Happy 2010 from the Fabler Blog!
2009 was an eventful year of Canadian comic releases, major label crossover events, and comic industry developments that will have huge ramifications for years to come.
It was also the year that The Fabler, founded by Bruno Steppuhn, was birthed into existence. Which, if you were paying any attention, also meant the launch of the Fabler Blog last May.
Since, as the old adage goes, ‘to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been’, I think it’d be an ideal time to look back at the past year in review.
At least I think that’s how I think the adage goes. I’m not very good with adages. It might alternately be, ‘forget the past and the future, live in the now’. But that works less with what I’m going for here.
Let’s start by taking a brief glance at the Canadian comic landscape in 2009.
Jeff Lemire had a fantastic year. Hey, that rhymes! 2009 saw the release of Jeff’s original graphic novel The Nobody, as well as the launch of his own Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth. As if that wasn’t enough, he also released the collected version of his much acclaimed Essex County Trilogy.
Jesse Jacobs and Kate Beaton each also ‘double-dipped’ from the Canadian recognition pool, both earning accolades from each of Canada’s two top comic award organizations. Jacobs won the Gene Day Award for Canadian Self-Publishing at the Shuster Awards, and saw his book Small Victories nominated for a Doug Wright Award earlier in the year. Beaton, the more-internet-famous-every-year creator of Hark! A Vagrant, was nominated for a Best Webcomic Shuster Award and won the Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent.
While new series’ featuring Canadian talent emerged regularly throughout the year, there were three in particular that I feel were especially worthy of mention.
The first was North 40, featuring art by Calgary-based Fiona Staples. This limited series launched in July and concluded in December, and featured a midwestern town overrun by supernatural forces. Aaron Williams wrote a clever story of Cowboy-Western meets Lovecraftian Horror, and Fiona did a fantastic job of bringing those elements to action-packed, panel popping life.
Second would be James Turner’s Warlord of Io. Originally slated for print by Slave Labor Graphics, Warlord of Io wound up as a digital exclusive. You can pick up the first two issues of this uniquely conceptualized space adventure via Comixology, among other places.
Third is, naturally, Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth. As one of the most hyped titles of 2009, the Vertigo-published tale of a young human/deer hybrid in a post-apocalyptic landscape certainly hasn’t disappointed. But then, Lemire isn’t an artist prone to disappointing his fans.
Unlike Jeph Loeb. But that’s another, completely unrelated conversation.
But of course, all of this just barely skims the surface of what 2009 held for the Canadian comics industry.
For all of you non-Canuck Fablers, 2009 has seen its fare share of news in the wider comic industry in general.
The year kicked off with a major announcement from Diamond Comics that some would deem controversial; they were raising their minimum purchase threshold, which would force some of the smaller-name titles out of distribution. The aforementioned Warlord of Io was one of the first comics cut as a result of this action.
Another of the year’s biggest headlines (if not the biggest headline) was Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. Certainly it was one of the most blogged about, with industry commentators putting forth banter as to whether the move would seriously impact the Marvel U, or merely improve distribution options while allowing Marvel complete creative control over its properties. Proponents of the second opinion pointed to Disney’s treatment of Pixar after it bought out the award-winning animation studio as an indicator of how Marvel would also likely be left to its own creative devices.
Both Marvel and DC ramped up the competitive status quo this year as well, each conspiring to use more event titles and ‘major title’ launches to enhance its own share of the comic market.
Marvel re-launched its fan favorite Ultimate Universe, in wake of the cataclysmic events of Ultimatum, while its 616 universe titles spent a year slowly (almost casually) dealing with Norman Osborne’s rise to power with the Dark Reign Event.
DC segued from Final Crisis into its inspired (and highly financially successful) Blackest Night crossover, and while a new Batman emerged in the form of Dick Grayson, Marvel brought the original Captain America back from the dead.
Bringing it closer to home, The Fabler launched at the Calgary Comic Convention in April of this last year. Since its launch as a service geared to help independent comic creators get their work seen on the web, it has built a small (but dedicated) community of initial artists, seen its share of major revamps, and started to find its footing as a long-term platform.
The Blog side of things attempted to establish itself as a news source for interviews with Canadian comic talent, while also providing unique perspectives into the industry and spotlighting the members of its own community whenever possible.
In case you missed any Fabler Blog interviews from the past year, collected for your handy reference below is a list of all of the artists/writers/creators/industry insiders we’ve spoken with to date:
Andrew Johnson (Kingdom, Golem: Small Town Massacre)
Eben Burgoon (Eben 007)
Alison Acton (Bear Nuts, The Faerie Path)
Jesse Jacobs (Small Victories, Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow)
Joey Comeau (A Softer World, Overqualified)
Simon Roy (Jan’s Atomic Heart)
Jake Ekiss (of Indy Comic Book Week)
Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics)
Jordyn Bochon (The Day After V-Day)
Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant)
Jason Turner (True Loves)
Michael Cho (Papercut)
Steve Rolston (Emiko Superstar, Ghost Projekt)
Doug Wheatley (Star Wars: Dark Times)
James Turner (Nil, Warlord of Io)
Lar deSouza (Looking for Group, Least I Could Do)
Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex County Trilogy)
Jay Bardyla (Owner of Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton)
Fiona Staples (North 40, Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor)
Troy Little (Chiaroscuro, Angora Napkin)
Gareth Gaudin (Perogy Cat, Owner of Legends Comics in Victoria)
Richard Grzela (14u Comics)
Chris Johnston (Jet Pack Mike)
Vicious Ambitious (Calgary Indie Comic Company)
Stay tuned to the Fabler Blog for more 2010 comic goodness! (And more jabs at Boise, Idaho!)
-Written by Kevin de Vlaming