Editorial: The First Year of Sequential Magazine and Beyond sequentialmagazine.ca @seqmagazine on insta & twitter
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Sequential: Canadian Independent Comic Book Magazine issue 04 Published Nov 2019 from Montreal, Quebec ISSN 2562-3621
We are also very excited to put on the third year of the Sequential Magazine Awards, which started out as the CanComicsWiki Awards from my Canadian Independent Comic Book Wiki website. Now that I’ve moved my focus to Sequential Magazine, I’ve brought the awards with me. This year we will determine the nominees as a writing committee instead of from new wiki entries. Then as always, the general public will vote and decide the winner. We are very thankful to have Strange Adventures Comics from Nova Scotia sponsor the awards so we can produce trophies for the winners and use more advanced voting software for a better experience for fans. Watch our social media or join our email list to be notified when nominees are announced, and voting begins in January.
Publication © Brendan Montgomery Cover image © Andrew Thomas 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 Dan Collins ~ Writer Aaron Broverman ~ Reviewer Martin Boruta ~ Writer Donovan Yaciuk ~ Tutorial Sam Noir ~ Writer Zach Rondinelli ~ Writer Riley Hamilton ~ Writer Chris Bousquet ~ Writer Comments or questions about this publication can be sent to email@example.com
In assosciation with sequentialpulp.ca
his issue’s cover story is personally awesome for me since it is my hometown of Timmins’ very own superhero Auric! While there are not lions native to Northern Ontario, its still a badass mascot like on a coat of arms. Mike Rooth’s original design (shown later in the issue) is spectacular and I’m glad I was able to buy the very first printing of issue 0 at the Timmins Comic Con which was still in its infancy. So while I may be biased in choosing this cover story, Auric has been the most successful of any recent Canadian superhero which is self-published and their team has a lot of great knowledge to share to other people interested in making indie comics. It has been a great first year for Sequential Magazine! We’ve gotten some great interviews right off the bat and had some creators themselves join the writing team to help share their love of Canadian Indie Comics. I really couldn’t make this magazine without all our contributors and am very grateful for their help in making this project a reality. We all volunteer time to crate this content because we believe in supporting the small Canadian Independent Comic Book Community. Having a dedicated channel to inform readers about new books and for them to discover creators they have not heard of will help grow the market for Canadian comics. There aren’t many large publishers in Canada so we must grow our market from the grassroots level to support our creators and make opportunities for more artists and writers to tell their stories.
Brendan Montgomery Editor in Chief Tweet me @seqmagazine
My variant Cover for Auric issue 1 Homage to Action Comics Released at St Thomas Comic Con 2017
In This Issue... p.2 Ricky Lima
p.4 Christie Pits
p.6 Auric ft. Dewsbury, Thomas, Gauthier, Rose
p.18 Colour is Character
p.20 Nicole Marie Burton
p.12 Colour Me Badd 1
p.16 Becka Kinzie
p.22 Sandy Carruthers
Ricky Lima: Growth Spurt
know? That’s the biggest thing. You can show representation, that’s all fine and good, but you shouldn’t have derepresentation, you shouldn’t insult any relationships. Dan: HEA was nominated for the Gene Day Award for best self- published comic or graphic novel in 2019. How cool was that?
Interview by Dan Collins
n a blustery All Hallow’s Eve I had the chance to catch up with Ricky Lima, an indie comic writer from Brampton, Ontario. Ricky has been self-publishing comics and graphic novels since 2012 when he released the environmental horror Deep Sea. His writing credits since include Black Hole Hunter’s Club and the anthology series Cauldron. It was all treats and no tricks this Halloween night as we dug into the roots of his newest releases, the Schuster Award nominated graphic novel Happily Ever Aftr and his latest project Undergrowth. Ricky Lima: With Happily Ever Aftr (HEA) I definitely started to come into my own, with my own voice and thoughts when it comes to writing comics. HEA is probably the best thing I’ve done so far, and I’m really proud of what happened with that and now with Undergrowth. Dan Collins: How did HEA came about? Ricky: In 2015 I didn’t really do anything. I just sat around being a loser. I don’t know why, I just didn’t do anything. So come 2016 I was like, you know what… I need to do stuff. I had a dream about a princess yelling at people through Skype, trying to encourage them to rescue her, telling them they were losers. That was really cool, so I started
thinking about the idea. It was pretty normal but then it started to evolve. So what if the princess, instead of insulting these people, was trying to woo them and bring them to the castle with false hopes of love and stuff? And then I was like… Ok, that’s cool, but having a prince kidnap a princess or having a villain kidnap a princess is pretty done, I’ve seen that a hundred times before… Well what if the person who kidnapped her was another woman? That really started to open up the world and bring in themes and I was like, this is the direction I’m going. It was pretty easy to write really, it kind of all flowed out.
Ricky: It was pretty cool! The Schuster Awards have been going on for a long time and I remember even before I wrote comics I was going to go to the Schuster’s and like… mingle with comic pros and stuff but I never went. I was too scared. Like man, these guys are pros! To be nominated and to see the name up there on the screen… that was pretty cool. I was runner up for best graphic novel! Dan: How did you meet Nicholas (Londeix, artist for HEA)? Ricky: He was online. I think I posted that I was looking for an artist for a comic and he was pretty much the first one to
Dan: When you were writing HEA did it feel important to you to make this a nontraditional love story? RIcky: Oh yeah 100%. With HEA I wanted to show different ways of loving people, or different kinds of relationships. So you read it and it’s all over the place with people in weird and different relationships. That was probably my biggest goal. Dan: It’s a very inclusive story that anybody can read and can see themselves in. Ricky: Hopefully. I probably missed a couple things; you can’t put everything in there. I didn’t try to exclude anyone or devalue certain relationships, you
happily ever aftr cover by Jenn St.Ong
Under Growth cover by Balazs Ronyai
respond. He showed me his stuff and I was like, hey this is perfect. We kinda just went from there. All the character designs he did were so sick and it was just perfect. There was pretty much no friction at all. He had some issues that delayed the book a bit, but other than that he was really solid. Dan: And the art really seems to fit, like you’re reading a Cartoon Network graphic novel. Ricky: His style is what mainly made the book. Dan: Don’t sell yourself short (laughter). Let’s move on to Undergrowth. Issues one and two are out, so what’s the story and where is it going from here? Ricky: After HEA I was like, I can’t stop now, I’ve got to do more stuff. I don’t usually do this, but I forced myself to think of an idea. I was really thinking, looking for an idea to write and watching a lot of Gundam. The original Gundam from 1978 I think it was. I was like maaaan, these giant robots are so cool, but one thing that struck me that I had no idea about, was how much personal drama there was within the show. I just
thought it was giant robots fighting each other, but no man, it gets real. That show gets so real. I was thinking about a way to add my own realness in but also have really cool giant robot fights. As cool as Gundam was and as cool as Evangelion is, there’s just not enough robot fights. They are IN giant robots and talking and doing non robot stuff. Like come on, you’re IN a robot, you know what I mean? So with Undergrowth I really wanted to emphasize the action over the personal trauma, so that was the goal. But while I was writing it I realized that the personal trauma started taking over the robot battles and I was like… oh man! So I tried to increase the action but it just wasn’t hitting right and it was just feeling weird. There’s a reason why there isn’t that much robot fighting (in Gundam), so I just followed where the story needed to go. I’m glad I did ‘cause it’s a hundred times better than it could have been if I went straight action.
Ricky: Yeah man, and publishers have more resources than a single person and that’s something I want to tap into. It’s crappy to say ‘the prestige’ of getting published because self-publishing is just as valid as regular publishing, but there is that prestige, you know? And people view published work to be of a little more value. Which is shitty and I don’t agree, but when in Rome you gotta do what the Romans do. Nobody’s buying my self- published works as much as they are books from Boom, or books from Dark Horse, you know? So what are you going to do? I’d like to thank Ricky for the talking the time to chat with us. If you are interested in purchasing Happily Ever Aftr, Undergrowth or any of his other releases you can find them at limepressonline.com. Follow Ricky’s day to day adventures on twitter @ KingKRule or Instagram @King.K.Rule.
Dan: How many issues are you planning? Ricky: I originally had six, but then as I got to the sixth issue I was like, oh my god I need seven. So now it’s seven issues. I messaged the artist and said please don’t hate me. Issue seven is probably going to be huge, it’s going to be like a double sized issue. Dan: So is this going to be the longest story that you’ve told? Ricky: Yeah, I think so. That’s pretty sweet. I’m really hoping to get it published. I mean I love self-publishing and stuff but… it’s expensive dude. I want someone else with a lot of money to publish it (laughter). You know what I’m saying? Dan: All of your comics so far have been self-published and the goal is to find somebody with deep pockets to help fund?
Under Growth interior art by Daniele Aquilani
In the Pit: A Review of Christie Pits by Jamie Michaels and Doug Fedrau
Review by Aaron Broverman - Host of Speech Bubble Podcast times dealt with, there’s still the matter of the quality of the work. This work shines the most in the way it weaves the personal with the historical. Though the characters are fictional, they feel like fully fleshed out human beings, from the nuance of the yiddish humour to the menace of the discrimination that subtly or overtly plagues their lives on a daily basis. This book helps you realize that the riot at Christie Pits wasn’t a one-off, it was a culmination: think Dee Snider in all his “We’re not going to take it!” glory.
! 2019 Winner
s the winner of the 2019 Gene Day Award for Outstanding Canadian Self-Published Comic at this year’s Joe Shuster Awards in Guelph, Ontario, Christie Pits shows us that excellence and growth can come from strife. More than that, the recognition Christie Pits received underscores that the Canadian comic book community isn’t afraid to recognize comics that expose uncomfortable periods in Canadian history. Christie Pits takes place in the 1930s: Hitler and the Nazis are marching across Europe and Toronto is far from the multicultural bastion it’s lauded for being today. Antisemitism is rife and much of the same anti-immigrant rhetoric we hear today circulates through the public discourse and the media. The work follows fictional characters to a very real riot -- the Christie Pits Park riot of 1933 when a Nazi flag was unfurled at a public baseball game and all hell broke loose -- as Jews and Italians united to take on Nazi sympathizers in Toronto’s first and thankfully only race riot. It’s certainly disturbing when you realize there have been elements of society that have been singing the same old song for decades and for some, nothing really changes – there’s always a scapegoat for your problems whether it’s 1933 or 2019. However, the fact that history has begun to repeat itself also highlights the importance of Christie Pits, in that
Christie Pits Cover by Doug Fedrau
sometimes the timing of a work can serve as a reminder of what can happen when blaming others for your problems goes too far. Writer Jamie Michaels never dreamed how prescient the work he cocreated with artist Doug Fedrau would be, but the timing of its release was no doubt a big factor in why it has received such widespread attention and acclaim.
There’s a lot of instances that make readers acutely aware that while being Jewish is a source of pride, more often it’s a liability at this time. One scene puts this in sharp relief above any other when one character’s family is killed and though she immigrates to Toronto to escape the hate, the skeletons of her past literally follow her to her new home and she is unable to shake them as you see a skeleton with her on the boat across and curled up with her as she
“It is humbling to have Christie Pits recognized with a Shuster Award among such an incredible collection of comics, and the creative people behind them. I am optimistic that the recognition of our work today is based both on the quality of the comic, as well as a recognition of the need for stories like Christie Pits in the increasingly uncertain political climate we live in,” wrote Michaels in an e-mail to Sequential Magazine on the night he was awarded the Gene Day from the Shusters. With the recognition of the need for these stories during today’s uncertain
Interior ART by Doug Fedrau
sleeps. It’s a visual cue for depression as only comics can convey such a thing. There are lots of moments for levity and romance in this story too, even sports gets showcased as Max Baer’s match with Hitler’s favourite boxer Max Schmeling serves as a precursor to the real battle to come. The only thing that may confuse some readers is the Yiddish, as sometimes the dialogue is going to fly over their head. The vocabulary index in the back barely helps as it’s still a steep learning curve. Thankfully, it never completely distracts from the compelling story. Some readers may still appreciate the authenticity even if they can’t understand it. It’s the type of thing that makes learning fun. It should be known too that though the lead-up is compelling, the actual riot in Christie Pits Park is short and sweet. Don’t get your hopes up – the information
that’s out there is few and far between and Fedrau and Michaels no doubt did the best with the information they had. This isn’t their fault, but still the Christie Pits part of Christie Pits is kind of thin. Of course, that doesn’t mean this graphic novel isn’t worth reading. Finally, we can’t leave you without talking about the art. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of a true story and historical moment with a drawing style that is so clearly comic book. Not superhero comics mind you, but comic strips. Think like a Jewish Archie or Peanuts. Not exactly like that, but while Christie Pits depicts realistic moments, these aren’t entirely realistic people living them. But it doesn’t make the work any less impactful. If anything, the drawing style gives you just enough distance to be able to cope with the intolerance in its pages without falling apart and crying over every page.
Dirty Water Comics is a creator owned and operated graphic novel press based out of Winnipeg, the greatest city in the world. We make real stories for real people. Buy Christie Pits and their other graphic novel Canoe Boys at www.dirtywatercomics.com Follow them at Twitter: @ DirtyWaterComic Instagram: @ dirtywatercomics facebook.com/DirtyWaterComics
great White North
Interviews by Brendan Montgomery and Martin Boruta
Andrew Thomas - Artist A
ndrew Thomas and I met many many comic conventions ago where I first found Auric of the Great White North. Andrew is very active on the convention circuit, always ready to chat with fans. The last time I met up with Andrew, we were both working the Chapterhouse Publishing booth at the Tri-City Super Con in Kitchener, Ontario. During a few lulls in the crowd, we spoke about all things Andrew. Martin: Andrew, I know the answer to this question, but let’s go over it for the readers of Sequential Magazine. Who is Andrew Thomas? Andrew: Oh good, getting the hard questions out of the way. There isn’t much to tell really. I’m a nearly 30-year-old nerd who draws comics & play video games. I have two wonderful boys who take after their old man and hope to one day make their comics. I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to be creative. Aside from being the co-creator and artist
on Auric of the Great White North, what else have you been work on? The bulk of my comics work comes from Chapterhouse Publishing, where I am the inhouse letterer, occasional cover artist, and interior artist. I’ve also had the privilege to do work for Archie Comics as well as Disney Princess and a smattering of other wonderful indie projects. I always ask about college and university. Did you go to school? I went to Record Arts Canada in Toronto for Game Design where I learned everything from animation to audio engineering -although I’ll admit the technical side, like programming, was at times complicated for me to comprehend. When I graduated, finding a job in the field that suited me was proving difficult, so I decided to turn back to traditional illustration and comic books. I always knew I wanted to create my own one day. Growing up, did you always know you wanted to draw comic books?
This is a standard answer I’m sure by many illustrators, but I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember; I’d draw anything from Batman to Dragonball Z. I remember one year when I went to Portugal, my parents bought me a copy of Ultimate Spiderman, translated in Portuguese and I was just enamoured with Mark Bagley’s art. It wasn’t until DC’s New 52 run did I know for a fact that I wanted to draw comics, especially Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s Batman run. There was something unique and fresh about Greg’s style that I fell in love with instantly, and I knew I wanted to be like him. How did you get into professional comic book lettering? During the time I was working on my first self published title, PostHuman, I was given probably the most crucial piece of career advice which was that your book could contain the most incredible artwork, but if the lettering is sloppy and amateur, it throws off the entire aesthetic of the book. It becomes so distracting that the reader won’t
I read it, I knew he was the man for the job! We printed 200 copies and all but sold out that weekend.
Auric Issue 0 remastered cover by Andrew
be able to focus on either the story or the art. So I took the time to teach myself how to letter properly, and because of that, I was offered a chance to letter an issue of Captain Canuck a couple of years later. That turned into me becoming the in-house lettering for the entire Chapterverse library. Aside from going to work in a housecoat, what’s the best part of being a comic book professional? That’s simple, the experiences. I’ve had the incredible privilege to not only work on bigname titles like Archie or Disney Princess, but that’s only a small portion of it-- I’ve had the opportunity to travel and see this beautiful country when attending the various comic conventions throughout the year. I get to meet new people, make new friends and create lasting memories. Comics are fun to be sure, but it’s the community that makes it worthwhile. I guess we should chat Auric of the Great White North. I’m sure you have gone over this before but for anyone new to Auric, how did your collaboration with Davis Dewsbury start? Davis and I met on Facebook through a mutual friend. Davis had been following the early parts of my career for a bit before he reached out and invited me to attend the 2015 edition of the Timminscon in Timmins, Ontario. I had suggested the idea of creating an exclusive of some kind for the show. When I learned about Auric (who originally was designed as a mascot for the show by Mike Rooth), I put forward the idea of creating a 10-page mini-comic featuring this character. Davis offered to write the script, and when
You released a remastered version of Auric #0 with all-new art. Tell me about that project and why it came about? Auric #0 Remastered is a reprinting of that first issue which we released in 2015, which now seems like such a long time ago, and in nearly five years, we had accomplished so much with Auric. As an artist, five years is plenty of time to work on and improve your skills, and that is precisely what happened. I made the unfortunate mistake of looking back at that issue and just remembered feeling disappointed in myself-- which is ridiculous, I know. Still, it occurred to me that years down the road, this would be the legacy I would leave for Auric, and I couldn’t accept that, so I redrew those ten pages and we published it as our 5th printing of issue #0. All of the Auric variant covers are awesome. Tell me all about them, how did each one come about, what is your personal favourite? We have two types of variant covers, the standard Mike Rooth variant cover for each published issue and the homage covers. For the first issue, we wanted Mike to stay involved with Auric since he initially designed Auric so we would give him a basic description as to what we would like to see and just let him go all out. The homage covers, on the other hand, is an opportunity to not only have fun but honour those legendary comic creators. It’s entertaining to see our characters in those poses, inhabiting those iconic covers that have been a staple in comic book history. If I had to pick one as my favourite, I think it would have to be the Captain America #11 homage, complete with weathered-looking torn pages. Tell me about the Auric spin-off book, Norlan Sorceress of Light? Auric is excellent and all, but I think he isn’t the hero he is today without his team, the Legion 99. In issue #4 we explored Debois’ origin, but then that left out Kinzie Norlan, whom we haven’t fleshed out in the few issues we released. After talking to Davis, we felt that Kinzie deserved her one-shot because she’s connected to Auric in more ways than she realizes so Davis wrote a fantastic script, and we released it at the Timminscon in 2018. It sounds like the current story arc of Auric is wrapping up, what’s next for Auric and his cast of characters? Plans for a Marty the Bartender one-shot?
Auric Issue 0 Variant cover by Dan Day
The fans are demanding a Marty the Bartender comic! After Volume one is collected into a trade paperback, we’ll be working on the next story which features Hellsion, Auric’s evil double. We’ve been teasing his epic debut since 2017. In addition to that, we’re working on an Auric origin micro-series that takes place in 1912, seconds after he transforms into the beast for the first time. The unique part of this series is that it will be showcasing artwork from several different insanely talented artists. Finally, we just made a soft announcement that we’re developing a fun, exciting new Trading Card Game featuring the characters from the Auric universe. It is coming in Spring 2020. You are super active on social media. How does this help an indie comic creator? The miracle of the internet is both a blessing and a curse. The grace is that we can instantly connect to our fans and showcase what is new and exciting. The internet has been a groundbreaking medium for indie comic creators-- it made it significantly easier to get our stories out there and get instant feedback. Still, on the flip side of that, it made the market substantially more competitive. I think the trick is to be as active and engaging as possible with your fans. Don’t just post and skip town. You went over what’s next for Auric, what’s next for Andrew Thomas? In addition to completing Auric #6 and developing the card game. I’m going to be drawing the regular cover for the Captain Canuck Free Comic Book Day 2020 edition. You heard it here first, folks ;)
Davis Dewsbury - Writer D
here, there would definitely be Indigenous representation. There are many cultures in the north, and to not tap into them in a story about our region, would be a real disservice to everyone up here.
avis Dewsbury is a writer and municipal cemetery-worker based out of Timmins Ontario and a long time comic book collector. He previously created an indie comic called E.H. Joes and is an organizing committee member for the TimminsCon pop culture festival. He has been the writer of Auric for the first arc of 6 issues. Brendan: Auric was initially created as a mascot for the Timmins comic convention, why did you decide to turn the character into a comic book then a full series? Davis: Initially, I have to give credit to Andrew for the idea. In 2015 I had convinced Andrew to travel north for Timminscon, which I’m on the board as the liaison to Artist Alley. Andrew had asked me if the con would be interested if he were to make a con-exclusive for that year’s show. I think he suggested a print or even a mini-comic. At that time I had been writing a webcomic and was looking to broaden my writing skills. I asked Andrew, if he was to do a comic, if he’d be interested in collaborating on it. He suggested we ask Mike Rooth if we could make use of the character he created for the previous year’s show as the protagonist for our project. And Mike, being the sweet and encouraging guy he is, gave us full reign. Starting a comic series from scratch is a daunting task, how did you approach it and fleshing out the characters? To be honest, I’m pretty green at this whole writing thing. So, to give you a real technical answer would just be a bunch of B.S. I knew the main characters that we would be playing with; Auric, the seasoned veteran and team leader who’s lived a long life and seen it all. Janks Fletcher, the young, sharp and sarcastic tech guy. Desbois, the damaged old team-mate who’s been given a second lease on life and is looking for redemption. He also represents the comedic relief on this team. And finally, there’s Kinzie Norlan, the strong-headed young lady who is yet to learn the extent of her importance and powers (But she will!). Knowing that, I loosely plotted out the story that I wanted to tell and had faith that, in the process of banging it out, I’d have the opportunity to colour-in these characters with their different personalities and motivations.
The plot structure uses flashbacks often, was this mainly for world building purposes or were there other benefits to this style as well? Well, with the #0 issue, we had established Auric as a character who was presently in his extended golden years. In fact, he had over a century of backstory since the day of his first transformation. I think the flashbacks are another tool that allows us to familiarize the readers with the characters. And I believe, if the reader cares about the characters, they’ll get more invested in the story. What first inspired you to write comics yourself? I’ve loved the medium since I was a young boy. I’ve collected since I was about 9, with a few years off during my high school years (when I discovered girls). And after University, where I got back into collecting, my band broke up due to us going our separate ways and I needed a new creative outlet. I found it in comic books. The story seems to have a more classic comic tone, was there any inspirations you were trying to incorporate into the story? “Classic Comic Tone”, Is that your subtle way of saying I’m old? Hahaha! Yeah, I guess we write what we know and that’s the way I’m used to seeing characters introduced in this particular genre of comics. I’m excited about the collaboration I’m currently doing with Team Auric’s Josh Rose as he takes the lead writing role for the second arc. I’m still involved with the structuring and leading the characters down the path I’ve started them on, but this is Josh’s story to tell and I’m really digging it. It’s exciting to see Auric tales presented in a different voice. Auric has a diverse team of characters supporting him, what did you consider when incorporating First Nation’s character Kinzie Norlan? I wanted to give a more realistic view of what Northern Ontario looks like. If we lived in a world with superheroes and a team of heroes actually got together up
Who are your favourite comic book writers and what did you learn from reading their work? Brian Michael Bendis & Brian K Vaughan. Bendis has such a distinct ear for dialogue and both men have a real understanding of story. I don’t just read everything they write, I really try to study how they do what they do so I can be a better writer. What advice would you have for writers interested in making indie comics? I feel like there are so many talented independent comic writers and artists out there who have created so much more than I have, that would be better suited to answer this question. I see some of my peers who are constantly working on project after project and pumping out so many good books. I think the key is to really throw yourself into the work. Create. Write. Draw. And keep it going. The more you create, the better you will get at it. And the better you get at it, the more creative people will take notice and want to collaborate with you.
Sharon Gauthier - Artist
haron Gauthier is the wonderfully amazing colourist on Auric of the Great White North. A French-Canadian Métis from the Gaspesian Peninsula, in Quebec, Sharon is a self-proclaimed left-handed video game enthusiast as well as a horror story-loving, Pepsi drinking comic creator. Here is a quick little chat I had with “Shiro”. Martin: Let’s go over your current resume because I know you do soooo much more than just colour Auric. Sharon: Oh, dear, yes. I have done some work for the Strange Romance Anthologies, Some colouring for Chapterhouse Publishing’s True Patriot Presents anthology. Issues 11 and 12’s Canadian Sentinel stories specifically, four issues of Penny Steele with Darryl Joseph, art and colours for Jeff Burton’s various Auroraman stories, of course, I do the colours for Auric of the Great White North as well as the artwork for most of the Tall Tails stories. I also have the webcomic Bootleg Cookie on Tapas and Webtoon, and Irritated Replayer just on Tapas. Did I miss anything? I’ve been drawing for a LONG time, haha! Did school influence you want to become a comic book artist? I attended Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, Arts and Letters. Entered Cégep at 16 so I couldn’t go anywhere but local. It was a generic course, nothing specialized. I know how to build a TV camera from the early ‘90s, though! As for influences, comics influenced me into becoming a comic book artist, especially Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon, definitely not the Cégep. At best, I learned to frame my panels a little better from one video class.
Did you always know you wanted a career in the comic book industry? My first drawing is from 1985 when I was three years and two days old. I haven’t stopped since it’s second nature for me. But, at first, I wanted to be a veterinarian! Right up until I found out that women also drew comics. All my comics as a child were drawn by men, then as mentioned previously, I found out about Sailor Moon in the mid-’90s and oh boy comics took a MAJOR turn in my life. I would fill reams and reams of paper with fan-comics of TMNT and Bucky O’Hare, then, of course, Sailor Moon. Then I turned to original stories, and here we are!
You mentioned Bootleg Cookie. What is a Bootleg Cookie? Bootleg Cookie is an autobiographical slice of life webcomic on Tapas and Webtoon, and unless specified or really really obvious, everything I write about is true. I chose the title because as with a dollar store, no name cookie, it’s sweet but has an aftertaste. I felt it represents my life quite well. It rocks now, but it was pretty meh for a long while.
You are the colourist on Auric. When did you look at colouring as a speciality? Super late, and it was based on a need. Davis Dewsbury and Andrew Thomas needed a colourist. I kind of learned on the fly. I had never really focused on colouring as a child, and I would doodle on the inner cover of my colouring books, ignore the middle part where you colour the pages, and declare the book finished. So they’re like We need a colourist! And I never back down from an art challenge or the chance to learn something new.
Live Streaming sounds like fun. On top of that, I noticed you are super active on social media. How does this help an indie comic creator? As they say, “No man is a prophet in his own land!” Being active on social media helps me grow my audience and make contact with other professionals. Living in a more rural area, it’s a little hard to do it locally. Okay for me it’s a LOT hard. So yay social media!
Which do you prefer, drawing, inking, or colouring? Oh, drawing, hands down. The other two steps feel like starting over. Drawing lets the original idea take shape on paper. Then I try to ink, and my hand gets all shaky, ack! Colouring is fun, cuz I’m a big fan of colour, but drawing is THE BEST. Okay, tell me about the best part of the glamorous life as a comic book artist. Getting to stay home to work, and it doesn’t even feel like work. Bathroom break whenever I need, all the tea I can drink, it’s pretty sweet.
Any other projects you want to talk about and highlight? I live stream regularly every Sunday at 7 PM EDT, to draw that week’s Bootleg Cookie.
Tips and tricks you would like to pass on? Tip : Whatever you’re passionate for, and it’s legal, go for it. Do it as a side-gig at first and shmooze! Trick : If you work digitally and use Clip Paint Studio, make your ink layer a vector and use the vector eraser instead of the regular eraser. Also, the Lasso Fill tool is your best friend when filling. And ZOOM IN when colouring. Before I let you go, what’s next for Sharon Gauthier? More comics, more art, forever and ever and ever. Artists die when they retire, did you notice Al Jaffee is 98 and still going to comic cons? GOALS. panel from bootleg cookie webcomic
I’m sure you have gone over this before but for anyone new to Auric, how did your collaboration with Davis and Andrew start? They needed a colourist and asked me. There’s no secret mystery backstory, other than the fact I knew Davis from before the project when we worked together on EH Joes. Glad to say my art and colours improved since then, I remember a page full of pinks and oranges, yikes!
Josh Rose - writer What was your first comic writing experience and how have you improved since? My first comic was a strip for a Student Newspaper called Gerald and Josh, which I wrote and drew. Since then, my art skills have declined, and my writing has improved. Working with other people forces me to write the script down. My biggest improvement is learning how to communicate what I want to see while still letting my artists be able to share their vision. Why did you first join team Auric for your previous mini comics with them? How did the partnership come about?
Auric #6 Variant Cover by Sharon Gauthier
osh Rose is a writer, and editor at pop culture website Rogues Portal and Chapterhouse Publishing who resides in Calgary, Alberta. Josh’s work includes Auric Mini #3, Auric’s Tall Tails, the 2019 FCBD Captain Canuck, and Auric #5. Josh has now taken over as lead writer for the next arc of Auric starting with issue 7. Brendan: What drew you to writing and comics as a medium? Josh: Writing comics is more something I’ve fallen into out of proximity rather than an actual pursuit. I’ve always wanted to be a writer from the time I was able to read books. I loved superheroes growing up but it wasn’t until I started exploring indie comics, and meeting Andrew and Davis that I thought about writing my own comics.
One of the goodies that Davis and Andrew made was a colouring book. I was colouring that when I had an idea for an upcoming story arc that they could do. Rather than take my idea and run with it, they asked me to write it with them. Now how has that evolved into taking over the main Auric series writing itself? Davis and I are very much collaborating. This is my brainchild, but we are all working together on it, bouncing ideas off one another, and building this story together. Indie comics are usually passion projects by one or two creators, what has it been like to join an established series that you didn’t initially create?
Original Auric Design by Mike Rooth 2015
What do you hope to achieve with your run on Auric? Honestly, I just want to tell stories. I hope folks like them, but mostly these are for me. These are the stories I wanted to read growing up and the ones I want to read now. From your experience reviewing comics for Rogue’s Portal, what pitfalls do you often see writers fall into with their indie comics? A lot of writers try to use humour in a way that’s hit or miss. It ends up distracting from the story and may be better used in different medium.
You need to find the right people to create comics with. Not just anyone will do. These guys have welcomed me in with open arms. I may not have created Auric with them, but we have come up with other ideas together that we hope to share in the future. By Andrew & Sharon
Auric double sized ISsue 6 coming Early 2020
Issue 7 Teaser by Andrew & Sharon
Auric Fun Facts! • Auric issue 0 launched in 2015 at TimminsCon and sold out at the show, leading to 5 printings so far and over 1000 sold! • Auric has cameo appearances in other canadian indie comics, Expired Comics’ Big Nick #3 and Jeff Burton’s Auroraman Annual #1 • Auric comics and art appeared in season 2 episode 11 of global TV’s Private Eyes as set dressing • For auric issue 3’s kickstarter 5 custom funko figures were made of the hero • An Auric themed colouring book was also produced • Davis, Andrew and Sharon are part of the Canadian Comic Book Alliance collective of canadian indie comics creators
ISsue 6 Teaser Image by Andrew & Sharon
Becka Kinzie: Death Valley Interview by Sam Noir form comic stories, with Gehenna: Death Valley being my most recent one. What can you tell us about Gehenna: Death Valley?
ecka is an indie comic book artist and writer, who lives somewhere in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. She creates her own horror/darkly inclined comics and art, which are posted onto her website (thebecka. com) and social media under the online name The Becka (@the_becka, or @the.becka). How did you get your start in comics? I started drawing webcomics on my own time around 2007 and launched my website in 2008. It was also around this time when I started to go to comic cons and events like Fan Expo and TCAF. I was networking at those places, as well as online, and eventually I got a job colour flatting. As a colour flatter, you’re not usually credited in books (it’s mind numbingly easy to do, so the colourist does a lot more work with rendering, shading etc.). Eventually, I got a few small colouring jobs along the way, like a couple of stories for the Gothic Tales of Haunted Love anthology, and an Edgar Rice Burroughs webcomic called The Man-Eater. I give a lot of credit to Ian Herring, who’s taught me everything I know about colouring comics, and how to make eye catching illustrations. When I’m not colour flatting for someone, I’m working on my own comics. So far, I’ve completed two long
Gehenna: Death Valley is a horror story about a group of friends on a road trip, who make a pit stop and discover a restricted area. I tell people it’s like Scooby-Doo goes to hell, but without the dog and mystery machine. I guess it’s more like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but with real monsters instead of a serial killer, and has a bit of sci-fi and body horror thrown in. I originally posted the pages onto my website as a webcomic, just to show people what I was creating. To celebrate the completion of the comic, I decided to get Gehenna printed into a graphic novel. I thought about going the Kickstarter route, but decided not to. I’m a short drive away from Studiocomix Press, and I had enough money to print a small run myself, so I decided to go to them for printing my book. Alfonso and everyone at Studiocomix Press did a great job with the final product. How long have you been working on it? On and off for five years, from October 2014 to July of this year (2019). While I’m much happier with the end result, I also feel like it could have been done it a lot faster. I may go back to the world of Gehenna after I finish my current comics project, potentially as a prequel. How has your creative process evolved during the serialization of a longer form work like Gehenna: Death Valley? Because of my flatting jobs, I took longer breaks in between chapters when I posted the Gehenna pages onto my website. I felt like I rushed my first webcomic, and in the end I was not proud of it. I didn’t want to do that again
Gehenna: Death Valley 1 cover by becka
with Gehenna: Death Valley, so I took my time to work on my weaknesses, make the art look cool and creepy as possible. I think the biggest change for me has been working with digital more and more as Gehenna progressed. I drew my layouts in a sketchbook at first, then when I got my iPad Pro I started drawing them on there instead. Gehenna is traditionally drawn and inked, except for the last two pages. They were digitally drawn on the Procreate app. I love traditional art, but it’s a lot faster for me to draw comics digitally. What is your next comics project? I’ve got a couple of things going on right now. I’m writing a comic book series for a comics publisher, and it’s going well so far. The character designs look AWESOME, and I wish I can say more about it. I’m also working on another comics project for myself that I may or may not pitch to a publisher later. All I’ll say is that it’s a cosmic horror story,
etc. I’ve also been drawn to monsters, mythology, crime stories and murder mysteries. I’m also a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan, and I’d like to think that those books led me down the horror path too. The Nazgûl and giant spiders always stuck with me as a kid. Tolkien was great at describing how evil they were, and the extended history about the characters made them fascinating to me. I also have an uncle and cousin who are really into horror and sci-fi, and they showed me a lot of classic movies like Alien and Terminator. My uncle’s more of a B-horror movie guy, so I saw films like Tarantula when I was a little kid. Even though that movie terrified me, I still wanted to see it every time I visited.
Gehenna: Death Valley 4 Interior by becka
and it will be 4 issues or a graphic novel, depending how fast I can pump out pages before the next convention. It will also be digitally drawn...except maybe the cover art. Keep your eyes open for both projects in 2020! Who is the audience for your comics? I know demographics are important, but I hate thinking like that. It seems so... restrictive? I’d like to say that my comics are for anyone who loves horror and genre fiction. At comic cons, I’ve noticed that my art tends to attract gamers, SXF MUAs (makeup artists) and prop makers. Weirdly enough, families are drawn to it too, usually it’s dads buying the book for their kids or teens. Thankfully, the comic con families usually don’t care that there’s swearing and body horror in the comics. Meeting kids who love horror and know so much about the horror icons and cinema history makes my day. What appeals to you about the Horror/ Thriller genre? Stories that explore a grey area always interest me. What I like best about those genres is that you can explore the dark side of humanity and ask question that no one likes to talk about. Characters with ulterior motives also interest me, like what makes the character tick, why did they end up evil or flawed,
What are the challenges finding a webcomics audience versus a print format? For me, finding an audience for both the webcomic and the graphic novel isn’t hard, thanks to social media and sites like Tapas and Webtoons. If you have an audience or a following, you’ll be fine. Based on my experience, having a webcomic and promoting it online is less expensive than printing a book yourself, and going to conventions to sell it. However, getting a table at a comics event or convention is important for face to face interactions, and networking with professionals in the industry. Are there benefits for you in serializing your comics online for free prior to print publication? Yeah, I’ve had readers find me at comic cons and buy my books. There was also a Waterloo radio station, Mano A Mano, who came across my site when I was posting my first comic, Cadaverific. They ended up making a podcast episode dedicated to it. They were one of the few people who completely understood that Cadaverific was not a zombie comic. They took note of the other little details in the story too, like the music references.
Gehenna: Death Valley 1 Interior by becka
If you want to attract potential readers, make a plan and be prepared to be online A LOT to promote your comic. If you decide to get your own website, research your options, compare prices for domain and web hosting services. Know what you want your site to look like. Social media is your friend but use it responsibly. AVOID DRAMA, and don’t respond to trolls. Comic events and conventions are important too, readers love to meet their favourite creators, or any comics creator. Treat your readers and customers with respect. I remember seeing a situation at a comic con where an artist was unnecessarily sarcastic to a fan, and in the process hurt their feelings. That artist also risked getting a negative review online (also, with or without an online review, the fan will talk about you to their friends and colleagues). Finally, research conventions before booking them, there are plenty of resources online that rate conventions in your region or country.
Any advice for aspiring web comics creators? Make whatever you want and have fun!
“Look. See?”: Colour is Character in Beneath the Dead Oak Tree (2018) Article By Zachary J.A. Rondinelli “Look” and “See” before they turn the page and immediately find themselves besieged by colour. Once the jarring shock of that first colourful double page spread wears off, an astute reader can quickly recognize that Carroll’s choices in colour have a profound impact on our reading experience of Beneath the Dead Oak Tree. Far surpassing its impact as an aesthetic element, the colour choices made by Carroll enhance the narrative so much as to act as character within the comic, thereby making an individual meaningful contribution as narrative element. Carroll provides the set up for this conceit immediately and weaves it throughout the comic in incredibly powerful ways, most obviously in relation to her two coprotagonists.
mily Carroll’s ability to communicate through comics with a monochromatic colour pallete is arguably the most defining characteristic of her work. This isn’t to suggest that Carroll never uses colour, but she is one of, if not, the foremost expert on exploiting limited colours to enhance the mood, tone, and overall narrative experience of her readers. More often than not, she accomplishes this through a manipulation of black, white, and a primary accent colour (very frequently, red), which Carroll uses to create hauntingly beautiful and terrifyingly eerie visual tones for her horror themed comics. Yet, her 2018 Shortbox exclusive comicpoem, Beneath the Dead Oak Tree (2018), which earned her the 2019 Joe Shuster Award for “Best Cartoonist”, breaks away from this technique in order to tell a story flushed with colour and vibrancy. Many of the comics pages are splashed full of pastel pinks, yellows, and greens, screaming from the page to be seen. Indeed, the first page of Carroll’s comic, a black splash page to the bleed, asks the reader to both
The narrative of Beneath the Dead Oak Tree follows a particularly bourgie skulk of foxes (maintaining yet another of her well-established traditions; anthropomorphism) who are perfectly content living from party to party, gossiping about murder, sex, and the courting/eventual engagement of our two main characters, an unnamed male fox (here called, “You”) and an unnamed female fox (here called, “Me”). From the very first full-colour, double-page spread, Carroll provides indications of the importance of colour by associating one with each of her foxes. The first caption box (“That is you,”) is shaded in the same pastel green colour of You’s coat, while the second (“and that is me.”) replicates the orange of Me’s coat. While this colour identification quickly succeeds at visually differentiating the characters on the page, as well as simultaneously establishing our point of view (first-person narration from Me), Carroll’s choice in colour here is particularly interesting because its narrative purpose is at odds with its visual one. Green and orange are two of the most contradictory colours available. Green,
for instance, is a colour that could just as easily be used to represent rotten or spoiled meat as it could fresh fruits and vegetables, while orange is the double-edged sweet and sour colour (Bellantoni, 2013, p. 160; pp. 111-112). When contextualized by the revelation of You and Me’s hidden secrets and vicious cannibalistic desires, it becomes clear that this colour differentiation is not simply to help us tell the foxes apart, but rather functions with a particular purpose: while their carefully curated public appearances may seem to reflect an idyllic persona, the colour of their coats signals that there is far more to them underneath the surface making it apparent that Carroll’s conscious selection of the two most dichotomous colours available as representative of her two main characters is far more than a simple aesthetic choice. This becomes even more clear when contrasted against the comics’ middle section, which reverts back to Carroll’s more traditional monochromatic style, with red accents. In this section, You has asked Me to join him late at night beneath the dead oak tree outside the property grounds, but when Me arrives, she sees You there with another female fox. Feeling
abandoned and dejected, Me watches as You begins to caress and stroke his unknown female consort before wildly ripping her apart under the tree. In what may be the single most visually brilliant double-page spread of the comic, You breaks free of the formal restrictions on the page and superimposes his savagery on top of the eighteen panels spread across the two pages, filling the pages with his wide-eyed ferocity and hot splashes of red blood. It is this momentary visual ascendency of the bright red blood that makes the page so horrifyingly stimulating… You’s tongue, teeth, and claws are all dripping with it and his clothes are spotted and splattered with ruby droplets. The fact that, until this point, red has been missing completely from the narrative of the comic makes this moment incredibly powerful. Through the inclusion of the murder, and more specifically the red blood, Carroll reveals the “rotten” primal urges that You hides under his pastel green facade. What’s more is that in this moment the green of his coat is missing completely, replaced by a blank white; there is no need for the deception of his colourful coat here because he is revealing himself, rather than hiding. This revelation shocks Me who is watching from the shadows. Yet, as we quickly transition from an image of her in profile crying alone (“Look.”) to her in profile at a crowded party (“See?”), the gossiping of the guests makes sure that we do not
forget what we now know about You as he continues to court her and the bright vibrant pinks of the parties return. Yet still, Me allows You to continue courting her, even eventually marrying him, all the while knowing what monstrous appetites he hides under his false green facade. Here, it would seem that Carrol is revealing the “sour” side of Me’s orange persona to be that of inaction; she is complicit in You’s crime by omission. Except, she still seems fixated on the fact that it was she, and not the now mutilated other female fox, who was meant to be under the dead oak tree with You that bloody night. Eventually, the thought of being replaced is too much for her to bear, leading Me to roll over in the marital bed that she shares with You and tear into his gut while he sleeps. Though it is undeniably shocking in the moment to see Me present such seemingly uncharacteristic savagery, Carroll’s use of colour has again prepared us for this shift. Aside from her association with orange, which has indicated to us from the beginning that Me has an invisible duality to her, whenever she enters into shadows her coat changes and takes on a purple hue. This colour, which has long been recognized as visual foreshadowing for death or transformation (see Patti Bellantoni’s If It’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die: The Power of Colour in Visual Storytelling) replaces Me’s orange in both of the comics darkest moments: the death
of the unnamed female fox at You’s hands and You’s death at Me’s hands. With this in mind, before we even see the carnage and cannibalism that Carroll has in store for us, she has used the choice in colour to prepare us for it and successfully exposed the “sour” side of Me to be just as monstrously violent as You’s “rotten” side. As the comic closes with the same words that began it, “Look. See? That is you, and this is me.”, we have finally been faced with explicit evidence of the hidden, darker sides of our coprotagonists. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the clues hadn’t always been there. Indeed, what stands out brilliantly in Carroll’s work here is that she has used not only her traditional colour style to hide these secrets in plain sight, but also enhanced it with new and interesting colour choices that expose truths without explicitly revealing them. Whether it is pink, orange, green, red, or purple, Carroll’s Beneath the Dead Oak Tree is a masterclass on how colour can communicate as a way to enhance storytelling. References Carroll, E. (2018). Beneath the Dead Oak Tree. UK: Shortbox. Bellantoni, P. (2013). If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die: The power of color in visual storytelling. Burlington, MA: Focal Press.
The Panel is Political: Nicole Marie Burton & Ad Astra Comix INTERVIEW BY RILEY HAMILTON
here are many different words that come to people’s minds when they are asked about what comics are. Words and adjectives like superheroes, action, fantasy, and humour are common answers to this question. Politics is not a word that is commonly associated with comic books, rather, it is usually reserved for cartoons and strips that are found in the daily newspaper. Ad Astra Comix is a small indie publisher in Ottawa that is working to change people’s minds about how comics can be used to convey strong political messages and give readers a view of the world that they may not be familiar with. The driving force behind this publisher is Nicole Marie Burton, an artist and creator who is a long-time activist and advocate for social justice causes both in Canada and internationally. Having grown up reading daily strips like Calvin and Hobbes, she has always understood that comics can have a political slant while still being entertaining for readers. As a teenager she read Art Spiegelman’s award-winning graphic novel, Maus and had a subscription to Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan at her local comic shop. While in high school she worked at a lending library that had been founded by a group of activists and through that was introduced to zines and DIY selfpublished comics.
The combination of political comics, activism and DIY zine culture led to Nicole wanting to create her own selfpublished comic about the forgotten stories of colonialism in the western hemisphere. She decided to found Ad Astra Comix, in 2011, as a way of finding out if there was an audience receptive to the ideas that she was interested in talking about. The site began as a blog where Nicole could practice writing regularly, while simultaneously building an audience interested in social justice initiatives. The site’s content was focused on reviews of political comics or graphic novels as well as interviews with creators who were working on political comics. Over time Nicole found that many political comics were lacking, either in the messages they were espousing or in their overall presentation and she felt that publishing could be a way for her to make an impact. Ad Astra’s first venture was to republish One Hundred Year Ripoff, a comic about the history of British Columbia through an anti-capitalist lens, that had been published by a socialist youth group back in the 1970s. After touching up the book and getting the approval of the original artist, Ad Astra successfully crowdfunded the republished print run, making almost double their initial ask. The success of the crowdfunding campaign convinced Nicole that there
was demand for political comics and an audience willing to support Ad Astra Comix as a publisher. Their next project would not come until 2015, when Zubaan, a feminist publisher based in New Delhi, reached out through Twitter to ask Ad Astra about publishing an English edition of their most recent anthology, Drawing the Line. The anthology told the stories of various women and their experiences with gender discrimination in India. Ad Astra agreed to publish the book for the North American market and launched another successful crowdfunding campaign. This time around Nicole and her husband Hugh learned a lot about the promotion side of publishing and how to get their book into the hands of customers and retailers. News about the book was Drawing the Line Indian Women Fight Back
rainbow reflections - derrick chow
even picked up by Buzzfeed India, the Huffington Post and was featured on the BBC World News Minute segment. Having successfully published two books that had already been completed, Ad Astra decided to begin exploring the idea of republishing social justice comics that were either out of print or had only had a very small print run that they felt needed to reach a wider audience. Their next several campaigns involved works such as Extraction!, a collection of stories about the effects of Canadian mining companies on the regions that they operate in, and Undocumented, a look at the injustice of migrant detention through design and architecture.
Their most ambitious republishing project came when they hosted American cartoonist Seth Tobocman at TCAF 2014. At the show, he expressed interest in having Ad Astra republish his graphic novel War in the Neighbourhood, a book about gentrification, police brutality and activism in New York City. Through working with Seth getting the book republished, Ad Astra was able to get in touch with AK Press, who is still their primary distributor in the United States. After a series of successful republishing campaigns on a wide variety of books Nicole and Hugh teamed up with Dr. Patrick McCurdy, a professor of Communications at the University of Ottawa. He had contacted them, looking to make a graphic novel about the advertising and the oil industry in Canada. Hugh wrote the script and Nicole did the artwork for the 100-page book, the first original work that Hugh and Nicole published together through Ad Astra Comix. The book tells the story of two artist friends from Nova Scotia who travel to Alberta looking for work. One joins an ad agency that works with several major oil companies while the other freelances for environmental groups and like-minded NGOs. The comic focuses on the themes of millennial precarity in the workplace, the environmental costs of resource extraction, and the strain that being on opposite sides of political battles can put on friendships. The book, titled The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet, was also published with several ads created by Nicole to showcase the common tropes around oil industry advertisements. With each book that Ad Astra Comix publishes they make a concerted effort to support communities and local nonprofit organizations who do work in the fields that each book covers. This has included doing a launch party in Toronto for Extraction, with half of the proceeds going to the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network. Royalties paid out to Tings Chak, the creator of Undocumented, goes towards the End Immigration Detention Network.
The Beast cover by Nicole MArie Burton
In addition to giving proceeds of their books to activist groups, Nicole and Ad Astra give back to the community in other ways, through holding workshops and distributing copies of some of their books to local schools and other NGOs. Nicole has held comics workshops for kids, focusing on the creative process of making comics as well as getting kids and teens interested in exploring political issues that they may not get a chance to talk about elsewhere. With her professional career as an artist taking off, she is working on four projects concurrently as of this article, and still more publishing commitments with Ad Astra Comix, she has been running fewer workshops but still enjoys the experience. “The panel is political” is the slogan of Ad Astra Comix and it has striven to raise awareness about social issues through it’s comics and other initiatives as well as carve out a place in an increasingly diverse comics market. Nicole feels that comics is an accessible medium that is relatively affordable, especially compared to other forms of media and entertainment and that raising awareness, in any capacity, helps. You can find all of the books mentioned in this article and others at the Ad Astra Comix website: www.adastracomix.com
Sandy Carruthers, Robert Doan, & Greg Webster
Interview by Chris Bousquet
rom the east coast island famous for red sandy beaches, potatoes and Anne of Green Gables comes Prince Edward Island’s first small press comic book publisher, Sandstone Comics, is striving to make a bold statement about what east coast creativity is all about. With the release of Sandstone Comics Presents #1 in March of 2019 the anthology has brought life to Charlotte City, the fictional town that sounds an awful lot like the Province’s capital city. The Sandstone team is made up of three intrepid islanders; Sandy Carruthers, best known for his masterful work on the Men in Black series returns to more exciting alien based story telling with his ‘Leap Frog’ story arc, Robert Doan, who has done work for IDW, Alterna and Dynamite, among others, brings life to Charlotte City’s resident Super Hero, Nucleus in ‘Indestructible’, and Greg Webster, who also works as a professional illustrator, is cutting his teeth on his very first full length comic story arc with ‘The Ghost of the Cradle’, a noir style detective tale. How did the three of you first come together?
As in any good partnership, especially when it comes to sharing a studio together, we discovered we were great sounding boards for our ideas and art. Once we tied down our fictional location (Charlotte City) then we knew we had to be as consistent as possible, so sharing was pretty important. Why did you feel it was important for your stories to share a universe, and do you have plans for future crossovers? We wanted the stories to have an ‘Island’ feel, but knew we had to scale up the existing city we actually live in for the type of tales we wanted to tell. This allows us to share in the same universe and, inevitably, do some crossovers in the future. Right now, we’re at the fleshing out stage for the readers, as all of this world we’re creating is new. Charlotte City is obviously analogous to Charlottetown; why was rooting the story in a somewhat familiar location important? Charlotte City may look very different from a distance, but all the ground level shots (in the stories) look like
Robert (left), Sandy, & Greg (right)
Charlottetown. We felt it was important for us to relate to the local reader to give them a sense of place, but not be locked into it. Charlotte City (btw) is a relatively small metropolis compared to this universe’s versions of, say, Halifax or Toronto, which we hope to explore later… I think being an Islander, we wanted to make clear where the Sandstone Comics roots come from. Why did you choose an anthology format instead of separate issues? Initially, we explored a number of options, but felt the 3 - in -1 was the best solution for us. We wanted to give each creator an equal footing, which I don’t think would happen if we did
Sandy: When I retired from teaching design at our local college, there was something I always wanted to do: create comics. I met up with Robert after seeing his amazing original artwork hanging on a wall in a local comic shop here in Charlottetown. When I discovered he was a local artist, I knew I had to cross paths. I taught Greg at the college, so I knew his passion for comics and we realized we were all in the same boat: we all wanted to create comics. In September of 2018, we pooled our resources to create Sandstone Comics. Do you give each other feedback or advice about each other’s stories? Leap Frog issue 1 art by Sandy Carruthers
Heavy Metal and was introduced to Moebius, Bilal and Richard Corben. My eyes consumed all of it. So… short answer: I knew I wanted to draw comics not specifically because of one artist, but the entire medium. For writing, that came later… Len Wein, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison … so much!
3 separate books. In the future we hope the anthology book will open the doors for new comic creators to come in perhaps then the existing stories will garner enough interest to separate into their own tales. Does creating an anthology generate challenges or surprises that you don’t encounter with single issues?
Robert: Too many to name them all, but a few would be John Bogdanove, Tom Grummet, Mike Deodato Jr. Dan Jurgens, Ryan Ottley, Adam Kubert. I grew up in the 90’s era reading hulk and Superman so just a about anyone that worked on those titles have been inspiring to me since I was a kid.
Good question. I think having it as an anthology makes us (as creators) more motivated to put more into the final package, and allows for a nice consistent package the reader can get comfortable in. Don’t think it would’ve been the same as doing 3 separate books, it definitely helped in motivation to get it done. Will you continue to stick with the anthology format as the series progress? At this stage, yes, but in the future we want to introduce floppy’s of the existing stories and bring in new local talent to bring new stories into the Sandstone Comics fold. What would each of you tell someone who hasn’t read the book to convince them to give it a try? Sandy: I guess I’d have to say, if you’re looking for something different and new, then this is a good book for you. Because it’s rated PG, we hope parents will buy for their kids to encourage them to read
Sandstone Comics 1 Cover
more. Comics is an excellent medium for getting kids to read. Robert: I think we have a unique platform with the 72 page format. I find the biggest selling point for me personally is, all of our stories are created start to finish by one guy. It’s not being passed between a bunch of different hands and I think it keeps it unique. You can see the passion in each book because one person is pouring it all into it. They’re our ideas, we have the freedom to do what we want. If I want to draw something a certain way I can, I don’t have to answer to anybody.
Greg: John Byrne and Larry Hama were big influences on me in my younger days. They were making the books I was reading, and I wanted nothing more than to do what they were doing. Starting January 2020, Sandstone Comics is going with a bimonthly release schedule. Instead of the 72 page anthology, they will be printing standard 24 page comic books. This will allow for more new books on the shelf more often. Each book will still be funded via Kickstarter and thanks to a deal with printers KKP PEI, their projected cover price will be $4.99 CAD. INDESTRUCTIBLE #2 will be kicking off Sandstone’s 2020 schedule. Join them on November 27th via their Kickstarter.
Greg: If you have any interest in super heroes, vigilantes, mad science, villains, adventure stories, space, detectives, romance, mysteries, supporting the arts, independent creators, and comic books in general, then we have a book for you. Was there any specific artist or writer who has inspired you over the course of your comics career?
Indestructible 2 cover by Robert Doan
Sandy: Ah! Man, I grew up reading comics as far back as the early 70’s, so I was introduced to Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, John Romita, George Freeman, etc., but I also looked at Berni Wrightson, Will Eisner (through the Warren magazines) Russ Heath, Alex Toth… and then I stumbled across
The Ghost 2 Cover by Greg Webster
Announcing our annual Sequential Magazine Awards! A continuation of the CanComicsWiki Awards, the Sequential Magazine Awards are fan-voted awards to show your appreciation for the hard work and dedication of indie comics creators in Canada. With such a small market in Canada we want to have these awards be another way to showcase talent and show the appreciation of readers to their favourite comics. The first phase of the awards is nominations, fans or creators themselves let us know which books, creators, etc. they would like to see on the ballot for the awards. Nominations Open Until December 4th! Then our team of magazine contributors will review the nominations and rank their preferences. The aggregation of these rankings will form the ballot for the public to vote on. Public voting will occur in January 2020
This year’s categories are: • Best Comic Book • Best Graphic Novel • Best Webcomic • Favourite Writer • Favourite Artist • Favourite Cartoonist • Favourite Podcast 2018 Winner / Runner-Up Best Comic Book: Jack Grimm: Harbinger of Death Issue 5 / Norlan: Sorceress Of Light Best Graphic Novel: Wayward Sisters / Happily Ever Aftr Favourite Writer: Ricky Lima / Davis Dewsbury Favourite Artist: Andrew Thomas / Daniel Schneider Favourite Podcast: Radio Free Krypton / Hey Kids Comics! Radio This year’s awards are generously sponsored by Strange Adventures Comics and Curiosities! With their support we are able to produce trophies for the first time for our winners.
Winners will then be announced online afterwards and covered in our first issue of 2020 planned for March.
Thank You For Reading
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