Cover Star: “Mountain Pals,” by Ethan Rilly (a.k.a. Hartley Lin)

April 1, 2018
Taddle Creek No. 40 (Winter, 2017–2018)

Ethan Rilly, one of Taddle Creek’s regular illustrators, said he had Alberta on his mind while creating the cover image for the magazine’s twentieth anniversary issue (No. 40). “I was set to fly there right after this cover was done, so my anticipation for hiking in the Rockies must have carried through,” he said. “I’ve only ever lived in two cities, back and forth between Toronto and Montreal, so I sometimes worry about having a myopic view of Canada. But Western Canada is beautiful.

“No one’s asking, but I nicked the title style from a piece of old illustrated sheet music for a baseball song that I saw in the Library of Congress. No regrets.”

Rilly has contributed to Taddle Creek since 2010, providing covers, comics, and spot illustrations. He also is called upon to give Tad, the magazine’s beatnik mascot, new and exciting things to do on a regular basis. Most of Rilly’s drawing time is spent on his comic book, Pope Hats, which, to date, has published five issues, through Adhouse Books. That book’s main storyline will be collected this spring, in the graphic novel Young Frances, Rilly’s full-length debut. “It’s an intensive story about work and friendship,” Rilly said. “It’s about that moment in your twenties when you sober yourself up to what paths are actually available to you. You can see your life taking shape, for better or worse. There are jokes, too. Much of the story takes place in a Bay Street law firm, for some reason. I can’t wait for people to see it.”

Young Frances also marks Ethan Rilly’s retirement—with this book, the artist abandons his pen name in favour of his given name, Hartley Lin. “Using a pen name was profoundly helpful,” he said. “It offers anonymity and a pure sense of freedom. Anonymity is good for being personally detached from all the non-creative aspects of publishing, and freedom is good for all the creative parts. When I first started Pope Hats, [the artist] Seth questioned me about my choice of pen name. At the time, I joked that if I ever made something I was proud of, I’d use my real name. Years later, I am genuinely proud of Young Frances, so I figure it’s time.”