Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 602

Day 602 October 19th  

Creator Spotlight: Justin Shauf

Hard at work!  There is something about this picture that I love!

Another new feature here is the creator spotlight.  It seems only fitting that the first creator spotlight I do is on my friend and an artist that is easily on my short list of favourite artists in comics today – Justin Shauf!

Justin is a Saskatchewan artist based out of Langenburg.  He and his wife, Lisa, raise 4 children, ages 9, 8, 5 and 22 months.  He works at a grain elevator during the day while Lisa works casual as a care aid while also running a small photography business.  Justin has mastered the ability of making the most out of his days as he works during the day, spends time with his family and then works on art after that too!  He is a great guy to talk to and has a strong passion for comic books.  Having had the chance to talk to him many times and we share a lot of similar tastes.  One of the biggest things I admire is the fact that he prefers to work on all-ages appropriate books, as a father he wants to be able to share as much of his work with his family as he can.  As a father myself I appreciate this greatly as it can be tough to find comics that are all ages but not ‘little kid’ focused comics for kids that are older than that!

I find his style quite refreshing.  It is a bit more ‘cartoony’ and has an angular texture to it.  I see a lot of similarities in his work and other favourite artists such as fellow Canadian Chris Bachalo and Mexicos Humberto Ramos.  I also seem glimpses of my all time favourite artist, Tony Harris, in his work.
His website is It is currently being revamped to include an online store and should be up and running by December.

Now it is one thing to read a comic and find an artist that you really enjoy and meet them down the road at a convention, but my finding of Justins work and our subsequent friendship has a bit different of a timeline so here is a rundown of that!
Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo 2012
This was my first comic con ever and was a bit of a celebration of my completing my Bachelor of Education degree and my birthday which was soon after that weekend.  I really didn’t know what to expect from the event, and knew that there would be a lot to see and do.  One of the things I knew I wanted to do was get some artwork in artist alley.  I had a pretty strict budget for that weekend but really wanted to get as many sketch of Starman in my book as possible.  I came across an idea online for seeing how many artists were willing to do reduced price sketches at shows and decided I would pitch $2 sketches and see what I could get.  A few people I know scoffed at the idea and I braced myself to get laughed out of artist alley.  I had 2 artists that completely dismissed me at the request, but came home with 30 two dollar sketches in my book!  As you may have guessed Justin was one of those artists that contributed to that first outing.  I passed by his booth several times over the course of the 3 days and pitched him the idea which he hesitantly accepted, once he wasn’t working on other pieces.  On the Sunday he added a piece to the collection and, unbeknownst to either of us, a connection was made!

Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo 2013
The following year a couple of forward thinking Saskatoon fans ventured out and put together the first Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo (S.E.E.), in a similar style to the bigger Calgary type show.  Since this is practically a local venue for me there was no doubt that I would be there.  The guest list for artist alley had several names that I wanted to add to my sketchbook, which I had now upped from $2 to $5 as I felt it was a better pitch.  On my first pass into artist alley out of the vendor area I see Justin sitting there, and recognized the name immediately from Calgary.  In the time since Calgary I had added some more sketches to the book and gone over it many times just checking out all the different styles of my favourite character.  Justin’s had struck a chord with me so I went to his table first, told him the story about Calgary, showed him the sketch and got him to do another one!  In Calgary I had no idea he was from Saskatchewan so I had no idea I would run into him again.  This time I looked at more of his work at his table and chatted a bit more.

Fan Expo Regina 2014
Following the success of S.E.E. in Saskatoon the company responsible for the Calgary and Edmonton Expos partnered with the organizers of Saskatoon to bring their brand of shows there and the Fan Expo family brought one of their shows into the province, more specifically Regina and in the spring.  Timing worked out very well for me and I made it to the show on the Saturday of it.  Pitching my sketchbook in artist alley I once again came across Justin.  While one of his neighbours was sketching in my book, I visited a bit more with Justin.  I told him that since he had been so awesome about sketching in my book twice already that this time I would buy something from his table instead.  He also helped convince his neighbor who was on the fence about doing the sketch.  I ended up buying The Purple Bean and I LOVE it!  First off, it is written by his daughter Abigail which is very cool since my oldest daughter is named Abigail.  As a father who loves to spend time and give my attention to my kids this book really hit a homerun with me.  The story is very cool and this was my first taste of Justins art in a sequential format and I loved how it flowed!  I talked to him about the possibility of him being interested in making appearances in classrooms or other venues, and was happy to hear he would be interested!  He and Abby both signed and sketched my book and I had plans brewing in my head.  Shortly after this I even used The Purple Bean in a grade 1 health class I was teaching and had the students draw their own pictures from it.

Both Abby and Justin signed my copy!

City of Humboldt’s Kids Summer Fun Camp – Kids Camp Comic Con 2014
My summer job with the City of Humboldt’s Kids Summer Fun Camp allows me to try some really fun things and one of them was bringing a very small scale form of a comic con.  This was the second year I did this type of an event and I wanted to increase the number of artists doing free sketches for the people that came and I knew that I really hoped Justin would be one of the artists to come.  Not only did he come and draw his hand off for the afternoon for many happy kids but he also gifted me not one but two fully inked Starman pieces for my ever growing Starman art collection!  These pieces are some of my  favourite pieces in my collection!

Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo 2014
This show was brought on by the partnership of the Calgary Expo and the local guys in Saskatoon who ran S.E.E. the previous year.  This was a bigger show with a lot more to see and do but I still made time to visit with Justin at his table.  Yet again he helped pitch my sketchbook to the artist that was at the next table and while that was happening I looked through his new work on display.  While this was going on he excitedly told me and showed me some work he was doing for an upcoming independent book of Canadian superheroes which by this point was an area of increasing interest to me.  This of course would be Canadian Corps.

City of Humboldt’s Kids Summer Fun Camp 2015
Yet again Justin gracefully came out to the Kids Summer Fun Camps Kids Camp Comic Con and did some fantastic sketches with a neat twist by doing them on coloured paper instead of plain white.  By this point the Kickstarter for Canadian Corps had been very successful and Justin was excitedly wrapping the last of his artwork on the first issue.  We talked briefly about the buzz around the book and about its potential launch in the fall at S.C.E.E. 2015.  I commissioned Justin to do a Canadian heroes jam piece on a blank cover of the Captain Canuck Summer Special at this time.
Justin hard at work doing a sketch for a new fan on coloured paper - such a fun idea!

A sketched out shot of the Canadian heroes jam cover commission!

Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo 2015
I was over the moon excited for the Sask Expo this year as there was literally a ton of stuff that appealed to me.  I added 6 Starman sketches to my book which was fantastic, but more importantly I got to hang out with some amazing people.  Part of this was meeting 3 of the 4 people responsible for Canadian Corps.  Obviously I had already knew Justin but I got to finally meet Donovan and Andrew.  The team was awesome to visit with at the show and the finished product of the first issue looked fantastic.  I have never really been huge on wanting the original art pages from a comic book before but seeing the finished pages for Canadian Corps up close and having read the issue and loving it I jumped at the chance to buy the double page spread of the team assembled.  I am fairly certain these won’t be the only pages I own from Canadian Corps!  This weekend also gave me the opportunity to socialize with Justin, amongst others, after the first day wrapped up and he is a really great and humble guy to hang out with.  On the Sunday the crew was a part of a Canadian creators panel at the expo and I got to watch the commissioned cover piece get some awesome work done on it.

The Canadian creators panel with (Lto R) - Donovan Yaciuk, Andrew Lorenz, Kurtis Weibe, Ed Brisson and Justin Shauf

This brings us to now, and I am quite happy to count one of my favourite artists as a personal friend!  Not only that but we have a project together on the go…nothing major on my part other than organizing it but I went after it with the idea of Justin being the artist I wanted to see do it.  More to come of that next year!  Barring me winning the lottery and getting out to C4 in Winnipeg in a couple weeks it’ll likely be summer before Justin and my paths cross again but in todays global community we talk frequently as he is working on issue 2 of Canadian Corps, our project and of course that commission cover!

Posted by Justin just this weekend - hard at work on Canadian Corps issue 2!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 601.2 - Comic Review!

Day 601.2 October 11th  

Comic Book Review!

So something very new here on PoaA is this…a comic book review!  Now I am not into the critical, rip books and stories apart to find deep and hidden meanings…I read comics for good and fun stories so I will let others go in depth while I share stuff I love!  Give it a try and you might find you love it too!

Canadian Corps #1
A print of the regular cover to Canadian Corps #1

So first up is a brand new Canadian independent comic book – Canadian Corps issue #1 from September 17 Productions.  S17 is an independent comic publisher based in Manitoba, Canada, headed up by writer Andrew Lorenz.  Previous to Canadian Corps he has the flagship title Legacy as well as a second book titled New Guard.  He writes some fantastic stories and has collected some amazing people to work with him on all these titles!  Ok on to the meat and potatoes!
Officially released at the Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo 2015!  L to R - Blank sketch variant, the Kickstarter exclusive variant cover with a personal thank you note and finally the standard edition cover!
Canadian Corps is the story of the Canada-based superhero team set in the S17 Universe as they band together in an attempt to beat back an invasion and save the world from an army of alien conquerors. Andrew handles the writing, while pencils and inks are handled by the talented Justin Shauf!  I have known Justin for a number of years now, as our fates have seemed to be predestined to link (this will be the topic of another blog post as I truly enjoy examining this bit of history).  I really like his art style, as it is not super smooth and hyper realistic like many artists today; it is a bit more angular and outside the norm…part of why it appeals to me so much is that it reminds me of my favourite artist, Tony Harris, and how his work was on Starman.  I have read some people call Justins art ‘cartoony’ and while it might not be to their liking I personally love it as it fits in how I like comics to be more fun!  The colours are done by Donovan Yaciuk, who does great work, and also has his own self-published book, Spacepig Hamadeus – more great fun!  Having met Donovan recently I can say he is an entertaining guy and hard worker!  The book is lettered by Rod Salm.  These guys all come together to create a well-crafted, new piece of Canadian comic book lore!  Earlier this year Andrew launched an Kickstarter to help raise funds to help offset the cost of making the book as well as to help spread the word and build interest in this new venture.  With an initial goal of $2, 500 the fans rallied behind this fresh idea and the project finished with a total of $4, 327 – almost double the goal!  As with most crowdfunded projects there were many great perks offered as well as some awesome stretch goals achieved by going so much over the initial goal amount.  To me the biggest perk has been the book itself!
The original art pages for a double page spread in the first issue, featuring the whole team together!

The characters of Canadian Corps are:
WARRANT- Ottawa-based RCMP sergeant with the power to control gravity.
SHIELDMAIDEN- Hard-working hockey mom who can turn into a powerful warrior woman, able to take on armies.
IMPACT- Spotlight-loving teen who moved to Canada to play soccer and along the way gained the ability to absorb and emit kinetic energy.
THUNDERHAWK- The winged warrior of Canada's First Nations people. He seeks to use his powers not only to defend his people but to inspire them as well.
KID MERCURY- Calgary-based speedster who gained her powers in the same incident as Impact. A pop culture and science geek, she loves being a superhero.
FLUX- A former science teacher of East Indian ethnicity, he now works in a garage as his degree was not recognized in Canada. Undeterred, he continues to use his knowledge and his ability to bend time and space for good. His love of science is only rivaled by his love of hockey.
AZURE- The latest guardian of her family's magic bracers, Azure seeks to balance her university schooling with her obligations as Chinatown's costumed champion in Vancouver.
Like I previously mentioned, the book is well written and Justin’s art makes it flow beautifully!  The first issue does a nice job setting up the initial story without clogging the initial outing with a bunch of back story which adds to the ease to get into it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to issue number two as well as where the book carries on from there!  A huge point for me on this book is that it is an amazingly well crafted superhero comic book AND it is an ALL AGES book!  I am sure I will blog my rant on that topic down the road yet but needless to say this book is proof that they do exist!

A full colour print made of the double page spread.
If you like what you see here, check out these links to be able to get your own copy and connect with the team behind it!

September 17 on Facebook:
Canadian Corps #1 digitally on Drive Thru Comics:

One of the stretch goals was this print, done by James Zintel!  I had the rest of the books team (minus the letterer Rod) sign this at the Sask Expo!

All three prints hanging in my classroom at work!  I also have a copy of the first issue there for students to read!