By: Hess Sahlollbey
If there’s one person you’re bound to run into every year at Toronto Comic Con, it’s “Fearless” Fred Kennedy. Whether he’s moderating panels or hosting a Q&A, this writer and long-time host on “102.1 the Edge” and “Teletoon At Night” is expanding his conquests across all media platforms.
Kennedy will soon be amping up his creative workload with another book this summer with a new imprint, Black Mask Studios. Warpath will be a collaboration with First Nations artist Kyle Charles. The comic deals with human trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The area that I grew up in in Edmonton… the north-east end had a lot of prostitution and crime and the issues around human trafficking are pretty crazy,” said Kennedy.
“Human trafficking is disgusting and tragic that it doesn’t get more attention and First Nations communities are so much more susceptible to it and being in a position where I can tell a story that deals about this and soldiers with PTSD are two issues that both Kyle Charles and I are passionate about.”
Sitting amongst his peers from Chapterhouse Comics and from the Royal Academy of Illustration & Design, Kennedy spent the weekend meeting fans who have either heard him on the radio, seen him on TV or read the stories that he now crafts.
Kennedy grew up reading Lucky Luck and Tintin. After having read the Infinity Gauntlet, the Marvel Comics story that will be adapted to film later this year, Kennedy became obsessed with the medium.
“[I] didn’t even live in Canada until I was 12, but I’ve always loved science fiction and when we moved to Canada I read even more comics,” explained Kennedy.
After his brief time at King’s College in Nova Scotia, Kennedy moved to Toronto to work in radio, where in 2009 he launched his own independent comic book imprint: Big Sexy Comics.
Teuton, written by Kennedy and Illustrated by fellow Torontonian Adam Gorham, is the flagship book of Kennedy’s imprint with three volumes published so far. Gorham has worked as the artist for Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon and on the New Mutants amongst other projects. In Teuton, the illustrator brings a medieval fantasy set in the Baltic crusades to life.
Soon after the release of Teuton in the fall of 2010, Teletoon launched a week-night block labeled Fred at Night, a role that he had up until 2016.
While he still hosts a daily show on CFNY 102.1, Kennedy is currently working on The Fourth Planet which diverges from medieval fantasy and ventures into space odyssey à la Star Trek and Battle Star Galactica.
The Fourth Planet was first published as a web comic with illustrator Miko Maciaszek. It was then picked up by Canadian publisher, Chapterhouse comics. Inspired by a childhood spent on watching Franco-Belgian cartoon Ulysses 31, the team of Kennedy and Maciaszek now tell the story of the survivors who crash-land on a foreign planet.
Comics serve as the perfect outlet for Maciaszek as he renders the kind of cosmic monsters and aliens that can only be done in a medium where the only limits are the creators’ imaginations. This is further amplified by the vibrant colors that serve to elevate the final product to even greater levels that yearn to be adapted to cinema or videogames.
With no end in sight or drop in quality in a market that is becoming increasingly dominated by the big two: DC and Marvel, Kennedy’s books are as polished as can be.
Kennedy and contemporaries at Chapterhouse comics continue to produce tales that can go toe-to-toe with the mainstream publications of Marvel and DC.