By: Hess Sahlolbey
As we celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial this year, the comic book community in Canada continues to bloom in unison. With that growth has come many waves of Canadian comic book creators contributing to our nation’s growing artistic tapestry.
Nowhere was that more evident than the downtown core of Toronto for its annual ComiCon. Every March, Toronto ComiCon takes over the city center for a three-day affair full of homegrown comics and their creators.
One of the fixtures at Toronto ComiCon and FanExpo is Chapterhouse Comics. Filling almost a third of the artist alley with multiple panels throughout the show, the creatives at Chapterhouse Comics and their output is becoming impossible to miss.
The genius shepherding this expanding universe of comics and titles is Kalman Andrasofszky.
A native Torontonian, Andrasofszky continues to reside in the city, where he is a member of the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design, also known as the RAID cooperative art studio. Located in Little Italy, the studio is composed of sequential artists, illustrators and designers.
Andrasofszky’s studio-mates are working on established properties like Superman and Spiderman, and while Andrasofszky occasionally contributes cover artwork for Marvel, he has mostly left the mainstream American publishers to fill the role of Editor-in-Chief at Chapterhouse Comics, and their flagship series Captain Canuck.
“Captain Canuck started off as a design gig. One of my studio-mates was acquainted with people that were re-writing Captain Canuck… I started off by redesigning the character and the costume,” said Andrasofszky.
The classic Canadian superhero was created in 1975 by Richard Comely and Ron Leishman.
The reboot Andrasofszky contributed to consist of a new, modern version of Captain Canuck whose new story and design were used for an animated series. The series was crowd funded and aired from 2013 to 2014.
The success of the animated series allowed for a one-shot comic book which was released on Canada Day in 2014. That issue preceded a still ongoing monthly Captain Canuck series. Andrasofszky continues to write the series and collaborates with Leonard Kirk who provides the interior art in the series.
“Canada has never had really had a consistent comic book industry. There have been glimmers like the Canadian Whites in the 1940s, though there was a period during World War II where all American imports were banned. For five years all these Canadian superheroes were being published and once American comics came back our heroes faded away,” explained Andrasofszky.
“What we are trying to do now with the Chapterhouse is [to] license these old creations that have heart… and weave them into something bigger. We’re hoping that other people will understand why we love these characters and love them as much as we do.”
The next release in this expanding universe will debut on May 5 for Free Comic Book Day, co-written by Canadian actor, director and screen-writer Jay Baruchel.
“[Baruchel] is a grade-A, diehard comic book nerd and there is nobody more enthusiastic about Canada than him” said Andrasofszky.
“For five years all these Canadian superheroes were being published and once American comics came back our heroes faded away.”
“We’re calling it Captain Canuck—Year One which is kind of a flashback for the character to his time serving in the Afghanistan war, “ said Andrasofszky. The series will be three parts which will then be collected into a graphic novel.
Adding to the row of talent working on Year One is Andrasofszky’s studio mate, interior artist Marcus To, who is currently the artist on Nightwing, while the cover art will be handled by David Finch, who is currently working on Batman.
On the long term spectrum, Andrasofszky and the team at Chapterhouse Comics are looking into a full length animated feature film, followed by possible live action Captain Canuck film.
“No dates have been set yet, but things are happening in a way that hasn’t happened for the last few months. Things are ramping up and its super exciting. Having [Baruchel] walk into the room with you really changes how seriously people take you and how willing they are to open check books.”
The success of Marvel Studios and their cinematic universe may be many years away for Chapterhouse, but the work of Andrasofszky and fellow creators have successfully laid the groundwork for a mainstream breakthrough for Canadian comic books.
Perhaps it won’t be long before a new red and white super patriot crashes enters the big screen.