Friday, September 23, 2016

Z'Isle - A Cyclepunk Zombie RPG

Over on the Captain Canuck Legacy blog, I praised Chapterhouse Books last night for expanding their story-telling methods by releasing a Captain Canuck novel this December entitled The Terror Birds.

The folks at Z'Isle are doing something similar and I'm pleased to support it.

First of all, for those who are not aware of the comic book series, Z'Isle is about people attempting to survive a zombie infestation in Montreal. But there's a bit more to it than that. Here's is how Z'Isle describes itself (in part).
Z'Isle is a human tale incorporating themes of survival, societal equity and sustainability.

Neighbourhoods have been reconstructed into fortresses against the onslaught of zombies (known as feeders) communities have formed alliances, Old World assets have become repurposed and upcycled, farming is ultra-local, and industry is fledgling at best. Those who can make things are kings and those who get too comfortable… die.

Z’Isle takes direct inspiration from Montreal and its unique places, people and subcultures. Many characteristics that make Montreal unique will see new life in the world of Z’Isle, for better… or worse. 
“We are all familiar with Steampunk and Cyberpunk. Z’Isle is Cyclepunk,” explains Creative Director & Illustrator Lateef Martin. “Montreal isn’t known for having a lot of guns, so we eventually run out of bullets. But we have a strong bike culture making them the most readily-available resource to make weapons, gear, and vehicles. This makes for some interesting weapons vehicles and gear unique to Z’Isle.”
That last bit is a big deal because it's a key feature of many characters and sets Z'Isle apart from the multitude of zombie outbreak material out there. Check out this guy, for example:

Actually, why njot have a look at the real thing i this shot from Montreal Comicon?

For that matter, the promotional banner displays the principle of bike parts being used as weapons from the recipient's point of view.

Let THAT sink in!  Stupid feeder...

Whether it was part of the plan from its inception or an idea that emerged later, Miscellaneum Studios have now directed their efforts towards creating a video game. The resulting Kickstarter campaign is well underway.

All the features are clearly listed. You can get a digital copy of the game for only $15 (early bird, so move your ass) if you're not into the all the bells and whistles, but the $50 package includes a soundtrack for the game (rough sample available) as well as pdf versions of the nine comic book issues of volume one.

So look around a bit and sample the material.  You might find it's easy to get roped into the world of Z'Isle.

Z'Isle on Facebook
Z'Isle on Instagram

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Chapterhouse Expands in 2017

The news from Chapterhouse Books earlier this week was simultaneously exciting and frustrating. I found out about it while at a cottage with limited internet access so I wasn’t able to get at information as quickly or thoroughly as I would have liked.

On the other hand, tackling it several days later, I can refer to various sources for details.  And it all sounds pretty damn sweet.

For those who missed it entirely, Chapterhouse is expanding its output to include more books about (mostly?) Canadian characters, from the past, all of which will share a universe with Captain Canuck (in fact, it’s referred to the “Chapterverse”). The announced projects on tap include:

Fantomah by Ray Fawkes and Soo Lee. Comic Book Resources referred to this one as “joining the Captain Canuck serial” so perhaps this will take the form of a back-up story. 
Agents Of Pact: An all-female super team including Red Coat and Kebec from the modern-day Captain Canuck book.  Canuck writer Kalman Andrasofszky and Blake Northcott will write it.  
Freelance:  The Golden Age era character, re-imagined by Jim Zub and Andrew Wheeler with art by Vaneda Vireak. This book is described by Geekpron as a “globe-trotting adventure series”.  
Northern Light: Van Jensen and Eric Kim will restore the character in a sci-fi tale.
Additionally, Captain Canuck will cross over with the Pitiful Human-Lizard and the Northguard book will continue with a new story arc.

Again according to Geekpron, Freelance and Agents of Pact will kick things off in January and run for four issues at which point two other new books will replace them (presumably for four issues as well, and also presumably Northern Light and Northguard, since I’m not sure Fantomah will have her own title right away) and so on and so forth.

Now add the regular Captain Canuck / Human-Lizard content to this, as well as the bi-monthly True Patriot book, and you’ve got a regular source of Canadian characters and (for the most part) creators to look forward to. This is fantastic news.

I’m only vaguely familiar with Freelance and Fantomah but will be looking into them a little more over the next few days.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Update on The Supers

Remembers The Supers? Writer/creator Chris Morris (Penticton, BC) ran an Indiegogo campaign late last year to fund the book. While it did not meet its goal, it did raise enough funds that Mr. Morris felt confident he could forge ahead with his project, if at a reduced pace. He wants to include "action, superheroics, drama, great characters, but most importantly, HUMOUR!" in his team book, which includes a Canadian neat freak as leader who goes by the name of Celsius.

Backers (myself among them) hadn't heard from Morris in some times and frankly, I'd pretty well given up on this project. But he sent out an update earlier today which illustrated that he's been quietly quite busy. I've copied an abbreviated version below.
I have officially launched a website for The Supers: 3rd Best Super Team in the World! After months of trying to find a graphic designer to make it for me, I decided one day to just do it myself after being told over and over again in podcast after podcast how easy it is if I used Squarespace. is that simple! Check out the website here
I have two blogs written, one introducing myself and explaining what brought me to this point and a second one detailing some of my recent San Diego Comic Con experiences and how they relate to the comic book I'm making. 
Ricky, my artist, and I are progressing along nicely.  We are over 3/4 done and Ricky's art is getting better with every page.

That new webpage now has a page specific to each character, Celsius included, of course. We learn that specifically he is from Edmonton and that he is in a complicated relationship, but not for the standard reasons.

Celsius and Inferno have deep feelings for each other, except their powers (ice and heat) keep them apart (usually)

During the campaign, the front page was being updated with art samples, among other things (including my brief blog post about the project. Neat). I've copied page four of the book below, but go back to the Indiegogo page to view more.

There's even more on the new website so if you want a good feel for the look and tone of the book, swing on over. I admit that I don't tend to be drawn to comedy books, but the preview material has caught me by surprise a couple of times. It seems like it will be plenty fun.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Let's Talk Team-Ups

Jeff Burton, creator of Auroraman, sent out an update earlier today in regards to the Kickstarter campaign he ran successfully for his book this past spring.

The campaign included what I thought was an excellent perk; A Canadian Creators Digital Omnibus featuring material from several other publishers.

The cover for that compilation was revealed to backers today and since it appears on the campaign page, which is not backer-specific, that I know of, I don't think there's any harm in displaying it here too. It is the work of Sabastian Van Esch.

I'm going to assume that Captain Canuck needs no introduction. Working clockwise from him, we have Impact from Canadian Corps, Auric of the Great White North, Axiom-Man and of course, Auroraman himself.

We potentially got some even better news earlier today on social media. The following image was posted from the Expired Comics Twitter account. The caption was attention-grabbing.

Who Wants a Team-Up?

Oh, I think I could get into that...Auric and Auroraman, mentioned above, are joined by Expired's Big Nick, who only recently joined the scene as well. Apparently the team-up is "in the works", which is probably all Expired Comics could tell me at this point.

They also suggest we stay-tuned. No issues on that level. And hopefully you guys kick off a trend. Or a tradition. Or a team book. You have options. :-)

Monday, August 8, 2016

True Patriot Bi-Monthly Series in November!

This news had been brewing for a while but it was finally made official on Facebook earlier today that True Patriot will have its own series published through Chapterhouse.
True Patriot returns in November as an ongoing bi-monthly series from ChapterHouse! The solicitation for the first issue will be in the next Previews catalog. Please stay tuned for more details about what we've got planned...

The image below was posted on July 1st.  I assume it's the cover of the first issue but don't know that for a fact.

Big fan of Dominion Jack so I was a little disappointed to not see him in that second picture but his appearance in the announcement image is encouraging. Being that this is most likely an anthology book, it should be just a matter of time anyway.

The complete solicitation should be available in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Masques And Capes: An Imaginary History"

I was very pleased that author D.K. Latta brought his recently-released  Masques & Capes book to my attention early last month. Its cover was added to the right side of the page and links to the page from where it can be purchased digitally but it is now available in paperback format as well.  
What if...there had been a generations-spanning Canadian superhero universe? Who would have been the heroes? What adventures might have been told? How would the decades have been reflected?

And what if...we no longer had to ask "what if?"

Pull back the curtain on a hitherto unknown history of costumed heroes, presented here for the first time in almost two dozen prose tales of mystery, adventure and dilemmas. Tales that attempt to capture the eclectic spirit of comic book superheroes in prose -- that mix of straight-faced sincerity with a touch of knowing kitsch, of high-flying adventure with human drama. From the pulp fiction-inspired spirit of the 1940s to the moral complexity of today.

The 1940s: WITNESS! the triumphs and tragedies as The Daring Dominions foil Nazi spies and saboteurs!

The 1950s: ENTER! the sinister Armageddon House with the intrepid Dr. Id! 
The 1960s: JOIN! the country's greatest heroes as they battle an alliance of their arch foes on board an alien space ship! 
The 1970s: BEWARE! as a costumed heroine tries to prevent a Hollywood North film shoot from becoming a stage for murder!

And on into the present day! From World War II to the War on Terror, from Bobby Soxers to bloggers, follow the adventures through The Golden Age, The Silver Age, The Bronze Age and onward to today. From hippy communes to society soirees. From the vastness of the Arctic Tundra to the bustle of downtown Toronto. From pandemonium on a prairie field to murder on a movie set. From sea to sea to sea. Put on some slippers, settle in a comfy chair, and prepare to experience a universe that you always knew was out there, if only in your dreams...
Are you familiar with Latta's work? You might be without realizing it.

Latta wrote "The Secret History Of The Intrepids" for Masked Mosiac, perhaps my favourite story in that anthology. He is also the author of "Pssst! Have You Heard...The Rumour?" for Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe, among others. He also manages The Ultimate Captain Canuck Tribute Page and has since the internet was invented (or thereabouts) and write for The Huffington Post.

You can find out more about the book on this page, but should also check out the this blog for some background material on the individual stories.

Monday, July 4, 2016

North, by Scott Sawyer

Continuing a trend of trying to provide support to a Kickstarter project that doesn't need it at all...Check out North!

Toronto. Casey Van Allen, the offspring of the fallen legendary hero (Major Snow), has learned that the monster responsible for her father’s death (arch villain Lord Reign), is alive and well, living the good life after effectively staging his death years ago. Determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and to bring in the man who killed a national treasure, the young woman suits up and unearths a team of gifted misfits to help her in her mission.
The fundraising page is here.

In the case of Deborah Daring in the previous post, it had met its fundraising goal by the time I'd even found it.  With North, I found it and pledged right away but departed for TSOG secret HQ for a few days with a plan to write a post about it upon my return. By the time I had come back, North had already met its goal. That was in about eight days of a 60-day campaign.

Creator Scott Sawyer had a good idea though; Often, campaign stretch goals are merchandise such as t-shirts, prints, etc.  Certainly nothing wrong with that approach but with North, the stretch goal is...the next issue.

Makes sense, doesn't it? So I've added to my pledge in order to help make that happen.

Sawyer has a good interview with Martin Boruta for First Comics News linked on the Kickstarter page, but also a radio interview with the CBC. I particularly recommend the latter because Sawyer describes several of the characters towards the end. Very little detail had been revealed about them thus far (It HAS only been a couple of week, after all...) so that was good to hear.

For more art samples, take the time to watch the campaign video. It seems to do a good job of briefly setting the stage.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Deborah Daring, The Private Eye With Attitude!

I wish I could say my contribution played a small part in making this project happen but it had easily surpassed its funding goal by the time I discovered it.

Meet Deborah Daring, private eye. Or rather, have creator Rob MacKinnon introduce you.

It seems that the first issue is already completed and "ready to go" but as MacKinnon states in the Kickstarter campaign video, extra funds will be applied towards keeping the series going.  So by all means, don't hesitate to contribute to the campaign.

There is plenty of preview material available on the Kickstarter page if you're unsure about whether this book is for you. Or slide on over to the Deborah Daring website for social media options.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Barbalien Emerges!

Does the name "Barbalien" ring a bell at all?

It appeared again today in a Bleeding Cool article about an upcoming Dark Horse comic book by writer Jeff Lemire entitled Black Hammer. Here's what that's about:
The series follows the former heroes of Spiral City — Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly and Barbalien – as they work to escape from the small farming town they’ve been trapped in for a decade.
The article displayed a number of variant covers drawn by Lemire himself, including one which featured that very character.  That's the one below.

This idea had been conceived in 2007 or so and eventually scheduled for a late 2014 release. However the artist suffered an illness, causing significant delays. But it's apparently on its way now.

There is no blatant, or even subtle, Canadian content as such. But reading about Barbalien again recently raised an eyebrow. That was the name of the character that Lemire was going to use in the second volume of True Patriot. When asked, in late 2013, by Comic Book Resources what he would bring to the True Patriot table, Lemire provided the following teaser:
My contribution will involve a new superhero I'm creating called Barbalien. He's -- well, he's an alien barbarian. He crash landed on Earth in the '60s and posed as an RCMP officer by day, fighting crime in the north by night -- sort of a mash up between Dudley Do-Right, Martian Manhunter and Conan.
Judging from the rather neat "Who's Who" style fact sheet below, there isn't much cause to think that the RCMP portion of that is still in play, but who knows? There is nothing to definitively identify Spiral City, or the farming town the characters are trapped in, as American either from the small sampling of preview material I've seen. Maybe Lemire will sneak in some Canadian goodness.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Continuing the Legendary Adventures of Sam Steele, North-West Mounted Police!"

A few days ago, I gleefully backed the Kickstarter campaign for issue #2 of Steele Vs., actually the third book in the series if the zero issue is taken into account.

The beautifully-illustrated book tells the stories of the NWMP's Sam Steele as he attempts to bring order to the Yukon territory during the gold rush years. As if the actual conditions were not already difficult enough to content with, writer Scott Schmidt mixes in some mystical elements for our hero to face.

Each book can be read individually so you could purchase just this particular issue without feeling as though you've missed anything, but Schmidt announced an extension to a specific backer reward which proved to be popular and would make a great access point for someone new to the book. See below.
When the Early Bird "Placer Mine" reward went like hot cakes, I planned on making another 25 available, but I think I can do one better than that. For the rest of the campaign ANYONE will be able to get all three (print) issues of Steele Vs, the bookmark/coaster combo, digital sketchbook and one small print for just $20 plus shipping! Not to mention all the great digital comics continually being added to every reward tier and some surprises down the road! 

The series is well-researched and a nice change from the superhero fare. If you'd like a look at sample material aside from what is displayed on the Kickstarter campaign page, click on the covers to the first two issue on Comixology as well. Then get yourself a coaster and bookmark.