Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Turning Over A New...Nah, Too Obvious.

Based on the name "Red Leaf Comics", you wouldn't immediately assume that the publisher was based out of Pheonix, Arizona (at least first went into business there).

But they are (were?) and damned if they didn't publish more Canadian characters than most of the other publishers I followed throughout the five years that my previous blog, They Stand On Guard ran. That includes flagship character The Leaf, who spanned multiple generations.

Of late, founder/publisher John Michael Helmer has directed much of his attention to Lucky Comics. That publishing imprint is more geared towards classic, public domain characters, some re-imagined, some less so, and their own original material. The most prominent members of their cast include Beetle Girl (granddaughter of the original Blue Beetle) and both a classic and modern version of The Black Bat, the pulp hero from the late 30s to the early 50s.

And now it seems that Red Leaf's own classic character is getting an update through Lucky. A few days ago, writer Mark F. Davis posted the following comment on his Facebook page:
I made a pitch to John Helmer of Lucky Comics for a new Leaf ongoing comic book for his Lucky Universe, and he dug it enough to launch a new Leaf title and give me full creative reigns on writing the book!  
We've got Laudable Luis Rivera staying up nights working hard on the design for the new character. How can you beat that? Watch for The New Leaf, from Lucky Comics!
And Rivera came through with the following:

Helmer further confirms that...
The character is NOT related to the MacSorly clan (the Red Leaf versions of the character) or any of their classic stories. All New-All Different and published by Lucky Comics!
The book is expected to be out in late summer/fall of this year. Presumably it will follow the now-standard Lucky Comics format of an 8-page pdf available from Drivethru Comics and in print from Indyplanet.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Oktana & Ko

There was a sudden flurry of activity on Kickstarter early in the year. I've backed seven projects, six of which featured Canadian characters and/or creators including continuations of series for Psychosis, Auric Of The Great White North, Deborah Daring and Big Nick.

So far, six of the seven have been successfully funded so I'd like to draw a little attention to the last one as it enters the final days of its campaign.

Oktana & Ko is a 24 page full colour science fiction comic book. 
This issue tells the story of a revolutionary marine science team that have found a unique way to research octopus by mentally interfacing with them to create a symbiotic relationship. 
Their ship is hi-jacked by criminals that want to use their abilities and technology for themselves. The team must fight to protect themselves and the animals they have bonded with so closely.

More adventure than superhero, but definitely with a Canadian touch.

I know what you're thinking, but "octopuses" is actually an acceptable plural for octopus now. ;-)

Going over biographies, it is true that the majority of the talent involved with this project is not Canadian. However, a portion of creator Yuriy Levytskyy's own biography caught my attention.
I grew up in Lviv, Ukraine. Studied and got diploma in Civil engineering. Now I live in Ontario, Canada. I (became) interested in comics and met legendary artist Ty Templeton at Fan Expo in Toronto who invited me to his Comic Book Bootcamp, where I have got basic knowledge how to do comics. Since then I have been working on my own book. With talented team I transformed my dream into awesomeness.
And not coincidentally, Templeton contributed the art for the cover above.

The team needs a mere $353 to meet its rather modest goal of by May 2nd. Get a better look at the project on the Kickstarter page and consider contributing. The funds are being raised to print the book; The material is already created. So it seems like the risk is minimal and the rewards should ship relatively quickly.

Good luck the rest of the way, Yuriy and team!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Great War Needs Great Heroes

Not much to add here, the folks behind Group Of 7 do a fine job of describing the project and its theme briefly.

The First World War. 
Vimy Ridge. 
Canada’s baptism by fire. 
While the battle rages topside, Canadian physician John McCrae leads a secret mission underneath the Ridge against a mysterious enemy with monstrous intentions. To succeed, he’ll need a group of unique soldiers. 
A group of legendary heroes. 
A Group of 7.
I very much enjoy a story in which fiction and history are tightly bound. In this case, we get a "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" of sorts, in which historical figures are used to tell a story.
These are the facts. During the First World War, over 420,000 Canadian soldiers served in Europe, equal to approximately 5% of the country’s population at that time. Among those ranks were the seven heroes you will encounter in this story, all of whom were stationed in Europe at the precise moment in history that this story takes place. All seven would leave a lasting mark on Canadian history. All but one would survive the horrors of the trenches. 
Following the War, there is documentary evidence that some would form friendships, while others crossed paths or corresponded. In 1939, most would answer the call a second time. The historical record confirms this. 
What if these lions of Canadian politics, arts, science, sports, and medicine shared a previously unknown history, a secret past long forgotten? What if, as a group, they played an integral role at a defining moment in Canadian history? What if?
The book was said to have an April release and, well, here we are. I can't wait to have access to it.

For a full list of characters and a greater level of detail about the project and its goals, visit its Facts page.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Coming Soon From A Publisher To Be Determined: Crimson Streak!

When Standard Comics was last mentioned here, it was concerning their version of Commander Steel, renamed General Steel. Their re-imagined version of the WW2-era character had been mentioned across several social platform and so it was hoped that he would make an appearance in the coming Sentinels book that Standard plans to crowdfund soon.

It turns out that a Standard Comics character might very well see publication by a publisher other than Standard before any of that happens, however.

Coalition Comics is a, well...coalition...of seven different publishers, including Standard, each contributing characters from their own line for a team book called Power Company. And one of the Standard Comics characters taking part is the Canadian speedster named Crimson Streak.

I love this character's look. It's simple but still sleek and cool. He's been used in a number of teaser images already including the one below, in which I think he looks terrific. If you knew nothing about him the image would make it clear that he's a speedster type. Great job with the "brake scrape".

This project has been in the planning stages for quite some time but it appears now that the seemingly-obligatory Kickstarter campaign for it will launch in September. So let's watch out for that as we continue to keep track of Standard Comics as well. They (Standard) have at least three more Canadians in their stable of original creations and I'll want to learn more about them as Standard becomes more active as a self-publisher.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Canuckdrum Books, part 1: Peelers

Sometimes, it's easy. You come across an independent small press publisher's book. It's called The Leaf, the lead character is wearing red and white, has a cape shaped like a maple leaf, has a maple leaf in his logo, the publisher is called Red Leaf and you figure "you know what? This dude just might be Canadian and therefore good content for my little blog about Canadian comic book characters".

But it's not always that easy. Not everyone is so eager to identify their product, or even him(or her)self, as Canadian.

I guess Canada is not always considered a "sexy" setting by some and therefore not much of a marketing point in solicitation text.  It's fine if you feel that way, I suppose. I'll never invite you to my awesome cottage then, and that's just something you'll have to live with for making me work harder, doosh.

This is what the "Canuckdrum" series of posts is about. It refers to books that sure seem like they take place in Canada but don't really announce themselves as doing so. Or if they do, they do it quite quietly (perhaps that's just part of stereotypical Canadian humility).

And so we start this mini-series off with Peelers.

I did not know a single thing about Peelers until a few weeks ago when the creator of Deborah Daring: The Private Eye With Attitude contacted his Kickstarter backers (a group to which I belong) to make us aware of his plans for the third issue of that fine, fun series (cover at right, by Jae Korim), subtitled "Russian Face-Off".

To those who are unfamiliar with Deborah, she is a sassy, sexy, private detective with a boring-ass day job but is based on the creator's (Rob MacKinnon) wife, so mind how you speak about her. And if you take a glance at the left side of that cover, it will be quite clear that the book takes place in Toronto (no, not Seattle, smart guy).

But what the hell is Peelers? When the Kickstarter campaign was announced for issue three, it was said to be a "double feature" along with a Peelers book, sub-titled "Double The Fun". I had never heard of such a book in my life.

That's because it isn't a book, but a movie. The book that is being funded is a prequel to the flick.

Clearly this is also some Jae Korim art. His style is rather easily identified.

As for Peelers, the official website for the film describes it as...
What starts out as the last hurrah on the closing night of an infamous small-town strip club, quickly turns into a night of bloodshed when a crew of coal miners shows up and with them a deadly contaminant.  Former baseball player and current club owner, Blue Jean Douglas has decided to hand over her bar to a new owner and leave town for good, but her plans are thwarted when she discovers the magnitude of the epidemic that has been unleashed. With victims piling up, Blue Jean must step up to the plate to protect her family, her friends and her bar before it's too late and she loses everything she holds dear.
It was shot in British Columbia (Coquitlam, I believe) and lead actress Wren Walker is Ontario-born. Hell, IMDB identifies it as a Canadian flick. Plenty to raise a glass of maple whiskey to right there. I just can't quite seem to nail down whether the story actually takes place in Canada. But I can't identify that it DOESN'T, so let's just assume...

The Kickstarter campaign is just over 75% funded as I write this, with two weeks to go, so it seems like a safe bet that it will meet its goal just as the previous two issues of Deborah Daring did. If you missed those and are now interested, the campaign's structure makes it easy to catch up, focus on Deb, or on Peelers. Whatever suits your fancy. There's plenty of preview material there as well.

If you're still unsure, maybe check out a splatterfull trailer for Peelers first.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spotlight on: Spectrum

Two Gargoyles Comics' Thunder was among the first characters I discovered, and became a fan of, after starting the They Stand On Guard blog in 2012.

Sadly, only four issues of his series have been released to date (and they are available on Indyplanet individually or collected as volume 1) and I believe the last one was in early 2014, perhaps even late 2013.

It appears as though the character has gone through intensive restructuring during that time, however. His appearance has changed, the art chores are now being handled by one Myk Emmshin and pages of the fifth issue are being posted on a weekly basis on the publisher's website, presumably to also be made available in print at a later date. The publisher's renewed commitment to the character is further underscored by the merchandise they now offer with his image.

Here are the basics, if you're new to the character.
In January. Two Gargoyles introduced a new series and character, using the same page-a-week format. Meet Spectrum:

As I write this, page 13 is about to become available. I'd been waiting for him to be seen in costume before sharing a page from the series. At a page a week, it was taking a while. But Two Gargoyles facilitated matters by creating the promotional fact sheet above.

I'm trying to avoid reading too much of that book, and the fifth issue of Thunder, because I plan on getting the print versions at some point. But I do know that you can follow Spectrum's adventures from the beginning on this page.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Crowdfunding For Psychosis, Volume 3, Coming Soon!

Big fan of this series.

The Kickstarter goes live on March 15th and I want to reiterate (while not putting any pressure on unrealistic expectation on the creators) that these guys have been as reliable as anyone in terms of meeting their goals for delivery. 90% of the projects I've backed are late. Psychosis is in the 10%.

If you're new to Psychosis, the Kickstarter will offer the opportunity to purchase the previous volumes as well so it will easy to catch up. Here's some background on those.

The year is 2134. It has been almost a hundred years since society as we know it disappeared. Cities were brought to the ground in days, governments in weeks, and entire countries in mere months. Two thirds of the population had died off before the year's end. This is what is written in the history books as "The Great Purge". 
The Great Purge tore the Earth asunder. Many of the remaining population mutated and gained abilities forming a new species dubbed NewGens. The NewGens rose to power decimating the population of the world and eventually gave rise to SeVeN, Six Newgens and one very rich and powerful human. They make the decisions now. They choose who lives, who dies and who prospers.. 
That was nearly 50 years ago... 
Victor Stevens is a calm, collected and stable young man. He does his best to get by with what life has given him... the short end of the stick. His other side, Psychosis, is cocky, arrogant, and always one step ahead of the opposition, Psychosis relies on no one but himself while Victor trusts his friends to help them through. Despite their differences they stand against the might of SeVeN together. 
Which side will prove stronger in their battle for control? 
(In volume two) Victor struggles to fend off his demons, while the world around him is brought to its knees. Can he hold it together long enough to make a difference?
I see there'll be an option to get slaughtered in the comic among the Kickstarter perks. I've already had my throat ripped out in an issue of Z'Isle so perhaps I'll start a tradition. Let's see how many Canadian comics I can be butchered in!

According to their Facebook Page, Atkinson and Coates plan on crowdfunding volume four in September or so, so there's more Psychosis in our futures!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

One More To Watch: The Sentinels from Standard Comics

I regret not including this among the projects to watch in 2017 when rebooting the blog earlier this year.

Almost five years ago now, I stumbled into Roy Johnson's gallery on Comic Art Fans, probably while looking for Captain Canuck material. Like many, I was momentarily suckered by the image below, believing it to be, at the time, yet another attempt at a Captain Canuck series.

Shortly thereafter, the following image was added which not only included Commander Steel again, but this time added Nelvana and The Penguin.

Unfortunately, it was not preview art for an upcoming team-up book (although Chapterhouse might want to give that option some thought). When Mr. Johnson began collecting commissioned artwork, he chose to apply the name of a defunct publisher to it. The final result appears very authentic.

Mr. Johnson has since created a reference guide to the various characters that populate the Standard Universe, mixing updated (to various degrees) public domain characters and his own original creations.

Standard Comics Encyclopedia (Abridged) is where you will find entries on the colorful characters in the Standard Comics Universe, including information on their personal data, personality, history, powers, and abilities.
Interest in his product has proved to be such that Mr. Johnson is now preparing to publish not only a second volume of the encyclopedia but a "real" version of the Sentinels book. And that book might/should include a Canadian character or two (three?) as there are a handful in the Standard Universe. We'll have to wait until the Kickstarter campaign kicks off soon to know which among them will appear and to what extent, but reading the current line-up in the Encyclopedia makes me optimistic.

In the meantime, additional work had been on Commander General Steel, presumably with the intention of putting him to use at some point, if not in that Sentinels book.

Art by Luis Rivera and Escomic! 
A forceful, dynamic man, Steel is a natural leader. He sees the humor in life, and, although his attitude briefly soured after the murder of his family, he has never let it overwhelm him. 
Jack Steel was mortally wounded by a German shell at the Battle of El Alamein (1942). A strange scientist took him to a hidden cave laboratory and injected the "elixir of life" into the dying soldier, reviving Steel and giving him superhuman abilities. Steel had no idea where he was born or what his true nationality was, therefore, he considered himself a champion of all nations against Dictatorships. His activities during WWII included battling Nazi Werewolves with the Grim Reaper in Transylvania (see Grim Reaper, The Grim Reaper #22), freeing German Prisoner of War camps, leading resistance movements in occupied countries, and so on. 
One of the Canadian Standard Universe characters will be appearing in another project that is expected to be launched through Kickstarter soon.  More on that later but in the meantime, you can track Standard's progress on Facebook here.