Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sticky Step Thirty: Dr. Comics (now closed)/CannaClinic - 44 Kensington Ave.

Now down to a single opponent after dropping off the second deadly Viking Beetle outside of Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos in Kensington Market, the Human-Lizard easily dispatches the last of the anthropomorphic insect renegades over side of the cube van they're traveling on as it makes a sharp right turn down the alleyway next to Dr. Comics at 44 Kensington Ave.

The Human-Lizard makes a squeeze play to victory.

Finally, the Human-Lizard is free to meet up with his date, but there's just one problem. It's a tight alleyway already and with man-sized crushed bug guts jamming up what little space is left, it's the end of the line for this rushed delivery driver as he leaps out of the truck's cab to give the Human-Lizard a piece of his mind.

A tight spot in the alleyway next to 44 Kensington Ave.
Originally known in the neighbourhood as Kensington Comics, Dr. Comics took over the space at 44 Kensington Ave. for several years before closing down, moving out and being replaced by CannaClinic, one of the many of medicinal marijuana dispensaries that have recently popped up in the city.

If you're still jonesing for comics, though, not to worry. Although they may have left Toronto and Kensington Market behind them, you can still get your four-colour fix from Dr. Comics in the heart of cottage country at 79 Mississaga St. E. in Orillia.

Next up: Lucas makes tracks up Augusta Ave. past Coalition and the balanced rock art of Sunjye as he tries not to be late for his date!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Nine: Seven Lives Tacos - 69 Kensington Ave.

After knocking off balance one of the remaining Viking Beetles he's been fighting on the back of a delivery truck while passing several Spadina Avenue shopfronts, the Human-Lizard follows up with a well-placed karate kick to send one of the nefarious Norse nightmares flying off the speeding truck to the street below. Although it's never clear whether this particular mutant marauder made the final journey to insect Valhalla, it is fortunate enough to fall off the truck directly in front of Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos.

The Human-Lizard evens the odds outside Seven Lives Tacos.

Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos has been serving up Baja California-style fish tacos (like the house specialty, the Gobernador, served with smoked tuna and shrimp), first as a pop-up restaurant (as part of the Toronto Underground Market, a social food market which ran from 2011 to 2014 to promote local cooks, chefs and food entrepreneurs), before eventually settling into a permanent space at 69 Kensington Avenue in the heart of Kensington Market. A word to the wise, along with an appetite, bring cash and comfortable shoes to wear while standing, because there is almost always a lengthy lineup for these tasty tacos.

Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos at 69 Kensington Avenue.

Next up: The Human-Lizard wraps up his vicious Viking Beetle battle in a dark alley next to Dr. Comics.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Eight: S&H T's Inc./Levetto Chinatown/Plaiter Place - 380-4 Spadina Ave.

Having zoomed past Guerilla Printing while battling a band of Beetle Vikings on the top of a cube truck, the Human-Lizard presses his advantage after leaving the first of three Buggy Norsemen splattered on the pavement.

The odds tip in the Human-Lizard's favour at the corner of Spadina and Baldwin.

As the truck he's riding on top of makes a sharp turn off Spadina Avenue onto Baldwin Street, Lucas shifts his weight to throw one of the insect raiders off-balance. While doing, the truck passes by the storefronts between 380 and 384 Spadina Ave, home of the T-shirt wholesaler & retailer outlet, S&H T's Inc., Levetto Pizza and Pasta Chinatown and Plaiter Place, which specializes in wicker housewares and home furnishings.

S& H T's Inc., Levetto and Plaiter Place at 380-4 Spadina Ave.

Next up: The Human-Lizard continues the fight for his life in front of Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos in Kensington Market!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Seven: Guerilla Printing (now closed) - 413 Spadina Ave.

Having gotten a date on his way home while surfing a TTC bus past the Mr. Sub at 1181 Queen Street West, Lucas then calls it a night. The next day, during his lunch break at work, he calls his parents to tell them that the news story on Hugh's days as the Lizard-Man had inadvertently revealed Lucas' secret identity to his boss and co-workers. Lucas goes on to mention the date he had set up for that night and his mother warns him not to get serious too quickly.

The Human-Lizard battles Beetle Vikings while passing by the 267 College St. Burger King.

Later that evening, while killing time before his date with "RooBarb," Lucas goes out on patrol and ends up tangling with three Beetle Vikings on top of a cube van in Chinatown. Although their origins or motivations are never made clear, it's interesting to note that The Pitiful Human-Lizard creator, Jason Loo has confirmed the Beetle Vikings are directly related to the moon rock stolen from the R.O.M. that the Human-Lizard witnessed Mother Wonder recover the night before.

Lucas valiantly battles the two remaining Beetle Vikings in front of 413 Spadina Ave.

As the truck the Human-Lizard battles on top of speeds along southward, it passes by the Burger King located at 267 College St. (on the corner of Spadina Avenue), before Lucas judo flips one of the insect berserkers from the top of the truck, causing it to splat open on the street in front of Guerilla Printing, at 413 Spadina Ave.

Guerilla Printing's former address at 413 Spadina Ave.

A staunch supporter of the Human-Lizard from the very start, Guerilla Printing's house brand "Made In Chinatown" has been used by Jason Loo to self-publish mini-comics (along with prints and even custom action figures) featuring numerous characters from The Pitiful Human-Lizard between regular issues. Although Guerilla Printing have recently closed their doors in Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood, they've since relocated and continue to operate in North York at 37 Kodiak Crescent #6, between Sheppard Ave. W. and Dufferin St.

Next up: The Human-Lizard hangs on for dear life as he battles beetles in front of several Spadina shops, including S&H T's Inc., Levetto Chinatown and Plaiter Place.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Six: Hot Shawarma/Burger Fighter (formerly Mr. Sub) - 1181 Queen St. West

Passing by The Great Hall on his way back home to the secret Lizard Lair, Lucas's life feels a little less pitiful when he finally gets a positive response from "RooBarb" about an evening of board games and beers while checking his messages. To celebrate an evening of successful crime prevention and the prospect of social interaction in the near future, the Human-Lizard gives out a cheer as the TTC bus he's riding on top of passes by Mr. Sub at 1181 Queen Street West, directly across the street from the Gladstone Hotel.

The Human-Lizard on top of a TTC streetcar as it passes 1181 Queen St. W.

The Mr. Submarine located at 1181 Queen St. W. was a fixture of the West Queen West neighbourhood until 2013, when it was replaced by Hot Shawarma. In 2016, Hot Shawarma also began sharing space with Burger Fighter and have continued to offer both burgers and middle-eastern cuisine on their combined menu since then.

Burger Fighter/Hot Shawarma at 1181 Queen St. W.

Up next: Lucas gives his parents a call and then tangles with a gang of beetle vikings on the back of a truck while cruising past Guerilla Printing on Spadina Ave.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Five: The Great Hall - 1087 Queen St. West

After an abysmal first date at the Art Gallery of Ontario, "RooBarb" heads home to her second floor townhouse apartment in Toronto's Palmerston neighbourhood and logs onto her online profile to see Lucas' date invitation for the first time. Probably thinking it couldn't be any worse than the evening she'd just spent with "Don Juan," she immediately takes "LuBar" up on his offer.

Barb's townhouse apartment at 634 Bathurst Street.

Meanwhile, at that moment a few blocks south and west, "LuBar" (a.k.a. the Human-Lizard) gets her response while riding home on the top of another TTC streetcar as it passes The Great Hall at 1087 Queen Street West.

The Human-Lizard zooms past the Great Hall's Drawing Room windows.

Built in 1889, and lovingly restored to it's original glory after decades of neglect, The Great Hall is now home to four different venues (The Main Hall, Conversation Room, Longboat Hall, and the Drawing Room) to cater to any kind of upscale event, from concerts and shows to corporate meetings, weddings and even film location shooting. For more information about booking an event, please visit The Great Hall.

The Great Hall at 1087 Queen St. W.

From 2014 to 2016, the restaurant space in the first floor of The Great Hall was home to the British pub, The Bristol, but has since been replaced by the German themed, Otto's Bierhalle.

Up next: The Human-Lizard celebrates the prospect of social interaction while passing by Mr Sub on Queen St. West (now Hot Shawarma/Burger Fighter).


Monday, May 15, 2017

Special Sticky Step: Sticky Footprints gets the royal treatment in The Pitiful Human-Lizard #13!

I'm breaking off from the usual location to location journey through the Human-Lizard's Toronto in this post to give a shout out to The Pitiful Human-Lizard creator, Jason Loo. Ideally, once I'm right up to the minute following the Human-Lizard's adventures, that will be the idea anyway, to post news and updates between issues of PHL. Not only on the comic itself, but as Toronto constantly continues to undergo a Metroplex-like transformation, I also want to report on changes to the locations featured in the stories, as well. For today though, I just want to take a moment to open up my heart in response to an incredible gesture of friendship and kindness made by Jason, which I received in full this past weekend at the Toronto Reference Library during TCAF - The Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

I'd say that look says it all.

Back in late December of last year, at a time when many people try to cope with the pressures of the holidays and adjusting to the darkest season of the year, I was dealing with those very same issues, as well. Same as every year really, but this was a bad one. Social media was getting the better of me in the worst way and I can admit now that the muse that inspired Sticky Footprints as a pursuit had completely fled. In the moment, I rationalized by telling myself that it was just the winter season and trips to Toronto for photos were difficult enough to plan in the warm months, but the truth is that I'd been carrying around a lot of unresolved emotional baggage since the summer. A death in the family and a job lost in the same week was crushing and it happening just as this blog journey was beginning made for a powerful confusion of feelings on top of that. Add a prolonged period of estrangement from a friend going through momentous changes in their own life and I can tell you there was a veritable witches brew stewing away in my head. Let simmer until the most stressful time of year and then brace for impact.

Original art of page 19, issue 13 of The Pitiful Human-Lizard.

And then, unplugged from the rest of the world and feeling my absolute lowest on a Festivus morning after a premature online airing of grievances, Niki woke me up to tell me she'd gotten a message from Jason Loo. Then she showed me a photo on her phone of Jason's version of me sitting next to the Human-Lizard chatting him up. What can I say that Dr. Seuss hasn't already? My heart grew three sizes that day and that's how the Human-Lizard saved my entire holiday season. I resolved then and there to finish the remaining few Sticky Footprints posts for the first issue of PHL before the end of the year and then make use of the winter downtime to plan out the coverage of issue #2 first and foremost and then focus beyond that afterwards. You'd think I'd have learned by now that you've got to take things one step at a time, no matter how sticky it gets!

The Pitiful Human-Lizard #13 cover by Jason Loo.

Fast forward to TCAF this past weekend and a royal reception from Jason as he pulled out the original art page featuring that chat between the Human-Lizard and I and an advance copy of The Pitiful Human-Lizard #13 that it appears in. Finally, the whole story surrounding this amazing introduction to Toronto's most vulnerable superhero can be told, and the best part is, it's not even the whole story! As the second part of a crossover with the first issue of Captain Canuck's third volume (did you get all that?), there's still an epic battle featuring Chapterhouse Publishing's heaviest hitters to look forward to reading! And who knows? Maybe someday I'll be tapping one of them on the shoulder to tell them what they mean to me, too.

Captain Canuck (2017) #1 cover by John Gallagher.

Up next: Back on the hunt as the Human-Lizard heads home and finally gets a phone message while riding past The Great Hall, but after the events of the past evening will he have a date or not?


Friday, May 12, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Four: Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) - 317 Dundas St. West

This past week saw the milestone first anniversary of Sticky Footprints' first Sticky Step pass, so it feels like a good time pause for a moment and process that fact. It feels pretty good, to be honest. It's true I haven't posted as regularly as I'd would've liked at times (and as I start to devote time to a few other passions and projects, that's not likely to change on the short term), but I've kept up with this blog pretty well and after a year with a post every other week on average I can safely say that isn't nothing.

The hunter of Human-Lizards hanging out in front of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The constant challenge of course, has been trying to keep pace with both the ever-changing landscape of the city and the astonishingly talented and prolific output from the creator of The Pitiful Human-Lizard, Jason Loo (who can churn out a whole comic in just a little more than a week!) while living in the Niagara Region and rarely having the chance to visit the Big Smoke. Hopefully that will change in the coming months, since the plan is to be closer to the city anyway. In the meantime, I want to thank Jason again for approving of this little blog idea of mine and encouraging me to pursue it. Of course, I especially want to thank everyone who's been following along so far, as well. There's so much more of the Human-Lizard's Toronto yet to share, so I hope you'll STICK around for it!

The Human-Lizard protects the AGO from Warshell.

Continuing his patrol after the incident with Mother Wonder and the ROM's moon rock thief about a half hour earlier, Lucas descends from the top of the Art Gallery of Ontario's Galleria Italia facade to finally mete out some lizard justice to a small-time villain named Warshell attempting to steal the Tom Thomson painting, Sunset in Algonquin Park inside.

The AGO is safe enough again for Lucas to check his messages.

Risking a blast to the face from Warshell's wrist rockets, the Human-Lizard bravely hurls himself at the would-be art thief and with a well-placed knee to Warshell's nether regions, the danger has passed and the AGO and it's art appreciating patrons are safe once more.

A certain school teacher and her "Don Juan" date exit the AGO.

At that moment, as Lucas checks his messages for the millionth time with no luck, two people exit the gallery (one the same grade school teacher who was not impressed with her students admiration for the Human-Lizard in the first issue) and seeing the commotion on the sidewalk, start heading in the opposite direction along the AGO's front promenade on Dundas Street West.

Taking a stroll along the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Promenade.

"Don Juan" gets a little too familiar with his date and losing all patience with him, she shuts him down and heads for home. Clueless as ever though, he tells her to keep in touch.

After a bad first date with "Don Juan," best to just untangle yourself and run.

Meanwhile, as she stifles a retch at the thought of ever communicating with this guy in anyway ever again, the Human-Lizard attends to Warshell, still curled up in a fetal position on the sidewalk, completely immobilized by Lucas' attack.

Heading home fast while the Human-Lizard consoles a defeated Warshell.

Although the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) was founded in the year 1900 (as the Art Museum of Toronto), it didn't settle into it's permanent location at 317 Dundas Street West until 1910, when The Grange (a Georgian manor built in 1817) was bequeathed to the Ontario Society of Artists upon the passing of the British historian and journalist, Goldwin Smith. After previously being renamed the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1919, the art institution was renamed the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1966.

The AGO's Galleria Italia facade seen from the corner of Dundas and McCaul.

In 2004, world-renowned architect Frank Gehry began a $275 million redevelopment plan, titled "Transformation AGO" to revamp and expand the gallery. Reopening again in late 2008, the AGO now boasts a four-story glass and titanium south wing overlooking Grange Park, as well as the distinctive, 180 metre-long Galleria Italia facade along the gallery's north face on Dundas Street West.

Up next: RooBarb heads home and the Human-Lizard finally gets a phone message while riding past The Great Hall, but after the events of the past evening will he have a date or not?


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Three: Intercontinental Hotel/Proof Vodka Bar - 220 Bloor St. West

About twenty minutes after checking his phone on Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market, stops to lace up a loose sticky boot and watches Toronto's hardest working super-heroine, Mother Wonder. Tearing the roof off a getaway car and foiling the driver's attempt to steal a moon rock from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Mother Wonder really gives him the business after missing out on her scheduled spa night. Meanwhile, Lucas checks his message-less phone again. Just what the heck happened to RooBarb, anyway?

Mother Wonder gets that moon rock back for the ROM, but does she have Proof?

Where exactly is it that Mother Wonder metes out her spa-night justice? I'm not sure, really, but with Lucas's established movements within a very set time-frame and the mention of the ROM by Mother Wonder, I thought the scene may have played out somewhere close by. Like just across the street and a few doors down at 220 Bloor Street West, the Intercontinental Hotel's vodka bar, Proof.

Proof Vodka Bar at 220 Bloor Street West.

At first glance, the location looks similar, but after taking pictures and comparing them with the panel in question, I'm either way off or there's been some changes to the street geography in the past few years. As always, if I do discover I've hunted down the wrong location, I'll be sure to update once I've gotten back on the right track.

Next up: The Human-Lizard finally finds the trouble he's been looking for when he takes on Warshell at the Art Gallery of Ontario!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-Two: Community Vehicle Reclamation Project/Bungalow/Comic Pile - 273 & 254 Augusta Ave.

A little over a half an hour after checking his messages on the marquee of the Royal Cinema, Lucas makes his way further east into Kensington Market. As he walks north towards College St., the Human-Lizard passes by the vintage furniture store, Bungalow, the (now-defunct) comic shop, The Comic Pile, and parked right at the curb of Augusta Avenue as Lucas walks past is the Community Vehicle Reclamation Project, commonly referred to as Kensington Market's "Garden Car."

The Human-Lizard makes his way along Augusta Ave.
First conceived in 2006 as an alternative to publicly destroying a car as part of an anti-car advocacy group protest, they decided instead to convert the car into a giant planter. For many years it served as both a promotional feature and fresh herb garden for the Kensington Market restaurant, La Palette, before it's relocation a few blocks south on Queen St. West, in the city's Fashion District. Since then, the Garden Car has persevered in one form or another, becoming one of the neighbourhood's most iconic landmarks.

Kensington Market's "Garden Car."

Directly across the street from the Garden Car, at 273 Augusta Ave, is Bungalow. One of Kensington Market's many vintage clothing shops, Bungalow stands apart from the rest of the pack by also dedicating equal focus to vintage Scandinavian-designed furniture and housewares.

Bungalow at 273 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market.

The Comic Pile opened at 254 Augusta Ave in 2013, but relocated to Baldwin St. where it soon after closed up shop. Cafe Novo, which moved into the storefront space previously occupied by The Comic Pile on Augusta, relocated themselves after a dramatic rent increase at it's High Park location, before also shutting down operations. Currently, 254 Augusta Ave. is home to Livelihood Cafe.

Cafe Novo (now also closed) where The Comic Pile was first located at 254 Augusta Ave.

Next up: The Human-Lizard checks his messages yet again as Mother Wonder gives up spa night to dish out justice.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty-One: The Royal Cinema - 608 College St.

Whizzing past the Gladstone Hotel on the top of a TTC streetcar (as the Human-Lizard), Lucas (as "LuBar") had boldly texted his prospective online romantic interest, known only as "RooBarb," to ask if she'd like to meet over beer and board games. Almost an hour and half later, while standing on top of the marquee of the Royal Cinema in Toronto's Little Italy district on College Street West, Lucas still has no new messages. Of course, he also hasn't encountered any criminal-types either, so the evening's sort of a win/lose so far. Lucky on patrol, unlucky in love.

The Human-Lizard checking his phone on the Royal's marquee.
First opening it's doors in 1939 as The Pylon, and later changed to the Golden Princess, the 390-seat  Art Moderne movie house has become one of Toronto's most-beloved historic landmarks. When faced with the threat of closure in 2007, Theatre D Digital stepped in to upgrade and renovate the theatre into a state of the art screening and live event venue. The cinema also performs double duty as a fully operational film and television post-production studio during daytime hours.

The Royal Cinema at 608 College Street.

To check what's currently playing and coming soon, or to book a private screening, corporate function or live event, visit the Royal's website.

Next up: The Human-Lizard takes a stroll past the Kensington Market Garden Car on Augusta Avenue!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Sticky Step Twenty: The Gladstone Hotel - 1214 Queen St. West

Winter is behind us, spring is here and Sticky Footprints is ready once again to pick up the trail of Jason Loo's forever down on his luck hero in The Pitiful Human-Lizard #2!

Last seen sticking to the wall of Lee's Palace, the second issue opens with Lucas Barrett who, following the TV news piece covering his father's heyday as the local celebrity known as the Lizard-Man, is now recognized around the office as Toronto's newest superhero, enduring the snide comments and condescending inquiries of his boss and co-workers as they try to figure out why Lucas does what he does and why he does it dressed as a lizard. He ignores them, in favour of updating his online dating profile (using the appropriately pitiful sounding online handle, "Lubar.") and while doing so, Lucas comes across the profile of "RooBarb." He strikes up a text conversation with her that goes on sporadically through the afternoon at work, his evening martial arts lesson and even bus ride home afterwards.

The Human-Lizard catches a ride downtown on a TTC streetcar passing by the Gladstone.

As Lucas is prepping for his nightly patrol of the city as the Human-Lizard, the conversation turns to what each of them do for a living and "RooBarb" reveals she's an elementary school teacher. Lucas embellishes his duties as an office drone to Tolkien-esque proportions and, as the eastbound 501 Queen Streetcar he's riding on top of passes by the Gladstone Hotel, he musters the courage to ask "RooBarb" out for a night of board games and beer.

The Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen Street West.

Built in 1889, the Gladstone Hotel is the oldest hotel in Toronto to remain operating continuously since it's doors first opened. An impressive feat considering the numerous changes of ownership throughout the hotel's first century and extensive renovations by the current owners in 2005. Thanks to those much needed renos, however, the Gladstone is now renowned not only as a Toronto landmark in it's own right, but also as the city's preeminent boutique art hotel, hosting regular art exhibitions and events celebrating local artists and designers.

For more on the hotel's history, current art exhibitions and events or to book a room, visit the Gladstone Hotel's website.

Up next: The Human-Lizard atop the Royal Cinema's marquee while on patrol in Toronto's Little Italy!