasons.

1) Christians represent roughly 2.2 billion people on earth. Muslims represent 1.8 billion, and Hindus represent 1.1 billion. Christians are hardly a clear majority, especially since there are many other spiritual groups to consider. So if 31 percent is the new 100 percent (or even 51 percent), then math must have plagued young Lunney decades ago.

2) There are many schools of thought when it comes to evolution believed by Christians. One that comes to mind is “Theistic Evolution,” which is an ideology that many Christians follow. They believe in evolution as guided by the hand of God. It would seem that Lunney is claiming to be the authority on Christian belief, and that other Christians are wrong if they believe in any form of evolution.

Lunney also said in his resignation letter that, “freedom of religion is foundational to democracy; if we don’t get that right, it always leads to persecution.” Apparently Mr. Lunney doesn’t understand the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 2 of The Charter guarantees “freedom of religion,” both for him, and Canadians who are not him. The only reasonable conclusion is that “freedom,” in Lunney’s eyes, means freedom for his perception of Christianity, and the freedom to tell other people their religions are wrong. Mr. Lunney is entitled to his beliefs, but those rights end when they encroach on the rights of other people. Sound reasonable?

As a politician, and a four-term MP, Lunney should know that we live in a rapidly growing secular society. He should also know that evolution is not new to 2015, and neither are other religions. If he thinks he is the first one to bear the cross of religious persecution, then he should peruse the history books and read about the Jews and Catholics, for example. In case you are reading this, Mr. Lunney, let me give you a brief history lesson: The Jews were given quotas limiting their attendance from ivy league schools because, as those schools put it, they didn’t want to infect their student body with the Jewish religion. The Catholics were violently protested against in 1806 by the Protestants who claimed that there were satanic rituals taking place in their church. This is what we now refer to as Christmas Mass. So, religious prosecution—still want to lead with that, Mr. Lunney?

He should note that there will be backlash no matter what he says. He’s in politics. Stephen Harper could make a knock-knock joke, and people would grab their pitchforks. Lunney should know by now that media backlash isn’t “religious persecution,” it’s people telling Mr. Lunney how they feel, just like he decided to tell them. Funny how democracy works, Lunney; one raises a point, another can raise one too. I’m sorry if that’s an inconvenience, but there are a few choices for you.

1) Get with the program that the rest of us recognize Canada as a “free country.”

2) Leave politics, and stick to conversations at church socials.

I suppose you will be going with the latter.

If I haven’t already made it clear that I am quite aggravated, then let me make a point of saying so. What irritates me more than his uninformed resignation letter on the grounds of religion is his resignation letter in general. Mr. Lunney is a civil servant; that means he represents Nanaimo-Alberni constituents in Parliament. His resignation was selfish, and doesn’t represent that of his constituents, like he was elected to do. If you are voted into Parliament, you stay there because people took their time to vote for you; they couldn’t care less about your claims of religious prosecution. Resignations from caucus should force a by-election, but seeing as we are six months from election day it would make little difference. Lunney has chosen to remain in his seat as an Independent, so we’ll see where the cards fall in November.

Anecdotally, my sister and I played Monopoly when we were younger. She was seven, I was 12. I don’t have enough fingers to count the amount of times she got angry, flipped the board, and rage-quit claiming the game was rigged. Let me say that again: my sister was seven. Lunney is a middle-aged man that quit politics on the same grounds that my sister flipped the Monopoly board on: selfishness, and bigotry.

Lunney has flipped the board of Politics, and sits alone where he respectfully should be.


Vees down Clippers in Overtime

sports newThe Penticton Vees picked up their first win of the BCHL Championship. As the visiting Vees picked up a 2-1 overtime victory over the host Clippers. Tyson Jost scored the winner for Penticton just 57 seconds into overtime. Despite the loss in game three, the Clippers still hold a 2-1 lead in the series.

The game was a tight checking affair, with both teams struggling for scoring chances. The Clippers opened the scoring at 8:32 of the first period. Nicholas Carrier got Nanaimo on the board with his fifth of the playoffs to give the home team a 1-0 lead. The Clippers had some great chances to build on their lead in the first. The best chance went to Spencer Hewson, but his shot from the slot was stopped by Vees net minder Hunter Miska.

Clippers goalie

Clippers goalie Guillaume Decelles

The score stayed 1-0 until late in the second period. But with less than four minutes left in the second period, the Vees tied the game. Duncan native Steen Cooper found a loose puck in front of Guillaume Decelles and tucked it in to tie the game at 1-1. The goal came just seven seconds into a Penticton powerplay.

Both teams had great chances to break the tie in the third period. The Clippers best opportunity came in the form of a powerplay with just over six minutes left to play in the game. But they failed to capitalize. When neither team could find the back of the net in the final frame, the game moved to sudden death overtime for the second straight game.

In overtime, Jost found a loose puck in a scramble around the Clipper goal and snapped a shot under Decelles to give the Vees the 2-1 victory.

Pentiction celebrates their victory

Pentiction celebrates their victory

Overtime lasted just 57 seconds before the winning goal was scored. Marking the second consecutive short overtime between these two teams. Brett Roulston won game two for the Clippers just 20 seconds into the extra frame.

Game four between these two teams is schedule for Tuesday, April 14 at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo. Tickets are available at the Nanaimo Clippers box office or online at <>. Tickets for VIU students are $10.


Body Talk 2015

Photos from the aerial dance workshop organized by The Crimson Coast Society and the youth team CRU at the Romper Room Climbing Centre during the spring break week.

Flying Circus Nanaimo