There’s been a few graphic novel anthologies from Cloudscape entirely spearheaded by me – I thought of the concept, invited the artists, edited the whole thing, and even contributed a short story or two. They’ve all been about things I’m really passionate about, such as mental health and Canadian superheroes.
Through the Labyrinths of the Mind
Over the last couple of years, more and more I have used my art to explore my own struggles with depression and anxiety. This has cumulated in Through the Labyrinths of the Mind, an anthology I am putting together that features various stories (both fact and fiction) by a wide variety of creators, inspired by their own experiences with mental health – such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADD. It is a book that speaks inspirationally through stories in which people come to terms with their issues rather than being consumed by them. My own story (illustrated by Devin Rosychuk) is a retelling of the “Tale of Geraint,” a Welsh folktale in which one of King Arthur’s knights wrestles with his depression. The anthology will be coming out some time in 2021.
Epic Canadiana #1 (2013) and #2 (2015)
I have always loved superheroes, and been especially intrigued whenever a superhero was Canadian, guardian of my own country. As a kid, one of my favourite comics was Marvel’s Alpha Flight, Canada’s answer to the Avengers, and so I was especially fascinated when, as an adult, I discovered that during World War II, Canada had a robust comic industry, which sadly died out once the war ended and Canadian kids could get American superhero comics again. I created the Epic Canadiana graphic novels out of my love of the 40s Canadian superheroes and of world-building in general, a world of Canadian superheroes that included tributes to classic figures such as Johnny Canuck and Nelvana of the North but also other heroes who were entirely new.
Epic Canadiana #2 won the Gene Day Award for excellence in Canadian small-press publishing at the 2016 Joe Shuster Awards.
I love seeing modern creators pay tribute to Canada’s classic wartime comics – a fascinating part of our popular culture. I also love the numerous interpretations of Canadian heroism that were submitted for our anthology: French-Canadian Nazi-hunters, immigrant adventurers, gay activists, First Nations vigilantes, autistic champions, and more. It really showcases our country’s diversity.“Cloudscape Comics Society Wins Prestigious Gene Day Award for Best Self-Published Comic for Epic Canadiana #2,” Broken Frontier
As well as designing the world and frame narrative of each Epic Canadiana anthology, I also wrote several stories:
- Frame Narrative. A mysterious woman finds Johnny Canuck, Canada’s greatest hero of WWII, and convinces him to come out of retirement by telling him stories about Canada’s heroes. Tribute to the original Johnny Canuck. Art by Kamil Ginatulin.
- Beware the Slaughterer. Arctic demigoddess Ikniqpalagaq battles Nazis and the Great Beasts of the North. Tribute to Nelvana of the North. Art by Jeri Weaver.
- Hero Play. Gay activist superhero Jacques de Canada hunts a serial killer who’s hunting superheroes. Tribute to Canada Jack. Art by Ksenia Kozhevnikova.
- Frame Narrative. A mysterious branch of the Canadian government is investigating superheroes, and is in turn being investigated by the mysterious vigilante known as the Loon. Art by Craig Wilson.
- Northern Tales. Iknigpalagaq’s old partner reminisces about her final mission. Art by Eric Johnson.
- Back in the Saddle. Johnny Canuck, greatest Canadian hero of World War II, meets Jacques de Canada, greatest Canadian hero of the modern world. Art by Jeff Ellis and Kate Ebensteiner.
Epic Canadiana Volume 1 delightfully connects the golden age of Canadian comics (the origin of the Canadian superhero comic) with modernity, creating a link through Canadian comic book history…. The heroes in these pages are born of magic, mutation, a call to action… but more importantly, they are born of a Canadian imagining of what it means to be heroic and speculation about what a Canadian superhero would consider worthy of battle.Derek Newman-Stille, “Golden Age Superheroes in Modernity,” Speculating Canada
Other Cloudscape Comics
A lot of my work has been graphic novel anthologies from the Vancouver-based publisher Cloudscape Comics, where I’ve been a writer on nine anthologies and an editor on five.
Long after the Robot Revolution, a newly-created robot is assigned a human baby to look after. The confused robot must figure out why humans are still a part of society, and what is so important about this baby in particular. An exploration of the measure of human worth. Art by Reetta Linjama. Published in Life Finds a Way, an anthology of post-post apocalyptic stories, new societies being created in the ashes of the old.
An adaptation of a folktale from Welsh folklore. Taliesin, Wales’ greatest bard, demonstrates the magic of his poetic voice by summoning a storm to intimidate King Maelgwn of North Wales and all his court. Art by Reetta Linjama. Published in Swan Song (which I also co-edited), an anthology of music-themed comics.
A lonely young girl finds a mysterious idol washed up on the shore. The idol becomes her only friend and convinces her to perform certain… deeds. Art by Jeri Weaver. Published in Bones of the Coast, an anthology of horror comics set in BC.
A huntress pursues a unicorn through the savannah, believing that its horn is her chance at freedom. When she finally confronts the wild creature, the huntress is also forced to confront herself. Art by Chenoa Gao. Appeared in Mega Fauna (which I also co-edited), an anthology of animal-themed children’s comics.
A memoir of my experiences at my grandfather’s funeral. How I dealt with the crushing sense of loss, and how I was able to finally say good-bye. Art by Reetta Linjama. Appeared in Waterlogged: Tales from the Seventh Sea (which I also co-edited), an anthology of ocean-themed comics.
“An intimate examination of loss viewed through the lens of Tennyson’s nautical-themed ‘Crossing the Bar.’”Jason Wilkins, Waterlogged: Tales from the Seventh Sea, Broken Frontier
A rip-roaring swashbuckling tale during the Golden Age of Piracy. The protagonist confronts a female pirate captain who hunts slavers, and is determined to be free. Art by Ksenia Kozhevnikova. Also appeared in Waterlogged.
Really grabs hold of the glamorized idea of a pirate fighting both gender roles and slavery…. There’s a small twist at the end, and while I like how the story ends, it does leave me wanting more.Sheena McNeil, Waterlogged: Tales from the Seventh Sea, Sequential Tart
The story of “Theseus and the Minotaur” from the Minotaur’s point of view. The famous monster wanders his labyrinth, searching desperately for escape, for meaning. In the end, there is only one way out. Art by Ksenia Kozhevnikova. Appeared in Giants of Main Street, an anthology of fantasy tales set in the city.
“A beautifully realized, haunting retelling of the Cretan Minotaur’s tragic fate.”Jason Wilkins, Broken Frontier
My City (2012)
A homeless man keeps a magic city in a bottle. Art by Oliver McTavish-Wisden. Also from Giants of Main Street.
A tale about a young woman trapped in a repetitive, banal life who longs to fly as free as a swallow. Her struggle for personal transformation is echoed by a little bird’s quest to escape the cold of winter and return to the warmth of the south seas. Art by Reetta Linjama. Appeared in 21 Journeys, an anthology of travel stories.
An amazing entry from newcomers Bevan Thomas and Reetta Linjama. A tale of betraying expectations and breaking away from the flock. Veeeeerrry impressed.Angela Melick, Wasted Talent
A graphic novel tale of the mysterious BC rainforest. A hunter accidentally shoots a sasquatch, and it unleashes on him the curse of the woods. Illustrated and co-written by Eric Johnson. Appeared in Pulp Literature #12, a fiction magazine with a focus on genre fiction.
Prime Minister Mackenzie-King binds the ghost of a Jewish-Canadian soldier into the Golem of Prague to fight Nazis in World War II. Appeared in Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen., an anthology of stories of Canadian superheroes.
A trans heroine leads a battalion of animal-themed mech-robots against an invading host of airplane-like demons. Illustrated by Kate Ebensteiner. Appeared in Beyond, a graphic novel anthology of queer sci-fi and fantasy.