Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Tintin’s toughest adventure yet

December 15, 2011 | News

He’s the star of a book series that has sold more than 230 million copies and his globe-hopping adventures, translated into 80 languages, have made him one of the most recognizable comic characters in the world. Yet somehow Tintin has always managed to elude a widespread audience in English-speaking North America. Until now. Thanks to some Hollywood heavyweights, Tintin, who first appeared back in 1929 and has gone on to be featured in 24 wildly popular books by Belgian cartoonist Hergé, may finally be on the verge of a breakthrough on this side of the Atlantic. The Adventures of Tintin, which opens wide in Canada and the U.S. on Dec. 21, is directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson and stars (at least in a motion-capture way) Daniel Craig, with Jamie Bell playing the title adventurer. The film has already grossed more than $233 million in international release and some Tintin fans believe it will lure even more readers to this bestselling book series. In Canada alone, “We have brought in 100,000-plus copies just to meet current demands,” says Jennifer Lynch of Tintin distributor Publishers Group Canada in an email, adding that “the spike in sales since the beginning of 2011 has been huge.” She credits the film buzz for the boost in sales. “It’s a very exciting film and I think it will bring Tintin to even more people,” says Michael Farr, widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost “Tintinologists” and author of four books on the character and its creator, whose given name is Georges Remi. The fantastical life of the intrepid young reporter with the upturned hair, the knickerbockers and his little white dog named Snowy hooked Farr at a young age. “It was the first book I read, as a 4-year-old,” he admits. “I remember sitting down and reading it after dinner with my mother and loving it from the first page onwards.” The lure of the character, Farr says, comes in no small part from how broad his adventures are. “Hergé, himself, would have liked to have been a reporter, but since he couldn’t be, he created a character, Tintin, who was going to be a great foreign correspondent that he was going to send out into the world to discover what was happening,” Farr says. “Over 50 years we had 23 adventures completed (and one unfinished) and they are, in effect, a mirror of what was happening in the world in the 20th century — with Tintin always in the thick of things.” There are plenty of reasons why so many people enjoy these books, not the least of which is the art, inspiring the look of the digitally rendered film. “It's a beautiful set of stories in the context of their day, and many are timeless,” says Leslie McGrath, head of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at the Toronto Public Library. “Those are clear, bright drawings that instrantly engage you in each story and tell it clearly.” The elegant look of the books also lured in 41-year-old Edouard Biot, an Ottawa resident who emigrated from Belgium 20 years ago. “Tintin is definitely a classic,” he says. “As a book and game publisher, I keep saying to my illustrators and graphic designers to keep ‘la ligne claire’; in English ‘clear lines.’ I’m still trying to keep our designs as simple and clear as the ones Hergé did a long time ago.” Biot says he loves the idea that the film will create a new audience for the books in North America. “I wish this movie brings Americans and English Canadians to reading those comic books,” he says. “That would be a great moment in the history of comic books.” Having already seen the film, which he describes as “riveting and packed with adventure,” Farr says it is sure to capture plenty of new fans. “It’s a very exciting film and I think it will bring Tintin to even more people, so those who are not familiar with Tintin will now discover him, go out and buy the books and that’s where they’ll find the enduring pleasure which certainly I’ve had,” he says. The feature film adaptation of Tintin is a long time coming, with plenty of parties over the years vying for the chance to bring his adventures to life. “We tried desperately at the time to get the feature rights, but of course Spielberg bought them back (in the ’80s),” says Patrick Loubert, co-founder of Nelvana Limited, the iconic Canadian animation company that produced the highly successful cartoon versions of Tintin’s adventures. “We spent a lot of time trying to make it look exactly like the comic book,” Loubert says. “We were really happy with it. We really liked the books. To get an opportunity to do it was a real treat.” The animation mogul agrees that The Adventures of Tintin has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster. “The stories are very interesting, the characters are unusual, it’s action-adventure with comedy and it should work even if you didn’t know the property at all — even if you didn’t know it was a famous French (language) classic.” The French connection is a strong one, Loubert says, noting the animated version sold like hotcakes “en Francais.” “Every country that had French as a second language, or even a third language, seemed to know the property,” he says. Those language ties extend to Canada, Farr notes. “Because of the French-Canadian connection, Canadians were always more familiar with Tintin than those south of the parallel,” he says. “Now, with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s film, I think this gap will finally be closed.” Farr says one of the best reasons for hope of a landmark Tintin picture comes from the series’ creator. “When I was writing Hergé’s biography, I discovered a note among his papers which was dated January 1983,” Farr explains. “In it, he said, ‘If there’s one person who can bring Tintin successfully to the screen, it’s this young American director.’ “Now he didn’t name Spielberg, but we know it’s Spielberg because in his diary he (wrote he) was due to meet him at the end of March. Spielberg ...

DC: The New 52 is here

October 9, 2011 | News

It’s the end of an era for DC Comics. Or, more importantly, it’s a new beginning. After more than 70 years of bringing the world the adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and dozens of other well-known characters, the historic company has hit the reset button. It has re-launched its entire line of comics with an event dubbed “the New 52” (after the number of rebooted titles they’ve released) in a massive effort to de-clutter complicated continuity and make its books more accessible to new readers. On the forefront of this initiative are three local comic creators — Francis Manapul, Jeff Lemire and Ken Lashley — all of whom agreed it was probably high time for a fresh take on the DC universe. “I’ve always thought that DC kind of needed to do something like this because their history was so complicated,” said Lemire, who is writing Animal Man and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. amid “the New 52”. “I always felt like doing something like this would be a great way to get new people into comics and into (DC) comics and so I was really happy when they announced this initiative and pretty excited about it.” Manapul, pictured above, who is now co-writing and illustrating the fast-paced DC standard, The Flash, said the decision caught him off guard. “I was absolutely shocked because DC is usually perceived as the slow-and-steady company,” he said. “It was such a bold move for DC to be making that I thought ‘you really can’t help but be excited.’” Lashley, co-artist of issue No. 1 of the military-themed Blackhawks and cover artist for that series along with new titles Bat-Wing and Suicide Squad, admitted he initially had mixed emotions about the re-launch. “Part of me is saying ‘wow, this is great you want to start fresh’ and (another part) says ‘what’s going by the wayside is part of history,’” he said. Getting involved with “the New 52” came as a bit of a surprise, Lashley said. “I was asked by (DC editor) Mike Marts to do a book, sort of a cool military book, not even figuring it was part of this new re-launch,” he said. When he quickly learned working on the book was going to require a commitment he couldn’t manage alongside his day job at Toronto’s TransGaming Inc., he opted to contribute to the re-launch exclusively as a cover artist. Best-known for his dynamic illustration work on books like Witchblade and Legion of Super-Heroes, Manapul adds writing to his repertoire as part of “the New 52” — something he didn’t take on lightly. “It’s the perfect storm of potentially choking,” he said with a laugh. “(Co-writer Brian Buccellato and I) getting our first big shot at writing this book, this re-launch, everyone’s expecting big sales, everyone’s expecting the book to, at the very least, look good — it was very daunting. “It really boils down to me thinking about it when I was 14-, 15-years-old, reading The Flash comic and thinking ‘one day I would love to write and draw this thing.’ “Once I started thinking about that, it really took everything else away.” The decision to take on both Animal Man and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. stemmed from their diversity, Lemire said. “I think the books are different, which is something I was looking for,” he said. “Animal Man is a very furious, very dark, emotional story, while Frankenstein is a really big, fun action-adventure, kind of over-the-top sort of thing.” Animal Man has already been singled out by many critics as a highlight of the re-launched DC lineup and Lemire said part of its success no doubt stems from how personal the book has gotten for him. “Of all the stuff I’ve written for DC so far, (Animal Man’s Buddy Baker) seems to be the character I can relate to the most,” he said. “Like me, he’s a father and a husband and so it’s very easy to put myself in his shoes and take that family aspect and build out from that.” The opportunity to get on the ground floor of this updated DC universe was very appealing, Manapul said, because of its historic potential. “The more you think about this initiative and the books that are spawning out of it, potentially what you’re seeing right now — how the Flash is portrayed, how Superman is portrayed — this could be how these characters are perceived for the next century,” he noted. And as for long-time readers who aren’t too impressed with losing those 70-plus years of history and investment they’ve made in DC’s characters, Lemire says it’s time to accept change. “This is not just something they’re trying out,” he said. “This is going to stick, for better or for worse. “There are a lot of detractors out there, but the fact of the matter is: the books are selling really, really well and it seems to be a success on pretty much every level, so I can’t see it going back to the old way. I think it’s here to stay.” Lashley, on the other hand, thinks there’s always potential for a new “New 52” down the road. “Let’s be real: this is comic books, right? There’s always a reset button somewhere,” he said. “That’s the fluid nature of comics.” (This article first appeared in the Toronto Star)

2009 Joe Shuster Award winners

September 27, 2009 | News

The 2009 Joe Shuster Award winners were announced on Saturday night at the University of Toronto’s Innis Town Hall. The Canadian comic book creator honours went to: Artist * David Finch – Ultimatum #1-2 (Marvel Comics) Cartoonist * Dave Sim – Glamourpuss #1-4, Judenhaas (Aardvark-Vanaheim) Colourist * François Lapierre - “Gédéon et la bête du lac” Contes et légendes du Québec (Glénat Québec), Magasin général 4 (Casterman) Writer * Mariko Tamaki - Emiko Superstar (DC/Minx), Skim (Groundwood Books) Cover * Niko Henrichon – Hostile Tome 1 (Dupuis) Webcomics * Cameron Stewart – Sin Titulo Publisher * Les 400 Coups/Mécanique Générale Comics for Kids * Kean Soo, Jellaby Book 1 (Hyperion) Gene Day Award for Canadian Self-Publishers * Jesse Jacobs for Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow. The Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer * Legends Comics and Books (Victoria, British Columbia) Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame * George Menendez Rae (1906-1992) * Réal Godbout (1951-) * Ken Steacy (1955-) * Diana Schutz (1955-)

Sienkiewicz guest of honour at Toronto Comicon Fan Appreciation Event 2009

March 6, 2009 | News

Comics icon Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters) will be the guest of honour at the fifth annual Toronto Comicon Fan Appreciation Event scheduled for April 18-19, 2009 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The initial guest list for the event also contains some pretty interesting names. Take a look here and check out for more details. Special guests Include: Bill Sienkiewicz (Guest of Honour) Steve Epting (Captain America artist) Doug Mahnke (Final Crisis and Superman Beyond 3-D artist) Alex Maleev (Spider-Woman artist) Todd Nauck (Amazing Spider-Man artist) Joe Benitez (Titans, Soulfire artist) Chris Sprouse (Tom Strong artist) Sal Abbinanti (Atomika artist) Francis Manapul (Superman/Batman artist) Kalman Andrasofszky (NYX: No Way Home artist) Ty Templeton (Star Trek: Mission’s End writer) Valentine De Landro (X-Factor artist) Paul Rivoche (The Spirit artist) Jeff Lemire (Essex County Trilogy writer/artist) Marcio Takara (The Incredibles artist) Dave Ross (Angel: After the Fall artist) Ramon Perez (The Resistance artist) Michael Cho (Age of the Sentry artist) Jason Armstrong (Lobster Johnson artist) Sam Agro (Looney Tunes writer) Willow Dawson (No Girls Allowed artist) Ray Fawkes (Apocalipstix writer) Andy B. Agnes Garbowska Kent Burles Kurt Lehner Shane Kirshenblatt

2008 Joe Shuster Awards

June 15, 2008 | News

Outstanding artist winner Dale Eaglesham, from left, outstanding writer winner Cecil Castellucci and outstanding cartoonist winner Jeff Lemire show off their hardware on Saturday after the 2008 Joe Shuster Awards in Toronto. Whether they’ve just entered the field or been pouring blood, sweat and tears for over 20 years, the winners of this year’s Joe Shuster Awards all share one thing in common: An ear-to-ear smile. Twelve of the 13 Canadian comic book creator awards given out at the fourth annual ceremony in Toronto on Saturday night went to first-time winners, many of whom were humbled, yet expressed great appreciation for the recognition. “It’s an honour on just an enormously grand scale,” said Cecil Castellucci, an ex-Montrealer now living in Los Angeles, who took home the outstanding Canadian comic book writer award. “Plain Janes is my first book, but I love comics and I love writing comics, so I feel like it’s a real nod of encouragement to have a lifelong career in comics.” Veteran illustrator Dale Eaglesham, a resident of Vankleek Hill, Ont., between Ottawa and Montreal, called winning the outstanding Canadian artist award, primarily for his work on DC Comics’ critically acclaimed series, Justice Society Of America: “the highlight of my career.” “After 23 years of working my butt off in this industry, it was really nice to get acknowledged like that,” Eaglesham added. “It was very stiff competition and I’m really, really flattered that they chose me.” Another excited first-time winner was Toronto’s Jeff Lemire, who took home outstanding Canadian cartoonist honours for his work on the first two volumes of his Essex County Trilogy: Tales From The Farm and Ghost Stories. “It’s certainly an honour to put in the same breath as people like (fellow nominees) Darwyn Cooke and Bryan Lee O’Malley and Julie Doucette,” Lemire said. “I’ve been working a long time at it and it’s nice that the last year or so I’ve finally gotten something out there that people are picking up on.” A rare outstanding achievement award was given to David Watkins, a comic book artist and history teacher at Toronto’s Weston Collegiate Institute, who has racked up a lot of honours recently for his ingenious use of comics as a teaching tool. Watkins said that while he loved being given the teacher of the year nod from Niagara University as well as the prestigious Governor General’s Award, the Joe Shuster Award, named for the Canadian co-creator of Superman, is closer to his heart. “I’ve been a comic geek a lot longer than I’ve been a teacher, so (a Joe Shuster Award) ranks very high,” Watkins said. The only non-first-timer on Saturday was Montreal’s Drawn And Quarterly, which won its third consecutive award for outstanding Canadian publisher. The results of the 2008 Canadian comic book creator honours — the Joe Shuster Awards: Outstanding writer: Cecil Castellucci Outstanding artist: Dale Eaglesham Outstanding cartoonist: Jeff Lemire Outstanding colourist: Dave McCaig Outstanding web comics creators: Ryan Sohmer and Lar De Souza Outstanding cover: Steve Skroce for Doc Frankenstein #6 Outstanding publisher: Drawn And Quarterly Fan-favourite International creator: Ed Brubaker Fan-favourite Canadian creator - English: Faith Erin Hicks Fan-favourite Canadian creator – French: PhlppGrrd a.k.a. Philippe Girard Hall Of Fame inductees: John Byrne, Stanley Berneche, Pierre Fournier and Edwin “Ted” McCall. Outstanding achievement by a Canadian related to comic books: David Watkins Harry Kremer Award for outstanding retailer: Big B Comics, Hamilton, Ont.

2008 Joe Shuster Award winners list

June 15, 2008 | News


Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2007 preview

August 17, 2007 | News

Comic books are a serious art form full of diversity and rich culture and nowhere is this more evident than at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. The third edition of this biennial event, to be held at Victoria College & Burwash Quad at The University of Toronto this Saturday and Sunday, will feature dozens of creators who highlight the best comics have to offer. “What’s nice about TCAF is that it’s really focused more on the art form,” says Seth, noted Canadian creator of the ongoing comic, Palookaville. “It gives people an opportunity to come out and see comics, not purely from that collecting sort of angle, and promotes it as an art form that is coming into its own finally.” Featured guests include: Canadians Darwyn Cooke (The Spirit), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim), Evan Dorkin (Milk & Cheese), James Jean (Fables) and Paul Pope (Batman: Year 100). The event kicks off tonight with three Toronto comic book icons and friends — Chester Brown, Joe Matt and Seth — being reunited on stage where they’ll reminisce and discuss Matt’s new book, Spent. “We were close friends and working artists together for a long time, maybe 10 years, in Toronto,” explains Seth. “Then Joe moved away to Los Angeles and I moved to Guelph and it’s just been a long time since we spent any significant time together.” TCAF is free to attend (although some events will be ticketed), and takes place 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, check out

Cooke earns Shuster hat trick

June 10, 2007 | News

Darwyn Cooke shows off his three new Joe Shuster Awards. The annual Canadian comic book creator honours have its first triple-crown winner, turning the 2007 Joe Shuster Awards into the Darwyn Awards. (No, not the ones with the people who die in foolish ways.) The multi-talented Darwyn Cooke swept the outstanding writer, artist and cartoonist nods at Saturday night’s awards ceremony in Toronto. Earning this hat trick of honours — bringing his total to four over the three years of the awards existence — was a great thrill, Cooke said, especially because of his great admiration for Joe Shuster, the Canadian-born co-creator of Superman. “It’s an incredible honour,” the Nova Scotia resident said after being lauded by the over 125 attendees. “I try to explain to my friends in America how much more important to me this is than the Eisners (comics’ top honours), believe it or not, but everyone up here knows.” Cooke’s cartoonist and artist award, the latter shared with longtime collaborator J. Bone, were both for projects bringing back The Spirit, a crime-fighter created by the late comic book legend, Will Eisner. “We’re just happy to know The Spirit is being well received and that people are entertained by it,” Cooke said. “I guess (these awards are) an indication that we’re doing all right.” The other big winner as the results of the online balloting for the JSAs were revealed was Dan Kim, formerly of Waterloo, Ont., now of Montreal, who took home the outstanding web comic creator and fan-favourite English-language creator plaques. “It’s quite overwhelming and it’s quite humbling,” Kim said. Receiving these prizes for his efforts at will be good incentive to keep working hard, said the 23-year-old creator. “Hopefully these awards will give me even more motivation to get everything done that I want to get done,” Kim said. Other 2007 winners included a repeat victory for Drawn & Quarterly as outstanding publisher, Michel Rabagliati as favourite French-language creator and another back-to-back win for American writer Brian K. Vaughan as outstanding international creator. Inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame were Toronto’s Gerald Lazare, Quebec’s Jaques Hurtubise and the late Albert Chartier and Howard “Gene” Day. Taking home this year’s Harry Kremer Award for outstanding Canadian retailer was Edmonton’s Happy Harbor Comics & Toys — a most pleasing result for store founder Jay Bardyla. “It’s something we’ve worked really hard for,” he said. “We put a lot of effort into going beyond just selling comic books and toys.” The results of the 2007 Canadian comic book creator honours — the Joe Shuster Awards: Outstanding artist — Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone for Batman/The Spirit Outstanding cartoonist — Darwyn Cooke for The Spirit #1 Outstanding writer — Darwyn Cooke for Superman Confidential #1, 2 Outstanding publisher — Drawn & Quarterly Outstanding web comics creator — Dan Kim for April May & June, Kanami, and Penny Tribute Outstanding international creator — Brian K. Vaughan for Pride Of Baghdad, Ex Machina, Runaways, Doctor Strange: The Oath and Y: The Last Man Fan-favourite creator (English) — Dan Kim for April May & June, Kanami, and Penny Tribute Fan-favourite creator (French) — Michel Rabagliati for Paul a la Peche Harry Kremer Oustanding Retailer Award — Happy Harbor Comics & Toys, Edmonton, Alta.

2007 Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Famers announced

April 30, 2007 | News

There’s nothing like becoming a hall of famer. The Joe Shuster Awards Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall Of Fame will welcome four new members at the annual awards ceremony on June 9 and the weight of the honour is not lost on one of the new inductees. “I’m very pleased about it. Of course, what else would you be?” said Toronto’s Gerald “Jerry” Lazare, 79, who is being inducted for his work on the “Canadian whites”, comics produced in this country during World War II. “It’s great. I was only 16 when I did those comics and I’ve made my living as an artist ever since,” added Lazare, who transitioned from comics to a highly successful career as an illustrator and eventually into an acclaimed career as a fine arts painter. Joining Lazare in the Class of 2007 are Jacques Hurtubise, A.K.A. Zyx, whose work includes the creation of the popular Sombre Vilain comic for the French-language magazine Le Jour back in the 1970s; the late Albert Chartier, whose work spanned from the 1930s through the 70s and included the beloved characters Onésime and Séraphin; and the late Howard “Gene” Day, a pioneer in the Canadian alternative comics scene in the 1970s and later a successful artist on many projects for Marvel Comics, including Master Of Kung-Fu and Star Wars. The induction of these four creators will be held along with the annual Joe Shuster Awards presentation at the Holiday Inn, 370 King St. W., in Toronto at 8 p.m. Members of the public are welcome. For more information, check out

Toronto Comicon 2005 preview

April 25, 2005 | News

After a decade of glitz, glam and little substance that nearly hollowed out the industry — comic books are back firmly entrenched in the mainstream consciousness. While the early 90s were terrific sales-wise for comics, with individual issues selling millions of copies each, the industry, which had been dominated by an elite cabal of artists, caved in on itself towards the end of the decade. “What happened after that was that a lot of people left, both pros and fans and what you were left with is people with a die-hard passion for comics,” says Brian Michael Bendis, writer of several of Marvel Comics’ hottest titles, including Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers. “I think it became more about ideas than images. I think you’re going to have a much more satisfying experience as a comic-book reader when that’s the focus of how a story is put together. It’s not just about the hot babe; it’s actually about the idea of something.” So slowly, but surely, the writers have usurped the artists on centre stage and now wield as much or more clout with what fans read. “Lately I have noticed more emphasis on the writer as headliner for a project,” notes David Mack, writer/illustrator of Kabuki for Marvel’s creator-owned Icon line. “My feeling is that this happens when a writer has a very unique and personal approach to his work that gives every project its own kind of power and unique personality. “Not that the style is the same, but that each of the writers work has a passion to it that readers can recognize and identify with just as much as with an artist they follow.” Phil Jimenez, a renowned writer/artist, who previously held both jobs on Wonder Woman and is working on several hot projects in 2005 including a fantasy/sci-fi epic called Otherworld and penciling the hotly anticipated Infinite Crisis later this year, says the more mature readers comics attract nowadays is partly to blame for the rise of the writers. “I think it has something to do with the age of the readers as well their demands from the books themselves,” Jimenez says. “Once upon a time, flashy, shiny art would be really attractive — and I say this with no condescension at all — to a younger, less discerning reader. But now that is less interesting than their investment in the characters and the complexity of plot, intricacy of detail and the attention to character development.” The heat factor surrounding writers seems to be prevalent at this year’s Toronto Comicon, set to open Friday and run through until Sunday at the National Trade Centre at Exhibition Place. In addition to Bendis and Mack, top-line writing guests at the Comicon include: Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan), Bill Willingham (Fables), Dave Sim (Cerebus) and Sara “Samm” Barnes (Doctor Spectrum). While the writers are finally getting their due, comics are still a visual medium and the collaboration with the artists is key, according to Bendis. “Most of the writers have exceptional taste in artists so you’re getting more than just writers, you’re getting exceptional creative teams,” he says. “It’s really an awesome time to be reading comics.”