Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Two-Chapter Review: Captain Canuck - The Terror Birds

I seldom wrote reviews on the previous version of this blog. I described the contents of books frequently but seldom expressed an opinion as to the quality of that content. Not only is quality a very subjective thing but having never published anything myself, I don't think it's my place to criticize those who have.

With the relaunch of this site, I wanted to be a bit more vocal. I won't review every single item I read but if one specific aspect of a book can illustrate a point I consider to be potentially valuable to creators, then I shall comment on it. It's just a different method by which to be supportive, but one I find very tricky, frankly.

And with this in mind, let's take a peek at the Captain Canuck: The Terror Birds novel.

The title of this post is quite literal. I've only read two chapters of Terror Birds. Yet I've already come across an issue that seems to be becoming more and more common; A lack of proper editing.

Did every editor on the planet suddenly drop dead? Is there no one out there available to point out errors in punctuation and/or grammar and/or spelling anymore?

Hey, mistakes happen. There are probably a couple in this post! They seem to be more and more frequent in the material I read these days, however.

I've been told that finding errors is not the purpose of reading books. Of course it isn't. I know this. I don't WANT to find them. That's exactly why this post is being written.

Here's why I consider these small errors to be an issue, even as just a fan.

  • They're distracting. Imagine watching a movie and the screen goes black for one second every minute. Would that not partially prevent your from being totally engrossed? Can you really enjoy a song when the recording skips? Errors have the same effect.
  • They can cause the story to be unclear. One story I read recently (not Canadian, mind you, just used here for the sake of example) used the word "hanger" instead of "hangar" repeatedly in a chapter. They are totally different things, aren't they?
  • They can make you look second-rate. Your delivery can take away from your content. When you read a comment to a newspaper article from someone who can't get "there/they're/their" sorted out, do you not question the writer's credibility just a bit?

Here are a couple of examples from Terror Birds.
...Redcoat tried to unsuccessfully to conceal a yawn.
Obviously the underlining is mine. This is probably a matter of attempting to improve a sentence after it was written and inadvertently going in the opposite direction. Later, a sentence begins "Their current was position was well outside...". Probably an easy mistake to make.
He always did Mr. Bobo had no problem with authority he was very susceptible to praise.
Wouldn't punctuation have made the above sentence far more clear?
The creature tore out a draw.
Or a drawer, rather.

Here's a big part of the problem; spellcheck won't draw your attention to that error because "draw" is a word. Someone attentively reading your work should be able to point it out to you.

The following sentence is in reference to a heated debate in a First Nation council meeting.
It was this warrior's name that in the end quieted the descent. 
I believe that the last word should be dissent, a synonym  for disagreement. In context, "descent" makes very little sense here.

No one expects perfection. But these are four examples of a variety of errors within the first 30 pages. There are several others but they are similar in nature.

So all that being said...
  • Do I regret buying this book? Hell, no. I love that Chapterhouse is using as many methods as possible to tell their stories. 
  • Do I think Neil Dougherty is a terrible writer? Of course not. I can tell in only two chapters that there's a cool story building here. 
  • Do I think Chapterhouse released an inferior product? Not really. There is no editor credited, however. I think it's more accurate to say that I think they skipped a step in the process. 
Here's what I do think; Spellcheck is NOT equivalent to an editor. Spellcheck can't tell when you mean "descent" and when you mean "dissent". I thought it would point out the missing apostrophe in "...when she read the senders name..." but perhaps not.

No matter how good this book turns out to be, it would have benefited from another set of eyes. If you're currently working on this type of project my suggestion, for what little it's worth, is to find that set of eyes prior to release. You're about to present yourself to the world, find someone willing and able to tell you when your fly's down. You don't want a number of small errors to distract from your wicked story.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

True Patriot Present #2 Available On Wednesday!

Combining sales pitches from the Chapterhouse and True Patriot Facebook groups respectively below.
This Wednesday, be sure to grab True Patriot Presents #2 from our page on ComiXology featuring, Arrowhead, the beginning of a new Dominion Jack arc and an all new feature: Crude!
This digital first issue features the introduction of CRUDE by Fred Kennedy and Dave Bishop, the first of a three-part DOMINION JACK story by Jack Briglio and Dominic Bercier, plus the continued adventures of Arrowhead by Jay Stephens!
Love me some Dominion Jack so this will be a release-day purchase for me, with the hope that interest justifies a print collection.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Glimpse of The Force from Advent Comics

Advent Comics are not a Canadian publisher. I believe they are based out of Maryland, USA. However, their output of Canadian characters is about to explode.

I bought an Advent book in July 2015 on the basis of a Canadian character named Lynx, a member of a UN-sanctioned team called G-8. That's them below, and you probably don't need me to point out that Lynx is at top right.

While providing a greater degree of detail about Lynx at the time, Advent made me aware of a group called The Force (also known as The Canadian Shield, natch) that they intended to include in their comics universe. The plan, at the time, was for the team to be featured in the fifth issue of their Advent Spotlight book.

I have no idea whether having The Force be the focus of that specific issue is still in the works. But a mention of Advent Comics on Twitter on my part resulted in the publisher sharing the image of the team below (to my great gratitude, I might add).

Just a teaser, but encouraging to see that The Force is still on the publisher's radar.

These aren't the only Canadian characters soon-to-be-published by Advent, however. On December first, Advent posted (in part) the following text on their Facebook page.
...Advent Comics will be offering other indie creators and publishers access to Advent Comics’ distribution network in a creator-owned imprint. This imprint should not only help bring worthy creations to life but also shine a light on some of these projects and publishers by getting them out to the masses.

First (and most importantly), this is CREATOR-OWNED!!! The creators of the books will retain all rights - the only purpose of this imprint is to bring their stuff to the masses. Advent Comics is not interested in acquiring these book or characters (but with that said you may see a crossover with Advent Comics characters though). 
There are four initial titles that have been selected for the UNBOUND REALMS Imprint: 
4. Jim Hachey’s SUPERNATURAL AGENTS – Featuring the Dawn of A New Age of Superheroes.
James Hachey's Water Front Studios are based out of Saint John, New Brunswick. For that matter, I believe the Supernatural Agents are as well.

Water Front has been sharing art from the SNA book on their own Facebook group of late, but most of it is of a back-up story about a character named Stunray, based out of Toronto.

Some high-energy stuff from artist Demi Mandir.

Before taking that in, it may be helpful to know that background material about the Supernatural Agents and Stunray can be found in the third issue of Manga Ganda, published by Red Leaf Comics.

You could almost consider that book to be a "zero issue" to the material that Advent will be publishing. Of the 32 pages in Manga Ganda 3, the Agents and Stunray each get eight. The rest of the book is mostly pinups and some brief sci-fi stories, but those 16 combined  pages pack all the history you need to be aware of to leap into the Advent books.

While the Supernatural Agents are going to be the headliners, Stunray will continue to claim eight pages per issue, at least for the first couple. The book is available for pre-order at the moment on the Advent Comics website and expected to be released at the end of this month.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Grenadier Returns!

Of course he does. Can't keep a good man down. He's been doing this since Vimy Ridge, you know.

Late last month, Zenith Comics tossed an interest-finder on social media in regards to publishing a third issue of its Heroic series. The book first debuted in early 2014 (if my memory is sound) and the second issue was released in June 2015.

Evidently, Zenith was pleased with the feedback generated because not only are we getting a third issue but also a fourth, a fifth...Here's how Zenith broke down its future plans on Facebook this weekend.
So looks like HEROIC #3 will be 32 pages... 16 pages of HEROIC and two 8 page back-up stories that show other parts of the Zenith Universe. As soon as the specifics are settled, I'll announce who those writer/art teams will be! 
The plan is for these 8 pagers to be 4 parts (up to issue 6) and one will cover everyone's favourite Canknucklehead the GRENADIER!
The cover at right may not suggest much Canadian content and truth be told, there isn't (well, aside from writer Andrew Collard being from Montreal). The first issue begins with a funeral in Washington D.C. for a character named The Guardsman, the "premier hero of America", and a eulogy by his closest ally, Lady America. The second half of the book takes place at the other end of the country, Washington state. There isn't a drop of maple syrup to be found!

So what's this about the Grenadier?

During the project's early days, in October 2012, even prior to the Kickstarter campaign being launched, a design sketch (by Alex Williamson) was displayed for a character named The Canadian. The image was displayed again just after Canada Day in 2013 but this time the Grenadier name was applied to it.

The Grenadier appeared briefly in the second issue of Heroic as Lady America announces that the Guardians superhero team needs to disband. The Grenadier serves as a voice of reason during that scene and a supporting shoulder when Lady America find herself a little discouraged by recent events.

And that was the last we saw of him.

Yet for all that there is little material about him, he does seem to have his little cult following. I believe that the design struck a chord with Zenith's followers.

I also like to believe that the interest shown in the Grenadier on social media helped encourage Collas to increase the character's exposure. For all I know, the short story to come has been in the planning stages for years, but the wording copied from Facebook above makes it seem like a recently-hatched plan.

Regardless, the important takeaways are that Heroic is on the way back, and Grenadier is getting his beam of the spotlight. Follow Zenith Comics on Facebook to keep up to date with the project. You can also get digital copies of the first two issue on drivethrucomics.

And if you appreciate the character's look and want to support Zenith further, you can get Grenadier-based merchandise from Teepublic by following this link.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Big Nick Fan Art Contest!

My art skills are non-existent so I can't participate in this without humiliating myself but that doesn't mean I can't share the announcement with those of you who may actually have talent!

There's still some good news even if you suck artistically like I do. If you squint and look at the bottom right corner of the above image, you'll see that the second issue of Big Nick is scheduled for this coming June. Yay!

I also picked up the first issue of Merve & Vinnie: Earth's Finest back in October.  Both are the combined efforts of Kevin Montpellier and Martin Deschatelets (with a notable colour assist by France Trudel on M&V). If you like your comics humour-heavy, these will be to your liking. Hopefully we get another M&V book too sooner rather than later.

Expired Comics website

Expired Comics on Facebook

Expired Comics on Twitter

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Canadian Corps #2 Cover Reveal!

The long-awaited second issue of September17's Canadian Corps is (fingers crossed) expected to be available some time this spring. In the meantime, S17 revealed that book's cover earlier today.

This falls under the category of "If you're here, you probably already know about Canadian Corps". Be that as it may, if you're unfamiliar with the book or have yet to give it a longer look, this is as good a time as any to do so. Check it out here.

Cover art above by Justin Shauf and Donovan Yaciuk.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The North Shield: A City Under Siege!

Well, it didn't take long for me to have a fundraising campaign to support and promote!

I mentioned The North Shield briefly yesterday but had no idea that the Kickstarter campaign for the 80-page graphic novel was scheduled to start only a few hours later. It is now underway and off to a good start.

(They) thought they killed him, but they were wrong. Rising from the ashes to be found by a secret government agency under the streets of the Toronto as he struggles to understand and cope with his newfound abilities. 
He will be trained by a battle scarred WW2 French Canadian superhero/spy and armed with an alien battle-suit. 
He will claim back his new home from the dark tyranny that threatens to destroy the city. 
He will become the hero the city/country and the world needs!!
Full pitch, additional art, etc, can be found on this page. The art above is by Marvin Law.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome to Canuckomics!

Hey, welcome to the new place! Looks nothing like the old one, eh?

Well...Maybe it looks very similar for now. Truth is, there is a lot of material I want to display "at a glance". I want it to be visible as a visitor arrives. So the basic format used for TSOG is still good, I've just added another column in order to better identify product types and removed projects that are either dormant, dead, or moving along at a glacier-like pace. I may create pages specific to certain defunct books (such as Heroes Of The North and Legion Unleashed) but I want ongoing, in-progress work to be emphasized to visitors.

So if you've visited TSOG in the past, you won't be surprised to see Auric, Big Nick, Canadian Corps, etc, listed here. But let's get right into what other projects have our attention going into 2017.

Click the banner above to be taken IMPACT's Facebook group. Below, I display a sample page from the first issue (still in production) which provides an introduction to a villain named Pitbull, as well as a design sketch for a character named Polar Knight.

While we watch take form, in the spring, we can expect details about a team-up between two prairies-based characters in Axiom-Man and Auroraman.

This isn't a complete surprise as Auroraman creator/writer Jeff Burton mentioned it on his Facebook page last spring. Still, when months go by without a mention, you can't help but wonder whether the project is still in the works. But clearly it is.

Axiom-Man creator/writer A.P. Fuchs recently celebrated the character's 10th anniversary by releasing a revised version of the his first novel...

...and now he expects the team-up book to be available by the time the Kickstarter campaign goes live. Find out more about Axiom-Man and Fuchs' other work from this page.

Auroraman, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer. He came to life following a very successful Kickstarter campaign launched last April.

I'm curious about the dynamic here. The significantly younger character, Axiom-Man, will actually be the far more experienced one. The student-aged character will be working with the teacher (literally, that is Auroraman, and Burton's, profession). I hope Burton and Fuchs play off that a bit, it's a rare combination.

The last project I want to display (for the moment) is North Force Alpha.

I believe that NFA is the creation of one Peter Colp. Colp is also responsible for the apparently-90s-influenced art. And there is plenty much of that on the Facebook page linked above! The book is expected to be available later this month so join the group in order to reserve your copy or to track the series progress.

That is it for now, but there is so much more to look forward to from a Canadian indie comics scene which is far more active than many people realize. Issues of North and Deborah Daring should be available shortly. More Auric and Big Nick material is on the way. The North Shield should debut this year. Chapterhouse continues to publish a mixture of re-imagined classic Canadian comics characters and new material while giving Canadian talent a chance to shine.

Of course, should a Canadian character appear in a book released by an American publisher (such as Dr. Frost in All Winners Society by Iron Gate Comics), he or she will be mentioned here and from time to time we'll take a look at a Canadian publisher regardless of degree of Canadian content.

In many ways, very little changes but I want to clear the clutter and get more focused. I hope you enjoy it and that you'll join me in supporting Canadian talent.