Page 1


CAN COMICS WIKI

Editorial: My Thoughts on TCAF

canadiancomicbooks.wikia.com sequentialmagazine.ca Sequential: Canadian Independent Comic Book Magazine issue 02 Published May 03 2019 from Montreal, Quebec ISSN 2562-3621 Publication © Brendan Montgomery Cover image © Salgood Sam Name of Publication courtesy of Salgood Sam Images in articles included with written permission from artists and connot be re-printed or used without their permission. The articles in this publication cannot be distributed outside this magazine without express permission from Brendan Montgomery or its author. With contributions by: Brendan Montgomery ~ Editor Braedan Hafichuk ~ Writer Zach Rondinelli ~ Writer John Ward ~ Writer Gary Boyarski ~ Writer Riley Hamilton ~ Reviewer Aaron Broverman ~ Reviewer Josh Rose ~ Reviewer Meet our writers on page 21 Comments or questions about this publication can be sent to sequentialmag@gmail.com This document links to websites! Look for website names and underlined words

In assosciation with sequentialpulp.ca

W

e are dedicating this issue to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival because of its excellence in promoting Canadian comics and growing our comics community by welcoming all readers. They have also worked to promote Canadian comics abroad by facilitating creative exchanges with other international shows. The many international creators who also attend give us a great opportunity to meet different creators than typically attend other shows. I have not heard a bad thing said about TCAF and creators consistently praise it as their favourite show. The volunteers are always excellent at helping you navigate the many panels and large location. Part of TCAF’s charm is that it is hosted in Toronto’s largest library (with over 1.6 million items) and thus is attended by the general public as well as dedicated fans. You can usually spot a few confused patrons at the entrance when they see the library full of people. They have inspired other libraries across Canada to host comic events as it is a great way to promote literacy and their local creators. I helped run the King Con convention in Kingston Ontario and we drew in over 350 people to the library, surely many of them had not been there in some time as the library was able to register many new library cards. The Mississauga library now has an excellent event, the Mississauga Comic Expo, which is similar to TCAF with a focus on creators from the GTA. TCAF has had a massive impact on the Canadian comic community and is well worth attending if you can get away on mother’s day weekend.

stuck to buying collectibles and prints. Then after trying out TCAF and learning a lot from its panels I really appreciated the dedication creators have to the medium as well as how many Canadian creators there are. It inspired me to make my own indie comic with fellow university students which was a great learning experience into all the effort which goes into each comic. Last year I hosted a panel on comic book biographies and nonfiction. That’s a good example of the more literary focus of the show compared to most comic cons. This year I have the honour of moderating two panels. Canadian Cartooning: Then and Now with Joan Steacy, Michael Cherkas, Siris, and Jeffrey Ellis Saturday at 1:30pm in the Highpark Ballroom of the Mariott as well as World Building Process with Ben Sears, Carolyn Nowak, Evan Dahm, Larry Hancock and NikaComics at 2:45pm in the Hinton Learning Theatre. So yes I will be running quickly between them but if you find me at the show I would love to chat about Canadian comics with you, I will wear my Canadian Comics Wiki T-shirt.

TCAF is also special to me personally by being the show that really pushed me to get more involved in Canadian comics. This was due to its sole focus on comic creators. I had been to other pop culture shows, but mostly

Catchphrase!

All of our creators interviewed in this issue will be exhibiting at TCAF and the books reviewed will be debuting as well. There were so many other great creators we wish we could have done twice as many articles so I definitely recommend taking the time to visit as many tables as possible to take in all the great comics on display. With Free admission and over a hundred hours of panels and workshops you can’t spend a better weekend than TCAF!

Brendan Montgomery Editor in Chief Tweet @cancomicswiki


In This Issue...

p.4 Aurora Borealice

p.5 The Witching Hours

p.6 Megan Kearney

p.9 Apologetica

p.10 Jason Loo

p.14 Sam Beck

p.16 Scott Ford

p.18 Lindsay Ishiro

p.22 Sam Noir


What is the

T

he Toronto Comic Arts Festival exists to promote the breadth and diversity of comics, and what is considered comics, as legitimate medium of literary and artistic worth. We seek to promote the creators of these works in their broad and diverse voices, for the betterment of the medium of comics and to reach as wide an audience as possible for them.

?

While a Festival the scope and size of TCAF was a natural progression of locally organized events, often in coordination with Toronto comic emporium The Beguiling, it also grew from equal parts agitation and inspiration caused by other large-scale events dealing with the comic book medium. While most of shows of this nature are pop-culture events and tend to be insular in nature, we wanted to do something that dealt more specifically with The first Toronto Comic Arts Festival (“TCAF”) was held the art form of comics itself, with an emphasis on genre on the weekend of March 29th 2003. It was the natural appreciation and open interaction between creators and progression of years of disparate book signings, author their community. appearances and miscellaneous events put together by a group of volunteers interested in promoting the literary The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2019 occurs on Saturday and artistic merits of comic books and graphic novels. May 11th, 9am-5pm, and Sunday May 12th, 10am-5pm, Approximately 600 members of the public attended the at Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, first festival, with 25 staff and approximately 70 creators Canada. Attendance is free to all events including workin attendance. shops and panels. Some events will require free tickets with rush lines if space is available. Featured creator Attendance and excitement grew during subsequent guests include manga legend Junji Ito in his first North events, held every two years. TCAF 2005 was held the American appearance, Emily Carroll, Gord Hill, Ness Lee, weekend of May 28-29, and saw approximately 6,000 Seth, Vivek Shraya, and Chip Zdarsky. Beyond the large attendees visit the large tents set up on the grounds of amount of comic creators selling their work there are Honest Ed’s department store. TCAF 2007 moved back in- also publishers selling a wide variety of books they pubdoors to the Victoria College building on the University lish with some creators doing limited signings at their of Toronto, and it also featured about 6,000 attendees booths so look for those schedules the day of. Beyond over the August 18-19 weekend. TCAF 2009 was held in the main exhibition space, there is also a Comics X Games conjunction with Toronto Public Library in their mas- section which has indie video game creators showing off sive flagship location, Toronto Reference Library. 10,500 their games in order to foster connections between compeople visited the festival on the weekend of May 9th and ic artists and game makers. There is also a seperate space 10th, engaging over 300 exhibitors consisting of authors, called Zineland Terrace Saturday and Sunday 11am – artists, publishers, from 6 different countries includ- 6pm at the Cumberland Terrace, 2 Bloor St. W which exing France, Germany, Japan, and England. Since 2010 hibits only zine creators. TCAF has been held at Toronto Reference Library, with attendances increasing annually – we welcomed 12,500 You can keep up with all the programming by downloadattendees in 2010, 15,000 in 2011, and 18,000 in 2012 & ing the Guidebook app and following TCAF 2019. See the 2013, 22,000 in 2014, 24,000 in 2015, and 25,000+ in 2016 full list of creators and debut books at the show at www.torontocomics.com and beyond, across all Festival events.


3


Aurora Borealice Review by Josh Rose

Written and drawn by Joan Steacy Published by Conundrum Press 250pg Black and White Debuting at Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 11 and 12, 2019.

Aurora Borealice is the story of Alice as she struggles through school, pushes herself through college, falls in love, gets married and has kids. Through it all she learns: Learns how she learns, challenges the education system, and hungers for knowledge. The unique thing is how she uses art to grow as a professional and as a student. An autobio/graphic novel, Aurora Borealice is a story that is certain to challenge the reader and encourage them to learn outside of the classroom. Joan Steacy takes Alice on an adventure of learning and questions how the education system actually teaches students. Alice struggles in the traditional learning environment and is reduced to taking classes with other students who have learning disabilities in her high school years, not given the opportunity to learn things to help her succeed in life. In this school Alice is treated like she is stupid and begins to believe it herself. But her art is what helps her make it to college and sparks a desire to learn. Steacy questions whether the system actually teaches students how to acquire new knowledge, or how to take tests. Art is Alice’s saving grace. It’s the form that helps her to learn and visualize her new knowledge. She draws, paints, and sculpts. While studying at university, Alice learns some communication theory from Marshall McLuhan. She applies his message of “the medium is the message” to classroom settings. Even her comic book artistic husband supports her through her struggles and encourages her to try new things that challenge her. I struggled with Alice’s husband, Ken. While he helped her grow as a person, he did not seem to do any

growing himself. He changed with the times as technology advanced but also seemed to disrespect Alice as a person, often not consulting her with plans. Everytime she was struggling with something, he seemed to leave her hanging to figure it out on her own, leaving no assistance. From beginning to end he made food jokes that were always ill timed. I recognize this is Alice’s story and not Ken’s, but for someone so central to Alice’s life you would think they would have some character development as well. Steacy’s linework is very simple in Aurora Borealice. The characters don’t look realistic, but they look human enough. Its consistent throughout, excluding dream sequences and Alice’s thought bubbles, which have some slightly exaggerated features, similar to real dreams. That being said, much of the shading is done with watercolour greys adding dimension and helping the reader distinguish between elements. This is a book that is full of ideas, and the art takes a step back in order for those ideas to take centre stage and flourish in the form of a story. I believe some colour usage in Alice’s artworks and dream sequences would go a long way to increase the attractiveness of the book, without detracting from the abstract concepts within the story. At times I found the lettering to be confusing. It wasn’t always clear who was supposed to be speaking, and the tails would often not be directed towards the speaker’s mouth. Overall, Aurora Borealice is a wonderful story about a woman discovering her love of learning despite many obstacles that made learning difficult for her in the first place. It’s a story that can encourage readers to persevere in their own learning adventures, and helps us think critically about learning institutions.


The Witching Hours Review by Riley Hamilton

Published by Cloudscape Comics 126pgs Duotone colour Edited by Hannah Myers

“The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves”. This quote from Roald Dahl’s the BFG immediately sprang to my mind when I first heard about the Witching Hours, a new anthology from Cloudscape Comics. This anthology is the creation of a group of women and non-binary creators from western Canada and is based around witches and witchcraft, more generally. Each of the 11 short stories included in this book cover a wide range of art styles and genres but each does a good job in conveying its intended message. Hannah Myers, the editor of the anthology strikes an important balance by mixing more lighthearted stories such as a witch couple helping a lost demon soul with darker works dealing with more oppressive themes. As a straight, white, male I have not experienced anything close to the kinds of discrimination and hatred that marginalized communities such as LGBTQ+ face daily but this anthology is able to use witchcraft as a vehicle to explore these concepts. Numerous stories recount the antagonism of society towards witches, and by proxy, minorities or anyone else deemed to be a social outsider. These are the stories that interested me the most in this book and the last two stories stood out for me, personally. The first is titled “Excerpts from the Maleus Maleficarum” which is initially drawn in a style reminiscent of medieval tapestries or frescoes while the text reads like a sermon being delivered by a particularly pious vicar. The

Cover Art by Julia Iredale

is particularly powerful, and it shows a young girl being burned at the stake and being told that she deserves punishment greater than any other criminal, for merely being perceived as different and therefore, wicked. The second story, titled “Wicked Creatures” deals with a similar concept albeit one about preconception, prejudice, and how society treats not only the ‘undesirables’ but those who show compassion towards them. A nun, who is not as she appears is shown to have been saved and healed by local villagers after washing ashore. Yet when this nun extends the same helping hand to an injured witch, in need of the same compassion she received, she is told by the local priest that the witch and any who help her do not deserve the same treatment. The story shows the hypocrisy of selective caring that is still present in society today and is a fitting final story to this anthology. Overall, this anthology is a deeply personal and beautifully created book that has stories for everyone. Each creator has their own unique style and there are plenty of different genres represented, from the awkward and goofy to the sombre and esoteric. I would recommend giving this anthology a look. The Witching Hours is edited by Hannah Myers and features stories by A Woodward, Rachel ‘Tuna’ Petrovicz, Kathleen Gros, Monica Disher, Eden Cooke, Kris Sayer, James Brandi, April dela Noche Milne, Krista Gibbard, and Jess Pollard.

Art by A Woodward

artwork transitions to a more conventional style and juxtaposes the text of the story, proclaiming the evil nature of witches and their only desire being to bring death and destruction while the art shows that these witches are merely going about their lives without committing the atrocities they are being accused of. The last image

Art by Rachel “Tuna” Petrovicz

5


KICKIN’ IT WITH MEGAN KEARNEY Interview By: Zachary J.A. Rondinelli

M

egan Kearney is a prolific Toronto-based cartoonist. Originally a filmmaker with an honours degree in animation, Megan has now appeared in several comics publications from Dark Horse, Bedside Press, and Fairylogue Press. She currently writes comics for Disney Princess and has recently concluded a serialized webcomic adaptation of Beauty and The Beast. Tangential to her creating, she manages a co-work studio, Comic Book Embassy, based in Chinatown. Zach Rondinelli: Hey Megan! Thank you so much for taking time out of your incredibly busy schedule to chat with us! Megan Kearney: Thanks for having me! I’m so flattered. ZR: First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself so that our readers can get to know you? MK: I’m a recovering Navy Brat who has been working in comics for the last seven years or so. I went to school for animation and briefly freelanced in that field before switching over to comics. I’m a writer on the Disney

Princess series, manage a comics cowork studio, and write and draw my own original works as well. ZR: Can you tell us a bit about your background and training in animation? MK: I went to Sheridan College for animation. I’d wanted to go there since high school, but my parents were set on me having a traditional university degree, so I actually have a very useless BA in fine art as well. I was extremely unhappy at university. I secretly applied to Sheridan while I was there and didn’t tell anyone until I’d been accepted. So I wound up with a three-year degree from the University of Windsor and a four-year degree from Sheridan, at the end of which I produced a short film, Once Upon a Winter Wood, that wound up being chosen as one of Dreamworks’ best student films of the year. ZR: Your art style is undeniably iconic; both in terms of abstraction and how it is instantly recognizable as yours! Does that style bleed over from your training in animation? How else do you think your work within animation has helped to inform your com-

ics work? MK: Animation really requires you to understand how forms move and interact. You can cheat a lot in illustration, but when you animate something, generally speaking, it has to be able to move as if it exists in three dimensions. I think it forced me to be better about making sure my drawings had structure and mass. Animation also helped me develop a more critical eye for composition and screen direction. When I’m teaching, I talk about animation as vaudeville or broadway, and comics as cinema. They’re such similar disciplines, but they pull from different traditions. Learning to “think like a camera” has been a huge part of developing my own visual language for comics and giving myself permission to lean into stylistic devices and expressionism. ZR: Your genre work in comics has been quite diverse! From gothic romance to horror, fantasy, and even non-fiction. Which genre do you enjoy working within the most? MK: That’s hard to say, I’ll let you know when I’ve tried them all! I really enjoyed building the romantic angst in Beauty and The Beast. My


poor readers suffered seven years of serialized slow-burn before we got to the “Happily Ever After”. I’d really like to try my hand at some magical girl action stuff next.

inspired work! I personally love that you’ve taken a “tale as old as time” and found a unique way to freshen the narrative for new readers! What gave you the inspiration for it?

ZR: Can you tell us about your work with Disney? How did that come about?

MK: I grew up reading fairy tales and always liked the sense of mystery in Beauty and The Beast. As a teen, I started digging into the history of the story and collecting various adaptations of it while writing a terrible novel in the back of my math notebook. I came back to it again in college and began reimagining it as a webcomic after I graduated. I was interested in taking the established beats of a well-known tale and presenting them in fresh and unexpected ways. I wanted to tell a story that felt like it could be summarized by the fairy tale as we now know it, but that still had tension and mystery in the actual telling.

MK: So, I run a co-work studio in Toronto. We provide studio space to creatives who might otherwise be working from home, and we have a website that lists our members. A publisher mistook me for an agent and contacted me about building a relationship. Knowing they had a number of franchise licenses, I pitched them on a tie-in for the 2016 Disney Beauty and the Beast remake and we workshopped a few different approaches for that. Although that miniseries didn’t wind up being greenlit, they were impressed with my writing and asked me to come on board with the Disney Princess series. ZR: I’ve been following your web-serialized Beauty and The Beast comics adaptation for quite some time now and I have to tell you that I think it is

ZR: I also have to ask about Hit Reblog: Comics That Caught Fire. This is actually the book that introduced me to your work and is an absolute favourite of mine! Can you tell us how it came to be? MK: I can’t take credit for that one! It was all my editor, Hope [Nicholson]. She liked the conversational-academic style I used in Regards to the Goblin King, which I wrote for Secret Loves of Geek Girls, and contacted me about doing something with memes. I’d done a fair bit of meme-research for a brief job I had in social games a few years earlier, so I knew the lay of the land. We licensed comics that had gone viral, interviewed their creators, and then drew up biographical comics about their experiences. Now we’re constantly accused of stealing comics. I swear we paid everyone! ZR: I don’t doubt that for a second! For me, Hit Reblog’s focus on how the internet creates the conditions

for creator’s work to “go viral” (even sometimes without their consent) is a timely and important issue. It contributes strongly to topics of Digital Literacy and I can see it creating positive change for people who may not truly understand how inappropriate “sharing” impacts creators. Was this your intention with the book? MK: It was. As creators ourselves, we know how painful it can be when you’re unable to control the narrative of your own work. We’ve seen friends personally impacted by their work gaining notoriety, with or without their names attached, and the financial and social fallout. I think if you’re not a creator yourself, it’s easy to forget that all of this content has to come from somewhere. It doesn’t just generate itself. ZR: Could we see more books like Hit Reblog from you and Hope in the future? MK: I’d be open to the idea! Hope and I joke that we’re just waiting for the contract to adapt all the textbooks in the Ontario school system. I drew all of Hit Reblog during 7 my baby’s naptimes, so now


that he’s older I would hope I could dedicate myself more fully to any follow-ups we might do! ZR: You are obviously incredibly prolific in the field of comics! What other sorts of things do you like to do? MK: I’m one of those people that no longer has any hobbies because of their work. I’m trying to start taking evenings off. I joke about being a workaholic, but it might be more true than I’d like to admit. ZR: Oh, I understand that feeling all too well! Can you tell me a little bit about the Co-Work Studio that you manage in Toronto? MK: Comic Book Embassy is a little studio tucked away in Chinatown. It’s home to about a dozen artists and writers. We’re predominantly comics-focused, but we’ve had TV writers, illustrators, animators, photographers and PHD students as well. We share a space with Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Bootcamp, which is an excellent comics night school. We’ve been in our office since 2012 and we’re looking at upgrading to a new location when our lease is up this summer. Because our goal is to keep the studio accessible to creators early in their careers, we don’t make any profit off of running it. We only charge enough to cover the rent. It’s a homey space, very supportive, with a really impressive tea cabinet!

ZR: That really is amazing! Are there any up and coming creators that you’d could give our readers the heads up to keep an eye out for? MK: All of my studio-mates are fantastic. Shel Kahn is an astounding fantasy illustrator and tabletop game designer. Meaghan Carter writes and draws Godslave, an action/adventure series about Egyptian mythology in the modern day. Sam Beck is incredibly prolific, she’s on Verse, Songs for the Dead and a whole bunch of unannounced titles right now. Sanya Anwar has been doing a lot of work for Archie and recently landed her first Marvel writing gig… it’s inspiring to get to work with these people. ZR: Wow, that sounds like an incredible cast of talent. Will any of these creators be at TCAF with you? MK: Yep! We’re like Pokemon. You gotta catch us all, and there’s a new batch every year. ZR: This year’s TCAF is absolutely loaded with talent! How excited are you to be a part of it? MK: TCAF is honestly the best small press comics show in North America. I feel so blessed that it’s held in my city. I look forward to it every year. ZR: Have you been to TCAF before? MK: I’ve done two TCAFs as

an exhibitor and attended for years. I took the last couple of years off because I had a baby, so I’m very excited to be back. ZR: What are you most looking forward to at TCAF? MK: TCAF is like a big, fun class reunion for me at this point. I love walking into the building and just feeling like it’s full of friends. Friends who want me to buy their books. ZR: What can our readers and guests look forward to perusing when they come to see you? MK: I’ll have the final volume of Beauty and The Beast this year, completing the threebook set, as well as number of anthologies such as Wayward Sisters, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love and Valor. I’ll also have a few limited copies of Hit Reblog! ZR: I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me, Megan! Any last thoughts that you can share with our readers? Where can they follow you and your work? MK: You can find me online at www.thequietly.com and on twitter @spookymeggie. Work hard, take breaks, and be kind to each other!


Apologetica Review by Aaron Broverman Written and drawn by Ben O’Neil Published by Popnoir Editions 64pg full-colour offset You probably don’t know Ben O’Neil, but if you live in his home town of Toronto, you’ve definitely seen his commercial work. His bright, cartoonson-acid, style is the signature look of Sweet Jesus ice cream parlour. Now, he’s making his graphic novel debut at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival [TCAF] in May 2019 with Apologetica from Popnoir Editions. If you boil it right down, Apologetica is an anthology of short illustrative prose and comic strips that speak to our collective anxiety about the state of the world. Whether its global environmental degradation and climate change, personal fulfillment through the acquisition of stuff, the isolation and ennui that can come with consumerist culture and the internet age phenomena of attention-seeking martyrdom. The results are either pushed to humorous extremes or patently unsettling depending on your outlook. The visual presentation is bright enough to be sensorially assaultive in a “Wake up, people!” fashion that works for the subject matter quite well. So at the end of the day, it’s all presented in jest (but not really if you’re smart enough to know where the world is heading in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sort of way). I want to see more from O’Neil as a graphic novelist in the future. I’d liken his style to the sweaty social commentary of a Robert Crumb mixed with the Disney parody style of a Kim Dietch with an acid trip thrown in for good measure. O’Neil has a lot to say about the negative state of our world and how many of us self-soothe our way through it.

While his drawings are visually arresting – mixing the implied morality of religious iconography with the vapid engagement of corporate branding, for example. It’s O’Neil’s use of colour that really makes the anxious statement he’s going for. The most striking deployment being “The Sentient Lion” where black and white contrast creates a photostatic effect that elicits the isolation and claustrophobia one can feel during a trip to the grocery store, emphasizing the disconnection modern humans have to the source of their food. Readers of Apologetica will be able to bask in O’Neil’s unique visual style right away. It can feel like his drawings are vibrating or melting at times, which I chalked up to a purposeful further emphasis on the tenuousness of the world. Readers will connect to Apologetica because O’Neil has found a way to articulate the anxiety of modern life we’ve all felt at one time or another in a way I have yet to see as a comic: “Is climate change going to end the world?” We’ve definitely all thought of what that would look like and in O’Neil’s case, a garbage utopia awaits on the other side, which eventually allows the cycle of industrialization and But there’s no audience for anyone in waste to begin again. a room full of martyrs and suffering without an audience is, well, it’s just Then there’s this feeling that no mat- plain suffering.” ter how technologically connected we are, we are still so alone with our Apologetica is the comic for our times. self-esteem on tenderhooks as inter- It reads fast and mocks our post-modnet trolls tear us down on social media ern human condition with outright and we feel compelled to share our ev- glee as it exposes the futility of our inery feeling with each status update. ner most thoughts and self-flagellating tendencies in a world where that isn’t This is where O’Neil’s Mr. Martyr char- very necessary...a world that is seemacter personifies that modern phe- ingly our oyster like never before in nomenon with lines like, “I thought human history and yet, there’s still so I’d feel different now. Like the pain much to feel anxious about. would make me feel special somehow. 9


Five Pitiful Years

Interview with Jason Loo by Brendan Montgomery

Pitiful Human-Lizard: Some Heart Left, 2019

Variant Cover for Issue 1, 2014

ason Loo might just be the perfect poster boy for Canadian indie comics and their potential for reaching new audiences. The success of his character, who embodies Canadian characteristics without wearing the flag on his suit while also believably living in a Canadian city, shows that there is great potential for more unique Canadian stories to be told and find an audience. Also his dedication to the craft and friendly attitude are appreciated by fellow creators and fans. Attending TCAF for his sixth time, Jason brings the culmination of 5 years of telling the Pitiful Human Lizard story in an issue that is not to be missed.

ics. The simplicity of the medium allows children to get started with a pencil and paper. Loo made strips stapled together about a failed hitman. This evolved into making photocopied mini comics to sell to friends during lunch in high school. After graduating college and doing freelance illustration work, Jason’s interest in comics lapsed until the popularity of the Marvel Studios films led him to read silver age comics. Loo “liked how grounded the characters were and how New York City was used as a character in the comics”. This admiration led to a desire to see the same approach applied to Toronto. Following the Marvel formula and taking insight from Scott Pilgrim, Loo created Lucas Barrett, also known as The Human Lizard, a typical office worker who moonlights as a costumed hero to do his best to fight crime in Toronto. A pharmaceutical trial leaves him with regenerative healing which further aids him in his crime fighting.

J

A lifelong enjoyment of drawing as well as reading colourful comic strips in the Toronto Star set the stage for hobby that would go much farther than he expected. It’s natural for a creative mind like Loo’s to be inspired into making their own creations after falling in love with com-


The beauty of the Pitiful Human Lizard name, being a riff on the Marvel tradition of adding adjectives such as spectacular and amazing in their book titles, is the immediate sense of the tone set for the series before even reading. With Captain Canuck, Northguard and Alpha Flight’s Guardian already covering the red and white patriotic hero type, Loo wanted to make an offbeat Canadian character who still embodies Canadian characteristics in other ways. The adjective Pitiful isn’t an insult to the character, but an indication that he is not a traditional super hero and isn’t perfect. Lucas also balances a day job and financial troubles while still trying to help people as much as possible. This makes him very relatable to many readers much like Spiderman. He is also a good example of our multicultural country by being the son of a bi-racial couple, further supporting the diversification of comics. Loo was a Canadian creator who utilized Kickstarter early to great success. Desiring to create a professional comic, Loo turned to the platform to fund a high quality printing and was able to raise over $6000. This double sized debut issue was meant to be a one shot project, but it ended up being so well received that Loo self-published 4 more issues. He then signed on with Chapterhouse comics to publish the series which allowed him to focus on the story without worrying about the marketing and printing of the books. This lasted “It’s rare to find a book so lovingly crafted and filled with such earnestness. As a Canadian publishing house we knew we had to make sure as many people around the world could have an opportunity to read what we hope will become a seminal Canadian superhero work.” ~Keith WTS Morris, Chapterhouse

for 3 years and 17 more issues for a total run of 21 issues, longer than even the flagship Captain Canuck series. This longevity is a testament to the strong readership and Jason’s skill at producing new issues quickly. Loo recommends that other creators who wish to work with publishers on a creator owned series should have a full issue or more completed before approaching publishers. Then they should “see if their work would fall in line with the same genre, style, or audience that the publisher offers, and maybe do some research and ask other creators who work for said publisher about their experiences with them”. A successful partnership with a publisher can bring out the best in a series if the creator can find a good fit. Otherwise it is just as great if creators can go it alone. After 5 years of working on the series, Loo is taking a break from the series and closing this chapter with a new issue debuting at TCAF. Throughout March he released pages on his website which will be collected in this issue along with additional pages called Some Heart Left. This short story will be “a nice send-off to all the

characters”. Many indie comics end abruptly due to real life challenges, therefore it’s great that readers will get a complete story of good length. After TCAF the book will be available online and some stores in Toronto. The character could always return, but this will be the last tales for the foreseeable future. Loo attributes the continued success of the series to a lot of people seeing themselves in the struggles of the hero as well as “trying to tell stories that would reach a wider audience beyond those looking for superhero fare”. This included being stranded in the suburbs, awkward interactions on a street car and an entire issue spent with his family. This new issue shows the best of this by focusing on Lucas’ personal relationships and wrap up those threads. Loo appreciates the diverse group of patrons who attend TCAF. With the show being free to attend it is accessible to anyone in the public so he interacts with both experienced comic readers and those new to the medium. There are even people who came to the library 11


without knowing a convention was occurring who are then introduced to the art form. Loo likes “seeing that [his] comic can be enjoyed by anyone” which is also a great testament to his storytelling ability. Strong comic book narratives draw in readers regardless of background. Not only is the show inclusive to the public, but also to a diverse set of creators. The show continues to evolve with the new creators and international guests it attracts. While the core of the event will endure, its faces and art on display continues to change as the industry does. Outside of making comics, Loo has worked on some other interesting projects. For FanExpo 2016 he made a limited amount of small Pitiful Human Lizard action figures with Adam aka @TheAngryBeast. Loo “kit-bashed and sculpted the prototype and Adam used his resin casting wizardry to concoct the plastic copies”. Then Loo hand-painted each figure and packaged them. His cover for issue 10 was also used by the University of Toronto Libraries Annual Report 2016 since it depicted a character skateboarding outside of Robertson library. However Jason’s most impressive project has been his contribution to the Mississauga Comic Expo (MCX). This event was modelled after TCAF and started with artist Aaron Ong approaching the Mississauga Library System in 2015. Jason joined the organizing committee and became the exhibitor coordinator for its second year due to his strong connections with fellow comic creators in the GTA. He also illustrates their promotional posters. MCX is focused on “spotlighting local comic talent and their original work”. When I attended in 2017, creators praised Jason for his hard work with the event and all of the organisers for running a supportive show for creators. MCX is “a celebration of comics made by

Preview page from PHL: Some Heart Left anyone for everyone” and similar to TCAF is attended by a broader audience than major pop culture conventions. While this is the end of the Pitiful Human Lizard story for now, he will continue to be cited as an example of the best of Canadian comics. While bittersweet, it will also be exciting for readers to see what Loo creates next. The first taste of this was a small hor-

ror comic he made in 2018 called She’s Always With Us. Copies should also be available at TCAF but may sell out quickly so hurry to Jason’s table. Previously a sketchbook comic he made, amazingly titled Loodles, was also a huge hit at TCAF. Whatever the future holds, comics are for everyone and the Pitiful Human Lizard has been a hero for the Canadian everyman. Find Jason on Twitter/Insta @ Rebel_Loo or at jasonloo.pb.online


13


13 Questions with Sam Beck

Interview by Gary Boyarski

O

ne of my favorite things, as a comic book creator is to talk comics with other fellow creators. No matter who it is, or how long they’ve been in the industry, there’s is always something new or interesting to learn from someone else’s experiences. This time around I sat down to talk with Sam Beck. She’s a Toronto, Ontario based illustrator and cartoonist. Read on as we talk about her webcomic “Verse” as well as her other projects in the astounding world of sequential art! GB - Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Sam, let’s jump right into it, then. What comic projects are you currently working on right now? SB - The two big projects I’m currently working on are the new arc of “Songs for the Dead” (published by Vault), and my own webcomic “Verse”! I’m doing pencils/inks/covers for Songs for the Dead, and for Verse, I do everything from writing to colouring. GB - That’s certainly enough to keep any artist busy full time. Are there any past projects you’ve worked on that you’d like to mention? SB - I’ve been in a few anthologies like Wayward Sisters, Toronto Comics

GB - What was your first exposure to the world of comics? SB - I got into reading comics via manga series like Trigun and Naruto. I’ve never been a big cape comics person and found that the manga I was picking up to read wasn’t afraid of big emotional beats alongside fantastical action which drew me in. It wasn’t until much later that I started looking at indie comics and getting into that scene.

Verse Book One Cover Art

(2018), and 2000AD’s Sci-fi Special previously. GB - What is it about comics and sequential art that motivates you to spend the long hours drawing and writing in this particular medium? SB- I’ve only been making comics for the past 3 years, before that, I’d draw a lot and only -think- about stories. I don’t think I’m a particularly strong writer, so novels weren’t going to do it for me, and I just enjoyed drawing too much! So I started making short oneshot comics. I think making comics also came from a deeply selfish place, I wanted to create stories that I loved and would read, if other people enjoyed them that was a fun bonus.

GB - The comic book industry is full of legendary creators, artists and writers. Who are some of the people that have inspired you? SB - I never know how to answer this question, I’m very bad at remembering names! But here are some I always go back to: Taiyo Matsumoto, Inio Asano, J.R. Doyle, Andrew Maclean, Moebius, and Becky Cloonan. Not only is their art inspiring but they all approach story-telling in different ways and I draw inspiration from it. GB - Traditional, digital or a little bit of both? What tools do you use to create your comics from start to finish? SB - Recently I’ve moved to 100% digital because it saves me a lot of time when working tight deadlines. I still like the idea of inking traditionally and


Henry from the Planetside Anthology, written and drawn by Sam Beck

will hopefully have time one day to do that again. For those interested in specs, I work on an Intuos tablet and use a combination of Photoshop and Clip Studio. GB - With your webcomic Verse, you’ve just come off of a very successful Kickstarter to print a collected edition. Do you feel that building a strong webcomic is vital to that success, and do you think this is a business model that can continue indefinitely? SB - I mean, I hope that having a strong webcomic is what contributed to that success, it would be sad if it didn’t! I’ve been working on Verse for around 2 years, so I have a bit of a readership. I was also really lucky to partner with Hiveworks, who continues to help with the Kickstarter. I don’t know if it’s a sustainable business model, but it’s something I hope to continue to use to fund printing for the rest of Verse, whenever that happens. GB - What has been the most rewarding project in your professional comics career so far – and why? SB - I guess I’d have to go with Verse. Solely because it’s a story close to my

heart that I’ve both written and drawn. A lot of work goes into it and the story touches on all the things that interest me (fantasy, relationships, identity).

GB - How do you recharge your creative batteries?

GB - What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard given, in regards to making comic books?

GB - And final question. Any last words for the industry?

SB- If you’re looking to “break-into” comics, and you’re an artist, just make it! Write your own story, share it, get your work out there. Also, apply to anthologies (advice for both writers and artists) they provide a structure for creation which I find really helpful.

SB - I play video games or read, and try to see how other people solve narrative problems. If I can, I always love a good road trip where I can leave my laptop behind and not think about work at all.

SB - This is for readers as much as the industry: Read webcomics! They’re free and full of new and diverse voices, there is something out there for everyone. Sam Beck will be at Toronto Comics Art Festival, Vancouver Comics Art Festival, and the Small Press EXPO in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. You can also find her on Twitter (@_twothirty), on Instagram (@sambeckdraws) and through her webcomic, Verse (www.versecomic.com)

GB - Any new and upcoming projects that you’d like to mention? SB - I’m working on a new short comic called Winter Parting, it’s about a forest that falls in love, and the passing of time. GB - Where do you see the direction of the comic industry heading in the next ten to twenty years? SB - I’m hoping we see more sustainable ways of monetizing online/digital comics from a wide range of distributors and publishers. As much as I love printed books, it’s not accessible to everyone! There is also still a lot of gatekeeping in traditional publishing, and I think having more avenues for folks to get their work out there (and get paid) results in better and more diverse work.

Songs for the Dead published by Vault Comics written by Andrea Fort & Michael Christopher Heron, art by Sam Beck

15


Scott Ford: Vivid Colours Interview by Braedan Hafichuk

S

cott A. Ford is Canadian comic artist operating out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. His projects include Arkland, Romulus + Remus, and Boreal, which was a regular comic strip in The Manitoban newspaper. Scott A. Ford will be attending the 2019 Toronto Comic Art Festival and readers can find more of his work at scottafordart.com. So for readers who aren’t familiar with Arkland, how would you pitch the book to them? My go-to pitch for Arkland is it’s The Legend of Zelda meets District 9! It’s a fantasy/sci-fi fusion graphic novel full of colourful environments, interesting characters, and wacky creatures, all in a self-contained graphic novel! How has the response been for Arkland so far? It’s been really positive! It’s definitely my most popular thing I’ve created so far, which is really cool. It still doesn’t feel quite real, it still

Boreal

feels kind of dreamlike. That I finished this 260-page graphic novel – it’s been two years since I finished it and it still doesn’t feel quite real! It also doesn’t feel real that it’s out there and that people are enjoying it and it’ getting the reception that I hoped for. Readers, young and old, and different demographics have been interested in it, and that’s what I really hoped for. I wanted to create this quirky tone with this universal kind of appeal. It’s been really great. So Boreal has been your most recent major project – how did this story of yours come about? Yeah, that came about kind of randomly! So Boreal was an action/fantasy comic strip that I just wrapped up for The Manitoban (the University of Manitoba student newspaper) that was similar in tone to Arkland, but completely different in format. Whereas Arkland was a giant graphic novel completed in a one-shot, Boreal was this weekly short-burst action/adventure comic. I previously worked for The Manitoban back in 2014 as a design associate and then, after that, I was the layoutperson at The Uniter (The University of Winnipeg student newspaper). While I was doing layouts I also started doing a weekly comic called Ocosomoso, which was a weird little comic strip about a tiny space man trying to understand what his world is and making very off-base observations. So when I did that, I made friends at The Manitoban who were following my work and saw I was doing this weird, little comic strip and we’re thinking about opening up this brand-new position at The Manitoban to create a weekly comic strip. They basically offered me this position, which hadn’t existed before, and then I had a meeting with Evan Tremblay, the design editor, and the editor-

in-chief and they said they wanted me to do whatever! It sounded like it was almost an experiment. They had room in the budget and they wanted to try out this position with me because they liked my work. I had been kicking around a few different ideas for completely independent comic projects. I had this idea for a woman traveling through this mysterious forest and it was metaphor for anxiety, and I had this other idea about a warrior who is battling beasts and couldn’t die and would be resurrected in this subterranean realm full of rabbits! So basically I mashed these two ideas together and tried to make a weekly comic out of it. I think I’m too close to it, time wise, so it feels too soon for me to say if it was a successful experiment or not. I had never done something that was weekly before, while still trying to create something compelling as a whole. I’m not sure if it will be successful or not, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. So how would you say Boreal differs thematically from Arkland or any of your other previous projects? Arkland has definitely lighter a tone, in story and in visuals. There is no blood in Arkland and there is in Boreal,


albeit very cartoony. Where Arkland is this goofy adventure that has jokes here and there, Boreal doesn’t really have that much humour and it is definitely more dreary. Like I said before about the initial comic idea, with the woman travelling through the forest as a metaphor for anxiety, and I tried to keep it with this metaphorical tone and is this story about progress and continuing on in your life. In Naoma, the protagonist of Boreal, she is given this power through these mystical rabbits that she can’t die and she is facing this forest full of monsters and she doesn’t win the first time and the monsters kill her. But she is able to resurrect herself and it becomes about finding a way to keep going when you literally do not have the option to give up. Coming to terms with your own frustration, guilt and securities. I think in the end, it came out as a watereddown version of what I just said, but that is what I tried to put into it. There seems to be more attention placed these days on daily and weekly comic strips with the passing of Stan Lee and retirement of Larry Leiber bringing attention to the stillrunning Amazing Spider-Man daily strips. do you think this may be a more popular route for creators to

go through? Yeah, maybe! At the very basic level, it has the nostalgic appeal and, if nothing else, I can see a revival happening for that reason. It definitely has that intangibility and impermanence. You can’t archive it easily – newspaper yellows really fast, it can dissolve really easily, and ink can smudge. It’s kind of like a revival of a weekly T.V. show which with streaming television isn’t really a thing now a days. It’s bringing back this sense of impermanence and getting caught up in the moment, in the here-and-now, of this thing being released. With Boreal wrapping up, are you keen on announcing what your next big project is? I do have several big projects in mind – nothing to announce yet! I’ve been working on two big new projects that are both in the fantasy/adventure realm. I’m not sure what shape they’re going to take yet. Since basically I took a big break after Arkland and the working on Boreal, I’m back in the concept phase and looking back on my old ideas. Basic plot, basic world building, concept art, things like that. I have tons of ideas for weird experimental comics, more all-ages, horror comics, slice-of-life comics. What matters is what I am most interest and wanting to tackle next. So you’ve announced that you will be attending the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this year – is this your first time attending? This is actually my third year! Technically my second year as a ‘solo tabler’. This is because I spent last year at my publishers table as Arkland was newly released and I was there to promote my book. I first appeared as myself, as my own table, in 2017 so this will be my second year. With more focus on Canadian creators and Canadian comics, how has the Toronto Comic Arts Festival changed in the years you’ve been there?

It’s a huge festival, not just for Canadian creators, but international creators. It’s an amazing event and it’s absolutely mind-boggling. I strongly encourage you to go if you can make it worth your while. I was absolutely mind-blown by the hundreds and hundreds of creators taking over the entire Toronto Reference Library! I had been to comic cons before and my overall impressions was some of the stuff I like, a smaller percentage I’m super in to, but then there is also a large portion of stuff at cons that isn’t my thing or fit into my interests. TCAF has everything - everything in that building is amazing and I want it all! I want to talk to everyone and see what everyone is working. It’s truly incredible and I’m really glad I’m coming back. I’ll actually be debuting a project at TCAF that I haven’t mentioned before on social media yet. It’s a short ‘zine that I’ve been collaborating on with Bradly Wohlgemuth with these large landscape drawings filled with monsters called Valley of Beasts! That’s a project we’ve been slowly working on and we’ve never really collaborated on anything before, and were excited to have it debut at TCAF!

17


Interview by John Ward

L

indsay Ishihiro is a talented comic artist, writer and game developer from Vancouver, BC. She previously studied illustration at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and worked as a production artist for game development studios. She’s a selfconfessed nerd for tabletop and video gaming, cooking, and geography, and currently works as a freelance illustrator. She prefers to use illustration to tell more feminist, body-positive, sexpositive stories that often feature gender and sexual minorities, non-white characters, disabled characters, and unconventional relationships. Tell us about your current projects? I create How Baby, which is a slice-oflife autobiographical comic about being a mom, and Motherlover, which is a sweet serial comic about two moms who fall in love. I’m also an illustrator, mostly for romance and male pin-up. As you can probably already tell, most of my work is either motherhood-related, kissing-related, or both. When did you first realize you wanted to make comics?

I didn’t make a conscious choice to do comics as a profession, really -it’s more like I came upon comics by chance, and realized I had hundreds of stories in me that needed to get out.

immediately rallied around me and encouraged me to do more.

What was the inspiration for creating How Baby?

I am overwhelmed by the reception. I feel genuine love for my readers. I have the most wonderful fans I could ever have asked for, and I never take it for granted.

After having a child, I was struggling with a massive change to my life and identity. Though my daughter was very much wanted, the identity of ‘mother’ didn’t sit well on me. I began drawing comics as a way to document my struggles with adjusting to my new life as a mom and how it impacted everything about me, especially everything people expected of me, while also trying to stay true the person I felt I was before becoming a mother. I drew the first comic on the day my husband went back to work. It was an exorcism, really: channeling all my fears into that first single panel comic of me staring at Momo, trying to feel prepared. I only posted it a few places, I think just my social media - it wouldn’t be for another six months or so before I set up a Patreon and, later, a website for the comic. I’m very grateful to that first handful of people who

Have you been surprised by the reception?

I’m not a perfect parent. I’m just barely keeping it together, myself. I’m just a schlub with a comic, feeling lonely and shouting into the darkness, not really expecting a response. Every so often someone shouts back at me and it makes me feel less alone. People tell me that reading How Baby helped them feel less alone too, or has helped them find peace with becoming a mother, or has given them something to hold on to, and I’m so honoured to be entrusted with these stories because that’s the struggle I have every day too. What can readers expect when they check out the comic? My elevator pitch for How Baby is ‘an autobiographical comic that uses hu-


mour to talk about things that parents can’t talk about,’ which is largely true -- it’s a blend of potty humour, internet memes, weird things my daughter says, weird things people say to me, my struggles with mental health and body image, and musings on parenthood as a practice. My hope is that when people read the comic, they feel seen in a way that I didn’t when I became a mother. I want people to know that there are ups and downs in equal measure, and that sometimes, gazing at their beautiful faces while they sleep doesn’t make it all magically feel ‘worth it’ -- sometimes, the punchline is that it sucks and you hate it. And sometimes it’s really good. It’s both those things, and so many other things in between, and no one knows what they’re doing, really, so it’s pointless to worry about whether you’re doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ That’s what I wanted the most for How Baby: a space where people didn’t feel judged for doing or not doing something, where we just acknowledged that raising children is complicated. Turning now to Motherlover, do you identify more with Imogen or Alex? That’s a good question! Truthfully, I don’t identify with one more than the other. They both draw equally from my own experience - I share both Imo-

gen’s fashion sense and Alex’s drive to succeed, for example. They also have characteristics inspired by other people in my life. They both have unique personal conflicts that will affect their growth and their relationship with each other, neither of which they share with me, which makes them feel more like fully realized characters than they do avatars for myself.

I think it’s pretty normal in webcomics to experience a really obvious growth in skill as time goes on, and I’m excited to see where Motherlover takes me. For example, I was really trepidatious about backgrounds when I started, and I had to put a lot of time into drawing them. I’m much more confident now, which means I can do a lot more in the same amount of time.

In terms of process, do you map out each chapter first (before drawing)? Or do you prefer to do it page-bypage?

What lessons did you learn from earlier work that informed the storytelling in Motherlover?

Every chapter is scripted before I start drawing it, because I use the break between chapters to write the script for the next one. I prefer to work on every page at the same time - everything thumbed at once, everything inked or coloured at once, etc., but in actuality I almost always end up drawing each page week-to-week. I’m not super happy with that process; I feel like it makes the pages feel less cohesive, especially when it comes to colour, but you kind of take what you can get when you’ve got two webcomics, another career, and a kid! Your love of the characters really comes through – from the detailed backgrounds, to how you draw the characters, to the way you let the story have breathing room. How long does it take you to create each page/ chapter? Are you finding it takes longer as you get further into the story?

Oof. Sometimes I feel compelled to apologize for how How Baby is basically a crucible where all my flaws as an artist are melted down and reformed into better, shinier flaws. I wasn’t actually terribly comics-literate when I started How Baby, but that didn’t stop me from trying. What I learned from doing How Baby is how to accept that adage, ‘perfect is the enemy of done.’ When you’re doing two strips a week, cramming those hours around a job and a kid, it’s more important to get those strips out there than it is to perfect them. If your comic has spirit, people will see it. So, in Motherlover, I’m more focused on crafting the story and characters and the overall joyful feeling of reading

Aw, thanks! You really know how to give a compliment! It takes me between four to eight hours to draw a page, which I usually split over two days because I feel it’s important to take a break between pencils and inks to let the page rest in your head. That’s stayed pretty much the same over the first four chapters, but I find that I manage to pack more into each page each time as I get faster and more confident.

19


It helps that I haven’t been shy about the genre of the comic - it’s a romance comic with a happy ending and there’s only so many ways that pans out, so I think people understand that it’s about the journey, not the ending. What are you most looking forward to about attending TCAF?

the pages than I am worrying about whether everything is perfect. Story endings are hard, so do you have a clear ending in mind? Or is it more of a direction? Oh, yes, everything is already all planned out. I haven’t written the script that far yet, but every chapter is outlined with all the major story beats and planned call-backs to previous chapters and plotlines. I don’t think I’d ever have started if I didn’t know where I’d end up.

This is only my second time attending TCAF, so I’m looking forward to feeling a little less overwhelmed this time and being able to enjoy everything the festival has to offer. So many people are coming in from all over, including so many comic friends I only ever get to see at shows, so I’m also looking forward as always to rekindling those friendships and making new ones! What (new) books will be available at TCAF? Where are you located? I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be just yet, but I do know I’ll be on the second floor! I’ll have paper copies of both How Baby and Motherlover, copies of various anthologies I’ve been in (Amplify Her, Dirty Diamonds, and Faerie Fire), as well as a number of zines and an abbreviated selection of my usual prints.

Who are the creators who inspire you? Oh, gosh, I’m the worst with this question, because the moment anyone asks it, it’s as if all knowledge of peoples’ names flies right out of my head. Has anyone ever seen a comic artist? Are we sure they’re real? Honestly, the creators that inspire me the most are basically my peers -young women and nonbinary people who slipped into the comic industry absent of any mentors, hustling every day against the odds, wrecking their bodies on that unforgiving convention circuit, not compromising in their vision, and turning the tide of comics culture from the ground up. Everyone who’s out there making queer comics, making comics about race, or gender, or sex work, or immigration; people out there who are making comics about love and gentleness in a time when we really, really need it: they are my inspiration. Where can we find you and your comics online? I make my home on Twitter @neomeruru, and my comics are at www.howbabycomic.com and www.motherlovercomic.com


Meet Our Writers... Brendan Montgomery Founder of the Canadian Independent Comic Book Wiki, editor in chief of Sequential Magazine, and Electrical Engineer. From Timmins Ontario now living in Montreal. Twitter/insta @cancomicswiki

Braeden Hafichuk Winnipeg based writer and marketing strategist. Formerly worked at Galaxy Comics and graduated from the University of Manitoba. Former host of the Beyond the Panel radio show.

Gary Boyarski Husband, father, comic book creator! Saskatchewan based artist and writer of Jack Grimm: Harbinger of Death independent comic book series. Twitter @ GaryBoyarski www.facebook.com/ JackGrimmComic/

Josh Rose Josh Rose is an adventurer of both the mind and the body. Climbing mountains or exploring pages of books, Josh has a desire for great story telling. He is a writer and editor for several publications, including Great North Comics, Chapterhouse Publishing, and Rogues Portal. Twitter @exit_stageleft Instagram @joshwritescomics

Zachary Rondinelli Zachary is a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Studies at Brock University whose primary research explores the intersection between comics and 21st Century literacy practices. His work focuses on comics theory and the communicative power of form through multimodality. Twitter @zjarondinelli

John Ward I’m a Vancouver based TV & comic book writer. I also have a Ph.D in String Theory. I enjoy reading comics, watching TV and films, chowing down on spicy vindaloo and listening to punk rock. Twitter/insta @arbutus_films www.arbutusfilms.com

Aaron Broverman

Aaron Broverman is a journalist whose reviews have appeared in Comics & Gaming Magazines. He is also the host of the Speech Bubble Podcast where he has engaged in revealing long-form interviews with some of the best creators in the Toronto comic scene. including Seth, Chester Brown, Ryan North, & more Twitter @SpeechBubblePod

Riley Hamilton Ottawa based sports and comic book writer and reviewer. Aspiring comic book writer. Twitter @RhodesScores

If you would like to volunteer to contribute to our magazine, we are always open to new and different voices joining our team. Contact us at sequentialmag@gmail.com and tell us about your experince and passion. Writers typically have 2 months to submit a piece and our team varies from issue to issue.

21


Into The With Sam Noir Interview by Brendan Montgomery

S

am Noir is a writer and cartoonist based out of Toronto. He is a member of the publishing/ editorial team for Cauldron Magazine. His work has appeared in multiple volumes of Toronto Comics Anthology, Strange Romance, Monstrosity, and Hogtown Horror, as well as indie titles including Victorian Four and Major North. He has also produced covers for Chapterhouse Comics. What’s the origin story of the magazine? What sparked its creation and how did the initial contributors come together? Cauldron Magazine is a comics anthology of Supernatural Tales. It is a passion project conceived by like-minded friends as a co-operative publishing venture. It stemmed from casual discussions with Shane Heron and Ricky Lima (the brilliant team behind Black Hole Hunters Club). These were enthusiastic conversations about the kind of anthology comics that we would ideally like to read ourselves, but did not exist. Stories for mature readers that challenges their notions and expectations, in a high quality, larger magazine format to showcase the artwork. The three of us discovered a kindred spirit in Casey Parsons, who came

aboard the first issue with so much gusto and explosive creativity on his cover and interior art, that we all agreed that he deserved a place on our editorial round-table. It is four creators who each bring a story to every issue. Either one they are contributing to, or one that they are specifically curating based on their own tastes and preferences. Our publishing model operates as a circle of peers, rather than a traditional editorial hierarchy. Decades ago, Underground Comix were produced in this manner, as are many contemporary art-comics collectives, but it is rather unusual for a more commercial genre-based product like ours. With it being an anthology of smaller stories what themes and types of stories are you choosing to create for it? A Cauldron is the perfect analogy to the anthology format itself, where writers and illustrators contribute their own unique complimentary and contrasting flavours. A Cauldron evokes the macabre and supernatural, sufficiently broad themes to unleash and inspire creative freedom. We’re leaning heavily towards Horror and Monster genres, with a dash of fantasy and sci-fi to spice things up. A Cauldron is

art by Casey Parsons

enchanting, we hope the magazine is as well. Editorially, we don’t define what we are looking for in a Cauldron story, but collectively we know it when we see it. A fitting story is not simply dark in its tone. Weaving a satisfying tale in a limited number of pages and panels requires great skill. Every moment and word must count. We are always attempting to defy audience expectations at every turn. In my contribution to the first issue with artist Robert Freeman, The Sun Rises on Edo, the creative hook is the melding of Steampunk and Kaiju. Beyond that novelty, the story requires a relatable, emotional core. The monster stomping Tokyo at the turn of the last century, also functions as a metaphor for the consequences of industrialization and the class struggles at the forefront of contemporary conversations and headlines in the real world today. What goals do you have with the project either personally or as a group? First and foremost we are building a creative playground to experiment and push past the boundaries and limitations of most mainstream comics. It is important to nurture an environment where we inspire each other and


want every single issue to be accessible. You’ve designed the publication to continue the classic pulp magazine format. What did you and the other collaborators enjoy about the classic magazines that you wanted to continue?

Issue 2 Cover by Adam Gorham, colours by Casey Parsons

feel challenged enough to swing for the fences every single time. We want to present opportunities for our contributors to grow and develop. In the case of artist Keith Grachow, Ricky Lima graciously allowed him to co-write their segment for the second issue. Jason Tocewicz has a very cartoony style, but we challenged him with material that was much more morbid and adult than what he has drawn previously. We also love taking a chance with the energy and vigour a relative new-comer like Jeffrey Myles brings in partnership with a more seasoned and established script writer like Fred Kennedy in their story The Wild Boy. The success of the first two issues has frankly taken us by surprise given that we set out to assemble a modest, niche publication for our own amusement. Imagine our surprise to find that there is a much larger audience hungry for edgier content. We’ve discovered that many of our supporters come from outside the traditional comic book venues. We hope to continue to build and grow that readership. While other anthologies aspire to the bookstore market, we are a periodical magazine. This is why we are not numbering our issues, but giving them seasonal and yearly designations. We

We want to evoke the look and feel of those publications, yet remain contemporary storytellers. Taking genre tropes and finding a way to subvert and blow up their associated trappings… I think the perfect example is Shane Heron’s work in our first volume, where the set-up takes a cue from the classic Savage Sword of Conan comics, but with an end result that is completely unexpected for a Barbarian tale. Similarly mining Sword and Sorcery ground, in a much different fashion, Becca Gorefield is writing and drawing for our third issue. Which older publications were you inspired by? The Comics Magazine format was most popular in the sixties through to the eighties on the newsstands as a way of ditching the oppression imposed by the Comics Code authority.

Mad Magazine is the earliest example that springs to mind, but the most influential were the three published by Warren Magazine. Titles like Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella brought the horror genre back into comics after being banished in the fifties. There was also Marvel’s Savage Sword of Conan, and I know Casey Parsons always cites the painted covers on the Rampaging Hulk Magazine as a big source of his inspiration. The one magazine that we most often talk about is Heavy Metal, and in turn the European bande dessinée comics albums where much of their content originated. A full colour glossy periodical for a decidedly adult readership. We alway strive for that level of quality. The editorial team often talks about how we all discovered these rather lurid and provocative magazine when we were a little too young, and the impressions they made on us. Essentially challenging our notions and expectations of what “comics” were and the figurative and literal larger, wider possibilities of the art form. If anything, those “feels” are what we are chasing now as grown-up publishers/editors/ writers/artists. Do the artists enjoy working with the extra room on each page compared to a normal comic or do they dislike the

Dweller in the Cellar artist Robert Freeman, colourist Jeffery Miles, writer Sam Noir

23


extra work it takes to fill the page? Yes! To each individual artist, a wider, bigger canvas like this can mean much more detail, or more panels per page, or a greater impact when using a splash page or double page spread (Keith Grachow demonstrates this beautifully). The physicality and dimensions of a magazine sized periodical opened up in your hands is something that the digital reading experience cannot possibly replicate on a tablet or phone. In the case of an artist like Casey Parsons, with a classical fine art background, the larger format allows him cut loose with painterly subtleties and expressiveness that might otherwise be lost in the smaller real estate of a regular sized comic book. Particularly now that we’ve switched to offset printing with our second issue, there is so much more range that can be captured in the lighter and darker ends of the spectrum. Robert Freeman on the other hand, is such an incredibly draftsman, who puts so much thought and detail into his pages. We’re proud that this format allows readers to really appreciate his delicate fine line work. For issue 2 you had a beautiful cover by Adam Gorham, how do you select your cover artists? My first instinct is to simply state how incredibly lucky we are given the calibre of our cover artists so far, but that might be a little disingenuous. The incredible network of friends and peers in the comics community based out of Toronto is the reason we not only have such wonderful covers, but fantastic and sophisticated interior art as well. We’re all HUGE fans of Adam’s work and talents, and we owe him a large debt of gratitude. His generosity and graciousness with our team is demonstrated in not only taking time from his busy schedule to provide us with a stunning cover, but also donating the original art. Having a Marvel/Archie artist on board has certainly gifted us with a great deal of credibility.

The Encroaching War Art by Keith Grachow, Written by Ricky Lima

We also need to sing the praises of Casey Parsons, who provided the painted colours for Adam’s line art on the second issue. The fantastic cover art on our first issue is Casey’s as well. His Frazetta-esque snake-woman painting is gorgeous and continues to bring the magazine a lot of positive attention. Since there are several stories in each issue, how do you choose the subject of the covers? We collectively choose an artist we admire and give them the freedom and autonomy to do their best work within the boundaries of “Supernatural Tales”. Allowing a cover artist to self-direct has achieved the great results to date, so we’ll continue to try and work that way. Any future plans for the magazine you would like to share? When is the next issue planned for? We are currently on a twice-yearly schedule, and would love to increase the number of issues produced in 2020. Our Fall 2019 Kickstarter campaign launches at the end of May, and that issue debuts at Fan Expo the last weekend in August. We are extremely proud of the diversity of creators and content that we are carefully curating for future issues, and strive to make every issue better than the last. Learn more at cauldronmagazine.com and Sam Noir’s Tumblr


Thank You For Reading from @CANCOMICSWIKI Contribute to our wiki!

The Canadian Indpendent Comic Book Wiki is a non-profit and open website dedicated to cataloging comic books selfpublished and micro published by Canadians. We make information accessible on these books so readers can discover more Canadian comics and so creators can be inspired by other books. We hope to preserve this information for years to come so our comic book publishing history is recorded. We cannot catalog all Canadian comics without your help. If you are an indie creator, your hard work deserves to be preserved and discovered so consider taking the time to add your work to our wiki. If you are a dedicated reader and your favourite Canadian comic is not on our site then you too can add it. Even if you don’t have all the info we can track it down later. Add a comic book today by reading our homepage for rules and a link to instructions at canadiancomicbooks.wikia.com

Want to contribute to this magazine?

Sequential Magazine is also a non-profit publication written by volunteer writers. We are always welcome to any new contributors with reasonable writing skills. We need writers to review books, interview creators from coast to coast and report on the Canadian comic book industry. We can suggest an article topic but prefer you to bring your own perspective and ideas to keep the magazine fresh. To get started or learn more email sequentialmag@gmail.com and tell us about yourself and your interests. We will aim to have at least two months for articles to be written.

We also wish to publish short 2-4 page comics to showcase emerging Canadian talent. If you have something made which you’d like to share let us know also at sequentialmag@gmail.com

A Big Thank You to my Issue 2 team for taking some time to make a new publication happen. I couldn’t have done it without your hard work! Braedan Hafichuk ~ Writer Zach Rondinelli ~ Writer John Ward ~ Writer Gary Boyarski ~ Writer Riley Hamilton ~ Reviewer Aaron Broverman ~ Reviewer Josh Rose ~ Reviewer

Don’t miss our next issue in August! Subscribe to our email newsletter For those wondering who the beaver and lumberjack are on our cover they are an homage to the original Sequential magazine issue for TCAF 2010 There is also an easter egg of the Koyama Press booth


sequentialmagazine.ca ISSN 2562-3621

Profile for Sequential Magazine

02 - Sequential: Canadian Independent Comic Book Magazine  

Advertisement