Category Archives: Comic News

Whatever happened to Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer?


Digging through the long boxes a few weeks ago, I came across Nonplayer #1 and wondered what was happening with the second issue, why the delay?

The short answer: life happened. Like all too many personal projects, Nonplayer took a back seat to creator Nate Simpson’s work and family life. But apparently issue #2 is nearly complete.

For those unfamiliar, here is a brief description of the book:

The future kind of sucks, and that goes double for Dana Stevens – she’s stuck in a dead-end tamale delivery job, and she’s way too old to be living with her mom. But in the online fantasy world of Jarvath, she’s an elite warrior. When she slays the wife of celebrity game character King Heremoth, her fame seems all but guaranteed – that is, until the game spins totally out of control.

nonplayer_issue_1_page_6_by_natesonofsimp-d3bchjdNate Simpson is the creator and writer/artist. He works in the gaming industry.

The first issue, released in April 2011, earned tons of acclaim. Simpson even won the Russ Manning “Promising Newcomer” Award at the Eisner Awards in 2011. High praise for someone who has only put out one issue of a comic. You can buy a digital version of it here to read what people were talking about.

So what happened in the last two-plus years to delay issue #2?

To be fair, Simpson was forthright from the beginning, this series (intended as a six-part mini) was going to roll out slowly. But between then and now, two things happened as Nate writes on his website:

  • In 2012, he took on a full-time job with a casual gaming company
  • And perhaps more important, in May of this year, he and his partner/wife celebrated the birth of their son

As a result, Nate has stumbled upon one of the harsh realities of new parenthood the rest of us have also learned:

The last several months have been a blur of diaper changes and burping accidents — it’s weird how early parenthood compresses the flow of time.


Anyone who is a parent knows having a baby is like taking on a second full-time job especially in the beginning. But it gets better eventually. Comic Book Junkie progresses in fits and starts due to competing priorities in my work and family life. But I find oases of time to punch out a few articles. I can’t imaging what it must be like tackling a big project like a full-length comic.

On the plus side, Nate is nearing completion of the next issue.

I am making steady progress and nearing a big milestone, and I hope that things will accelerate a bit after I cross that threshold. I have showed the unfinished book to a few people now, and the reaction seems pretty positive.

But here is a real reality check he’s struggling with:

As far as what happens after #2 comes out — to be honest, I have no idea. It is not easy to find time to work on the book. When I think that I’ve got five more issues to go, and I multiply that number by the number of years I’ve spent on the current issue, it’s hard not to despair. Faced with this yawning abyss, all I can do is focus on getting this issue done in the hopes that its arrival may trigger some miraculous reordering of my work situation.

I wouldn’t blame Nate if he were to shelve the project for a few years until he can reclaim some free time to focus on the comic, especially if he and his partner are thinking of having a second baby.

But let’s hope he can find time to squeeze out at least another issue or two. I am eager to see where this is going.



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CBC talks to Canadian cartoonists: Seth, Michel Rabagliati, Jillian Tamaki, Chester Brown

Seth - clyde fans

CBC kicks off a new series of interviews with Canadian cartoonists under their Canada Writes banner:

Canada Writes is talking to some of Canada’s best known cartoonists and graphic novelists on the different techniques, challenges, and advantages of working with both text and drawings.

Make art…make more art” – An interview with Seth

Cartoonist Seth talks about reading Mad Magazine, following in the footsteps of trailblazers like Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman, and the serious attention currently given to comics.

I’ve been a big fan of Seth‘s work since about 2004. Clyde Fans is a fantastic work of comics and belongs on your shelf with graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Chris  Ware, and the Hernandez Brothers.

An excerpt from the interview:

D+Q-Seth-himselfBy the time I had grown up and realized I didn’t want to draw Spiderman, or work at MAD, it was too late. I was a cartoonist. The problem then was trying to figure out what a young adult interested in art and literature could do with the comics medium.

Strangely for a variety of reasons I still don’t fully  understand, comics have made a major comeback and have gained a lot of legitimacy in the last ten years. When I started out in the eighties, the idea of creating serious comics for adults was pretty laughable to most folks and for the longest time it was hard to even explain what alternative comics or graphic novels were. Nobody seemed to understand or care. Not so, any longer.

 Comics are given serious attention now and I’m quite surprised. You see them reviewed in major newspapers and exhibited in serious museums. I wouldn’t have predicted it.

Jill Tamaki is one on this list whose work I’m not familiar with. She co-created the graphic novel, Skim, with her cousin Mariko Tamaki to wide acclaim including the Ignatz Award (2008), and in 2009 a Joe Shuster Award (Mariko as writer) and a Doug Wright Award for Best Book. It also earned four Eisner nominations that year. Originally from Calgary, Jill produces the webcomic SuperMutant Magic Academy. She and Mariko have a new book, Awago Beach, coming out in 2014.

jilltamaki-selfJust start making things and don’t stop! The barrier to entry in comics is extremely low. The materials can be extremely cheap. You don’t need a lot of space. You don’t necessarily need to be able to draw well. It’s easier than ever to publish your comics online. The only thing you need is a point of view and something to say.

The interview is a bit thin, but you can read the rest of it here.

michelrabagliati-selfFinally, check out a slideshow of Michel Rabagliati‘s workshop. Michel won Best Book at this year’s Doug Wright Awards for The Song of Roland. I first came across Rabagliati in 2005 with Paul Moves Out. He has such excellent storytelling skills. Solid any way you slice it. You can’t get go wrong with any of his books.

(UPDATE: May 29)

Chester Brown – Advice for people considering a profession in cartooning

chesterbrown2-selfWhat would you tell an aspiring comics artist who is starting out today? 

Don’t get married. Oh, you wanted a “writing/drawing/creating tip”. Don’t rely too heavily on narrative captions. Dialogue is more involving for readers.
But really, don’t get married.

I ran that one for the laughs, but Brown offers some insightful answers to some decent questions. You should check out the full interview.

While my plan is to keep this story updated with links to all the interviews as they come out, we’ll see how long before I lapse.

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You can help reboot Captain Canuck! Q&A with Creative Director Dean Henry

captain-canuckOn July 1st, the “first” Canadian hero will make his return in a reboot courtesy of a dedicated group of creative-types. But they need our help.

As of this writing, there are only 5 days left in the Captain Canuck Indiegogo campaign. The people behind the project are raising funds to launch a new animated Web series featuring our good Captain. I suggest you pop over there now to join and then read the rest of this article.

You’re back? Great. To whet your appetite on this project, we have a Q&A with Creative Director Dean Henry. Before we jump in, a couple of things:

CaptainCanuck_Laura Vandervoort 3

  • Between when I spoke with Dean and today, it was announced Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, V) would join the cast as the voice of the new character Blue Fox.
  • There are a lot of people involved in this project, scroll to the end for the names.

Okay, here is the main event. Enjoy!

CBJ: So, why Captain Canuck?
Dean: It all started with a sandwich. Our business partner is also part owner of The Lakeview Restaurant at Dundas and Ossington (in Toronto). They were doing a kids menu and wanted to make a sandwich called the Captain Canuck. So they reached out to creator, Richard Comely. He was into the idea and then over the course of time we found out the rights were becoming available.

CBJ: There have been a number of different incarnations over the decades. What’s different this time? 
Dean:  This captain is distinctively Canadian. He never wanted to be the hero. He’s not a guns blazing, no questions kind of character. He’s a thinking man’s hero. The mantle was thrust upon him and now he has the power to make a difference. He’ll apologize for breaking someone’s arm, if they force him to do it. He has a very Canadian sensibility.

captain-canuck_logan-hudson-clawsI was a fan of Alpha Flight and Wolverine growing up. Through the years I’ve seen different depictions of Canadian heroes in comics, but the language and the characters were a little off. For instance, Canadians don’t use the word patriot. Little things like that. We wanted to create something that feels authentic.

When you add the amazing pool of talent in Toronto, both comic creators and artists, it’s surprising no one had done anything sooner.

CBJ: So how are you going to keep relevant without falling into kitsch?
Dean: We want him to be funny without this being a comedy. There is definitely a fine line we walk in the writing process. We aren’t lampooning Canadian culture. It’s more about showcasing that sensibility I mentioned – he’s not the boyscout but he’s not the dark, brooding vigilante. He has a strong moral centre, strong ethics but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

CBJ: I have maybe one or two old Canuck comics buried in my long boxes. How are you going to make this character relevant for the audience today?

Dean: I remember picking up the comic as a kid too and was just excited that it was a Canadian character and published here.


At the time the character launched in the 70s, Richard was doing the writing and art and he was running the business until George Freeman came along. [Freeman joined as penciller in 1979.] He was doing all this before indie comics were big.

Storytelling has evolved a lot since then. If you watch The A-Team or Magnum P.I. now you might think ‘Wow, that’s really lazy writing’ by today’s standards. What Richard did in the 70s started something. There’s a lot of unrealized potential with Canuck.

As for how it ties to the original books, we’ve taken the Battlestar Galactica approach to the story by making it relevant now. And you’ll see that as the setting for this series is revealed. I can’t say much except that it’s a modern-day Canada with a slightly altered history where new technology is shaping the world very quickly in unpredictable ways. It’s rooted in current events and science but without getting too political.

Here are the people behind the project:

Fadi Hakim – executive producer for Captain Canuck Inc.
Dean Henry – chief creative director for Captain Canuck Inc
Paul Gardner – creative director for Captain Canuck INC
Mike Valiquette – head of development at Smiley Guy studios
Jeremy Diamond from Smiley Guy Studios is a writing partner on the series
Kalman Andrasofszky (big in the comic doing covers) – lead artist and character designs
On animation  are Sam Chou and Al Jerek Torrijas (a recent grad from Sheridan)

The Silver Snail (both in Toronto and Ottawa) has been a big supporter as well as Big B Comics (Hamilton, Barrie, Niagara Falls)

So that’s it. Thanks to Dean for taking the time to chat. Head over to the Indiegogo campaign page and help out if you haven’t already.

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Scott Thompson hosts the Doug Wright Awards 2013


This year, 2013, was only my second time attending the Doug Wright Awards. I was introduced last year when Terry Mosher earned his Giants of the North hall of fame award. That event was hosted by Toronto-based entertainment and pop culture columnist Geoff Pevere.

Scott Thompson, of Kids in the Hall and Hannibal fame, was this year’s MC. Completely entertaining as you might expect. I dragged along my buddy Derek Evernden who made the banner for this blog. He had a blast.

I only became vaguely aware of the awards in 2010, but imagined it would be some super-stuffy insider’s event. (Only half-true!) Not only was it hugely entertaining (in the best and most geeky way possible), but my favourite part was discovering brilliant talent. Last year, I didn’t know any of the nominees. I’m not embarrassed to say that I was a complete newbie to the Canadian indie comics scene despite my having attended TCAF since 2005. This year, at least I’d read two of the nominated books across all three categories.

Collected here are some Tweets that I sent out during the awards along with some by a few others. But first, enjoy the intro video featuring some of the evening’s nominated books brought to life with the voice talent of Scott Thompson and others.


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Top panel picks for Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2013


There is lots happening this weekend at TCAF. Programming on both Saturday and Sunday is strong. And there is an entire kids programming stream that looks fantastic if you’re bringing the little ones.

Also: hurray, 10 years!


The State of Small Press
Small press comics publishers are like mushrooms – over the past five years, more and more of them have been springing up all over the US and Canada.  What does the market look like for these small presses today?  And how is the market changing? Join representatives from Secret Acres, Domino Books, Koyama Press, Grimalken Press, and Rebus Books in answering these and many more questions.

(The Marriott High Park Ballroom – 10-11am)

Blown Covers: The New Yorker and Francoise Mouly
The Blown Covers blog has become a must-visit space for illustrators and illustration aficionados, being a behind-the-scenes peek at the New Yorker covers that you were never meant to see! Join The New Yorker Art Editor Françoise Mouly and cover artist Frank Viva as they discuss what goes into making a cover for The New Yorker.

(The Marriott High Park Ballroom – 11-12pm)

Spotlight: Michel Rabagliati
Michel Rabagliati is known for his thoughtful, true-to-life stories of teenager life; the latest, Paul Joins the Scouts, debuts this year at TCAF.  In this spotlight, Rabagliati will discuss his process, his work, and his newest graphic novel with librarian and journalist Eva Volin.

(The Marriott High Park Ballroom – 12:15-1:15pm)

Moebius, Past and Future
Jean Giraud, also known as Moebius, was a legend in the comics industry – his lush, whimsical art and creative storytelling inspired a generation of cartoonists around the world to take the comics medium to new directions and new heights.  Four cartoonists discuss Moebius’ life, work, and his role in inspiring the industry today – as well as their own books. With Frederik Peeters (Sandcastle), Paul Pope (THB), David B. (Black Paths), Glyn Dillon (The Nao of Brown). Moderated by Xavier Guilbert (

(The Marriott Forest Hill Ballroom – 1:30 – 2:30pm)

Comics & Politics
Looking beyond the political cartoon – that humorous, satirical, often exaggerated form of political comics storytelling – to the political graphic novel – a form that approaches those same subjects with a different level of gravity, emotion, and depth.  What makes the difference between the two?  Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less), Rutu Modan (The Property), Matt Bors (Cartoon Movement), and Josh Neufeld (A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge). Moderated by Nicole Marie Burton.

(The Marriott Forest Hill Ballroom, 4 – 5pm)


I did my best to avoid suggesting two panels in the same time slot, but I can’t avoid it here. I don’t know who designed the programming, but for me, this is torture. The Seth/Spiegelman conversation could be really interesting, but the Comic blog panel is very timely considering AOL shut down Comics Alliance two weeks ago:

Is Comics Blogging Over?
The comics blog: the dominant conversation forum for comics in the late 90s and through the 2000s, is certainly changing, possibly mutating… but is it ‘over’? Social media, new content distribution methods, and a lack of paying outlets may just have changed blogging forever. Join Deb Aoki (, Heidi McDonald (, Tom Spurgeon (, Andrew Wheeler (Freelance/Comics Alliance), and moderator Brigid Alverson (Robot6) in a lively discussion of this contentious topic.

(The Pilot Tavern, 11am-12pm)

Spotlight: Art Spiegelman and Seth, in Conversation
Art Spiegelman is the author of Breakdowns, Maus, In The Shadow of No Towers, Meta Maus, and the editor and subject of TCAF debut CO-MIX, a retrospective of Art’s vast career in comics and illustration, from RAW to The New Yorker. At this special TCAF presentation, Art Spiegelman will sit down with his friend and fellow cartoonist Seth (Palooka-ville, George Sprott) in a wide-ranging interview on Art’s career.

(The Marriott Forest Hill Ballroom, 11-12pm)

TCAF’s Debut Book Spotlight: DeForge, CF, Fink, McEowen, Kindt, & Modan
The TCAF Debut Book Spotlight shines on six of the most exciting books and authors of this year’s show, giving them a chance to talk about their own work, and each other’s. Featuring Michael DeForge for Very Casual; CF for Mere; Jess Fink for We Can Fix It; Matt Kindt for Red Handed; Patrick McEown for Hair Shirt, and Rutu Modan for The Property.

(The Marriott Forest Hill Ballroom, 12:15-1:15pm)

Spotlight: Taiyo Matsumoto
TCAF is proud to welcome one of the most exciting and acclaimed manga creators in the world, Taiyo Matsumoto, as he celebrates his first international art exhibition and the North American debut of his new graphic novel SUNNY. Please join Taiyo Matsumoto in conversation with TCAF Festival Director Christopher Butcher, as they discuss Matsumoto’s career, his forays into new media, and his new graphic novel series.

(The Marriott Forest Hill Ballroom, 1:30-2:30pm)

By popular demand, TCAF’s awesome ADVENTURE TIME panel returns for 2013! Featuring Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb, and Mike Holmes (Adventure Time: The Comic Book), Meredith Gran (Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens), Danielle Corsetto (Adventure Time: Playing with Fire), and Michael Deforge and Steve Wolfhard (artists on the Adventure Time cartoon).

(The Marriott Forest Hill Ballroom, 4-5 pm)

Comics from an Author’s Perspective
Creator-owned comics have grabbed the imagination of the comic-reading public and publishers are looking for fresh ideas from a new generation of talent. Listen closely as Jim Zub (Skullkickers, Street Fighter, Legends of the Dark Knight) discusses pitching his comic series to publishers and offers advice on how to climb to the top of the treacherous submission mountain, along with comic writing techniques and amusing anecdotes.

(Fortuna Ristorante, 2:45-3:45pm)

(Top, TCAF 10th anniversary poster by Maurice Vellekoop. Right, commemorative TCAF 2013 poster by Taiyo Matsumoto. More poster info.)

More TCAF stories:
Hernandez brothers vs Matt Bors – TCAF 2013
5 tips for Toronto Comics Arts Festival newbies
‘Comics are trash’ and other lessons from TCAF 2012

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Filed under Aritsts and writers, Comic News, Events, Toronto comic info