C4 2016 Roundup

Another Central Canada Comic Con has come and gone.

Me and my boothmates! Clare C. Marshall and Samantha Beiko! (Photo by Scott Henderson)

2016 wasn’t my best year at C4, and I’ve been hearing that from a lot of other vendors, despite record attendance, anecdotally speaking, most folks I’ve talked to were down in sales from last year. I imagine those of us in Artist’s Alley were hit the hardest. The last two years, Artist’s Alley was on a separate floor than the Exhibitor Hall, and that worked out great (for me at least) as almost every attendee walked through Artist’s Alley before getting to the Exhibitor’s Hall. This year, not so much.

It was the first year in the newly renovated convention centre, so we’ll have to see. Just as in Saskatoon at Sask Expo, my booth was facing out into a very wide aisle, and there wasn’t much directly across from us, which didn’t help in encouraging people to slow down and linger. A reminder that table placement is always important and unfortunately, not something you can really control. I suppose I could shell out for an endcap booth, but the costs of those are definitely prohibitive for what I’m likely to recoup at one of these events. Maybe if two or three authors pooled to take it on, that would work. Or it might be too many books all in competition in too small of a space.

This year presented me with a lot of variables to think about before next year’s con. C4 wasn’t a disastrous weekend by any stretch, I covered all my costs, made a bit of extra scratch, and got to talk to some returning readers and make some new ones, but it sure didn’t meet expectations.

I hate to be doom and gloom, because I did have a ton of fun. I got to rub elbows with some awesome creative folks I’m fortunate to call friends. On the plus side, I got to share a booth with good friends Clare and Sam, and lots of my convention pals were nearby, even if we were all too busy to hang out much during the show. I was also right beside Shared World colloborators GMB Chomichuk and James Gillespie, who are an amazing font of creativity and energy. Jonathan Ball, the elusive fourth creator in Shared World 2, joined us on Sunday. It’s always nice to have great neighbours.

Also, huge congrats to Scott Henderson for winning a C4 Storyteller Award at C4’s Industry Night celebration!

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(Photo by Scott Henderson)

Scott’s been a huge supporter of my work from pretty much day one of Thunder Road’s life, I’ve commissioned a bunch of artwork from him, and I’m sure to ask him to do more in the future.

Shared World authors put their editor to work numbering the limited edition print copies.

Halloween hats courtesy of Sam’s mom. Thanks, Mrs. B!

We formed Knife Club, which was mostly wearing promotional temporary tattoos for Jonathan Ball’s The Politics of Knives, and pantomime knifing each other when we weren’t jug banding (sans jug).

Also amazing, Sam and I launched Mythfits #1 and people bought it!

So cool to have a comic we created together out in the world! It was birthed a couple of years ago at C4 when Sam and I shared an Artist’s Alley table, so it was cool to launch the book here as well.

Having a booth instead of a table required a different setup than I normally use, and led to more stress and consternation than I would’ve liked on Thursday night, but I thought I had the problem licked, and the table looked good.

By mid-Saturday, I wasn’t happy with it. Despite being a bookseller for more than a decade, I am not a natural “active” seller. I’ve known this for years, that I’m more comfortable selling other people’s work than my own. It’s a different sort of taxing, and being “on” when you’re inviting people into the booth instead of having the separation of the table between you. It’s something I’ll think on for next year, or the next show I do.

I did an emergency rebuild of my table on Saturday. I think it helped. It’s hard to say, but I was happier with the result, and sales did appear to tick up from that point on.

After my redesign:

I didn’t have as much time as I’d like to peruse the floor and see what everyone else was doing, but I did still come home with a few gems:

It’s like Jessica at Sweet Adeline cross-stiched this just for me!

My contributor’s copies of Spacepig Hamadeus and the Captive Planet, which in addition to several talented creators, includes my story “The Great Martian Train Robbery”  featuring art by Nyco Rudolph! Collectors take note, this is the first sequential comic work for both of us. We were over the damned moon to finally hold the book.

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Photo by my official-unoffical convention photographer, Andrew Lorenz.

Still getting caught up on Andrew Lorenz’ Legacy but I’m really digging what September17 productions are putting out. Also, can’t wait for Canadian Corps #2!

Once again, C4 fell on the same weekend as the World Fantasy Convention, and as I’ve been to a WFC in Columbus before, I chose the home con to try and make some money rather than spending it. On the plus side, it looks like next year’s conventions will be back to back weekends, not simultaneous, so that’s good (especially since I’ve already bought my membership for World Fantasy in San Antonio)!

Okay, now, for the cosplay photos!

Amazing Deadpool and Wonder Woman!

I am back on a Venture Brothers tear, and the Season Six Blu-Ray was my gift to myself for making it through C4, so it was cool to see The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch representing.

Killer Zatanna and Constantine. Zatanna has always been one of my favourite DC characters, and this duo was great.

Holy shitsnacks, it’s Pam!

There was somebody inside that Tardis, slowly shuffling around the convention floor.

The sons of Lugh were there in force.

This Hawkgirl was amazing. Easily my favourite costume of the year. Her wings could unfurl to probably 15′ across.

Fun Potter family cosplay!

Don’t see a lot of Scientist Princess Bubblegum costumes, and I love that Marceline chose to wear the floppy hat (she was out in the daytime).

R2-D2! I know it’s just a remote controlled giant toy, but it’s still damned hard to resist giving the bucket of bolts a hug.

Lots of Manitoba Ghostbusters out and about this year.

Not as much Thor and Loki cosplay as I’ve seen in previous years, (hopefully I’ll see more when Thor:Ragnarok releases…) but these two were great!

And let’s end the post with a sweet ride, it’s no GTO, but then, my first car was an Impala, so…it’ll do. What a beauty!

Write on!

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A Shockingly Timely Sask Expo 2016 Roundup

This was my first year exhibiting at Sask Expo. I’ve heard great things about the show from Winnipeg comic creator, Andrew Lorenz of September17 Productions, and since Saskatoon is a reasonable drive for a weekend show (turns out it’s not as reasonable as I thought, more on that later), I thought it was worth giving a try. Andrew and a bunch of other Manitoba creators like GMB Chomichuk and Nyco Rudolph were going, so I knew I didn’t want to miss it.

Also, there’s lots of cool folks in ‘Toon town that I don’t get to see nearly often enough, so the show also had that going for it. Another bonus, it’s roughly the same distance for me to get there as it is for my pal Clare Marshall, so we tabled up side by side. (Clare writes amazing roundups of her convention experiences, so do check hers out too!)

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It’s hard to get time off from the dayjob in September. It’s busy as hell, and I’m usually at low ebb energy wise, which was my only hesitation about heading west for the expo. And, in my brain I thought Saskatoon was 7 hours from Winnipeg. Turns out, it’s actually 9. I’ve driven the Yellowhead many times in the past, but never made just the Winnipeg to Saskatoon leg, I always stopped a little short of Saskatoon, or carried on to Edmonton. That, and forgetting about the damned time difference meant I had to beg, borrow, and steal a second day off work so I wouldn’t still be on the road at 3am after a busy con and needing to go into work almost as soon as I got home.

So…was the con worth it?

Mostly.

We shared a row with September17 and Justin Schauf who I know from C4 and other events. I really dug September17’s Canadian Corps, and Justin was the artist on that book.

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He also did a great Doctor Fate sketch for me a while back.

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Sask Expo announced they had over 15000 people attend over the weekend. I had it my head that there would be more. Maybe because Carrie Fisher was there, or perhaps I’d misheard last year’s attendance. The Expo did seem well organized. It was one of the easiest load ins I’ve ever had, and the volunteers were easy to spot, and ubiquitous, my problems finding a water fountain in the building aside (something nobody seemed able to direct me to, despite being certain there was one). On Sunday, volunteers came around to all the exhibitors to provide bottled water, which was very helpful.

Clare and I had our tables set up across from the Creator Guest aisle, which is cool, but unfortunately the spacing in the aisle was so broad, it was very hard to get any concentration of foot traffic. I heard other vendors had a different issue in cramped aisles nearer to the entrance but the same problem. Once you’re moving in a cramped aisle, it’s hard to stop to look at a table even if you’re interested as the press of people behind you keep you going. Once people hit our aisle it was being used as a superhighway to get from one end of the expo to the other, with brisk walkers not wanting to browse. Pretty much every vendor in our aisle was saying they had the same issue.

I met my minimum sales threshold to consider returning to Sask Expo. That doesn’t sound great, but the Saturday was really slow for me, and I wasn’t happy with my table build, so I tore it down Sunday morning and I think it came out stronger. Sales certainly were.

I kept seeing folks cosplaying vikings, but few were swinging by, so I bought a replica Mjolnir and thudded it down on the table.

WORTHY.

I was talking to Clare about sales and the foot traffic patterns, and she said “what’s your brand?” well right now it’s Thunder Road, sure I tagged my banner “Mythic Fiction” because that is what I do. While I have other stuff on my table, it’s the Thunder Road trilogy that sells best, reminding me of the old bookselling adage: Sell more of what is selling.

Clare knows this stuff. it’s her job. Con sales are a sideline for me, a bit of supplemental income to direct towards travel or shiny projects, but it’s a big part of her business plan. So I listen when she suggests something. It’s also cool getting to watch her work, and how she engages her customers, both returning and potential.

How’d that advice turn out?

If you rebuild it they will come.

I made the books way more prominent, and that hammer paid for itself within the hour. I sold two complete trilogies to folks who recognized it, and their wondering why it was on my table gave me the opportunity to pitch the books to them.

I handed out lots of postcards and business cards over the weekend, so that’s good. Hopefully that will lead to some future sales, or requests from the library. Hard to say what the results will be. I know that there’s a lot of folks who seem to buy the second or third time you do a show, because they keep seeing you around, and I guess they no longer assume you’re a fly-by-night operation. I also noticed a significant uptick in web traffic, and lots of those views came via Sask Expo’s exhibtor page, before, during and after the show.

I was also surprised by the number of folks who stopped by to say they’d read and enjoyed the series, as I’ve not made much inroads into Saskatchewan sales wise, and my last event there was almost three years ago.

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One young woman who’d read the first book and told me she’d enjoyed it came back later to get it signed and returned again on Sunday to purchase the rest of the trilogy.

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Thunder Road is also currently on adoption for Professor Michael Cichon’s “Beowulf and Tales of the Northern Heroes” course at U of S, and some of the students popped by to get their books signed. Pretty cool when they’re forced to buy it, and they still want it inscribed. It’s moments like that which really push you through the dead times in Artist’s Alley.

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Not related to the writing side of my trip, but I also found a bunch of the issues I need to recreate my run of the 90s version of New Warriors! Woo!

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Mike was also kind enough to host me and Clare while we were in Saskatoon, and we had a great time, so I’m very grateful for the hospitality, fine food and drink, and excellent conversation.

I don’t know a ton of people from Saskatchewan, but many of them stopped by for a visit, so it was great to see Arthur Slade, Kurtis Wiebe, , Ed Willett, and Ian Goodwillie again.

Okay! On to the real reason folks come by my comic convention roundups: COSPLAY.

I’d probably have more (and better) photos to share, but Wendy was able to make the trip with me to track down shots of folks I couldn’t catch at the table. Sorry, folks!

JOUST.

When I asked for his picture, this Lemongrab screamed “ACCEPTABLE.”

I didn’t see many Lokis and no Thors this time around, but this young lady was great, and very excited to hear that Loki was a character in my books.

FOUND YOU BOTH.

Jeff Burton, creator of Auroraman, dressed up as his character.

The Saskatchewan Ghostbusters were out in force.

Can’t wait to see what the Manitoba Ghostbusters cook up for C4!

An awesome Betty and Violet from Rat Queens.

AKU!

This Hawkwoman was bloody amazing.

Okay, that was Sask Expo 2016!

Write on!

Prix Aurora Award Nominations

Nominations opened for the Prix Aurora Awards (and a whole mess of other awards too–though it’s the Auroras that are most likely to impact ’round Thunder Road Way) while I had my head down trying to finish my latest novel.

Instruction for how to nominate a story are available on the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association’s site. But why should you vote? Ottawa author Matt Moore wrote an excellent blog post on why we should participate in the Aurora Awards. The more people participate, and the more they care, the more these awards will matter.

If you’re so inclined, here’s what I did in 2015:

  • Too Far Gone, Ravenstone Books, October 2015, eligible in the Novel category.
  • The Last Good Look, The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, March 2015, eligible in the Short Fiction category.
  • When the Gods Send You Rats, Shared World Volume One, October 2015, eligible in the Short Fiction category.
  • Co-Chair/Artistic Director ChiSeries Winnipeg with Samantha Beiko: “Fan Organizational” category.

Eligibility Lists are here:

I also want to mention the people that helped me create in 2015:

In addition to being my co-conspirator for the Winnipeg arm of ChiSeries, Samantha Beiko steps up every single time I give her a weird ass request, such as: I want to make story cards, or can you draw me a giant, evil cat? Even I want to put a new book together less than a month before Comic Con.

Sam did this great picture of Ted Callan for my story, “New Year’s Eve”

Ted New Year's Eve by SM Beiko

She also illustrated this super fun (and super creepy) Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat.

Christmas Cat by Samantha Beiko

and she edited and laid out Shared World.

Sam is awesomesauce. Check out her stuff, and her dream book store, Valkyrie Books.

GMB Chomichuk and James Gillespie also wrote a short story for Shared World. “Kaa-Rokaan.”

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In addtion to being a great writer, Gregory is an amazing artist. His Infinitum was a wonderful, weird read. Time travel noir!

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He also illustrated Underworld, written by another Winnipeg comics mainstay, Lovern Kindzierski. Greek mythology in modern Winnipeg.

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote my favourite book of 2015, her novel debut, Signal to Noise. Silvia’s knows her Lovecraft, and everyone involved in Shared World was chuffed when she agreed to write us a kickass introduction.

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Michael Matheson was my editor for Too Far Gone. Michael was new to editing the series, anddid a bang up job. I’d love to have a chance to work with Michael again. In the meantime, checkout this anthology published by ChiZine Publications:

Boy Eating

David Jón Fuller was my copy editor for Too Far Gone (and the entire Thunder Road Trilogy) and kept all my umlauts in the right spots. David is also a damn fine short story writer.

His story “Caged” appeared in Guns and Romances, and “In Open Air” appeared in Accessing the Future.

Scott Henderson did this gorgeous piece inspired by Too Far Gone.

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Scott also illustrated Richard Van Camp’s graphic novel, A Blanket of Butterflies.

Blanket of Butterflies

Claude Lalumière and David Nickle were my editors for The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir and bought my story, “The Last Good Look.”

New Canadian Noir Cover

This is a killer anthology. I enjoyed reading every story in it.

Sandra Wickham and I are currently writing a novel together. She’s also sort of taken on the Herculean task of getting me back in shape. Her book Health and Fitness for Creative People is a great start.

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Kevin Madison has done tons of Thunder Road illustrations for me over the course of the series’ life. Here’s one of his most recent:

Ted with Ravens

Kevin also wrote a comic last year, which was a lot of fun. Different artists illustrating various points in a superhero’s career.

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Here’s some other stuff I really dug throughout 2015, heavily weighted towards comics, because that seemed to be the majority of my reading lately.

I helped back Canadian Corps on Kickstarter. Andrew Lorenz’s writing definitely hit me right in the Alpha Flight feels.

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Donovan Yaciuk did the colours for Canadian Corps, but he also writes this sweet indie comic:

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A space-faring pig. ‘Nuff said.

Justin Shauf is the artist on Spacepig Hamadeus and Canadian Corps. He also drew me this SWEET Dr. Fate.

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Rat Queens is written by Kurtis Wiebe, and its one of the highlights of my comic pull list ever time an issue drops.

Rat Queens

I adore Fiona Staples’ art on Saga. Another book that’s never disappointed me.

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Jim Zub’s Wayward is another great fantasy comic.

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No matter how much I read, it still seems like it’s never enough! I feel like I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before I put in my nominations. What have you created or read that I should check out before nominations close?

Write on!

True North Strong and Free 2: Canadian Corps, An Interview With Rod Salm

There’s four days left in the Canadian Corps Kickstarter, and while they’ve funded, they’re also very close to hitting one more stretch goal. Rod Salm, letterer for Canadian Corps, took a stab at some of my questions too. Here are his replies.

CG: What ís the first comic you remember buying?

RS: Uncanny X-men 141 when it first hit the shelves. That was the first comic in the Days of Future Past series written by Chris Claremont. Comic selection in Churchill, Mb, back then was pretty limited so there was no guarantee the next issue would ever show up or how many (my brother tended to scoop up any cool comics before me, the ratter) and with no comic book stores it was a pretty scattered affair collecting comics back then. It was so different than everything else on the shelves but it was months before another X-Men title came in so I was left hanging on for a very long time to find out what happened next. Epilogue: I was lucky enough to have met Chris Claremont and his wife at a convention and had him sign that very book.

CG: (As an aside, Days of Future Past is one of my favourite X-Men stories, and it introduced one of my favourite characters, Rachel Summers/Rachel Grey! Good choice.)

CG: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?

RS: I’ve always been a creator (art or writing) of some sort, it’s only recently, with Andrew prodding me, to take it to the next step and work on a group project with him and this crew to get into comic storytelling.

CG: What is the appeal of superhero comics for you?

RS: They are epic! All the skills for lettering are needed in graphic design layout  but what’s more exciting: super powered individuals battling an alien invasions or selling a furniture. I’ll let you decide.

CG: What aspect of the book are you most proud of?

RS: Andrew, as well as writing a top notch story, has assembled a team of really talented people to pull it off. We feed off each other and are pushing to make this a book of the highest standard. From lettering, to colour, to the pencils and more, we’re all contributing our best work.

CG: Is Canadian Corps part of a larger, shared universe?

RS: I hope so! I was inspired by the drafts of the script I saw that I wrote a character within it, Tundra, that I hope I can work with Andrew in getting published.

CG: What makes a Canadian superhero different from the superheroes south of the border?

RS: Geography. Canada is really, really big. For a superhero to be effective they have to have a way to transverse this vast expanse. We can’t write one mega-city where all the action takes place because that’s just not Canada. The country has to be taken into consideration in any storyline involving a Canadian superhero. American comics may move locations, but in Canadian comics the location is fundamental to the storytelling aspect.

CG: What’s next for you?

RS: I’ll be getting my webcomic back up and running, www.deathatyourdoor.com, and working on more books with Andrew as well as searching for concept artists for Tundra.

CG: Thanks for stopping by, Rod! Good luck!

True North Strong And Free: The Canadian Corps, An Interview With Andrew Lorenz

I love me a good Kickstarter campaign and the Canadian Corps is one I’ve been following with interest.

I’ve been reading comics as long as I’ve been reading, and have had a soft spot for another group of Canadian heroes named Alpha Flight for a lot of that time. Which meant I am stoked to see what Canadian Corps does with our national archetypes.

Big thanks to Andrew Lorenz, writer of Canadian Corps for agreeing to answer a few questions.

CG: What’s the first comic you remember buying?

AL: The first comic book I remember buying is Web of Spider-Man #4. Picked it up from the campground shop at White Lake in the Whiteshell. I recall it very clearly because I had to make a choice between that or a Batman/Superman Brave and the Bold issue. Spider-Man was always my first choice back then because of the 60s cartoon I used to watch reruns of on TV as a kid. Superman was runner-up.

CG: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?

AL: I think pretty much anyone who’s ever read comics has at one point thought about making them. I remember coming up with stories when I was in elementary school and writing some short stories in junior high that were comic book-like. For so long though it never seemed a viable option- you really only had DC and Marvel until the last 15 years and getting into those companies pretty much required knowing someone or living where they were located.

The Internet changed all that.

Suddenly you were able to talk to other creators from all over the world. You were able to find different avenues to showcase and sell and distribute your work. You could self-publish. That was something I had never even considered until I saw the work done by people like A.P Fuchs, a local writer whose Axiom-man books were a big influence on me. As was Charlie McElvy’s WatchGuard Sourcebook- in him I saw another creator who’d come up with a bunch of characters and stories that finally took the step and did something with them.

But really it was running into some super supportive co-workers when I’d picked up a part time gas jockey job to help out the manager (who’s a friend of mine) that needed some reliable help and a chance at some easy extra money. Somehow or another it came out that I had come up with these characters and had these stories and the three of them- Michael, Mike T. and Cassandra (who is now my lovely lady friend) were ridiculously encouraging and excited about the ideas I had. To the point that they would let me work on developing characters and storylines while on-shift and they’d pick up the bulk of the work if I was “in the zone”. I can’t thank them enough for their support and nagging at me until I did something with it. Michael was actually the one who put us over the funded amount for the Canadian Corps Kickstarter; that’s how awesome they are.

CG: What is the appeal of superhero comics for you?

AL: What ISN’T the appeal? Action, adventure, drama, quiet character moments, cool costumes, evil villains, awesome powers and the fact that you can tell ANY genre of story WITH superheroes! You can tell horror stories, sci fi, set stuff in the 1930s, whenever wherever.

A lot of people have knocked superhero comics over the years but I just point out the success of TV shows like Flash or cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series as proof that you can tell a great superhero story and people will love it.

CG: How’d you assemble the creative team for the book?

AL: Magic.

Hahaha! Sometimes it certainly feels that way, anyhow. I’ve said it several times but I really could not have asked fro a better group to work with on this book. I met Justin at Winnipeg’s C4 Comic Con- I was familiar with his work doing the covers of Axiom-man and when I saw some more of his work I knew I wanted to work with him. The plan had always been to do an all-Canadian superhero book with all-Canadian creators.

There are a TON of talented Canadian comic book creators out there but you never really hear of their citizenship; which is sort of how Canadians are in general- we don’t advertise it unless we’re talking hockey. I wanted something that embraced that. We’re awesome people, we’ve got a cool country- you can go all over the world and find people that think well of us, so why can’t we buy into that ourselves? But I digress.

I’d met Rod the following spring after running across HIS Kickstarter for Death At Your Door, an awesome web-comic and got the chance to meet him at a small con not long after. Rod was a super great guy but at the time I hadn’t thought about working with him on anything- he had his stuff and I had mine.

Donovan was someone who Justin introduced me to- they’d known each other for some time and Justin was convinced he was the guy who should colour the book. It took me probably about 5 minutes of finally sitting down for some one-on-one with Donovan to know he was the guy.

So we had pencils, inks and colour down. Only lettering was left and I KNEW it had to be Rod. I didn’t even know if he’d be interested in doing that kind of work, or even if his services were for hire, but I’d made up my mind. Luckily, Rod, like Justin and Donovan, was too nice to say no.

CG: What’s the secret origin of the Canadian Corps? Why this book, and why now?

AL: I’ve always wanted to do a Canada-based comic book and I’m a big fan of team books as a reader. Also as a writer- it’s much easier having a group of characters to riff of each other than a solo book. I’ve been working on LEGACY for a couple years and last year I introduced a second S17 title, New Guard. My plan when I started was to bring in a new title every year- this is Canadian Corps’ year.

When I did my first Free Comic Book Day tabling, I realized that I really needed to get out something that would appeal to the varied groups that were coming in and checking out the comics. Before it became a bandwagon thing, I really believed that comics should be for everyone- I don’t understand how people DON’T like comics but I can see how it can be hard for everyone to find something they like. Hopefully this will fill that spot for some people.

Originally it wasn’t going to be an all-ages sort of book but with all of the creative team having kids, I understood how much it meant to them to have something they could show and share with them. To that end I tried to tone down the language without dumbing it down- not that my books have a bunch of swearing but I always believed that dialogue should reflect how people really talk. And not dumbing it down was important to me- I’ve never talked down to my kids and I honestly believe that if you talk to kids like they’re just short adults, you get further and they respect that. No one wants to be looked down on. Not to mention I wanted it to be fun for adults to read.

CG: What aspect of the book are you most proud of?

AL: The response from people. From the creative team to the people who have checked out the Facebook page or stopped by our tables at the various cons we’ve previewed stuff at. And we haven’t really showed that much but the response has been hands-down the best I’ve ever had for a book. Justin and Donovan have said the same. People are thrilled about the characters- from Warrant’s mustache to their being a First Nations/Native American member to how cool and powerful Shieldmaiden looks. When I got together with Donovan and Justin a month or so back they all said the same thing I had been thinking- Why didn’t we do this book sooner?

CG: Is Canadian Corps part of a larger, shared universe?

AL: It is indeed. All of the September17 Productions (S17) books take place in a shared universe- LEGACY, New Guard or the up-coming Troubleshooters (with Eryck Webb) or The Sentries (with Andre Siregar of LEGACY #2-4), they’re all in the same world. That being said, you do not NEED to read all the books (but you should! they’re great!) to follow what’s going on but if you DO, they are some neat Easter Eggs that carry through them; guest appearances too! I’ve always enjoyed stuff that was linked together despite separate stories- whether Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series of novels or the shared univereses of DC and Marvel.

CG: What makes a Canadian superhero different from the superheroes south of the border?

AL: They fight cybernetically enhanced polar bears armed with hockey sticks and fueled by double doubles from Tim Hortons?

Traditionally Canadian heroes in comics have been kind of a joke compared to American superheroes, or at least have generally been perceived as such. With Canadian Corps I wanted to change that.

It might sound kind of weird, because I SHOULD say they’re COMPLETELY different but at the end of the day they kind of are NOT. Which was one of things I wanted to go for. Don’t get me wrong- there’s TONS of Canadian flavor in here (because I want to celebrate what makes Canada great) but I wanted to make them just as good as any other heroes from anywhere else. Too often Canadian superheroes end up being the butt of a lot of jokes (What do you fight cyber-polar bears with hockey sticks or something? Seriously I may write this now…) and I wanted to make it clear that Canadians kick ass as much as any other country, if not more.

Having a Canadian flavor was something that was important though- the first book takes us from the streets of Calgary to the far north of Nunavut. Further volumes will have stories involving Canadian cities and ideas that reflect the various cultures and histories that make up our fine country.

CG: What’s next for September17 Productions?

AL: Some days it feels like what ISN’T next for us! Haha!

Canadian Corps #2 (the second half of the collected edition) is up next for the art crew when they wrap up a couple of their own projects. New Guard #2 has been completed for pencils, inks and lettering- colouring is 2/3 done. After that Kenan will be heading straight into LEGACY #7 (#6 comes out at the end of this month!) after he’s done.

The Sentries (#1-3) is my big summer blockbuster story that will really open up the universe of S17 and introduce even more aspects of the world that we are creating through the books. Sentries #1 comes straight out of LEGACY #6 but, as with all the other books, it has a story that is its own thing. The high concept might be something like Avengers meets Pacific Rim meets Star Wars. But different. And better.

Troubleshooters is a book I’m doing with Eryck Webb, an artist I’ve been wanting to work with for a couple years now- I had originally approached HIM to do New Guard but luckily he was too busy at the time and I found Kenan. If he’d been able to do the book I would’ve missed out on working with Kenan and that would’ve sucked because he’s a great collaborator.  That being said, I wasn’t about to give up on doing a book with Eryck and I’m stoked to have him on Troubleshooters. Much like The Sentries, Troubleshooters will open up more aspects of the S17 Universe while still being its own creature. If you liked the TV show Fringe or the comic book series The Authority/Stormwatch, this book will be your kind of thing.

Character handbooks are slowly in the works- I had wanted to do something along the lines of Marvel’s Handbooks but I’ve started leaning towards a complete S17 Universe Encyclopedia, but we’ll see. Still plenty of work to be done there- over 300 characters to write-up. Also we’re looking at turning those write-ups into a role-playing game sourcebook so there will be that to do as well. Luckily I have a gaming expert to help me out there in the form of DT Butchino who regularly releases his own wicked characters in a series called Acts of Villainy for the Mutants and Masterminds system. There are few, if any, systems he isn’t familiar with though- like I said, he’s an expert.

Besides all the comic book stuff I’m also working on a few novels in my spare time and will be looking to put in a bunch of time on those in the new year. My game plan is to write the next year’s worth of S17 comic book scripts by December so I can concentrate on the novels next year. The novels I’m working on are: Return to Grenfell (my first stab at a Fantasy novel), Formerly Known As the Indestructible Kid (about a former teen superhero sidekick turned private detective) and Innocents Lost (planned to be the first of the Steven Kincaid mystery series). At some point I’ll be doing a novel adaptation of the LEGACY #10-12 story arc and that will be called LEGACY: The Storm.

I’ve got a few other things that I’d like to do as well but it’s a matter of fleshing the ideas out a bit more and finding the time.

And that’s that! Thanks again for doing this, sir!

CG: You’re very welcome, good luck with the rest of your Kickstarter!