Bikes and zines! Independent media and independent transportation go together

Ian Sullivan Cant of Broken Pencil talks to dandyhorse about cycling, zines, and the upcoming Canzine festival (in Toronto on Oct. 20.)

Photo by Nyree MacPherson

Can you tell dandyhorse readers a bit about Broken Pencil? How long you've been designer at BP?

Broken Pencil has been reporting on zine culture in Canada for 15 years. My own introduction to zines was through Broken Pencil when I went to Canzine as a teenager, so it was pretty exciting when I started designing Broken Pencil about 3 years ago. It’s made by a group of people who are good at what they do and work together well, so it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.

What (do you think) the difference between "magazine" and "'zine" is?

I guess there are publications out there called zines that have pretty professional magazine production values, so any dividing line between the two is pretty blurry. I know zine makers who make their zines with typewriters and scotch tape, and others who use (usually pirated) professional layout software. I’ve always thought that the defining characteristic of zines is their unstopablility. A magazine relies on sales, ads, distribution, marketing strategies, and sponsorships, to sustain an audience and enough revenue to operate. A zine, however, can’t be stopped because it doesn’t rely on any of those things. The tools and resources required are so basic that anyone can make a zine.

Why is independent media so important?

Independent media is a manifestation of the anarchist sensibility of art creation. It’s anything that anyone wants or needs it to be because it’s the lawless frontier of art. It’s a place for communities that are underrepresented in the mainstream media to get their voices heard. Sometimes it’s a venue for new and unknown writers and artists to find an audience, but it’s also a place for artists who create amazing work that will never have an audience beyond a few fans. It’s a welcoming and positive environment for people who may not even have much skill or talent, but they enjoy making things, so they deserve to be there as much as anyone else.

What role does the bicycle play in your life?

I mostly work from home now, so I don’t really commute, but I ride my bike everywhere. I’m still on it every day.

Thank you for your contribution to dandyhorse issue one with your "point/counterpoint" illustrations.  Why is it important for Toronto to have a bike advocacy magazine?

I love biking, and I love how many people in Toronto also love biking, but I don’t see the streets of Toronto as bike friendly at all. If there’s ever going to be any meaningful infrastructure change the need for that change will have to be a big enough part of the city’s cultural conversation.

Have you ever been doored? What do you think we can do to decrease the incidences of dooring?

I’ve had close calls, and I’ve been hit by cars a couple times, but I’ve never been doored. I’ve got lots of opinions on stuff like this, but they’re not really informed by any knowledge about the law, urban planning, or transportation.

What do you think the city could do right now to improve safety and encourage cycling?

Toronto’s streets are a pretty hostile environment for bikes. There’s a big problem with hate towards cyclists in this city. The simplest and most immediately achievable thing to do to improve safety would be for the city to contribute to a positive attitude towards cyclist.

What is the best part of your daily commute?

Sherbourne bike lane. It feels too good to be true. It’s like after spending years squeezed between cars and trucks I don’t have enough cyclist self-esteem to accept that I deserve a safe place to ride.

Canzine is on Sunday, October 20 in Toronto at 918 Bathurst Centre.

Ian Sullivan Cant is a Graphic Designer and illustrator. He rides a bike and wears a helmet. He designs things at

This year's Canzine festival is coming to Toronto October 20. details

Thank you to Canzine/BP for promoting dandyCOMMUTE - we'll be giving away a bike and helmets to some of our lucky dandyCOMMUTE contributors at the end of the year. We think it's important for regular cyclists to tell us about their every day biking experiences.


Related on the dandyBLOG:

 dandyARCHIVE: Point/counterpoint (art by Ian Sullivan Cant)

Submit your dandyCommute

dandyCommute series: Queen and Roncey to Church and Shuter

dandyARCHIVE: Stacey May Fowles

Bike Spotting at the library


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