Jason Loo and his Pitiful Human Lizard

jason-looFirst Comics News: Jason, when did you first come up with the concept of The Pitiful Human Lizard? I understand that you self-published, originally, the first five issues, with extremely limited distribution, in which, therefore, very few readers and fans saw, the very first go-round of this comics series.

What can you tell us about that?
And, how did Chapter House Comics later come around, to pick up the gauntlet, as it were, and have you re-launch the series, to a much larger audience, to help the series become mainstream?

pitiful-human-lizard-1Jason Loo: The Human-Lizard was a character I created back in high school and through college, back when I made Xerox’d mini comics and sold them at cafeterias. He was my go-to character whenever I felt like telling a superhero story because I could never tell a story of a character that was INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, or MIGHTY, but I knew I could make a character more pathetic than Peter Parker.

Thanks to Kickstarter, I was able to bring the character back with a 1000 copy print run. I was doing a lot of the legwork with the distribution to stores, promo, and all that. But thanks to the Chapter House deal, I have more time creating the comics because they’re taking care of the production, promo, and distribution for me. The deal first came about when the publisher Fadi Hakim and I met at an industry party outside of Fan Expo in Toronto and expressed a mutual interest in a Canadian superhero shared universe. Then everything else fell into place.

1st: The first issue, which I read as a PDF for the sake of setting up this interview, reminded me, a little bit, first off, of the William H. Macey-starring film based on Bob Burden’s MYSTERY MEN, which was a fantastic, very entertaining movie about underdog superheroes, who were – let’s face it – losers! Who were, also, outshone constantly by a successful superhero named Captain Amazing, as played by Greg Kinnear.

Jason: Sure, yeah. I’ve also had a lot of others compare the series to Kick Ass, as well. But the true inspirations to this series include James Robinson’s Starman, classic Marvel comics, and works by Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomines. There’s a sense of modesty and a slice of life I try to convey with the characters that happen to be set in a super-powered universe.

pitiful-human-lizard-21st: Jason, The Human Lizard seems to be a Very Original, with a Capital ‘O’, Hard-Luck Hero, who tries his best to overcome evil/-crime, but he frequently seems to be outclassed by the villains he fights, which, for me, adds drama and pathos to the storylines; this, in turn, keeps the pages turning for me, and I bet future readers of this series, once the series is released, will agree!

Jason: Definitely. I think a lot of fans are speculating that he will one day evolve into a greater superhero. But that might not be the case, as I hope the story stays true to the ‘Pitiful’ title for the next fifty or hundred issues.

1st: Jason, I really rather like the fact that The Human Lizard is a Canadian hero, set in Toronto, Ontario, and that, further, you include well-known historical landmarks such as Honest Ed’s famous huge store on Bloor Street West, The Royal Ontario Museum, also onBloor Street West, close to the St. George as well as Bedford subway stops, and which, in turn, is close to Varsity Stadeum, and The University of Toronto!

I know these things, because, many years ago, I myself lived in that area of Toronto for many, many years!

Jason: Awesome! I’m glad you spotted the familiar Toronto locations. I wanted Toronto readers to feel the same excitement that New Yorkers felt back when they read New York-based comics like Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man back in the day.

1st: Jason, are you, yourself, an original native of Toronto, born and raised?

pitiful-human-lizard-3Jason: I was born in the suburbs outside of Toronto. Growing up in an Asian family, we visited Chinatown in Toronto very frequently when I was a kid since there weren’t any good Chinese restaurants in the suburbs. I’ve been living in Toronto for the past 5 years.

1st: What say you tell us about how you developed your writing and illustrative skills, where you went to school for these schools – or are you mostly self-taught?

Jason: It mostly came from writer’s craft in high school, art college, reading lots of comics, as well as Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. I also used to get my work reviewed by Larry Hama who was tough critic (but rightfully so).

1st: How long pior to your first series of The Pitiful Human Lizard, which you self-published, did you develop this Canuck costumed superhero?

Jason: Since high school.

1st: Did you ever, in your wildest imaginations, ever dream that, someday, a larger publishing house would ever offer to re-publish this series, to bring it right to the forefront, into the public eye in a much huger way, so that your great efforts would finally reach the huge audience you perhaps wished for, right from the start? Please tell us how that came about?

pitiful-human-lizard-4Jason: After the success of Kickstarter and the readership and attention started to snowball, I figured if I kept working hard enough and be persistent, it would eventually happen that I would find a publisher for the series. The deal first came about when the publisher Fadi Hakim and I met at an industry party outside of Fan Expo in Toronto and expressed a mutual interest in a Canadian superhero shared universe. Then everything else fell into place.

1st: While I like black and white comic book series as well, I am very pleased that this series will be published in full process colour!
Tell me, are these printed in Canada or in the USA? Not that it matters at all! It is my understanding that printing costs for such things are less expensive in the United States, than they are in Canada!

Jason: It’s printed in Canada. And for a Canadian superhero series set in Toronto, it’s just perfect!

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