Category Archives: Toronto comic info

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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Three book debuts worth a look at TCAF 2013


One of my favourite aspects of Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and all other small press and indie comic expos for that matter, are the book debuts by super talented creators.

Here are the books I plan on seeking out when I drop by the event this weekend.

VERY CASUAL by Michael Deforge
koyama_Very_Casual_Border-michael-deforge(Koyama Press)

I’ve been following Deforge for only a year now. His work is truly original and interesting (and can also be dirty and disturbing. Check out his Ant Comic strip.)

Culled from mini comics, online comics and anthology contributions, Very Casual collects notable short stories from DeForge’s prolific oeuvre. Included are stories about litter gangs, meat-filled snowmen, righteous cops, beagle/human hybrids, and forest-bound drag queens. Very Casual also collects Spotting Deer, which won the Pigskin Peters Award for best non-traditional, non-narrative or avant-garde work at the 2011 Doug Wright Awards.

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt
(First Second)

While technically this arrived in stores on Wednesday, I held off picking up a copy so I could buy one directly from Kindt at his table this weekend.

First-Second_Red Handed The Fine Art of Strange Crimes-Matt_KindtWelcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world’s greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can’t solve—every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould’s brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology. But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples’ most anguished personal moments? Or will Detective Gould finally meet his match?

Operating with wit and perception in the genre of hard-boiled crime fiction, Red Handed owes as much to Paul Auster as Dashiell Hammett, and raises some genuinely sticky questions about human nature.

Nobrow-DESTINATION_X-john_martzDestination X by John Martz
(Nobrow Press)

Sam is the grandson of a world-renowned space adventurer. Marvelled by his ailing grandfather’s stories of interstellar travel and alien romance, he models his life after these tales – even though they may be untrue. So focussed is Sam on fulfilling what he thinks is his natural destiny in life that he becomes blind to his own reality.

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


Filed under Aritsts and writers, Events, Toronto comic info

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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Update on the Silver Snail Toronto move

A few months ago, we learned that Silver Snail Toronto was relocating from its legendary Queen St West location. The “death of Queen St” conversation was on everyone’s lips at the time.

Now, the retailer has announced the address for the new home (Yonge and Dundas!) and posted a video tour of their new digs.

This location is a great choice.

Dundas Square needs a comic book store. With music stores HMV and Sam the Record Man gone, the Snail provides an injection of flashy comic book entertainment flavour to the retail mix especially at a time when comics are a noticeable ingredient in the popular culture mix.The foot traffic in that area is great. It’s adjacent to Ryerson University. And with Hairy Tarantula and One Million Comix both up the street and BMV Books around the corner, their arrival gives comic fans a compelling new reason to shop along Yonge since Grey Region shuttered its doors.

Read also: Silver Snail comic book store is moving

From the beginning, I thought the originally announced Annex location was not a good idea. Cool neighbourhood, yes. But not only is The Beguiling an anchor and institution in the neighbourhood, the Snail has a personality much-better suited to blinking lights of Dundas Square. Plus, Toronto desperately needs a Midtown Comics-style store, which I feel OMC tries to achieve but hasn’t nailed. Silver Snail has credibility not least because they bring in lots of top talent for signings. They could even start featuring Hollywood comic book movie celebrity signings (like The Avengers‘ Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth) at the new location and attract lots of attention.

Read also: Selling comic books on the television

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“Comics are trash” and other lessons from TCAF 2012

This year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival offered some interesting moments.

Chief among them was a comment from Michael Comeau, the winner of this year’s Pigskin Peters Award for experimental or avant-garde comic. Following some very flattering words about his winning book Hellberta from presenter Jeet Heer, Comeau ended his acceptance speech more or less with: “Comics are trash. And when you’re into trash, you have a lot of friends.”

The words landed with a dull thud and a bit of the air left the auditorium packed with graphic novel types, a small handful of comic journalists, presumably some fans, and professional editorial cartoonists who had shown up to hear the respected and well-known Terry Mosher speak on the night of his hall of fame induction. I cringed a little thinking about the evening’s organizers Brad Mckay and Seth imagining how much effort they put into the affair and its attempts to elevate the work of comic artists beyond the 50 cent bins Comeau referenced in his speech.

There are any number of reasons why Comeau may have said that. (Perhaps he was being a bit of a punk in front of his friends? He has a difficult time taking praise and this is how he defuses it? It’s some sort of inside joke? Who knows?) Whatever the reason, his words handily illustrate the tension within the comic book community — a continuing struggle for recognition of artists who are producing honest, personal and transformational work, while super-soldiers and demi-gods dominate the box office and Wal-Mart aisles. There aren’t many cosplay fans dressing up as Wimbledon Green, that’s for certain.

Lesson #1: Art comic award shows are funky

The Doug Wright Awards were worth attending for the awards show program alone. This year, it was a cute little chapbook styled booklet running two dozen pages or so, reprinting a funny online strip by cartoonist Dustin Harbin about his first trip to the DW awards in 2011. First published on The Comics Journal website.

Also this year, 2011 winner Michael DeForge designed a beautiful limited edition poster. The physical awards handed out include a bowler’s hat sized to the winner’s head. And the organizers produce a rather slick video showcase of the best book category nominees. How often does a comic book get that level of treatment?

Lesson #2: Research!

I need to start taking my own advice. I didn’t realize Matt Kindt and Luke Pearson were attending. I would have loved take a few minutes to chat with those guys. Pearson’s work I discovered at last year’s TCAF where I picked up his debut book Hildafolk and a Solipsistic Pop anthology in which he contributed. I’ve since added Everything We Miss and the all-ages Hilda and the Midnight Giant to my collection. Kindt is a more recent find from his run on Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), and I’m looking forward to his upcoming MIND MGMT (Dark Horse) based on the preview pages floating around on the Internet.

Lesson #3: Budget more time

This one is difficult for me due to family commitments. But only having 2 hours at the show, one of which I spent listening to Aislin’s funny editorial cartoonist talk, meant missing some favourite artists. And who can blame them? They can’t sit at table all day. But I missed Jason (one of my all-time faves), the previously mentioned Luke Pearson and Gabriella Giandelli, to name a few. I did, however, get to talk to Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba who were super nice, seemed genuinely excited in Toronto and signed the gorgeous poster they designed for the show.

Lesson #4: Pay more attention to small press

Each year, the show helps me broaden my horizon and my taste becomes a little more indie. I’ve bookmarked Koyama Press and AdHouse Books on my web browser. And I’m now reading Lose by Michael DeForge (Koyama) and Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse).


The list of books I bought at TCAF this year

Terry Mosher and the Doug Wright Awards

Five tips for making the most of TCAF

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